Posts Tagged ‘Solitude’

GC Myers- Steps to Solitude smMaybe I decided to use this image  because it was -8° when I headed out for my stroll through the woods to the studio.  Well, not really a stroll.  More like a hard determined march, trying to cut through the sharp cold as quickly as possible.  But as I glimpsed at the still dark sky,  Venus  was shining brightly just above the treeline, so much so that it caused me stop and just wonder at its brilliance.  To my eye it had a reddish glint that made it seem  like some exotic little gem in the sky.  Beautiful enough to stop me in my frozen tracks.

This brought to mind the upcoming  Little Gems show at the West End Gallery in Corning that opens next Friday,  February 7th.   I am currently prepping a group of paintings for this exhibit of small work which is always one of my favorite shows of my painting year and one that always brings back good memories.  As I have noted here in the past, the Little Gems show in 1995 was the first opportunity I had to show my work in public.

A first step on a then unknown path.

This will be my twentieth Little Gems show, something which would have seemed unfathomable back at that first show.  I don’t paint as many small pieces in recent years, spending more time on larger work, so this is always a great time to revisit the small form.  There is something  wonderful in seeing the colors and forms compressed into a smaller space, something that brings out the gem-like quality in each.  Each element, each mark takes on greater weight in the smaller form.  There’s a different type of concentration, one that is  quicker in its self-editing and one that is definitely more intuitive.  The sizes are such that everything just happens quicker and there is less time to ponder.

And that is often a good thing.   I’ve often said that I’m not smart enough to paint when I have to think about it.   Maybe these small pieces are  proof  of this.


This piece is called Steps to Solitude and is a compact 3″ by 6″ painting on paper.  It will be at the West End by the end of this week along with several other small pieces.

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I came across this photo of my old studio up in the woods yesterday and remembered that I had used it in a post several years ago, back in December of 2008.   [Wow, I’ve been doing this blog for that long?]  It was a post about the role of solitude in my work.  My new studio is much more comfortable and warm, with all  the amenities , such as phone , cable TV and the  internet , that keep me  connected to the outer world.  Reading this post made me realize how less alone I am today at times in the studio and how important that time of solitude was for my work’s growth at that time.  I’m not sure that my work would have evolved in the same way in my current environment. I just thought it was an interesting post and wanted to share it again:

I’m showing the picture to the right to illustrate a bit of advice I often give when speaking with students or aspiring painters.  This is my first studio which is located up a slight hill behind our home, nestled in among a mixed forest of hardwoods and white pine.  This photo was from last February [2007].  It was a fine little space although it lacked certain amenities such as running water, bathrooms and truly sufficient heat.  However, it served me very well for about a decade.

The advice that I give to aspiring artists is this:  Learn to be alone.

The time spent in solitude  may be the greatest challenge that many artists face.  I have talked to many over the years and it is a common concern.  Some never fully commit to their art for just this reason.  To be alone with your own thoughts without the feedback or interaction of others can be scary especially for those used to being immersed in people and conversation.

I like to think that I have been prepared for this aspect of this career since I was a child.  For much of my youth we lived  in the country,  in houses that were isolated from neighbors.  I had a sister and brother, 7 and 8 years my senior,  and they were often my companions at times but  as they came into their middle teens I spent more and more time alone.  This is not a complaint.  Actually, it was kind of idyllic.  I lived a fairly independent life as a kid, coming and going as I pleased.  I explored the hills and woods around us, going down old trails to the railroad tracks and old cove that ran along side the Chemung River.  I studied the headstones at an old cemetery tucked in the edge of the woods overlooking what was then a thick glen,  filled with the family who resided at a late 1700’s homesite that had stood across the road from our home.  All that remained was a stacked stone chimney which served as a great prop for playing cowboy.

In the woods there were immense downed trees that served as magnificent pirate ships.  There were large hemlocks with thick horizontal branches that were practically ladders, easy to climb and sit above the forest floor to watch and dream.

My life would be very different without this time alone.  Sure, maybe I’d be a bit more sociable and comfortable with groups of people, something which is sometimes a hindrance.  But it prepared me for the time I spend alone and allowed me to create my own inner world that I occupied then and now.  The same world that appears in my work.  That is my work.

This is only a short post on a subject I could drone on about for pages and pages.  But, to aspiring artists, I say learn to love your time alone and realize what a luxury and an asset it can be.  Your work will grow from your time alone.

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