Posts Tagged ‘technique’

Kay WalkingStick- New Mexico Desert 2011


Avoid methodology. If what you’re doing is about technique, that’s not art.

–Kay WalkingStick


Very much agree with this quote from contemporary landscape painter Kay WalkingStick. Soon to be 84 years old, Kay WalkingStick is a member of the Cherokee Nation who was raised in Syracuse and was an art professor at nearby Cornell University for a number of years. She incorporates Native American symbols and patterns in her work, which are often executed in diptych forms.

Even though there has been a physical proximity. I don’t know a lot about her work. I would love to see it up close to examine the surfaces, to see how the pieces speak in person.

Her advice about not tying yourself solely to process is a most valuable lesson for all artists. I think you need to live in the fringes of technique, always ready to stray into territory of material use that is new to you as an artist. You need to feel a bit lost so that you react intuitively, using what little you do know in new ways.

That is where the magic sometimes happens, where art takes place.

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I am sure there are plenty of artists who would argue this point made by Jackson Pollock. Like religion, many would most likely defend their chosen means of expression as the best.

But I think he is saying there is no one right way, no one technique that ranks above all others in issuing an artist’s statement. Each artist’s individual voice comes through their own chosen technique. Their statement–their statement of belief, if you will– arrives via that technique.

I know that’s been my experience. I am generally looking for a statement of some sort from an artist in their work, something that displays their own truth regardless of how it is expressed.

Something that makes me feel the need to look at it.

It can be in any style, stretching from the most refined painting created by a classically schooled artist down to an untrained folk artist who uses their local mud as their painting medium because that is all that is at hand. So long as each is earnestly created (and that is an important distinction) and provokes a true emotional response, any and all technique is valid.

To bring it back to the religious analogy, the earnest belief of the lone person sitting in a decrepit hut somewhere may be as valid as that of  a priest in the grandest cathedral.

Art, like religion, is diminished when we fail to see the validity of all other voices.


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This new painting is titled With Sanction of the Moon. It’s a 10″ by 20″ canvas that is part of my solo show, Truth and Belief, that opens in a little over two weeks on June 2 at the Principle Gallery.  The show seems to be coming together really well with so many of the paintings pleasing me in surprising ways. This piece kind of symbolizes that aspect of the show.

It’s a painting that has been in process for a long time.  I think I started it in the autumn of last year but set it aside soon after so that it was one of those pieces that are propped against a studio wall where I glimpse at them a number of times on a daily basis, trying to ascertain where they might head later in the process.  Its early stages had given it some potential that I thought would emerge eventually but it just wasn’t talking to me.

There is a certain point in my process where the painting has what I would call a dull phase.  When it first goes down on the canvas it rides the initial energy that comes from the composition and the thought process behind that. But in the subsequent steps that energy lags a bit and there is a point where the paint seems to go dull and flat. I have at that point lost the vigor of the initial composition and am fixated on the surface so that when the paint goes flat I lose a lot of my inspiration.

Now, having done this for many years now, I anticipate this stage in the progress of many of my paintings.  It doesn’t worry me when the paint looks listless at that point because I know that each subsequent layer will bring back the life that seems lacking and will reawaken my energy source if it goes as I hope. That’s always a thrilling moment for me, when a piece is reinvigorated in this manner. The initial excitement that comes with the composition comes back in a big way and the painting feels new again.  That flatness is instantly forgotten, as though it never took place.

This piece seemed trapped in that flat stage for a long time for me and I began to wonder if it might make more sense to paint it over and restart on something new. But I could never do that to this piece. I was convinced that there was something there worth preserving, something that would emerge that would be far beyond what I was seeing in the moment.

So I bided my time until a week or so ago. I was in a nice groove with my painting which gave me confidence to dive into this piece with the hopes that I could find its hidden potential. The flatness faded quickly and it was soon in a state that pleased me greatly. It had a voice and life of its own. I had to shake my head that I had doubted it in the first place.

Paintings like this, where I lose then rediscover them much later, are often my favorites.  I’m not saying that they are better paintings. Maybe because they require more conscious thought and effort, unlike those pieces that sometimes just fall out almost on their own, paintings like this remain deeply etched in my memory.

I think I will take another look.

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Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end

Homer, The Odyssey


Last week I showed a painting in an early stage.  It’s composition was all blocked in with red oxide and the sky was partially laid in. I wrote about the decisions that were in front of me and how I was seeing how it might go from that point on.

Well, at the top of this page is the nearly finished painting, one that I am calling Dawn Invocation. At that earlier point I thought that this painting might go in a much different direction, one slightly darker in tone.

It turns out that my vision for it and the final product differed a bit. That’s not a judgment on how I am feeling about this piece because I find myself very pleased with this painting in its present state. It was just a matter of the process leading me to add a bit more light and color, even though the colors are a bit more muted and tonal than my typical choices.

The resulting piece is more open and inviting than the one I originally saw in the underpainting. Calmer. More resolved.

There are still a few touches that need to be placed, some that I see just now as I write this. They are small adjustments but sometimes these little strokes here and there add much more to the overall feel of the painting than you might think.

So, it goes back on the easel for a short time. This is one of those pieces that carry a lot of small lessons as I move forward which makes it memorable for me, well beyond my own affinity for the painting itself.

And that’s a good thing on any day.


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GC Myers- Where the Winds GatherSometimes I will get an image in my mind that seems all fleshed out and full.  It’s just a matter of moving that image from the inner workings of my consciousness into the outer world of reality.  Sometimes, it goes smoothly and the final painting matches that first thought of it.

But more often, that trip from thought to reality produces something completely unlike the original vision. And sometimes that is not so good.  The work shows the struggle in trying to force the vision into reality and the whole thing looks forced and without rhythm.  But occasionally, one slips out that is not at all like the original vision but somehow finds its own rhythm and comes to life on its own.

I think that is what happened with the painting shown above, a small 9″ by 12″ canvas that I call Where the Winds Gather.  I’ve had an image of this painting in my mind for a few weeks and as I would be doing other things it would often bounce through my mind.  But it looked much different than this painting.  The color was not the same nor was the manner in which the whirls of wind in the sky were painted.  Some of that is the result of working in a smaller size which restricted the type of marks I could make with my brush.

There was a point when I was well into this piece that I could see that it had strayed far afield from my original concept and I began losing my enthusiasm.  For a while I wanted to just set it aside or simply call it a day and paint it over.  But I decided to push through and see if it could evolve into something more.  And slowly it did, at  least in my own eyes.  There’s an interesting balance of rough and soft in this and the pattern in the sky came together much better than it appeared in its earlier form.

There’s just something I like in this piece.  Maybe it’s just the fact that it came to life despite my own original misgivings.  I know that I admire that kind of determination from someone in overcoming the low expectations placed on them.  Grit.

Maybe that should be the title– Gritty Determination.


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GC Myers- October SkyThis is a new painting that I have been working on recently.  It’s a 24″ by 24″ canvas that has a working title of October Sky.  It has nothing to do with the movie of that title — the one about how Homer Hickam, the son of a West Virginia coal miner. overcame long odds to become a rocket scientist.  I’m not fully sure of the reason for the title except that during the time I was painting  this the sky was gray and rainy.  The title just seemed to emotionally fall to this piece but that might change as I live with it.

And it’s a piece that I like living with right now.

It’s darker tones and clashing, interweaving lines satisfy something in me at this time.  There’s part of me that feels that I need to bring more light into it but  I find myself wondering if that is just a remnant of my past experience with my dark work from the aftermath of 9/11  that was not as well received as my lighter and more brightly colored work of that time.  It was my first experience working on a dark base and it took time for me to develop the style I use now where I create more color and light on the surface, far more than was on those earlier pieces.

So I have become accustomed to working past stages where the darkness is still strong in my work, sometimes when I am deeply drawn tot he darker aspects of the work.

And this is one such piece.  Looking at it now, I think it might be diminished by going too much further into the light.  But that is at just this moment and might change.  This is one of those pieces that require deliberation, time to ponder the painting’s real point of existence and feeling.  Some pieces announce themselves before the last strokes are even considered and others are more ambiguous.

And it is this ambiguity that I think gives this piece its strength.  It doesn’t announce itself as one thing.

And I like that.

I’m going to continue looking at this for a while, just taking it in for what it is in the moment.


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GC Myers- Time Frames  smI’ve been working on trying to create a patterned underpainting  in my work, inspired by a dream I had a few weeks back.  It still is moving ahead and is not yet what I saw (or, at least, what I recall seeing) in that dream.  It may never get to that state but it acts as a catalyst,  something that pushes me forward.  This small piece, a 9″ by 12″ canvas, uses blocks or plates much like those I saw in my dream to form a pattern that hovers barely vsisble in the sky.  It doesn’t have the intensity of the color of the dreamed vision but it still creates what I think is an interesting effect on this piece.  It serves as both a step forward and a self-contained entity.

I call this piece Time Frames, alluding to the shapes of the plates in the sky here. Like much of the underlying textures in my work, it refers to those  forces and knowledge that have untold influence on our world and our lives yet remain just beyond our perceptions.

All that we do not know.

At the moment, we are at the leading edge of all knowledge here in this world.  Yet, it is an edge that is always moving forward and what we believe today with all certainty may one day be revealed to be proved false.  Future generations may look back on us and wonder at some of the things we believed to be true.

But you live with what you know and what you see.  Blissfully in the moment even while obscured ultimate truths may be oh so near…

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GC Myers- 2015 smBeen working on some new pieces, some with simple imagery with an added layer of random transparent forms making up a large block of the painting.  Here it creates an undertexture in the background which forms the sky on this untitled painting, a 12″ by 12″ canvas.  It has the same sort of chaotic feeling that I often try to create with my preliminary layers of gesso in prepping the panel on which I paint.  This canvas does have those layers of gesso giving it a mild texture but the transparent organic shapes painted over it have an overriding effect that carries and defines the sky here.

It’s still an experiment in progress but so far I like the effect and the feeling it creates here.  Now I am trying to envision how it might incorporate itself in the wider body of my work, to see if it adds something tangible to the work. I have to just give it a little time and study it a bit before it becomes a regular part of my work.

We’ll see…

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GC Myers- Lucid DreamAll men whilst they are awake are in one common world: but each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own.



The other night I fell asleep early then awoke and after a bit tried to go back to sleep.  I flopped around trying to be comfortable but the wheels of my mind started turning and for a while I just lay there.  But there came a time when I slipped briefly into dreams even though I still felt awake.

It’s a strange feeling but it felt good at the same time because in those moments of lucid dreaming I saw a color and a surface that was new to me, one that I saw being used in my work.  It was multi-colored with blues and greens within it and a certain level of depth within the color that gave it a gorgeous glow.  Plus it was arranged in transparent plates that overlapped so that the combined colors deepened even more.

It’s hard to describe now because even in the time soon after waking I struggled to fully recall it in my memory.  It was there completely but in a vague sort of way.  It was not a color that I had worked with or had even seen though I can’t be sure of that.

I wanted to see it and tried to recreate it within my own range of color and technique.  I stumbled a bit at it for most of the day yesterday and finally realized that it would require something new, something different either in media or process to get the color and surface and depth that was still in there somewhere.

But the piece at the top did pop out during the day’s attempts and while it disappointed me because it didn’t fulfill my dream, it has an interesting feel that pleases me on another level.  Maybe this will take me a step closer to what I am seeing in my dream or maybe it will evolve into something different on its own, something I can’t yet envision.

It has shown itself in my dream so maybe it can come forward now if I keep looking for it with my waking mind.  Who knows?  You can never tell how things will turn out when you’re trying to take something from that inner world and move it out into the waking world.

We shall see…



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GC Myers- The Anmating Presence smSometimes I am a little hesitant in showing certain paintings here on the blog.  Sometimes their photographed images just don’t fully convey the impact or depth of the work.

Take the painting shown above for an example.  Titled The Animating Presence, it produces a strong  initial impact with its large size– 20″ by 60″ on canvas— and its deep colors and textures.  The photo captures the colors (although not the depth within the colors) and a mere fraction of the texture but the  power in its size is lost on the smaller screen.  It is still a strong image but most people would be surprised at how truly different the actual painting comes across in person.

I showed this painting here a few months back in an early stage, shown now at the bottom.  The landscape was laid out in the red oxide paint I use for my underpainting and the sky with its first several layers of color, the emotional atmosphere of the piece beginning to take shape.  Many, many more layers produced the sky as it now looks above.  There are layers that are almost completely obscured, perhaps with only a tiny glimmer of it coming through here and there.  Looking at it, you may not be aware of it but its presence is vital to me, giving the whole thing the depth and life force that I seek in it.

And maybe that last sentence is a good way of explaining the title, The Animating Presence.  The more I worked on this piece, the more I began to feel as though the Red Tree was in some sort of communion with a greater power in this painting, represented by the light breaking over the horizon.

This is always a hard thing to explain for me.  As I have explained in the past, I was not brought up with religion of any sort.  I was never indoctrinated in any sort of system of faith, never led to have either belief or disbelief.  I was just here, neither a believer or an atheist.  But looking at the world I had a sense that there was something more, some unseen source of power that sparked all life and consciousness.  It wasn’t a benevolent god sitting on a throne in some heaven pulling the strings on human events and listening to our prayers.  No, it was more a matter of physics and light and energy, an unseen force that permeated everything– an animating presence.

Now, a couple of hundred words can’t really sum up the whole of  what I am describing or even what I see in this painting.  But it is this struggle to come to terms with this idea of that presence that I see in this painting.  That like those unseen layers of paint in the sky which give depth to the painting, one’s life is given meaning by an unseen force that we may never fully know or understand.

You can see this painting at the Principle Gallery at my Native Voice show,

2015-gc-myers-wip animating presence



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