“I’ve often felt that we best see and better understand things that possess human qualities. I remember being taught that the Native American tribes in the area where I grew up gave names to local hills based on the human qualities they had. It made an impression and started me looking for the human form in all things. The curve of a tree trunk. The roll of the land. The fingers of clouds in the sky . . .” – GC Myers
You can find GC Myers’ Bird (The Mind Ponders), which was the very first Other Cool Bird, with the other Painter Birds.
A self-taught and talented painter, GC Myers’ landscapes and other work are full of color and emotion.
Below is a little additional information about the artist and his work, including a few sample images (visit him on Facebook for many more wonderful pieces, including some of his recent work, or visit West End Gallery for over four dozen images of his work).
The following was taken from an interview email exchange with GC Myers:
I noticed some blues and purples in some of your new work. Any particular impetus behind that?
GC Myers: Quite often at the beginning of my annual painting cycle, I try to kick up the color intensity a bit to give me something new from which to work off as I prepare for my two or three annual shows. I have used these colors in the past, though only sparingly, but I don’t know why that is. They’re exciting colors to work with and that excitement is one of the primary drivers in maintaining a deep involvement with my work, especially after so many years spent in the studio. So, I am trying to give them a regular spot in my color rotation.
Young Adult author, Jacqueline Woodson says writers tend to focus on the time in our lives we’re still working through. Is there an element of truth to Woodson’s claim, perhaps as it relates to a theme that resonates with you now that might have been formed by something in your past?
GC Myers: Yeah, I think she is on to something there. I still tend to paint as a 17-year old, trying to understand the confusion I then felt with the world and all its complexity and translate it into a simpler form that better suits my limited intellect. I still find myself sorting out what I am and what I am not. This search for the self which has been with me for close to forty years is still a big theme in my work.
When asked what his “obsession” is and how it informs his work, GC Myers responded:
GC Myers: “I have always looked for what I call The Big Quiet.
Before I was a painter (not being one until I was in my mid-30’s) I wanted to write but always found myself writing about silence and the quiet of wide open spaces. Not exactly riveting reading but not a bad place to start as a painter. I often view the landscapes of my work as not being places where I have been physically but as aspirations for where I want to be, at least in an emotional sense.”
The vivid colors, the juxtaposed angles and lines of Myers work resonate with me, but I believe it’s the combination of those things and the story being told that also connects with me on an emotional level.
In my novels, I tend to write about internal landscapes more than external. Myers, though painting quite striking external landscapes, also manages to convey the internal quite well.
Do you begin a painting with a message in mind that you hope to communicate or does one evolve as you paint?
GC Myers: “No, there is very seldom any intent at all at the beginning of a painting. There is no predetermined message or story when I first face the painting surface. I generally start with a mark or a block of color and let the piece take me where it will. I try to let each new mark determine what the next will be, letting the painting grow organically.
I have found that when I try to predetermine the message of a painting that there is a loss of rhythm and naturalness in the work, making it look contrived. In this area, I’ve always maintained that my instinct is much more reliable than my intellect.”
What are you painting for?
GC Myers: “When I first started painting, I painted only for myself, to express an inner emotion and to somehow make a mark that would signify my own existence in this world.
But I have been very fortunate over the years to have heard many stories from those who follow my work about how it has deeply affected their lives, much more so than I could ever imagine when I am alone in the studio. These stories make a deep impression on me and I find myself wanting to deepen my work even more, emotionally.
I now don’t care deeply about style or technique or theories in art, although I appreciate their place . I simply want to use the voice I have to spark that fuse of emotion in others. It doesn’t always work but when it does, there is no greater feeling”
GC Myers: When I was first painting, I avoided red in most of my work. It seemed too powerful for me, too sharp in the way it came off the surface. I hadn’t made the connection with the color yet, didn’t yet understand how it worked on an emotional level.
But on a trip to the Boston Museum of Fine Art, I saw a painting by Robert Henri of an Irish girl in a red sweater. It wasn’t a large painting, small by the standards of the space in which it hung. But sitting there for about a half-hour, I saw droves of people come into this large gallery and make a beeline for this painting, ignoring the other larger masterworks that surrounded it. It was a fine painting but hardly astounding and it left me wondering why it had such an impact.
It had to be the crimson of that sweater. Getting back to work, I started working with red more and began to really connect with the color, seeing what an emotional color it really is. It sparks an intense reaction in people. Perhaps it is in its symbolic nature as the color of blood, that which drives our lives. I have found that it further animates the symbols on which I use it, personifying them in a way that even the casual observer can sense.
It is the color of life for me now and probably why it remains such an important color in my palette.
Do you have any specific upcoming projects or exhibits for which we should keep a look out?
GC Myers: I have my annual shows at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA, just a few miles from DC, in June and my July show at the West End Gallery in Corning. I hope to finish up a new book of my work this year to supplement my book In Quiet Places which documented some of my work from 2003-2008. Plus there are a few things coming up that have to finalized. So it looks to be another busy year.