Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Learning to Love All The Seasons

This week I must admit that I am still working on the new Acoma Pueblo painting that I talked about last week. The maze of ladders, shadows, and the long range of delicate pink and ochre colours are all keeping me plenty busy. But this one is 87% done, and will likely see the end of the road in the next few days. New works have also been posted on the "New Paintings" page of my official website at , including my first painting of the Sierras called "Yosemite Valley." This work is part of an extended group of themed paintings that I will be doing that is inspired by our amazing national parks.

One thought that has been buzzing around my head came up after a talk with a gallery director this past week. He was mentioning that some collectors did not look favorably on a painting of mine that depicted a dead Saguaro. It got me to thinking about the kind of works that people buy - and those subjects which have sold the best for me, and it does seem to me that there is a low level, perhaps unspoken, preference for seeing any plant or landscape in full bloom - or in the prime of its life. If this is true, as it seems it is in many instances, I have to admit that I don't understand where it comes from.

I think it was Camille Pissaro who complained in a letter that all the Paris collectors wanted at that particular time was "Haystacks, Summer Sunshine" by Claude Monet. So is there now, as there seemed to be then, a preference for just certain seasons of natural life?

I believe that if you fancy yourself as an appreciator of natural beauty, then you are obliged to appreciate it in all its forms and stages of life - including that of death. All around the Sonoran desert we have these grand old skeletons of Saguaros that continue to stand, poking their wooden, spindly forms into the air often long after they die. They form a stark contrast to the olive-greens of the living Saguaros - as the dead ones and their wooden skeletons add yet another color and feature to our desert. Some collapse and you come across them decaying on the ground. They are interesting artistically, for the main reason that the Saguaro has such a long lifespan. It is not uncommon for them to live for up to 200 years or more. And they are often around 50 years old before they are even large enough to sprout a single arm.

I've heard some people say that there is a cultish obsession in America with youth - and that we don't value the wisdom of age and the stages of life the way we really should. And perhaps this was emerging in the comment about my Saguaro painting. Of course, a collector is obliged to buy or enjoy whatever images they like - and I for one am simply grateful that wonderful collectors continue to purchase my works and give me great motivation to keep going. However I can only encourage everyone to broaden their vision, and learn to see the beauty in all living things - and appreciate them at every point of their existence, including the end.

The autumn and the winter are just as beautiful as the spring and summer.
*All Images are Copyright Neil Myers 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Somewhere in-between Acoma and Catalina

For the past 4 days I have been working on a new painting of the Acoma Pueblo, in New Mexico. The wash coat has been laid down and I'm carefully drawing out a maze of ladders and pink pueblo walls and ochre coloured earth. My first Acoma Pueblo painting was "Acoma Pueblo, Sunny Day" and it was quickly sold by the Max Gallery in Tucson - shipping out, if I remember correctly, to collectors in Virginia.

My 13 paintings currently on display at the Max Gallery in Tucson are due to come down shortly, but many are still featured on my website at . Another show is in the works for the Tubac Arts Festival, in February. I am also featured in the November 2007 issue of Southwest Art Magazine, in the "Best of the West" section.

For me the attraction of the settlements of our Native Americans is more than just nostalgic - I feel the most alive when I visit these places. They are unlike anything that modern society builds. In many cases, they are quiet, solemn places where you are alone with the wind and the blue sky above you. I feel ecstatic, amazingly alive in places like Acoma and Taos. My eyes are filled with images of lovely, organically shaped Pueblos that seem to rise up out of the earth, like they are a part of the earth - a continuation of it.

This morning I visited Catalina State Park, just down the road from where I live in Oro Valley, Arizona. It was a cool, crisp morning and the sun had not yet peaked above the ridges of the giant Catalinas that loom above our part of town. The entire landscape was lit, as if by a cool blue-gray shadow, and the rays of the early morning sun emerged slowly from behind the rocky mountain peaks. Just as I entered the park, I saw a dark form dart across the road. Driving up to that spot slowly I looked around, and off to my right was a dusty peppered colored coyote, slowly making his way through a field of short grass. I slowed down and watched his progress - and then saw another car approaching from a distance. The coyote took one look at me, and then one look at the approaching car - timed his run perfectly, and darted in front of both of us, back to the other side of the road.

I love coyotes dearly, for their nighttime cackling howls, and for their incredible resourcefulness and cunning. A coyote seems to always do what is necessary, and that seems like a great lesson for all of us.

Back to the easel! Much 'necessary' work to be done! Happy thanksgiving!

*All images are Copyright Neil Myers 2007