Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Success and What Comes After

This week I have just finished a new vertical of Saguaros at Catalina State Park called "Winter Light on Saguaros." An entire new group of works are now in the studio drying and posted online at:
http://neilmyers.homestead.com/newworks.html . This is my 'New Works' page.

Recent fortunate events have left me thinking a great deal about the trappings of success. For those who know me personally, one of my biggest personality problems is my near inability to slow down long enough to enjoy the success that I have already had. To me, all of that is in the past tense - and my laser-focus is usually limited to what is on the easel now, and where I think the next good painting is going to come from. It's not in my personality to say "I've arrived". I think all that will be more than open for interpretation long after I am gone. Even after some of the best sales I've ever had in January and February of this year - I remained stricken by the thought of what to do now?

That leads me to the inevitable next conclusion, and that is that it is of utmost importance to find new subjects. Even now into my 5th year of painting in the Southwest, I am eagerly looking for new subjects to explore, including those outside of this region. One of the paintings that I've most enjoyed doing this past month was "Giant Sequoias". And some art-collector friends of mine have suggest that I should attempt paintings of Mount Rainer, and also the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm eager for the challenge, because that releases me a bit from the bulk of my work which is Southwestern. In that lies the knowledge that I believe that this style I work in can be applied to virtually any landscape with beautiful results.

One of the unspoken of aspects of art is the art of finding a proper subject. The importance of this cannot be emphasized enough. How do you find new angles on the landscapes around you? Where are the landscapes in your region that you have not explored? Have you not featured any prominent aspects of your region - things that may make great paintings? What kind of painting needs to exist to fill a void of work that is not currently there? What kind of image is required to make people see things anew? What remains to be said, or expressed? Where is the fire hidden in the rocks?

I encourage all artists to spend some time thinking about those roads that have not yet been tread. We know that there are images to be explored that our viewers, and even ourselves, will enjoy and benefit from.

Never rest on anyone's laurels, least of all your own. Success pays the bills and buys the next stack of canvases - but transcendence is only going to be reached if we focus our relentless gaze on the future - on the road not taken. So, what now? That is the question you must ask yourself on all those days after. Therein lies the possibility of rebirth and creation.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tubac Arts Festival

This week I am working on two Sedona paintings. One is a dried tree with the red mountains of Sedona behind - the other is a series of three red-rock spires towering above a valley of pine trees. I've always enjoyed the color challenges brought out by painting landscapes of Sedona. You get every range of red to orange on your palette, and the colors are sometimes very hard to make. But if the paintings are forcibly executed and the harmonic qualities of the reds and ochres are achieved - then interesting images emerge.

At the moment I'm getting prepared for the Tubac Arts Festival, which runs from Feb. 6 - Feb. 10th in Tubac, AZ. Tubac is a lovely small town full of art galleries and a great history in our local art scene. It is situated just under an hour's driving south of Tucson, just above the Mexican border town of Nogales. I will be doing a demonstration tomorrow at Cobalt Fine Arts from 1-3pm. If you happen to be in Tubac tomorrow, drop by and say hello! There will also be an opening on the evening of Feb. 8th for myself, Fred Collins, and Natasha Isenhour.

I'm very happy that 4 of my paintings have sold before the opening has even happened - so I send my sincerest thanks to those collectors who've purchased my work.

And to give you all a bit of a scoop on one of my next projects, and I'm planning to do a painting of the Giant Sequoias of California. We had the pleasure of briefly visiting the Mariposa grove of Sequoias at Yosimite National Park in 2006. We walked down a path for a good distance to get to them, and as we did it had begun to rain. By the time we got there it was pouring rain, we were all soaking wet and the few photographs that we have from our time in the Sequoia grove have haunted me, and now my wife and I are trying to think of a way to sneak in another trip to the region to see Sequoia National Park. I see at least one painting - maybe more, of these great trees waiting to be done. And it occured to me that I'd seen photographers taking artful shots of the Sequoias, but I have never seen a painting of one. I have visions in my head of the giant bases of these trees rendered in thick paint, with their reddish-sienna colors shining through.

Thinking about the Sequoias, Redwoods, and the old growth forests of the west, one can easily see why such amazing forests MUST be preserved. I well remember those few minutes we spent in the pouring rain at the bases of these giant trees -and the feeling that I had, as if spending time among nature's gods. Everyone should feel this, and everyone should be concerned at the sound of chainsaws in our old growth forests.