Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Home Fires & My First Book
This week I am working on a seascape of Big Sur, in California. My wife has been telling me for years "Do more seascapes!" So I painted a small painting of Lanikai Beach in Hawaii for her, and I started the larger Big Sur painting for me. With the heavy impasto of my style, it is a challenge to create all the visual effects that one is liable to see on a turbulent coastline - but it is doable and if well worked over it can make a great painting.
A month ago I had the pleasure of visiting my home state of North Carolina, and getting to introduce our 1 year old son to the larger part of my family that he had not yet met. We had a wonderful time seeing everyone again, especially because it had been almost four years since we'd previously visited. There were lots of great meals, lots of sitting around and talking and catching up. I got to spend a little time in my dad's house, the house where I grew up - and during one visit I went out back to our old workshop, where my brother had a lot of his woodworking tools and where we used to play as kids. I don't know if I remember correctly, but I believe the old building used to be some kind of outbuilding or tobacco barn - used when my dad's house was a farmhouse and the surrounding area were just fields. Anyway, I dug around through the old building, and looked behind a shelf to see a faded piece of paper. I looked closer and saw that it was an old drawing that I had done of a WWII fighter plane. It was so faded the lines were almost indistinct and the paper was brown and crumbly. But I saw the lines that I had made in this drawing that had been hanging there in that place for over 20 years, exposed to the cold and the heat, but still there, faintly. And when I looked to the right of where the drawing was, there was a calendar on the wall that said 1988. Sure it's a cliche, time goes fast - but 1988, yes indeed, like it was five minutes ago.
Of course, on May 1st I was at Lenoir-Rhyne University to receive their young alumni "Rising Star" award, for my contribution to the arts. And lucky for me I had a chance to reconnect with a couple of my old professors, one of whom was my dear friend Dr. Augustin Quilici. It was really great because we walked right up to one another and fell into conversation just as we always did, and I was pleasantly relieved that my French wasn't as bad as I feared it may have been - after many years of not speaking it regularly. I was very pleased to learn that Augustin Quilici is, in his retirement, following a bit of an old dream of his own - to paint pictures! When I was a student in college he had several paintings around that he had done - and they were quite good. But a concerted effort was always difficult for him to make because he was a full time professor, and he understood as well as anyone the time and patience that it took to make a style and create great art. But he had set himself a studio in his home, and he is back to work. I always joked with him that there were "two Quilici painters" i.e., Jean-Claude Quilici, his well known cousin, and Augustin Quilici.
We also had the pleasure of spending some time at the beautiful Raffaldini's Vineyard, near Swan Creek, NC. Since our previous visit Raffaldini's had opened their new villa, which is unparalleled in it's beauty and location. Sitting on top of a gently sloping hill, with views of the mountains all around - I gladly declared that Raffaldini's is one of the most beautiful spots in Western North Carolina. Beautiful enough to rival other lovely places like Biltmore Estate and Stone Mountain. And it is no afterthought that the wine is of superb quality. I wonder how those purveyors of wine in California and other such places are taking the fact that a North Carolina vineyard is winning awards alongside the wines of Napa Valley? It's wonderful to contemplate. My sincere congratulations to Jay and Maureen Raffaldini for making such a wonderful place, and if you happen to visit the vineyard, ask to do a tasting with Paula Shores. She's my mom, and she'll have you laughing and enjoying good wine before you've even had a chance to think about it.
Back here in Arizona, we're getting our courage together to survive another long, hot summer. Days are crawling up into the high 90s F, and pushing 100 now. Time to retreat into the studio and work hard by a beautiful, well lit window.
Lastly, some of you may know by now, but I'd like to let the readers of the blog know that my book "Neil Myers Paintings, 2002- 2010" is now available directly from the printer at Blurb.com. You can click on the link:
There you'll find an online preview of the book and order your copy. The initial reviews from those who've gotten their copies are all really good - and I'm extremely pleased with the result of the book. Blurb.com is a great source for artists and photographers who would like to publish their work.