Allow us to introduce you to George Myers, a talented artist with a passion for nature and living a life that leaves a small footprint.
I’ve been travelling the world as an artist for the past few years, but originally my background is in science! I’ve always been fascinated by nature, and so from a young age I would both study it academically, and study it artistically, through observations and extensive drawings. As an artist, every single painting I produce is inspired by the beauty of nature, and ultimately, that’s what I aim to convey in my work.
I stopped consuming animal products 4 years ago, during my first year studying Biology at Oxford University. Prior to this life-changing evening, I had been a meat-obsessed rugby player, who, despite my love for nature, rarely thought about how I might be impacting it.
But this all changed one evening, following a discussion with some other students about the environmental implications of the meat and dairy industries. For the first time in my life, I started thinking about the immense power of our consumption patterns. That evening I put aside all my work and literally stayed up all night reading endless scientific research papers about the environmental ramifications of the meat and dairy industries. I was blown away by what I found. For many years, I’d been learning about the declining health of global ecosystems, and our apparent helplessness against it. But in reality, we are not helpless.
One of the leading contributors to global warming through excessive greenhouse gas emissions, is animal agriculture. Greater, even, than the entire global transport industry. Not only does it contribute directly to global warming, but due to the land-use inefficiency of meat production relative to crop production, meat production requires much, much more land!
And thus, every day an obscene amount of virgin rainforest, woodland and other such ecosystems across the globe, are being cleared, unnecessarily, to meet the growing demand for meat. Countless species of plants and animals that we may have never discovered, are losing their habitat and are going extinct, literally because of excessive meat consumption.
The way I see it, we may not all be able to afford electric cars, solar panels or sustainable homes. But we can all choose to eat more sustainably. And in fact, as research suggests, this will actually have a greater impact than any other lifestyle choice.
Once I read the research, and learnt that truth, I couldn’t unlearn it. So in that moment I chose to hold my moral beliefs, my scientific integrity, and my adoration for nature, above my tastebuds, and I’ve never consumed animal products since.
I would say that the biggest challenge for vegans, is it’s social repercussions. When you first go vegan, you may be bombarded with questions, judgment and funny looks! And whilst this does quickly subside after a few weeks, it can still be quite challenging at first.
My advice for others in this position? Do your research and stay compassionate! It can be quite frustrating when people are quizzing you about veganism, and you can’t quite formulate your answers properly. After a few experiences like this I decided enough was enough, and I literally wrote down a huge list of all the questions people had asked me and then I wrote short, non-judgmental and factually based answers to them all!
I learnt this list of answers and was amazed at how much easier it made my life. Not only did these conversations become less intense, but because my answers were calm, collected and factually based, people responded better to them and more often than not, they would lead into interesting and meaningful conversations, as opposed to Q&A sessions or arguments!
My ethos on fitness, especially whilst travelling, is to make the most out of what I have. I love training in a fully-equipped gym if I can find one, but more often than not, it’s simply a matter of moving my body in any way I can, and eating clean. I love running, climbing, yoga, slacklining, calisthenics; basically anything outdoors that allows me to have free FUN whilst keeping fit!
I believe that we are all artists, whether we want to be or not. Art is a realm of appreciation, expression and wonder that we all delve into from time to time. We don’t need to create art, in order to be an artist, the art is there nonetheless. When I sit on the beach to watch the sunset in the evenings, I am surrounded by others who share that moment with me.
In our heads and hearts, we all experience that sunset differently. Some people look at the sunset and marvel at the swirling colours, others see sadness in the sunset, as the light of day fades away, others don’t really look at the sunset, but they listen to it in the sounds of the crashing waves, the salty sea breeze. Whether we try to or not, we are all artists, naturally, innately.
A sense of presence. That is what runs through me as I paint, and what I hope people will feel when they look at my work. I paint each piece using sticks of bamboo that I hand-carved for each painting. This allows me to achieve unparalleled detail, compared to conventional brushes, but it forces me to work slowly, mindfully.
I paint in a meditative state, entirely absorbed by the sensations of my body, using the rhythm of my breath to calm my mind and steady my hand. In this state of pure mindful awareness, simple sensations such as the texture of the canvas, the sounds I hear, or the rhythm of my breath, bring sublime, overwhelming joy.
So, when people look at my artwork, I would like them to breathe, to slow down, to lay down their thoughts for a few brief moments and enjoy how beautiful life can be when we allow ourselves to settle into the endless now.
Creating artwork is a fundamental part of how I travel. It is how I connect with and understand a place. Over the years, I’ve naturally developed a minimalist style of painting which fits perfectly into my nomadic lifestyle.
For example, rather than painting on traditional, yet bulky, box canvases, I paint on raw sheets of rolled canvas and hang my paintings on pieces of bamboo, similar to a scroll. This allows me to roll up my paintings, store them inside a case and carry a large selection of them with me as I travel from place to place.
I owe my success as an artist, to nature. It provides me with the divine patterns, shapes and textures from which my paintings emerge. My artwork merely serves to portray a glimpse of nature’s beauty.
I love the permanency of ink, it’s strangely liberating! Unlike paint or graphite, I can’t erase my mistakes or simply paint over them. This was quite daunting when I first started working with ink 3 years ago, but now, I absolutely love it. I guess, it’s like walking on a tightrope. I must remain peaceful, utterly mindful, or I will lose my balance – it’s exciting!
Let’s say I’ve been working on a painting for an entire month. If I lose focus and make a mistake at this stage, the entire painting could be ruined. And thus, painting with ink forces me to transcend into a powerful state of mindfulness throughout the entire duration of my painting process, it reminds me that our actions have consequences, and that ultimately, neither the past, nor the future really matter, you create them both in the present moment, and allowing your mind to become distracted by them, will impede your performance, now and always.
I am probably most proud of my large ink painting “Herd”. I painted this herd of elephants to portray the profound beauty of elephants, and to raise awareness to the implications of the ivory trade on elephant populations.
The elephants that inspired this painting were recently discovered to have been born without tusks, a growing trend in many African elephant populations as a product of the selective pressure imposed by ivory poaching. Not only was I really pleased with how this painting turned out, but I donated a percentage of profits from sales of the original, and prints, to an elephant conservation charity, and was so proud to have been able to raise this money for charity.
It can’t be said enough – BE YOURSELF! Not only will people appreciate the unique personality that emanates from your work, but very importantly, you will enjoy creating your artwork much more. And ultimately, if you’re not enjoying it, you’re doing it wrong! So always, always, do what makes YOU happy.
Over the course of the next year, my partner Chloe and I will gradually make our way to India, and on the way, amongst many things, we’re planning to complete our Divemaster training, which we’re super excited about! (Coral reefs are probably my favourite place on earth!).
I’m going to continue painting wherever we are, fusing the new cultures and experiences into my artwork.
You can follow my journey around the world, learn about my artistic process and see all my artwork on my Instagram @explore.infinity. I’ll be launching my new website in a few weeks will be accessible from there! If you’d like to chat to me about anything, I’d love to hear from you. You can either message me on Instagram or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace