By Martin Chang
Greg Stanley has been in touch with his creative side for most of his life. He paints, writes poetry, and gets a different feeling from both types of artistic expression.
Stanley grew up in Gaithersburg, Maryland until he was around 30. Then, in 1989, he moved to Austin, Texas where he worked for a friend’s band. This band broke up after a few months but Stanley stayed in Austin. While in Austin, he went to college and worked as a sign painter and graphic artist. In the 70’s, while he was developing his graphic art skills, Stanley began to dabble in writing, “I actually started writing funny limericks, stories,” he said. Even at this early stage, he found a creative outlet in poetry. He said, “I really enjoy trying to create a feeling. When I get a little depressed or down, or feel really good, I just start thinking and the poetry comes out. It just comes to me.” In order to get in this mood of “feeling” Stanley likes to do things like relax in a field and listen to music.
One of Stanley’s early poems represents to him this desired emotion of what he calls “instant gratification.” This poem is called “Dreaming of You.”
Here I lay dreaming of you,
It’s the only thing left to do,
For you have gone far away
where it is you did not say.
In comparison to the immediate emotional impact of poetry, Stanley finds painting to be a meticulous process. He describes the process of doing one painting, “It took months of planning, I took photographs, it was a very long process.”
Despite this, Stanley still prefers painting to poetry overall. “I like them both but they hit me at different times,” he said. “I’ve been painting much longer and I’ve been drawing since high school. I enjoy doing it and I just love seeing people’s reaction when they see it.”
Stanley was first made aware of the Kern County poetry scene when he met Portia Choi at one of the galleries here in town. According to Choi, they had a pleasant conversation, “I noticed his paintings were playful and also had depth of feeling. He seemed interested in what I was doing and I told him about the poetry Open Mic,” she said. Choi feels his poetry has a similar tone. She said, “I looked his name up and read his poems. I found a similar depth of feeling and playfulness in his poems.”
Choi also enjoyed getting to know Stanley because his name had a humorous connection to her past artistic inspiration in life. As a coincidence, one of Choi’s early creative and personal friends also had the last name of Stanley. This person’s name is Christine Stanley and seeing another artist with a similar name was a pleasant reminder of Christine Stanley and that time in her life. “I met Christine during the early part of my career when I lived in an apartment in Los Angeles,” she said. “She was carrying many paintings upstairs to her apartment. The paintings were those of her parents. She became a dear friend over the years. She encouraged me to write and trust my creativity.”
When he is not painting or writing poetry, Greg Stanley enjoys the outdoors. “I love hiking. I do backpacking. I like nature, you can see that in some of my poetry,” he said. Stanley cares deeply for his two dogs, a brown dog with white spots named Sinkerdoodles, and a black dog with white spots named Tulip. He refers to the two dogs as “my girls.” He can be seen beaming proudly with Sinkerdoodles and Tulip in the first image of the gallery at the top of the page. Stanley tries his best to include his two pets when going out on hikes and nature walks. “Snickerdoodles is getting a little old. She can’t walk as much as she used to,” he said. “But Tulip loves going outside.”