I usually paint every night depending on what's going on and I always have left over paint from each session and the idea of just letting it dry up is really aggravating to me. Instead of letting it go unused, I grab a small canvas that's laying around and I spread the left over paint randomly on the canvas. The canvases will eventually be used for something and it will be fun to incorporate the color, shapes and textures the extra paint creates.
Back in 2005, about 3 months before my first child was born, my wife and I took a trip to New York City. She is a Monty Python fan and really wanted to see Spamalot on Broadway and I had the connection for good seats so away we went. After we checked into our hotel we wandered around the city. We walked everywhere and took in the sites. Before we knew it, we were in some kind of arts district with a lot of galleries. We strolled into a gallery (Plum Blossoms) and I read the written description of the show currently up. To my amazement I recognized the name of the curator – Tim Evans. The last time I saw Tim was about 10 years earlier in Oakland CA. Tim is from the same town in Missouri as me, Jackson. He’s a couple years older but every now and then he’d let a little skate punk like me hang out with him. Not only is he an accomplished and talented artist but also a great musician and has played in many bands over the years.
So we walk through the gallery and take a look at all the cool artwork. This show was mainly of Japanese artists and the work was so detailed and varied. A mix of design, video and representational, now that I think about it, the kind of stuff that’s pretty mainstream now but not so much back in 2005. Akino Kondoh and Keiji Ito work really stood out.
While walking around I notice Tim standing behind the gallery counter so I go up and say hi. Naturally he was surprised to see me and we talked about what the other had been up to. I asked him if I could snap a photograph of him and he was cool with that, later I did a painting of it. He suggested we go see the current show at the Japan Society which we dutifully did. After catching up we said goodbye, I couldn’t believe the chances of actually seeing someone I knew in New York City. My wife and I headed to a diner for some pie.
The next day we found the Japan Society and hung out there for the morning. They had a huge exhibit going on dedicated to Japanese Pop Art which included everything from pornographic comics to Godzilla.
Close by the Japan Society is the MOMA and we had to go see that although there’s no way to see it all in an afternoon or a lifetime. It was pretty amazing and cool to see all kinds of paintings I had only read about. After a few hours we walked out and I spotted a hot dog vender across the street. I got a hot dog and turned to look at the MOMA. I noticed right next to the MOMA was this incredible looking building, then I realized this was the American Folk Art Museum and my interest peaked even more. Needless to say I’m extremely interested in Folk Art primarily because it’s the art I practice. Not that I’ve studied Folk Art, although I have read a great deal about it, but just by being a self-taught painter and American to boot, I'm practicing American Folk Art. Unfortunately there was not time to visit the museum as the afternoon was turning to evening and the museum was closing. Not to be completely foiled in my ignorant discovery, I snapped a photograph for a future painting, finished my hot dog and off we went back to the hotel.
The rest of the trip was quite fun. Dinner at a Brazilian restaurant, late night pizza in Times Square, more gallery walking in SOHO, spotting John C. Reilly talking with people on the street (I so badly wanted to take his photograph but didn’t cause he noticed me and got that frighten celebrity look in his eye), seeing Billy Crystal push a fan back and yell at her for coming to close to him, watching Spamalot with the original Broadway cast, wandering around Central Park and seeing the spot where John Lennon was shot (although that part was not fun, very sad).
Recently I had the opportunity to participate in an event put on by an organization called "Poetry Scores". This organization puts together poetry books, films and CDs. Periodically they hold events to raise funds for these projects and that brings us to why I'm painting this picture. Eric Hall nabbed the winning bid for the "Dana Smith paints your band performing live" at the 2008 Experiential Auction.
I've done a few paintings of Eric Hall and so it's a pleasure to do one more and for a good cause. Last week I made it out to the Way Out Club for a performance by Eric's latest band - N. Nomurai. I had yet to hear N. Nomurai live though I had listened to the tunes on myspace so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. When they started, one word came to my mind, Power. The group is powerful and I think this has to do with having 2 bass players, especially added with the drums.
I sat down in front on stage left and took some shots. When I'm shooting film, I have no idea how the pictures will turn out. I constantly change the settings and click away. The main thing I try to concentrate on is composition. If you get a good composition then everything else will fall into place.
The photograph I'm working with turned out pretty good. I like how the bass player on the right side anchors the painting. The drummer is caught in good action and Eric is ever in control with his hand guiding the chaos the group is producing. The background has been interesting to work with as well. So much black that will eventually be filled up with white writing. And I love the red wash that is over Eric and the other bass player, that will make for an interesting image.
Here's something I did in about 2 hours. It's just a quick study of a subject I plan on doing a large scale painting of once certain details are worked out. It depicts Jesse Irwin chainsawing a painting from an event last year called Art Attack held at the South Athletic Broadway Club. Last year was the first time this event was held as a fund raiser for SCOSAG and KDHX. The idea is for artists to submit paintings for a drunk, rowdy crowd to judge and if the crowd doesn't like the painting then it gets destroyed. The painting that's getting destroyed here was by Steven Smith and I suspect he wanted it destroyed because it's a picture of Ben Bernanke. It appears Art Attack is happening again this year and this study was done in preparation for what I'll submit once we receive our canvas. If a painting doesn't get destroyed then it's auctioned off to the highest bidder. Last year the painting I submitted was auctioned for 90 bucks. I spent a month painting it. I won't spend that much time on this year's painting.
Old McKendree Chapel is said to be the first Methodist church located west of the Mississippi river. It is a historical site. So I thought about it a lot and decided to do a painting of it. When I decided to do the painting I hadn’t been there in awhile, having lived in St. Louis for the last 10 years or so. I had rarely visited it since moving away from the area so I decided to go down and have a look and take some photos. When I got there, I didn’t realize they had built this shelter thing over it, like a roof to protect it from the weather, which I think is a good idea. However, it makes for one strange photo as far as this thing on top of it. The painting I was envisioning when I was thinking about it was this cabin out in the country with a blue sky above it, you know. But it’s not going to be like that. I guess I could do that if I wanted, however, it wouldn’t be as it is now, which is the whole point.
I had a lot of trouble painting those front logs, the black and white ones. There are many subtle changes in the black that you probably can’t even see but were done because they were driving me so crazy with how it looked; I want it to look as it is. To get each of those white lines right took a lot of time too, they’re not random, that’s how it is. There are many dwellings, houses, buildings built in this style that are still around but there’s only one McKendree Chapel so I want it to be as accurate as possible.
Not to say its being painted for religious reasons, so to speak. More historical, it’s a very old dwelling. It was built in 1819, so it’s rather old. It was used as a place for worship (and still is on Easter mornings) but I’m sure it was used for many other things as well like picnics, weddings, community gatherings, etc throughout its history. There are a couple other buildings on the grounds too that were used for various things.
My wife and I went down to visit and there’s a cemetery across the street which actually had some long lost relatives of mine, great, great grandfather and such. Then we drove across the street and wandered onto the church grounds. There weren’t any official people out there, just some other tourists. It’s just kind of out in the middle of nowhere with very few markers of any kind.
While we were there I saw a snake on the side of the church and it was eating a bird. I took a photo of this but I tried not to bother the snake. I thought about it and wondered is the snake there protecting the church or is the church surrounded by the snake? Does the snake represents evil or was it just something that happens on a daily basis out in the country? If the snake was protecting the church then maybe you need evil to fight against evil. But it was a strange thing to have happen while visiting a church.
Currently working on this painting of a restaurant, diner, greasy spoon as they say, called Eat Rite. Which is located on Chouteau and 7th, or is that Broadway? One of those.
Eat Rite is an all night diner type place where you can get a good cheeseburger at 4 in the morning for a good price, if you want. This piece will be part of a trilogy that includes paintings of The Buttery and Courtesy.
It's just, I don't know, something you paint cause it's cool and it's there, you know?
The painting still has a long way to go. It was started a few months back and I've been slowly adding to it, but lately it's been giving me some static. The photo I'm working from isn't that great so that probably has a little bit to do with it. It's got a lot of weird shadows in it, so I'm trying to figure those out and just kind of stumble through it. There are clearly things that need to be changed but it's too far along to go back now. I'll just continue and make due best I can.