I’m currently working on 3 large paintings. By large, I mean 4, 3 feet etc, so nothing huge but definitely larger than what I normally work on. The 3 pieces are “bill morris at white flag”, “mark stephens at the firebird” and this one, “tony renner at mad art”. The Tony Renner piece is from an old photo taken during an event Eric Hall put on called BioSonarOne and Tony’s band – Learn, Artist – performed. I’ve always like this photo and intended to do something with it.
It’s also the end of the year and I was thinking about the paintings I completed in 2009. Not as many as I’d like. Here’s the list with links to the image.
Back in May I started this piece which I blogged about here. Last week I picked it back up and started to define it further. I’m always surprised by painting, sometimes things happen quickly and easily, other times every stroke is a struggle. So far the sessions on this piece have been going very smoothly and if they keep up, I may finish by the end of the month. I’ve switched to listening to Jazz for this one, Rock and Roll just wasn’t inspiring enough, the obvious stuff, Coltrane, Miles, Monk and even some Herbie Hancock. This is probably one of the largest paintings I’ve done to date (4x4 feet) and it’s quite the learning experience. When working on something this size or larger, you have so much space to fill and create. Colors and shapes take on new meaning and you must look at the piece in broader terms. I was recently looking (online) at some large paintings by William LaChance and was amazed at how much space he’s able to create. His larger paintings are 7, 8, 12 feet in size and have great detail on every inch. They give me ideas on future large scale paintings I’d like to do of photographs like this, this and this. The idea of painting digital effects caused by a camera is very appealing and would make interesting art.
By the way, if you want to check out some of Bill Morris’ video art, go here.
The weather is turning cooler and my mind has been on the city of Memphis. My wife and I enjoy sneaking out of town for a few days and driving down to Memphis for a concert or art exhibit and staying at one of our favorite hotels, the Talbot Heirs. Here are some minor paintings of views from different rooms at Talbot that will be up on my website soon. Lazy days can be spent at Talbot, drinking beer, eating bbq or catfish, a great place to hide away from the world. Also finished up a commission but it can’t be publicly shown yet, not till the recipient receives it. Now my attention turns back to Mr. Mark Early.
About 3 years ago I was invited to participate in a group show organized by 52nd City at Hartford Coffee. Thanks to the great Thomas Crone, I was introduced to one of the other artists, Chris King. While his young daughter played at a table at the coffee shop, Chris and I got to know each other. He gave me his musical background and talked about the tours he had done with his previous band. It was good to meet someone I had heard so much about face to face. Since then Chris and I will sporadically run into each other, usually at bars, we’ll quickly catch up and then be on our way. But we’re great friends online as he’s never shy about keeping you up to date with what he’s doing. Chris helps run an organization called Poetry Scores which takes poems and turns them into songs. To pay for the material issued by this organization, Chris puts on fund raisers and the next one is why this painting was painted.
On Nov 13 Poetry Scores will host the Sydney Highrise Variations Art Invitational at The Luminary Center for the Arts. 44 artists have been asked to read Les Murray's poem “Sydney Highrise Variations” and pick a line or a group of lines and create a piece of art based on those lines. Chris was kind enough to invite me to participate and the line I selected was “Freud’s cobwebbed poem”. Not sure why I picked that line other than it had the word “Freud” in it and I’ve always been a big fan. After a little research I realized this line was in reference to Sydney, Australia’s business district, so I did a little search online, found a photograph I liked and went to work. The painting will be up for auction, like all the work submitted and all money raised will go to producing a CD of the poem set to music. I own last year’s effort, “Go South for Animal Index”, and it’s a great CD and the main reason why I’m happy to participate in any way I can to help produce another CD.
So if you’re free on Friday Nov 13, stop by the Luminary, check out all the artwork and help out a cool organization making cool stuff.
Here's a blank canvas measuring 39 1/2 x 48 inches. It's an old canvas I've painted over so I'd have something large to work on. On this canvas will go this image which is an old power plant located on the Mississippi River just north of downtown St. Louis. I was taking a riverboat ride with my family a few weeks ago and spotted this impressive building while we were slowly heading up river. I was stuck by the massiveness of the whole complex as well as it's beauty. In order to get the shot I had to stand on a small bridge close to the captains deck. I quickly got up there, snapped the picture and then scurried back to where my family was. When I got home and looked at the photograph I noticed it had the words "Union Electric" on the building. It is a power station that supplies electricity and it's still in use today. But the words caught my attention cause I have a friend who's in a band called Union Electric and I thought he might like the photo. After showing it to him and talking to him about it, he thought it would be a cool idea to have a painting of the picture for their up coming record. I was more than happy to agree with him. He said they'll need the painting by October so I'll be starting on it shortly.
While thinking about when and how I'd start the picture, I started thinking about the other paintings I've done that will be soon featured as album/CD art for upcoming releases.
The second is a conceptional piece I came up with for the Dirty 30s . As you can see it's a slight variation on the Missouri state seal. Normally you have an eagle, bear and half moon in the center but I substituted it with a guitar shaped like Missouri, a mud flap trucker girl and a possum. When the drummer contacted me about doing something I asked him what the songs were about and he said "drinking, women and Missouri" so I thought those things would fit well and he agrees. Not sure when this one will be out but probably by the end of the year.
The third and last one that's coming down the pipeline sometime soon is a new release by the great Finn's Motel whose upcoming record will feature this painting. This silo believe it or not is sitting smack dab in the middle of St. Louis city. I use to drive by it every day on my way to work heading north on Vandevender towards Forest Park Parkway. It's an incredible farm/country type building located just south of the Central West End. I was always mesmerized when driving by it and thought about painting it. It seems Joe Thebeau of Finn's Motel has a fascination with it as well and our interest in this structure coincided with each other. Not sure when this record will be ready.
Needless to say I've very honored and humbled to even be considered to make artwork for all of these bands. They're all really great and original in their own way and I'm more than happy to help out anyway I can.
It's been a long summer, for a number of reasons. For the last month I've been working on this for the Dirty 30s. After finishing that up I figured I'd get back to Jim at 3wk and I did make some progress for a day or two. But that painting is moving at a snails pace and I needed something a little more immediate.
This brings us to Mark at Typo. Mark is a musician who's in about 4 or so bands around town. I snapped this shot when Cherokee St was celebrating Cinco de Mayo back in May. I can already see some proportion problems that need to be fixed. I've been experimenting with gouache lately. Using it to make things stand out. Gouache has this bright, plastic quality to it that almost makes acrylic look dull. I've used it here for Mark's shirt and pants. The painting will go through many changes but those colors will still stand out regardless.
Stress is great, I love it. That was a joke. I hate stress but it always seems to be around. People often ask me when I find time to paint and I tell them painting is the only thing that keeps me civil therefore I have to find time for it. I recall one month at my full-time job a few years ago was particularly stressful. I manage a call center for a ticket agency and if you’re ever tried to order tickets or had a problem with tickets then you can probably imagine the kind of conversations I have on a daily basis with those whose lives have been ruined because they didn’t get the first row of whatever show they were buying tickets for. On this particular month we had a number of high level on sales. Artists like Neil Young, Sammy Hagar, the Broadway musical Wicked, etc…It seemed like everyday there was another big on sale with more rules and regulations for the ticket buyers that I was responsible for enforcing. How did I get through it all? I painted this.
Well that was awhile ago and life goes on, things change, people come and go. I still work for the ticket agency but now I have two small children and I own an art supply store. Unfortunately because the store doesn’t quite make a profit, I still manage ticket sales and have an employee who works at the store. Last week the employee was violently attacked while working and robbed by 4 individuals. The employee is physically ok but understandably shaken by the whole ordeal. I’m shaken as well. I created an environment where someone was harmed. Talk about stress.
Crime is a fact of life in St. Louis, but honestly it’s a fact of life anywhere you live. Granted this did just happen to my car last week, but still no one is really safe from that kind of stuff. So what do you do? In a perfect world I’d be down at the store everyday but at this time that’s just not possible for a variety of reasons. So the stress builds. As it builds I’m slowly working on this piece for the Dirty 30s. Once again it’s painting that’s keeping me civil. As you can see the piece is a slight variation on the Missouri State Seal.
Lee Harvey O T-Shirts now available. This will be the first in a series of t-shirts I've designed and the fine folks at All Along Press have printed in limited quantities. Dark green shirts, 100% preshrunk cotton Hanes Heavyweight in small, medium, large and x-large. On the front you have the tragic Lee Harvey Oswald in white ink and on the back, "http://www.asbestossister.com/", the site where the original design can be found. Shirts are only $12.00 and that includes shipping to anywhere in the United States. Look for more designs in the near future featuring Albert Einstein, Mikhail Gorbachev, Gen. Douglas Macarthur and others.
For a long time now I’ve been transitioning from small canvases to larger canvases. This process has a whole set of issues to deal with including composition, colors, amount of paint, types of brushes, space, etc, etc, etc… All of these things have to come together or the whole piece will just fall apart. There has to be a point where spontaneity and carefully laid plans will work with one another in a painting and trying to find that has been the main challenge. The subject for this challenge is my friend Bill Morris. He’s a talented musician and video artist who’s been working in St. Louis for a long time now. This picture is from a performance he did with Thomas Sleet and a cello player whose name escapes me right now at White Flag Projects about 3 or 4 years ago. The strange thing about all this is I’ve been thinking about painting this picture for about 4 months now and last night I finally got around to it. After I finished for the evening, I checked my email and Bill had sent me a note informing me he was performing with Thomas and Tony Patti at the Sci-Fi Lounge on Thursday night. Now since both Bill and I have busy personal lives we rarely see or talk to one another and I can’t remember the last time we emailed but the very day I start of painting of him (unbeknownst to him) I get a note from him…spooky.
About 4 or 5 years ago Eric Hall put a show together in the basement of Dunaway Books. It featured a piano extraordinaire from San Francisco named Thollem McDonas, Granite City’s mind bending bass player Darin Gray and Mr. Hall himself. The show was one of those things you feel lucky to have seen and heard. The basement of Dunaway is nothing but rows and rows of shelves with books, the trio set up where they could and went to work. I snapped a few photos and always liked the one of Darin sitting down playing his bass with a cymbal mallet. So I tucked it away and waited for the right time to start a painting of it. That time came on Monday Apr 6.
Here’s something I just starting at the request of a good, reliable friend of mine. These back views are always fun and interesting to work on. The perspective in front of the girl will be challenging as well.
I've been working on this one on and off for about 4 years now. It's Jim Atkinson at the old 3WK studios. Jim knows more about rock and roll (old and new) than anyone else I've ever met. He has one of those great radio voices that makes anything he says sound like a radio announcement. When he's not working on the business end of his station he spends his days listening to records and new CDs. Between 2002-2005 I use to hang out with him listening to old vinyl from the late 60's/early 70's and new CDs from bands like Skeletons, Judah Johnson, Trail of Dead and Eels. The painting was from one day when the band Asobi Seksu was in the other room setting up for a recording session. We were quietly waiting for them to get ready. I looked up and saw Jim about to light a cigarette so I got the camera ready and snapped the shot. I knew it would make an interesting painting, hopefully I can finish it up soon.
I was working at the shop today and noticed some free oil samples from Gamblin so I thought I'd try them out. I had brought some small canvases from home to mess around on so I pulled one out and thought about what I should paint. Sitting next to me was the New York Times and they had a picture of Andrew Wyeth standing in his father's studio that looked kind of funny so I decided to use that as my model. Here's the result.
My wife and I just had a wonderful weekend in Memphis and we stayed at the Talbot Heirs. I cannot recommend this place enough, great, great place. When we got back home, I painted this little picture in preparation for a larger painting. I can still smell the catfish in the air and hear the blues on the radio. View of Memphis from our patio.