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Friday, December 19, 2008

Come Together (Yes, Think Beatles Too)

Jared Followill
Listening to The Verve on my wife's iPod while painting Jared Followill of KOL this morning, I remembered seeing the London reunion show of Ashcroft and Co. We stood in front of bassist Simon Jones at that concert, front row. So awesome. Both Si and Jared are amazing, driving their bands' music, I think. KOL's recent release "Only By The Night" really shows Jared's talent.

But they're part of a band, a team. Each foursome combines their talents to create their magic. Richard Ashcroft wasn't as transcendent as a solo artist. Good, but not magic. There's something about McCabe's ethereal guitar layered on top of Si's bass, next to Richard's voice, punctuated by Salisbury's drums. Gives me chills. I know, it's long, but stick it out.

And don't get me started on KOL. Holy shit, they're amazing. Just watch the whole song.

My wife, my in-laws, and I made a very special Christmas gift for Jason's girls. We worked really well as a team. Each of us did our part: dad on construction, mom on sewing, my wife on design, me on artistic execution. It was so much more satisfying to have our energy focussed together. It makes one feel more human to work with many. I suppose that's what it's all about.

Especially this time of year.

Peace. And Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Limbo, The Void, and "42"

Caleb Followill

I like answers. Especially to practical questions and questions asked of other people. Promptness is good, but eventually isn't never. I like answers because I can then make subsequent decisions based on those answers which I couldn't have otherwise. I can ask more questions.

Quite awhile ago, the Kings of Leon's label teamed up with a t-shirt company to run a contest. The winner of the best design as chosen by the band would have their design available at all the gigs of their tour supporting "Because Of The Times". No winner was chosen, no answer. Fans who entered were ticked off. I didn't fault the band at all. Shit, they were touring behind their first breakout album in the States. It was the handling of the communication that bugged me.

Yesterday, I managed to get the attention of Hugh on Twitter. Got an answer to my question, no he won't go for an art trade. Sweet. Yes or no. Just tell me. Don't leave me in limbo. Starbucks never told me no.

I also like questions. When communicating with the void (what I'm currently calling life, the universe, and everything) questions are good. They lead to thought, self-reflection, and growth. Questions like these beget questions. No answers needed. These are the sorts of questions that keep things flowing, allow for feedback, and help maintain balance. And answers do come back unexpectedly too. Sometimes without even knowing the question.

Answers without questions. "42". Hitchhiker's is one of my favorite books of all time. Given to me by my friend Bret when we were in junior high, it is one of those deep yet incredibly riotous works. If you haven't read it, read it. If you have, you know what I'm talking about. You've got the answer. Now we need the question. That's what Life is for, no?


Tuesday, December 16, 2008


federal trademark certificate

I haven't been able to paint for a couple of days because of family craziness, but things keep progressing. Yesterday I received my official federal trademark certificate for my VA logo! So cool.

Last Friday I found out about a local show called Fill In The Groove opening that Saturday evening. Holy smokes! Fortunately I had a few unframed pieces back from a show in New York so I ran them down to the record store hosting the show put on by Spraygraphic. It was terrific! It's the first group vinyl art show that I've been able to attend. I'm not the best networker, but this was good practice.

Another show, the Red Bull Wax Museum show hosted by the Norml Clothing store in Ottawa, went on this past weekend too. It looks like they selected a couple of mine to mount and frame all fancy-like for the charity auction. Here's the Isaac Hayes I painted:

I've also gotten more followers on Twitter. I'm still figuring out how the microblogging site will fit in with my online communication, but it is a slick way to reach a new audience. You can follow me too if you're so inclined!

That's all for now. We'll see what happens tomorrow!


Friday, December 12, 2008

Knowledge And Remembering

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi After writing my post earlier today, I was driving to get some lunch. My head still full of pie-in-the-sky ideas, I couldn't remember where the Del Taco was (for some screwy reason I was craving their double cheeseburger and those crinkle fries AND the one that was next to the bank up the street went out of business) so I had to guess. Fortunately, I live in the east valley of the Phoenix metro area, Gilbert specifically. Cookie-cutter city, well, county actually. I happened upon an intersection with: Burger King, Taco Bell, McDonald's, Jack-in-the-Box, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, KFC/A&W, and, of course, Starbucks. Seriously! Right? But this isn't about that end-of-the-world scenario.

This is about the distinction between knowing something and remembering before you knew it. Before! Tricky! I "know" how to solve pde's from my classes in multi-variable calculus (yes, I got my sheepskin studying Physics and Computer Science). I don't "remember" how to, but it's "in" my brain. I suppose.

I guess I don't know. Oops, wait. I don't know if I remember. No, that's not it. What was I talking about again?

Oh yeah, tools. Techniques, and other things you can memorize, fade. Good. You don't need'em. A lot of eastern philosophies/religions have as a goal the unlearning of things, Yoda too. Cool guy, I've still got my little Star Wars action figure with the felt robe. Anyway, modern takes on old thoughts rephrase the idea of stripping away, reducing, unburdening ourselves of unnecessary stuff in our heads. I particularly liked don Miguel Ruiz's "Voice of Knowledge".

I don't know where that post earlier today came from, can't know, don't really wanna. What I do know is now I'm supposed to be where I am now, thinking as I am now, finding balance and love now in Life. Something the Maharishi probably "knew", but didn't "remember" or need to.

If you enjoyed this ramble, have a go at another.


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi 12/12/08

Steps Back (Or, What Is Vinyl Art?)

The Beatles - Vinyl Art

The yang to the yin of progress is steps back.

We take steps back to see the bigger picture.
We take steps back to get perspective.
We take steps back to regain balance.
We take steps back to learn from mistakes.

My dad likes to say that our feet point forwards for a reason. True, but sometimes one needs to look back. Our heads do turn enough around to see.

You are reading the blog of Daniel Edlen. Me.

I handpaint portraits of musicians and entertainers on vinyl recordings of their performances.

I call it Vinyl Art. After filing the necessary paperwork, I discovered the existence of vinyl art toys. Oh well.

I came up with the idea as a teenager back around '92. My dad had turned me onto The Beatles on vinyl, and my mom volunteered at the library handling used book and record donations. I got first pick of the records, which didn't sell well. Amassing duplicates of my favorite albums, the idea hit me after a high school art project I did using white pencil on black paper. I did about 6 of them and lost interest.

I began selling them after work-friends suggested I see if people'd go for them as holiday gifts back in '06. Fortunately I could still paint, maybe a bit better than before, following years of sculpting people out of clay.

I use only white acrylic paint, dabbing it on with small brushes which wear out very quickly.

I show them at a few galleries, I participate in every show of artwork using vinyl records I find out about, and, yes, I do commissions. I love doing commissions the most. The best is when someone has the record they want me to paint on.

See, I do this to make the world a better place as I can. My story has become about connecting people with people, with their culture, with their memories, with their music. It makes people feel warm inside to think about their music. The troubles and destruction and negativity in the world quiet for a moment.

My story has also become about giving. Giving Vinyl Art as a gift works out well for all involved. And giving to charity through my art does too. I've done it enough that it warranted a category, which you can find in my table of contents to your right.

That brings me to this blog. I started it partly as a journal of my trials and tribulations as a self-employed self-promoting artist, and partly to expand the knowledge of my work. It's become a very important outlet for me, especially after my brother-in-law Jason died suddenly this past February. A kind of therapy. But also a way to connect myself to my art, to make it meaningful.

I know that the mere idea of portraits on vinyl might seem gimmicky or hokey and the pieces might not fit into typical art world categories, but it is the passion for music which motivates me. You can find many examples throughout this blog of how that expresses itself. Through stories about the musicians, about the galleries, about the people commissioning pieces, about the people getting them as gifts, about the charities, and about me.

I, Daniel Edlen, the artist, am in this blog.

So I continue.


SOLD - The Beatles 12/12/08

Thursday, December 11, 2008


The Beatles on TwitPic

How do you measure progress? Is it always judged by goals achieved, destinations reached, ends?

If life is a journey, then progress is inevitable, uncontrollable even. Whether you like it or not. All you can do is choose how to react. All you are really responsible for in this life is your actions. Again, I think that's why the Tao Te Ching is mostly about action.

So, I'm making progress on Twitter. To me, big progress. But then I don't have a frame of reference. I'm like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie...

All I know is a coupla guys I really respect have, in one way or other, become followers of my stream there. They didn't have to listen. They still might not, especially if I ramble too much there like I probably do here. They're certainly busy enough that they have time to complain about having too much to do. But for now, they're helping me spread knowledge of my art, genuinely. They really do like it!

That's progress, the bottom line, the goal. So people come back around and remember, oh yeah, that guy who paints portraits on records. Like the lady who commissioned the Marley and above Beatles pieces.

Speaking of The Beatles, you'll notice that the photo is a screenshot of TwitPic. I decided to try it for this piece so I could show the progress as I paint the multiple portrait piece. The site works really easily, connecting with a Twitter account so you can upload images and have a status update generated automatically with a link back to the image.

So you can watch me progress.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Bob Marley

Everybody has a story. Is a story. Tells their story by living their life. All are unique, all are connected, all are Life.

My wife was born just about the moment Bob Marley died. Made Roger Steffens shiver.

Stories entwined. Are they in our heads? I think the stories are what is actually real. What we do. That's why the "Tao Te Ching" is all about action.

But what about attribution? Does it merely serve the ego of the individual? I don't think so. I think the fact of the actor, though he reveals himself by his actions, is important in the experience of Life. The author of many great texts is occasionally unclear or in dispute. To me, that allows the words to float, to escape their proper time and place. How do they fit into the story?

I find it odd that it is particularly those texts which have a questionable source that are sometimes the most revered. Readers are left with only the words and hence can assimilate them into their own story. The writings can take on religious significance as the author becomes shrouded in mystery. Dangerous, I think. The words are those of individuals telling their story. Their story. Certainly it is very worthwhile to look to widely-followed writings to find reflections of your own story, to find lessons. To stand on the shoulders of giants. It is the way of humanity to "progress", for "better" or "worse". But then those words become part of your story. Yours.

Be you.


SOLD - Bob Marley 12/10/08

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

You'd Think I Was A Boyscout

Preparedness. You never know when you'll need what you'll need whenever.

So, a woman who'd picked up my business card, which I stick to the back of every framed piece, at Red Dog Gallery months ago contacted me yesterday about doing Tupac. Sweet.

Then, another woman who'd seen me on TV, which I have online, on Channel 3 months ago contacted me today about doing Marley and The Beatles. Sweet.

And me with albums of all 3, and images ready to go. Still hopping with the Christmas gifts!

You've got time. I'm ready.


SOLD - Tupac Shakur 12/09/08

Who Was On Your Wall?

Rick Springfield
I know Jeff had some cool posters. How about you? Any teen heart-throbs rolled up in your closet? Not literally, I hope.

After compiling my list yesterday, I tried to remember things I'd stuck on my wall with blue sticky stuff. Remember that stuff? I remember how it bled faint blue through the front and created little bumps in the corners. I think I even used it on my own art. That was dumb.

Oh, wait, yeah! I remember one. Not a poster. I actually did have a heart-throb in my closet! We'd found a life-sized Madonna cardboard cutout thing in the street, from her "Dick Tracy" look. I think she was missing part of an arm.

Right now we have this one hanging above our CD cabinet:

The Beatles
What are your fav past and present posters?


SOLD - Rick Springfield 12/09/08

Monday, December 8, 2008

Artistic Inspiration

Glenn Gould
Last week, I mentioned some people I thought are too cool for shoes. I realized that in the span of this blog, I haven't discussed my own influences much.

Glenn Gould was a major influence on my piano playing hobby. I tried my hand(s) at some of the same J.S. Bach that he made sound so technical and so brilliant at the same time. I so respected his decision to not tour anymore because not all of the members of the audience would have the same experience aurally. Such is the wonder of having mass media and communication, the ability to record creativity for reproduction.

This same wonder allows me to share some examples of those visual artists whose work and aesthetics have made their impression on mine. This was fun to find, so here we go:

Van Gogh

The list of artists I consider superlative-worthy is much longer, but this is the editted version. The interesting thing to come out of editting my list down to this is the fact that whether sculptor or painter, these artists have you feel the weight of both their subject matter and their medium. Heavy lines, thick paint, big hands, dark colors, dark settings. Interesting. Don't know what it reflects about my own art, but there it is.

What do you think of my list?


Glenn Gould 12/08/08

Friday, December 5, 2008

All A-Twitter

I know all the puns have been used. I know. But since I am on Twitter now, it makes this harder and easier at the same time.

My online friend, Mary Anne, met through Godin, bought this Springsteen as a Christmas gift for her husband, even though she said she's no good at keeping secrets. This morning, she, I, John T. Unger and Hugh MacLeod all were on Twitter at the same time, tweeting about art and marketing. John had this very inspirational post that I added to my "Online Motivation" section off to your right. Hugh is now turning from his marketing career more towards his art, which I think is sometimes extremely profound.

The thing about Twitter is due to the update length limitation, conversations can be realtime-ish, but stilted. Hugh is a very NYC New Yorker, so he's tough to pin down. He currently lives near Austin, so I've been trying to get him to go check out Wild About Music and see my art in person. He's now selling high quality prints of some of his work in limited quantities, and to start, they're $175. I'm hoping maybe he'll go for a trade. We'll see.

But the discussion was about how a lot of artists are hesitant in promoting their own art. I understand the fear of the unknown, but jump in! The extent of my online presence is pretty much all due to my own efforts in creating a presence in the first place and personal relationships from that. Things just spread organically. Now, just about all my sales come from direct communication with buyers, other than at vinyl art shows. It makes me extremely happy because then I get to follow the story of my pieces.

The trick is balance. Shutting up completely doesn't work, at least it won't for me. I know that. Part of my journey with art is becoming more social, more open. That's what doing my art is doing for my personal growth, me the introverted geek in school. So I've gotta keep talking.

Besides, I'm kinda getting fond of this blog and I want to find more people who'd be interested in reading back a ways. There are some good posts back there. Find any you like?


SOLD - Bruce Springsteen 12/05/08

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Subtle, Daniel, Real Subtle

This Hank Williams is a second gift from her to someone. There's still time to give one for Christmas! Call now! Operators are standing by!

Ah heck, why am I telling you that? I don't even know who you are, you reading this right now. Why are you reading it?

I'm writing it to continue my daily (sometimes twice) blog posting ritual: paint, post. Something. Something'll strike me at some point to blather on about for a coupla paragraphs.

Oh yeah, subtlety. Hank Williams has a very subtle expression. Faces are amazing because we can read emotion into the slightest hint of an expression. It's an instinctual thing. Fight or flight, or something. But actually it's pretty complicated to construct an expression. All the parts of the face play their part, the eyes, nose, mouth, cheeks, chin. Lots of muscles controlling contours.

Since I only use white, I'm really kind of sculpting the face. There isn't much physical relief to the paint, but the shading created by how much I build it up produces the illusion of depth. Although, with the subtlety of facial expression also comes the ability of our brains to perceive faces even when there isn't one there.

So, you're doing a lot of the work for me. Thanks.


SOLD - Hank Williams 12/04/08

This Is Cool

John LurieAfter writing yesterday's post, I got to pondering what is cool.

John Lurie is cool. Having worked with Tom Waits on music and movies, the man is who he is. And so SO cool. I mean he was in Stranger Than Paradise, plays esoteric, raucous, funky jazz, and can't fish worth a damn. Come on! He even dies with Willem Dafoe in that last one while ice fishing. Really, he does. It's in the documentary category.

He's in the group with Glenn Gould, David Lynch, and William S. Burroughs. Yeah. He's that kinda cool, too cool for shoes.


John Lurie 12/04/08

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Shut Up And Paint

Smashing Pumpkins - Jimmy Chamberlin

The Travel Channel's "No Reservations" with Anthony Bourdain is powerfully inspiring artistically for me. For all the gaunt New Yorker's pithy narrating and brash wordifications with his companions, you can feel the passion for the food. For life.

Last night the NYC episode ran in which he meets up with the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods" guy, Andrew Zimmern. Zimmern's quip that the motto for Bourdain's aptly-titled show should be "shut up and eat" struck me. The best moments on the show are when he's taking first bites of heaven from around the world, the quieted awe of authentic food and culture.

I need to let the art speak.

I so want everybody to know about what I do that I'm not doing it enough. I've gotten some awesome albums to use recently. I'm gonna use'em. I'll talk about'em, but not as much hopefully. Hopefully I'll find a better balance between doing the art and promoting.

I'd love help promoting. I just can't pay for it yet. Free things are good, expensive time-wise, but feasible at the moment. Twitter is helping along with Facebook and Flickr. I need like a celebrity endorsement. I did just paint Iggy. Maybe Bourdain would want one. I'd trade him for it. Anybody know him? Or know somebody who knows somebody whose brother works on the show's crew?


Monday, December 1, 2008

What Will Matter

Iggy Pop

I was sitting at a local drive-through getting lunch for 7 people at the end of last week and I saw a sheet of paper posted inside with that heading. I don't know what the rest of the page said in smaller type, but that phrase struck me. Especially during the Thanksgiving break.

What will matter?

Beyond being a dang good thing for employees to ask themselves, the question goes to intent and the fundamentals of life. Hanging in a fast food joint.

So, what do you think?


SOLD - Iggy Pop 12/01/08

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Into The Light

Billy CorganI took this photo with just one of the small lights of my Tabletop Photo Studio. Shining the spotlight on Billy Corgan, as it were.

The Smashing Pumpkins have apparently gone through a bunch of internal angst, kinda like their fans. As Jeff noted, Iha left and worked with A Perfect Circle and has recently put out a second solo album. Corgan magnanimously reformed the band, but with only the recovering heroin addict drummer, who had previously been fired after an overdose, from the original lineup. I guess it fits with the music.

And that's what it's about, authenticity. Being oneself. Something you don't try, you just do, be.

Do I be?


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Out Of The Dark

Yesterday, we were surprised by the early arrival of family. So now I've got my neice next to me playing LPS with her new friend Blueberry. Not quite sure what that is...

Also, yesterday I got that Jerry Garcia commission and one for the Smashing Pumpkins. Here's James Iha to start. Who's next?

The trip to the record store for those two was very exciting. I also picked up a bunch of Tom Waits, which you don't generally run into, an Iggy Pop, which I've gotten a couple requests for, and several other cool finds. All from cleverly positioned boxes, right under the front counter. I love it.


Monday, November 24, 2008

In The Dark

Jerry GarciaDo you like surprises?

Jenn and the girls are here! Jason's family showed up for the wrong holiday! They're here from Texas for Thanksgiving and then they'll be here again for Christmas. Woohoo!

It's hard to focus on my art on a day like this, but I've got commissions! This Jerry is a gift from a woman to her husband for Christmas. He's a Deadhead who'll flip over this and she wanted to make sure it'll be a surprise.

My wife and I are terrible at keeping things like gifts secret. We just end up telling each other way beforehand or even giving each other the gifts right when we get them. I don't know what it is about secrets like that, but I've never liked them much. It's more fun just to give the present for me.

Can you keep secrets?


SOLD - Jerry Garcia 11/24/08

Friday, November 21, 2008

Like Blogger, Only Different

Eric Clapton
Evan Williams, the creator of Blogger, the host of this blog, went on to also create Twitter. I just joined. That's right, I'm a-tweetin'.

I was anxious at first, like back then. It's another new thing. New language, conventions, tricks, etiquette. New people. Or, well, so far, old people more instantly. Which is helping me feel at ease already. See, the cool thing about Twitter is that it's more interactive than blogging. Called micro-blogging, it's basically the same thing, but with a couple really cool differences.

ProBlogger's Rowse compared it to a dinner party conversation. You can whisper (send direct messages), chat with one person more openly so people can listen in (send @ messages), or you can just talk and see who's listening (send straight updates). The last one is the closest to regular blogging and is the basis for the site. You can use up to 140 characters to say what you're doing, ask a question, share a link, yell at the world, whatever. People who follow you will see those updates. They can then respond either by starting a conversation using @ messages or by sending you basically an instant message.

Then if a bunch of people are on at the same time, group conversations can develop. Technologically, a neat thing about Twitter is that you can receive and send tweets from a cell phone. So people can be anywhere doing anything and still be involved. It's like text messaging, but more public. Of course you can keep your updates private too, so only people you know can see them.

Part of Twitter's importance lies in its ability to integrate with other social networking sites. Facebook, blogs, and others can be tied to a Twitter profile, both sending and receiving updates. I haven't even begun to explore how it all can work together, but it will be cool. The fluidity of the update timeline and the amount of people following people means a much faster and wider spreading of information.

Also, you can search the tweet timeline. So you can catch up with someone's updates, follow past conversations, or look for other people interested in what you are too. Or you can find out if anybody's tweeting about you (or me, in this case).

It's a little overwhelming, and I'm not sure how it'll work into what I do online to promote my art or how I'm going to figure out how much time to devote to it. For now, it's wide open though, and I'm excited to reach out to people in a new way and hopefully bring them into the fold here.

One thing, it's gonna force me to be more concise. 140 characters! Can he do it?


SOLD - Eric Clapton 11/21/08

Thursday, November 20, 2008

From Green Day To Green Week

MobyHas anybody else noticed the green logos on NBC stations this week?

Yesterday I painted Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day. Turns out that the band is quite active environmentally.

It also turns out that Moby, who's recorded with Debbie Harry, is outspoken about the environment as well. Both he and I recycle as a means to create our art. He samples recordings and I paint on them.

Do you think about how your actions will impact the future of humanity? Before or after you act?


Moby 11/20/08

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ignorance Or Bliss

Billie Joe ArmstrongThis is for my neice, Jason's older daughter. Losing my brother-in-law is a pain, a knowledge, I could do without. Blissful ignorance. But this isn't about that.

I don't like being ignored. The reason isn't my ego. Well, partially it is. But not entirely.

The main reason is that I know people are missing out on something cool. If they ignore me, then they don't get to see my art. This probably sounds pretty arrogant, the self-important professional artist spouting off about how good his art is again. Maybe it is.

But I know what a kick people get out of seeing my art, maybe not bliss, but certainly a bit of enjoyment. I don't necessarily mean buying one for themselves or even giving one as a gift. I mean just seeing them. Taking the moment to get what it is, to remember their favorite music, to wonder what that would look like as a piece of Vinyl Art, and then maybe wanting one enough to tell somebody else about it.

So, I know I can't ask the people who ignore me why they do. But I can ask you, you who've been so kind as to read this, check out a few of those old posts, and give that bit of attention, that energy, that moment of your life to see my art. I can ask you, are you glad you know?

Also, like the above posts all from before, does anybody know how to get back blissful ignorance?

Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?


SOLD - Billie Joe Armstrong 11/19/08

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

Amy WinehouseI treated myself to a trip to the local record store which has had the most new releases on vinyl. I found this Amy Winehouse new. I also found Lennon's "Imagine" and The Verve's "Urban Hymns" used on vinyl, both pretty dang rare.

I picked the hottest photo of Winehouse I could find in high resolution. I'm not totally sure the piece is done. What do you think?

I know I'm not selling it, though!


Monday, November 17, 2008

When The Old Is New

Jazz. The old, new again.

The Beastie Boys' 2007 release "The Mix-Up" is an all instrumental album, their first. They'd sprinkled in funky jams on previous albums, but nothing like these. Jazz, specifically hammond organ-based jazz, is some of my favorite music. Blue Note. So forth.

To bring genres who's time of widest popularity has passed into the present like this CD by the Beasties is awesome. I also got the album along with "License To Ill", their first album as a rap group. Yeah yeah, I know. I didn't have it yet. It's new to me!

I listened to that album while painting Stevie Nicks earlier today. "The Mix-Up" I listened to while painting this Billie Holiday. Both paintings are Christmas gifts from a woman in Phoenix who remembered seeing me on the news. I was new old news.

I've painted Billie Holiday before. A couple times. Stevie Nicks too. But every time is unique. Every time the composition is different because of where I put the image, the record's label, and how I edit the image. The old, as yet new.


SOLD - Billie Holiday 11/17/08

Personal Checks

Stevie NicksI take'em.

But that's not what this is about.

How do you know when you're being authentic? How do you maintain your identity? How do you adapt and still stay true to yourself?

What are your personal checks?

I've drawn a line in the sand a couple of times. But over time, the wind and water can fade those lines. Do you know where they were? I guess that's the purpose of policies, but people dance back and forth over society's and their own lines.

For me, I try to maintain my self with my gut check. After Jason died, when I didn't know which way was up, the only feedback I found I could trust was my stomach. When it got tight, something was up. It seems to be good for letting myself know when I need to take a sec and ask why.

I think I have a pretty good sense of purpose with my art here, but please, if you ever think I've crossed a line, let me know.


SOLD - Stevie Nicks 11/17/08

Friday, November 14, 2008

Express Yourself [EC]

Ice CubeSince N.W.A. put gangsta rap on the map with the MTV video of "Express Yourself", Cube's been tellin' his story. It ain't pretty. Even today (this is some heavy shit).

He said in a recent interview, "Rap is a mirror. And if you're ugly, you can't blame the mirror."

What do you think?

Creative-types who speak their truths, tell their stories, catch flack from other public figures and groups if that truth is disturbing. Are they creating more ugly? Is reaction, fear fear fear fear, ever better than thoughtful action, love love love love?

Ask yourself why, like the little kid, "Why why why why?" What's the intent? What's my intent? Why do I feel like doing this, why did I do that?

My intent with this piece is to bring peace. Little by little.

Help me?


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Soul's Embodiment (Or Shut Your Mouth)

The iconic Isaac Hayes, the one with the bald head and gold chains, the composer/singer of the movie theme about that "bad mother", was everything that was soul music in the '70s. This Hayes' "Black Moses" persona came to represent the man himself, the trailblazer that paved the way for thick soul and rap and disco and long-song concept albums and modern film composing.

Isaac Hayes, the real man, had a hard life from beginning to end, filled with actual events that could very well be parodied in a typical blaxploitation film. From cotton picking and shoe shining to bankruptcy to religious and health impairment, he kept getting beaten down. No wonder his creative legacy is about rising up.

The man was cool.


SOLD - Isaac Hayes 11/13/08

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Stripped Down

Chuck D
Boy, Rick Rubin sure has had a big impact on music since the '80s! My wife loves to hate him. He was involved with The Black Crowes, her favorite band as a teenager, and both helped and hindered their music. He influenced the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Beastie Boys. And he got Chuck D to start Public Enemy.

Raw is what he brings to the table. Laid bare. The passion is all that's left after he reduces the production on albums.

Kinda what I do in stripping down my portraits, editting them down to the essential. Almost past that, letting you fill in the blanks.

Chuck D's work strips down his message too, hitting you hard with it. Can hurt, but through pain is growth. Stripped bare. Say it.


SOLD - Chuck D 11/12/08

"Who Knows What It's Worth?"

Paul Mawhinney has what's being called the world's largest record collection. His dilemma is how to keep it together as his health and finances fall apart. Valued at over $50 million, he's asking only $3 million. That he hasn't received any serious offers makes him feel like nobody cares. His pain is quite apparent. That's passion.

I don't think it's that nobody cares. I think he just needs a better marketing campaign.

I just saw on TV an infomercial for Sugarman's "The Midnight Special" DVD series. For $15 shipped you get each volume on a delivery schedule, with over 100 songs performed and classic comedy routines. Own a part of history.

Make it valuable. Make it give back to those who'd buy it. The owners of the footage are getting a return on their investment of preserving the show until now. They make money and solidify the show's (and by association, their) place in the history of our culture. The buyers of the DVD series get to share that history. You have to win when you buy something.

Whoever buys The Archive, like whoever would take over Roger Steffens' massive collection of Bob Marley and related music and memorabilia, will have to store and maintain the albums. That's a LOT of overhead: time, money, and space. It took somebody with the money and clout like Scorcese to really get the ball rolling on preserving film libraries in Hollywood. This guy needs a guy like that. And in some "you get what you give" kinda way, he oughta get something for it, whatever type of return the benefactor values.

That's the bottom line: the value. Individually the records would go for a total of $50 million. Together, the collection has a totally different value. One that's not solely financial. Imagine being able to say you're keeping a part of history alive, single-handedly. Talk about an ego boost.

So the problem becomes the value added. How will that egomaniac also pay the rent? Figure out how he'll make the collection make money back along with the status of ownership and Mawhinney'll have his buyer.

If you figure it out, tell him.


Would, For The Absence Of Light

Leonard Cohen
This Leonard Cohen is for this upcoming show in Ottawa here opening December 13th. Half of the proceeds from the silent auction of the pieces will go to a local charity for kids.

Subtle smudges. My other tool besides the brush, my finger, spreads dots of wet watered-down paint into tapped tiny suggestions of light, of volume. It creates basically an organically-edged wash, softened shade. The black vinyl still dominates, pulling the face back into the depths.

The depths.


SOLD - Leonard Cohen 11/12/08

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rock & Roll Never Forgets

Bob Seger
I feel bad. I just found out my friend Robert is having financial problems, may lose his house! I don't know if I can help much, but what I can do is point you here, his blogger profile. The website link there will take you to his main site where he offers his vinyl collecting ebook for donations.

This Bob Seger is a gift from a wife to her husband for his "man cave" which has picture disks and such on display. She also bought my John Lee Hooker for her mother-in-law.

If you're thinking about commissioning one from me for a holiday gift, you can go to Robert's site too. He's offering a 15% discount on my framed pieces, and he gets a referral. So everybody wins!

SOLD - Bob Seger 11/10/08

Who Needs High School Reunions?

James Taylor
Facebook is a perpetual asynchronous reunion of one's entire past. A comprehensive, free, controllable environment to reconnect at levels ranging from a nod of recognition to full-fledged rekindling of friendships. Some people sign up, set up a bare-bones profile and find a bunch of old classmates using the Friend Finder. Then they never log in again. Some go nuts with all the bells and whistles provided to find new networks of people and to share with those you already know the depths of your interests and hobbies.

Some, like me, have used it primarily as part of my online presence as it relates to Daniel Edlen, the artist. The thing I've found odd is how because I used to go to school with someone, it usually somehow biases the reconnected relationship. They still are who they are, which is cool to see, but it is funny how it makes it easier or harder to share what I'm up to now.

This James Taylor is a Hanukkah gift from the father of a friend of one of my old classmates to my classmate's father. The friend's father knew of me because my classmate had shared my video with others on Facebook. Pretty cool.

A neat thing is how all of this interconnects. So if you are on Facebook, you can become a fan of this blog, or add me as a friend! I won't bite.


SOLD - James Taylor 11/10/08

Friday, November 7, 2008


Ringo Starr Well, it looked better than HELP.

I love stories of why things happen like that. I love stories period. Attached to objects, they kind of carry with them the human intent captured by the object. My head spins when I think of all the stories attached to the albums on which I paint.

Like with these 4 albums of the Beatles. Robert sent them to me because they were too scratched to do anything with but throw them away. Two of them even had a second copy of the same album! I don't know exactly where they all came from, so maybe he'll leave a comment about that for me, but in any event, what happened to them? Why are they so trashed?

Records of the Beatles are by far the most plentiful in my playable collection. I went a wee bit nuts collecting bootlegs on vinyl when they were still available in West Los Angeles record stores. I've talked about some of them here, those that I've archived digitally with my iRecord. I couldn't imagine doing anything even to duplicates to leave them in the condition of these records I just used.

I love records because they are a physical manifestation of something ephemeral. Records were the first way sounds were preserved, captured "for the record", as it were. It's pretty cool when you think about it. Like the Internet and printing press and video, the invention and mass production of vinyl changed the way our culture works a great deal. Beatle bootlegs are great, like the story of the "Help!" album cover, because they show how the creation of the music fits into the greater story of humanity and our creativity. Marvelous.


Ringo Starr 11/07/08

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vinyl Art Available At The Record Ranch

George Harrison

I've been given the opportunity to try out this new auction site, one devoted to music and music-related items. My friend Robert Benson, who gave me these seriously beat-up Beatles albums to use, introduced me to Chris, the guy running it. It's more down-home feeling than monsterous eBay, with free basic listings. Sellers only pay if the item sells. You can create a "store", and list items for much longer than on eBay. Another cool thing is that the site automatically extends auctions if someone tries to automatically outbid at the last second. Long have I been leery of participating in eBay auctions because items are usually "sniped" right at the end.

So we'll see! I put up 6 pieces to start. For those of you familiar with my pricing for framed pieces, they're listed at $25 less to start if you bid. The site also has a "*grab it!" price that's basically like "Buy It Now" on eBay, and I've put them at the same price as here in my gallery.

Hopefully it'll get some more exposure for my work, and maybe even referrals.


George Harrison 11/06/08

The Currency Of Fear

Paul McCartney

Money "Can't Buy Me Love", but how about fear?

Stephen Colbert came up with a great metaphor on "The Report" last night: the fear market, instead of the stock market. Since 9/11, fear has been increasing in value. At least that's what the government and media have been selling us. We kept trading it higher and higher, giving up freedoms and privacy. Then, the fear bubble burst, and we did it. We elected Obama.

What do we do with all this fear, all this currency, that's now suddenly worthless?

Make change. "And that's the word."


Paul McCartney 11/06/08

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can!

John Lennon

I'm not one to talk politics much, not nearly as much as John here. That's for sure. But I've gotta say that THAT was one heck of a speech last night from President-elect Obama. It was moving enough to see Jesse Jackson cry. Being a skinny, Jewish, white boy, I don't feel the enormity of the day in the depths of my soul the same as a black man. It's not ingrained in who I am. But I could certainly feel the passion from those there in Grant Park.

I wonder what he would say. Or him.

And now we can officially call W a "lame duck". ;)

The message from Barack that I most respect is that he wasn't counting on our belief in his ability to bring change to Washington, but ours. Most inspiring. I hope people realize that we get to work together to make a better tomorrow. Challenges, yes, but faced with hope.

Helped me get out of bed this morning.


John Lennon 11/05/08

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

So What'cha Want?

Beastie Boys

I hadn't known this, but the Beastie Boys started out as punks. After blowing away the world of hip-hop with "License To Ill" and their subsequent records, this EP marked a brief 11 minute return to those punk roots. In both genres, MCA, Mike D, and Ad-Rock aren't shy and hold no punches when it comes to their politics.

Seemed suitable today. Get your sticker?


Beastie Boys 11/04/08

Monday, November 3, 2008

One Day At A Time

OutKast Or, one day at a day. Or something. Minute by minute?

I am finding energy lacking. Ever since Jason died I've been basically exhausted. I'd never gone through traumatic grief before. Still haven't gone "through" it either. Where is the other side?

I know a couple of you who read this blog are going through this particular grief specifically, and a couple others who have grief of their own. What the fuck is with this universe right now? Am I right? I know "everything happens for a reason", blah blah blah. Philosophical wisdom is all well and good, but it sure can be hard to act on.

My wife and I watch Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab show. I wish there was more of it, less editted. But besides that, parts are very interesting. The last episode had a group discussion with Steven Adler talking about taking it minute by minute. I got to thinking about the recovering addict's daily struggle.

They've got something on people who aren't recovering addicts. Not that I'd say get addicted to get this, but every day, they have to force themselves out of their box, their bubble. Their bubble, their rut, their routine, their habit of using. Daily, they get to break out of that rut anew. They have to decide every day.

I don't know if recovering from or moving through grief fits in with the same idea, but I do know that when everything's peachy keen for most people, they are basically sleep-walking. This isn't judgement against it. Great stuff is accomplished by people living normal lives. It's just that stagnation can rot one's soul.

Thank you for reading my blog, those who do regularly. I hope it doesn't ever spiral endlessly in the grooves of the records on which I paint, hopelessly caught in a rut. Every day, I think about inspiring myself, motivating myself to paint, to be productive. To give my art the chance it needs to make it, to be discovered, to be what it can be and to do what it can do. And having this blog to look to every day helps. It really does.

I just wish I had more energy, more focus. One day at a time. Hey Ya!


OutKast 11/03/08

Get On

Vinyl Killers 6 I didn't do James Brown like last year, but I did do a bunch for this year's Vinyl Killers show up in Portland, OR. Half sold! Woohoo! Happy Halloween!

The John Lennon on the top row and the three with blue backgrounds on the second are still available at You can buy them online there.

Jason, the owner of the Goodfoot Pub and curator of this year's show did an amazing job. Below is a picture of just one wall. Mine are kinda in the middle with the blinding reflections.


You can see all the pieces in the show here. There's also a news story here about the show with a couple sentences about my work specifically. Looked like a pretty cool scene. Hopefully I'll be able to go next year!


Friday, October 31, 2008

Turn On The Lights

Ronnie Wood

I'm no good at talking about myself. When I was in school I strove to be invisible. Not for any particular reason, just because I was generally uncomfortable being noticed. I still have a difficult time being social, making small talk and such. It's just who I am. I'm the kinda guy who likes to get used to being in a place so I don't have to turn on lights to find my way around, so I don't disturb... I don't know what, the universe or something. A born watcher.

But where my art is concerned, I really have something to talk about with a twinkle in my eye. I love what I do, what I can do. Creating these pieces of art to send out into the world makes me feel productive, like I matter. Like I matter to this universe of matter by leaving my mark on matter, as a matter of fact.

I think every being feels a need to be loved, noticed, appreciated, acknowledged. For some reason, I'd usually rather displace those to my art. Maybe it's a way of protecting my self, by removing the focus of interaction with other people from me to my art. Maybe I don't really have the thick skin I think I do. Fortunately, I do with my art. I know it's good. That's why I'm writing this blog after all.

So, as I finish up the Stones with Ronnie, I'm turnin' on those damn lights! Take me as I am.


Ron Wood 10/31/08

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Odd Man In

Charlie Watts

The classy eccentric. THE drummer.

He's an odd one, that Charlie Watts. A white drummer who swings; jazz-inspired. And he wears suits, naturally!

More interested in philosophy than groupies, he's kept a surprisingly stable family existence all throughout his career with the Stones. The thing he hates most is leaving home. Deals with it by being slightly obsessive compulsive with his luggage and his ritual drawing of every hotel room in which he stays.

So self-effacing you'd think it was false modesty, but it ain't. He doesn't get what the deal is about his playing. But he loves it, turned onto music by saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, his first drum a banjo with the neck twisted off. At age 13. Can't read music though. Plays by feel. The emotion of Keith's playing leading him.

Doesn't like talking about himself, or watching himself. Just plays drums. With an honest passion rare in the world.


Charlie Watts 10/30/08

Covered Art

Keith Richards

This copy of "Beggars Banquet" has the rather silly, watered-down replacement cover that the record label forced. The original cover, also used for the CD, shows a dirty bathroom wall above a toilet. Much more meaningful context for the album name, with even some good messages of peace and love. Certainly more relevant to the counterculture of '68.

RSVP on the lower left of this cover does prompt response. I expect it did enrage those who knew of the artistic censorship, and maybe even did elicit response. There've been many examples through the history of the record album of controversial covers, some of which were changed to satisfy the uptight. What stories do you know about?

My favorite Black Crowes album, "Amorica", was altered after its initial release. My friend Robert Benson, who's got this cool post today about the cover of "Exile on Main Street", has chronicled Gigwise's top controversial, weird, worst, and best album covers.

What's your favorite album cover with its own story? The Beatles' "Butcher Cover" perhaps?


Keith Richards 10/30/08

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sex, Drugs, And The Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger
I realized I hadn't painted the Stones! Since I just did all 4 members of Led Zeppelin, I thought I'd do the same for Mick and company. Both bands put out such a large amount of amazing music, both with strong STRONG blues and R&B roots. Rockin' music, man. "Monkey Man" off of "Let It Bleed" is currently my favorite song, but all of "Exile" is amazing too. Late '60s and early '70s, wow. I know the times were troubled, but the music thus inspired was intensely good.

Everything about the period was intense. Whether it was the popularized drug culture or the free sex movement or the social unrest and rebellion, extremes were tested. All I can say is, for better or worse, when you search for Keith Richards images on Google, you get a lot of pretty women and puffs of smoke. How are he and Lou Reed still alive?


Mick Jagger 10/29/08

Redemption Sung

[EDIT: 1/05/09 - For some reason, even though my friend says they shouldn't've, YouTube forced me to choose between changing the music, muting the music, or deleting the video. I've muted it for now. This is the case with the Jimi Hendrix video as well. I'm not sure what to do, as reuploading the files won't change anything, and probably won't even succeed. Drat. Any suggestions?]

So I checked my email this morning to find that YouTube had blocked the public display of this video of my painting of Bob Marley due to a claim by "a copyright owner" and a "music rights issue". The music backing the timelapse video is "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley and The Wailers. The record label is Island Recordings. Island is owned by Universal Music Group.

Guess who knows the EVP of the digital media side of the business at UMG?

Me. We went to high school together. How cool is that?

So, I went to the dispute page at YouTube and claimed fair use as I didn't use the entire song, it doesn't infringe upon the market for the recording, and the video is educational in that it shows my process, not directly selling anything. Voila! It's back up!

I got an email back from my friend at UMG and he said that they expressly allow this type of usage and they certainly hadn't put in the claim. Apparently YouTube has an automatic filter to flag user generated content that also uses something copyrighted.

Phew! I was glad to find out I hadn't rubbed the label the wrong way. In my thinking big, I hope at some point to work with the label promotionally, so thank goodness I didn't piss anybody off.

I get all anxious when legal issues pop up. You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you've been accused of doing something wrong you know you didn't do, or you know isn't wrong? Man, that sucks. Fortunately I seem to have gotten rapid resolution, redemption if you will, to this deal and don't have to worry about getting personally sued. Also, I'm glad that my response automatically dropped the block on the video.

So now you can see it!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don't Know Where To Put One?

Ray Charles

Give one away!

Last week, I asked you to think about where you could put one of my paintings in your home. I know a lot of you who see my paintings probably think, "That's cool, but it wouldn't really go with my decor." So you don't know where you'd put one, even if you want one.

I've got the answer. Make that someone else's problem!

Really, the majority of the commissions I've sold have been as gifts. I love that because it means people think enough of the paintings that they want someone they love to own one. They make great unique gifts because they show you pay attention and know what the giftee's favorite music is and sometimes even their favorite album. I definitely try to use the album you know they'd like. Makes for an even better story.

So, I painted Ray Charles on his Christmas album as an example of what might just be the perfect holiday gift.

And you can keep the snazzy sticker.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Every Picture Tells A Story

Rod Stewart
Part of the reason I don't want to reproduce my paintings is to preserve the unique story each piece will have and its original connection to me. It definitely is due to my ego as an artist, but each piece is a part of me, and I like knowing that that identity will remain intact.

This blog will hopefully serve some role in creating kind of an electronic provenance, a way to connect the pieces with their date of creation and something of my thoughts at the time.

So every picture will have a story to tell. If you own one of my pieces of Vinyl Art and would like to leave a comment here and/or on the post of the blog with your painting, I would be thrilled. You could talk about you, why you own the piece, and any stories or anything else associated with the portrait. Your comment will add record of the link in the chain of your piece's story.

Let it be known.

And if your piece doesn't make an appearance on this blog, let me know! Send me a picture of it as it hangs in your home and I'll make a point to mention it, keeping your anonymity intact if you want.


Rod Stewart 10/27/08

Getting Down

Jim Morrison
As I continue to add to this blog, it also continues to be a struggle to make the daily decision to be an artist. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I like doing, i.e. creating, being productive. It is, though, the accoutrements (said Frenchily, this is currently my wife's favorite word) of the job of professional artist, the stuff that would be delegated to support staff in a normal commercial venture, that are trying. They aren't trying in the sense that I don't like doing them. I do really like the promoting and the networking and the organizing. It gives me a chance to learn more and more about connecting with people, with humanity, which is necessary for my ultimate goal.

It's the feeling of hitting my head against a wall over and over that kinda sucks.

I don't mean to whine and complain that I don't get tons of comments or anything. This isn't about feeling ignored. I don't mind that. If I did, I wouldn't have started this blog at all. It's the getting down on oneself. Being my own worst critic and all that.

It's tough to self-motivate when the business of being an artist is as flaky as it is. It's hard to push myself to do anything but paint when my vision of success isn't materializing more rapidly. Getting down to business takes a lot of energy.

I think it requires faking oneself out. I need to trick myself to do the support work in order to keep on keepin' on and get you to connect with my art and what it can do for you. I need to stay down with the cause if I have any chance of spreading it as far as I want it to go.

Are you down? I certainly wouldn't say no to more feedback. I appreciate any time you do devote to reading my ramblings, and am especially thankful for those who feel the fear of commenting and do it anyway.


SOLD - Jim Morrison 10/27/08

Friday, October 24, 2008

Where Would I Put One? (And Other Questions)

Here they are, Led Zeppelin. So, where would you put them in your home? I know it's not a very subtle question to get you thinking about where you might put a piece of my art if you were to buy one, but it is an honest question. We all have limited wall space in our homes.

Given that you like music, like it enough to own a music collection even if only on an iPod, like it enough that you'd want to share that fact with visitors to where you live, like it enough that you know which group or person you'd want a portrait of, the question is then do you even have the space?

If you fit into the above given description, then I can tell you it's worth finding a place. From experience, I know how fun it can be to have people see them and do the double take. I just got an email today from the MVBS to which I gave a B.B. King for their upcoming silent auction saying that they have the piece hanging in their offices and people have asked my last "frequently asked question", can you play it?

I think when people ask that, they are internally grappling with: what is that? is that on the record? is that a real record? is that paint? how was that done? who is that again?

My biggest curiousity is what people's first impressions are. What was yours? Are you still trying to get a handle on what you're looking at?

Here's where I have the 4 British lads hanging.

So, where would you put one?


Thursday, October 23, 2008

VA™ - Now I Can Merchandise Vinyl Art!

Vinyl Art stickers

Tada! As of today, the trademark on my logo should be official. I hope I get a cool certificate.

It didn't really take that long, and I only had to make one clarification and one check-up call to the examining attorney. The form was daunting, and I saved some money doing it all online and without the option to modify the filing. So that was a bit scary. I was worried that since I only had one shot, I'd waste like $200 if I didn't do it right. But everything seems hunky-dory!

I've had my 3x5 vinyl VA stickers for awhile. Some of you might've gotten one if you bought an unframed piece or commissioned one from me directly, or my mother-in-law gave you one. :) She likes being the proud mom. So now I can publicize their existence and say that you'll get one for free if you buy a piece.

The other sticker hiding behind the oval vinyl VA is a treat for a select few. They're on the sly, on the down-low. This one in particular is in trade for another artist's handpainted sticker. I do these with spray paint and white acrylic.

And beyond that, I'm not sure what I'll do yet. I was going to do a contest for T-shirt designs incorporating the logo, but I don't have the cash to have the shirts screened yet. Also, I'm going to eventually do some cool keychains out of metal, maybe for sale or gifts. But, anyway, it's fun to start thinking about how to get the logo known and connected with my art. I think it could be a strong brand image.

What do you think? An artist with a logo?