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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