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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Word Of Mouth

Stevie Nicks

It's the best! It means so many good things!

So, I got a commission today from a lady who wants Sarah McLachlan. She found out about me from another lady who'd commissioned me to do Eddie Vedder for her brother. That lady had found out about me from a guy who came into her place of business who'd been given Zack de la Rocha by his girlfriend who'd found out about me from my TV interview!



Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Who Would You Recognize At 70 MPH?

John Lennon - (i) inspired by photo by Iain Macmillan

I might have the opportunity to create a billboard design! A local company gives artists a chance to put up work cobranding an empty billboard. My brilliant wife came up with both design and message I'm going to work with, but I'm still playing with which paintings I'm going to use. Right now the list is Eminem, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Bob Marley.

What do you think? Who are the icons of music that someone driving at 70 mph would recognize fast enough to also read a couple phrases and maybe catch a website?

It's a weird question to think about isn't it?


Ahh, Life

Carlos Santana

Santana is one of the honorary members of the advisory board of the MPP I talked about yesterday. It'd be amazing if he got to see my pieces of Bob Marley, or even better, one of himself, someday.

He's really one of my favorite guitarists. The passion that comes out of his instrument is overwhelming. Certainly not simply excellent technique. I feel like my work shows more than just technique, but only you can know if it does when you see it.

That's the beauty of human creativity, it has global, eternal meaning based upon individual, ephemeral connections. For example, among other events, Woodstock solidified Hendrix's unbelievable mass connection with our culture, but it truly relied upon the presence of all the people there. Such is Life, the Universe and Everything.

I continue to marvel at how Life works, things happening when they're supposed to, people playing their role in the grand scheme. This isn't to say there isn't free will, which I've talked about before, but things happen for a reason and people are in your lives for a reason. Lessons to be learned, your Life to live.

The trick is to be open to what Life has planned, and enjoy the ride and your part in it!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vinyl Art News

Jim Morrison - (i) inspired by photo by Joel BrodskySo, for the past month I've been debating whether to start an email newsletter or not. What would be the point? I put most everything in this blog. Why would people want to read 2 things?

Then I realized a lot of people rely on email to stay connected, and I'd let a lot of them down by not reaching out that way. People who've bought pieces or been really supportive of my art had slipped through the cracks of my disorganized communication.

So, I'm setting out to remedy that. This is NOT going to replace this blog. I love this blog, both writing it and knowing you are reading it. It tells my stories, shows my art, and connects me with you on an almost daily basis. The newsletter is going to summarize the events relating to my Vinyl Art as a whole, where this blog presents daily goings on spontaneously. So the letter'll be great for those of you who want to catch up every once in awhile, but don't want to follow my day-to-day doings and read about specific pieces.

I pulled together an email list and sent out the first issue of my new newsletter. If you didn't get it and want it, please send me an email to let me know. It'll probably end up being like a monthly thing.

Then, after sending it off, I received an email from one of those somewhat lost contacts that is REALLY exciting. Something that'll definitely be in the next newsletter along with future related developments.

Roger Steffens let me know the plans for his Bob Marley ark-hives. The two pieces I painted along with the rest of his inCREDible collection of Bob Marley media and memorabilia will be installed and preserved at the Music Preservation Project (MPP) overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara, CA. WOW! He participated in establishing this non-profit organization with its relationship with USC to digitize and preserve media collections like his. My pieces, along with others, were hung last Saturday and will be seen by lots of people. So cool! The best connection that might come from this is the fact that Carlos Santana and John Densmore are honorary members of the advisory board! Hooboy.

So we'll see what happens! I hope you'll follow my ramblings about my art either by subscribing to this blog or by letting me know you want my email newsletter, or both.


SOLD - Jim Morrison 04/28/09

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Those Crazy Drummers

Ringo StarrDrummers are cool because they represent organized chaos. Operating within the beat, they go crazy. Totally crazy.

Ringo, John Bonham, Keith Moon and a mess of others keep their bands rocking and rolling with wild eyes and lightening hands. Who's your fav drummer?


P.S. I case you haven't noticed, I painted all 4 Beatles again. I wasn't going to sell the Lennon, but if you buy all 4, you'll convince me to part with it. And you'll get $25 off each, also only paying shipping for one, making a total of $610. But if someone buys one of them individually, the deal's off.

So here're the PayPal buttons for Ringo by himself and for The Beatles all together now:

Ringo Starr 04/23/09

The Beatles 04/09

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Is As Does

George Harrison

George, he didn't talk much. His music was how he shared himself, his beliefs with the world. The power of his creative action added much to the force of humanity. Is as does.


George Harrison 04/22/09

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Up Front

Jimi Hendrix - (i) inspired by photo by Donald SilversteinShelley has my work up front in the window at Wild About Music on 6th in Austin, TX. Very cool. Hendrix sold last month so I get to replace it with another piece on consignment.

She's been wonderful to work with from the start. The start is, after all, the important part in a relationship with a gallery, or really between any two parties.

Getting the issues squared away upfront sets up the guidelines and framework for the entire relationship, the whole tone. WAM's contract is stellar, and they even added a couple clauses on my request that clarified some additional points. I felt trusted. Even though they have an online presence, they don't yet sell my work online, but Shelley certainly wants to ensure that neither of us is undercutting the other. We even went through a price increase on her end successfully.

Now, I had the opposite happen with another gallery. I should've known, again, from the start as I was treated with suspicion and my integrity questioned based upon that gallery's experience with other artists. Among other things, they didn't want my last name to be associated with my work, and they wanted me to ultimately stop promoting myself online.

After some back and forth communication, we did initially arrive at an agreement and they signed the first contract they'd ever signed with an artist. Yep, they'd never made contracts before. I modelled the agreement after mine with WAM. So I was protected, if not insulated from their distrust. Eventually we ended our relationship as they couldn't understand me or look beyond their own hangups.

It's that communication that enables understanding. Yes, the structure of the relationship between artist and gallery, musician and record label, creator and distributor is changing, but if the issues are addressed at the outset, then both parties feel comfortable enough to readdress those issues and to consider new issues as they arise. Creatives and middlemen might live on different planets, but if Venusians (women) and Martians (men) can relate successfully, then we can too. Just be upfront.


ON CONSIGNMENT - Jimi Hendrix 04/21/09

Too Obvious?

Billie Joe Armstrong
Green Green Day for this year's Earth Day?

Sometimes the obvious, the simple, gets overlooked.

What's obvious, simple, that you could do that you're not for our environment?

If you're interested in this piece, we'll work it out so that you can donate part of it to the Earth Day Network or some other environmental charity group.


Monday, April 20, 2009

What Does The Artist Do On A Crappy Day?

Steven Tyler

Um, art. What else?


Steven Tyler 04/20/09

Friday, April 17, 2009

Record Store Day - Your Contribution

John Lennon - (i) inspired by photo by Richard Avedon
I bring up The Beatles' "Revolver" a lot. It's really important to me largely because it started me out on my journey into music and vinyl. So it was vital to leading me to do what I do today.

All the records in my collection that I bought after my dad introduced me to "Revolver" came from used record stores. I would still, today, rather wait until I find the record I want at a local independent used music store then to point and click on eBay for albums I want to add to my collection. I talked earlier this week about how much those stores in West L.A. meant to me.

Tomorrow is the second annual celebration of Record Store Day. Last year I posted this about it. I'm so glad that it's grown in strength and reach along with the dramatic increase in vinyl reissues. Those reissues are mostly stocked in those independent record stores.

So I need your support of RSD09 because I need those out-of-print hard-to-find albums to be reissued, so I can paint more pieces, connecting more people like you to your music, your culture. Basically, buying music at your local shop directly and indirectly makes the world better. You get the music you love and humanity gets the creativity it loves.

Go to the organizer's site if you don't know a local store, and tomorrow go buy your favorite album on vinyl or even buy that CD you just found out about. Feel good! You know you will.

Me, I'm buying Gomez's new album, along with maybe Tricky's "Knowle West Boy" and Gnarls Barkley's "The Odd Couple". At least.


Growing Up

So yesterday I went on a field trip. The first I'd been on in a LONG time. And to a place I hadn't ever been, Great place.

When I was younger, so much younger than today, big cats were my favorite, especially these two. Truly, the earliest "portraits" I did were of them, not people. I was, and still am somewhat, quite introverted, shy. I was very sheltered socially, so little things became very traumatic in my experience, and I retreated even from my own emotions. My escape was largely books, and, of those, a lot were stories about animals. I wanted to be a tiger when I grew up.

Being at the zoo with my nieces made me realize how different my perpective is now. I'm taller. I've grown up. But not into a tiger. They're longer, not taller. So am I an adult?

Well, I don't know. But I do know I've grown emotionally, feeling more surefooted about my place in Life and my ability to be well.

Do you feel like an adult? And what the heck does that mean to you?


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Two Of Us

Paul McCartney - (i) inspired by photo by Linda McCartney

Everyday, I'm lucky to be married. My wife supports my life, plain and simple. I wouldn't be doing what I am now if it weren't for her. I might've someday as I knew I was an artist, but not with the gusto I have currently.

Someday we'll ultimately move to London. We were lucky enough to get to see Abbey Road, taking each other's picture in the re-painted but still famous crosswalk. I'm hopeful my art will take us there to live.

See, while my public goal with my Vinyl Art is to change the world by solving the problem of how to connect you with your music, your culture and with humanity in a way more personal and deep, my private goal is to change my wife's world. Plain and simple.

I feel bad for Paul, losing Linda. Makes me cry if I think about it too much.


Paul McCartney 04/15/09

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Oh, Oh, Listen To The Music

Patrick Simmons I know the first 8 songs on "Best of the Doobies" really well. It's obvious when they come on the radio. In fact, I've only heard them on the radio.

Indeed, I've never bought an album of theirs. Even this one on which I painted singer/guitarist Patrick Simmons was a donation I snagged from the local library way back.

That's why I did and still do love the good ol' FM radio. Growing up in SoCal, listening to the great variety from "Morning Becomes Eclectic" on KCRW to "Breakfast With The Beatles" on KLSX (now on KLOS) to Jed the Fish on KROQ, radio really influenced what I heard, especially in the car. I do still listen in my truck today, hearing old greats and new hits that always remind me of why I love music.

What music do you know from back in the day only from the radio? Would you have discovered it today?


Patrick Simmons 04/14/09

Monday, April 13, 2009

Musical Artifact

This record might be the coolest I've painted on, as far as the record itself. "Rock The Casbah" by The Clash is a 12" 33 1/3 single. Just one song on a side. The way they pressed it is what makes it so cool.

Instead of spacing the grooves like they would on a whole album, they're spread out so the one song takes up the space that 4 or so normally do. What this does is make the grooves really visible.

You can see the music.


We Used To Gather

Eddie VedderWhen Pearl Jam's "Ten" first came out, one could buy the album on vinyl, cassette, and CD. I bought it on vinyl and CD because I'm a nut. Music sharing meant loaning precious CD copies for a few days to friends, if only to get them to then go buy their own copy. Now, with the release of the remastered version of "Ten" along with a bunch of other Pearl Jam stuff, the world is very different.

This weekend my wife and I were down in Tucson visiting friends. Doug is a music nut like us. When music is good, it hurts him, it means so much. He, my wife, and a group of friends used to get together to see every Black Crowes show they could. They all belonged to the fan club. They all bought new releases the second they were available, at midnight.

Let me repeat that. They ALL bought new releases. Not just one copy that they then ripped into iTunes and added to everybody's iPod. Now, Doug doesn't buy CDs at all. He downloads music, from no particular source at no particluar time. There's no group excitement about a new album coming out, no group listening and reviewing.

This has changed how we as a society gather and consume.

I'm not sure of the effect. That'd be up to a sociologist to study and publish a paper about 10 years hence. But I do think you might be missing that camaraderie, especially if sharing music used to draw your group of friends together.

What could replace that physical connection?


SOLD - Eddie Vedder 04/09/09

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lost And Found

Peter Gabriel - (i) inspired by photo by Bob Gruen You won't find me painting on this album often, possibly never again. Genesis' "Selling England By The Pound" is perhaps the most important record in my musical history. Here's why.

Back in school, I used to go to independent used record stores in Santa Monica quite frequently. I'd spend hours. I got lost flipping through the bins looking for new music to throw on the stores' players. I didn't mind the sweaty headphones.

Record Surplus on Pico was one of the best because it was huge and well laid out. They had to create a limit to the number of records you could take to the players probably because of me. I'd take stacks of 20 or so that I'd never heard of before and skip through a few tracks. Hours, man. Hours.

I loved Peter Gabriel's solo work in the '80s. "Big Time" and "Sledgehammer" had such great videos on MTV, ahh those were the days. So I always looked in the G's. Genesis was right after Peter and one time a copy of "Selling England By The Pound" was in Peter's section. I got confused because he was on it. See, I didn't even know he'd been in that band before.

The album was nothing short of a revelation (sorry for the biblical pun) and I told my friend Michael about it. He and I got into "classic rock" music at the same time and branched off in the same direction towards Pink Floyd and prog rock. He flipped over the album and took his adventure incredibly deep into the bowels of prog rock, finding groups like Can, The Nice, and King Crimson. I found Tangerine Dream which eventually led me into electronica. Michael also took off towards psychedelia, getting lost finding greats like Jefferson Airplane. Their "After Bathing At Baxter's" is another album vital to my musical aesthetic. I only hope Michael can find his way again.

So besides The Beatles' "Revolver", this album is pretty much it. And I still love listening to it. In my music, of Genesis' albums with Gabriel, I have it, "Foxtrot" and "Live" on CD as well as vinyl. I just entered a bunch of my vinyl to my online collection at Rate Your Music, which was why it occurred to me to paint this piece. I'd kept this beat up copy separate since I was in high school because it was the next album I was going to paint on back then. It's gotten lost and found along with me.

I'm glad I got around to it today now that I'm lucky enough to get lost in creating to honor that which I got lost in devouring.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Clearly Blue

It doth appear that a move to Austin isn't in the cards at the moment. Kinda sucks, but Life happens, you know? So I decided to do a special piece of Vinyl Art. I'd been saving this clear blue record and rediscovered it while tidying up my art room.

The above shot is backlit through a window. Below is a shot in my little tabletop photo booth.

Since the record is special, I'm making the price special. Well, higher. This is only the second piece I've done on clear colored vinyl. I'm not saying it'll be the last (I've got a purple Prince single somewhere), but it will be a rare occurrence, and it's harder to paint. And Elvis is cool, I think. I listened to Dire Strait's "Calling Elvis" earlier painting Knopfler.

So this piece is $250. Fair enough?


SOLD - Elvis Presley 04/07/09

Don't Let It Fade (Like Stonewashed Jeans)

Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits - (i) inspired by photo by Kamerado

Sometimes I think the amount of paint I use, the brightness of the image I paint, is proportional to the impact the music had on me. That and the image I choose.

You know the music I'm talking about. Not one hit wonders, but really decent music that just doesn't stand out in your memory. The Doors stand out. Elvis stands out. Nirvana stands out. Madonna stands out. Hendrix stands out. Dire Straits doesn't.

But damn it's good music. Solid. They do what they do. "Sultans of Swing" says it and is it. So even though it's a minor part of the tapestry of your music, don't let it fade. It's a vital vibrant thread.

For Record Store Day on Saturday, April 18th, go buy a couple albums you played constantly on vinyl, 8-track, or cassette growing up. Buy them at a local independent music store. Support their spirit and your memory.


Mark Knopfler 04/07/09

Monday, April 6, 2009

Back In Bla... No, On Black

Bon Scott and Brian Johnson of AC/DC

Bon Scott and Brian Johnson on Brian's 1st album with AC/DC following Bon's death.

"Forget the hearse 'cause I never die."


SOLD - AC/DC 04/06/09

Friday, April 3, 2009

Funk It!

Herbie Hancock
When I was younger, Herbie Hancock's "Rock It" was my introduction to synth-funk. I loved it because of the video and sounds and their innovative connection to Peter Gabriel's "Big Time". Both still give me chills.

Later on, Us3's "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)" refreshed my interest in jazz, reintroducing me to Herbie Hancock and his work on Blue Note. That led me into the funk of Lou Donaldson and Grant Green and Jimmy Smith among others. Talking about music that makes you move!


Herbie Hancock 04/03/09

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Getting Lost In The Dance

Mos Def
I was painting Miles Davis earlier today, listening to Prince's new album and realized that I really get lost in the painting, and in the music. The moment, in the moment.

It's no coincidence that what I listen to while painting is music that makes me move. When you're doing something you love, you dance. Don't you?

In your head, down to your toes, you're in the groove.


SOLD - Mos Def 04/02/09

In a Silent Way

Miles Davis - (i) inspired by photo by Irving Penn
The Columbia Years of Miles Davis' recording career produced In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew among others that are amazing creations, some of my favorite jazz. Muted trumpet sends me, man.

For me, what's amazing about Miles is what he says by not saying. The space between. His concise powerful blasts and soft lulls have the impact they have largely because he's not always talking.

He's leading.


SOLD - Miles Davis 04/02/09

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jazz Appreciation

Dave Brubeck

My dad loves jazz. Hence I do. We got to see Dave Brubeck, one of his favorites, when I was little at Pepperdine University in Malibu. When I learned how to play the piano, "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk" were the challenges I took on from a book of Brubeck sheet music. Jazz is hard to play. This month is taken to appreciate it.

Structured improvisation. Jazz is amazing because there is a magical balance between the written music and what the performer contributes. Space is provided. Discussion is expected.

Musicians live in the moment. I paint a portrait and, yes, do lose track of time, but then the painting persists. The moment of creation has left an artifact. Musical performance, even if recorded, doesn't really leave a trace. The vibrating air that carried the creation of the performer to you is still there, but bears no mark of having been involved in the art produced.

Jazz takes this a step further as each performance is created uniquely by design. This connects performer and audience as memory is truly the only record of each concert. In other genres of music, it is the solo which offers the performer the opportunity to express the moment as they connect to it. I love when Stevie Ray Vaughan or Carlos Santana or John Bonham or Gregg Allman spread out and let it rip.

Thus my favorite recordings are those which provide the structure of a written composition with the chance for play.

So when Dan Davis of the local news channel asked me to pick an album to play on camera, what did I grab? My vinyl copy of "Time In". It can be heard in the background of my news interview.

Who do you think strikes that balance best between structure and improvisation?


Dave Brubeck 04/01/09