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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Storied Past

David Lynch - (i) by photo by David Lynch

[EDIT - 7/27/09: The below contest over, I've painted Alice Cooper for Zane, the winner with this entry. I received 10 entries this time! I've posted them here with the painting of Alice.]

Brian Clark's post using me as an example suggested I look to music trivia, giving it to my audience to put you in a nostalgic mood in which you might be more inclined to buy a piece. It might work. The problem is that it wouldn't be me. My gut rejects what I find manipulative. I'd rather know about you. Stories persist, facts fade.

I know I've asked a bunch about your stories, but I'm going to make good on an idea I had before Jason died and run another contest. The rules will be the same: you somehow convey a story about your past as it relates to music, I'll pick my 10 favorites (assuming there are 10+), and then randomly choose the winner (or if there are a LOT of entries, I'll put my top 10 up for a vote by all entrants). I'm hoping to get more than a couple entries this time, but Paticus's story was so awesome last time that it was well worth it anyway.

See, that's me. I'm looking for quality. I know I ask a lot of you to read these rambles, to pay me and my art attention. But I like stories. It's one main reason why I like movies by David Lynch as much as I do.

So for the month of June, I'll accept entries in pretty much any form. The winner gets a framed piece of Vinyl Art of their choice. The top 10 will be featured in my blog sidebar. And all entrants who want one can have an oval VA sticker.

And the really REALLY cool news about this David Lynch piece will be in my newsletter, which you can get if you email me.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thankfully Speechless

Jimmy Page - (i) inspired by photo by Dick Barnatt
Other than to say thanks, I really don't know how to respond to a compliment.

Brian Clark posted an article today on Copyblogger using me as an example of how the golden rule can work in marketing and social media. Then he posted this tweet:

Wow. Yeah. Wow. Um, so I don't know what to say.

Brian has over 23,000 followers. Heeeeewack, as Zonker from Doonesbury used to say.


Jimmy Page 05/26/09

Baby News(letter)

John Lennon - (i) inspired by photo by Iain MacmillanWe're pregnant!

I had to just blurt it out. Couldn't think of anything else to say! Woohoo!

We went to California this past weekend to get some stuff my parents had been keeping for me in storage and the timing was perfect to tell them we're expecting. We'd just had the 1st ultrasound last Thursday:
Heehee! So cool. We got to see the heart beat for a couple seconds. It's amazing on SO many levels. Wow, I'm telling you.

So, I'll tell you a little more about it and about the deal with Rob Dyrdek in my newsletter this week. Again, if you want to get my newletter in which I'll ramble in more detail about stuff going on, send me an email. I won't use the list to sell you my art, it's just for the newsletter. I do enough selling here.

I will say, though, that because my wife's an amazing planner, we're already registered at Babies''R''Us and I'm open to barter, ;)


John Lennon 05/26/09

Friday, May 22, 2009

Can You Dig It?

Isaac Hayes

What do you hear in your head when you see an image of Isaac Hayes?

That's why I paint these.


Isaac Hayes 05/22/09

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Excitement Delivered

Steve Winwood of Traffic - (i) inspired by photo by David Gahr
Ok, ok, ok. So how do I put this? HOLY CRAP! Yeah, that'll work.

I LOVE how the Universe works. Last night went really well, very cool. Here's the story.

My wife and I get a kick out of watching Rob Dyrdek on MTV, both his old show with Big Black and now in his Fantasy Factory. The face Rob makes when that mini horse whinnies in the back of his SUV is hilarious.

Anyway, we noticed that Rob had quite a bit of art hanging in his apartment and his office. Luke Chueh pieces and lots of painted skate decks. I thought it'd be really cool to be able to give one of my pieces to him someday. Someday.

Skip ahead to a coupla months ago when I randomly left a comment on a local guy's blog about a new restaurant around the corner. That guy is making a name for himself as a connector. He loves the Kings Of Leon, whom I had just painted, and he wanted to see my studio and my work. He did.

Somehow we ended up talking about Dyrdek. It turns out Jarod knew Rob from back when he was in SoCal working on cars. They had stayed friends. Jarod had a whole bunch of ideas and people he'd thought to connect me with, but Rob was the one I got a real kick out of the possibility of a connection.

Both Jarod and Rob are on Twitter. Jarod at one point talked with Rob about me and asked him who he'd want a piece of for the Fantasy Factory. "Shootout at the Fantasy Factory" by Traffic.

At the time, I already had "Mr. Fantasy" and so I painted it. Awhile later I found both a better picture of Winwood online, and the album Rob wanted at Hoodlums. Last week, for reasons I now know, I had the urge to paint the piece even though I hadn't heard from Jarod for awhile about Rob. So I painted it.

Yesterday morning I saw a tweet from Jarod to Rob about meeting up in Tempe. Rob was in the valley! So I sent a message to Jarod to see if he could hook us up. All I needed to do was frame the piece. And early that evening:

Rob Dyrdek and me - photo by Brittany EdlenSo cool. Rob was totally chill, but excited and interested in taking a few moments to have a conversation with my wife and I. He had done 2 signing events and was walking in to this place to introduce the movie he executive produced before getting on a plane for Atlanta. Apparently a normal day for him! But he was totally present in that moment with us. He made it feel like we could've spent as long as we wanted taking with him.

What's he going to do with my painting? It'll be awhile before I can show you, but I'll tell you in my newsletter next week. If you didn't get my 1st one and want in, email me and I'll add you to my list.

So exciting. What's going to happen today? I'm not sure what I'm expecting.


GIFTED - Steve Winwood 05/18/09

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Expecting Excitement

Bradley Nowell of Sublime - (i) inspired by photo by John Dunne
Hoo, I've got some exciting event news coming up! I'll definitely be talking about it in my next newsletter. For now, I'll say it involves this and these and some other stuff.

Last night we saw the Kings Of Leon at the Mesa Amphitheatre. Here's a video a guy uploaded of the opening song. He's got a few more too, good quality. It was a perfect night and a great show. Caleb was amazed at how many people showed up, and he had a good time despite some apparent issues with how it sounded to them onstage.

It's really exciting to see the band get so popular. We became fans after the release of their previous album, "Because Of The Times". Their new one is awesome, and their show has just gotten better.

Tonight might be another exciting night, but you'll have to wait to find out. Me too!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Attribution & Creativity

Brian Wilson My brain and the Universe apparently think it's funny to mess with me this week. What one thinks, lessons one needs, are presented all the time by both. For me, it's my gut check that sees me through, guides me on my path. I don't need a written constitution or mission statement to refer back to and I don't need my internal storyteller fucking with me.

But, Life has its plan. So I'm having to do a tough gut check again about what I do. After all, I do create for sale works based upon works created and copyrights owned by others.

Mick Rock responded through his assistant to my contact form submission on his site that he thought my painting of David Bowie is pretty cool. Awesome! But he definitely takes the tough stance regarding the copyright issue. They wanted to make sure I wasn't planning a mass reproduction run for sale, infringing on his work, his art, his ego, him.

I have NO problem with that stance. I totally understand where he's coming from, as I feel the same way about Fairey's use of Garcia's photo. Fortunately, I have an internal "don't fuck with people" rule. It's golden. It's why I don't sell out my purpose, my art, my self.

I do what I do for the right reason and can communicate that externally. I can say that my art is meant to pay tribute to musician and photographer, music and photograph, not simply to use them for personal gain. I wouldn't be unhappy if people were simply printing off my blog images and pinning them up in their rooms or cubicles. I want my art to spread, to connect, to reach humanity.

But I want people to know I did it.

So I sign my pieces and I put my website in the corner of each image, assuming I remember. Hugh of does the same. He's now welcoming connection with his fans by posting photos of his own cartoons they have printed and posted in cubicles. No gain to him before, but now he gains by showing how people use his work, his art, him.

He gets to say, hey maybe someday you'll buy an official signed print, but no worries. It's good enough, even possibly better, for me that you pay me with your attention, your connection, your sharing, your spreading of my message, you.

Life for Life. Is that attribution enough? But Hugh's looking, as I am, for that provenance, that thread of humanity he started, or he continued. I want people to send me pictures of how my pieces hang, how my stickers are stuck. I want that ego boost. Mick Rock wants that ego boost to be in control of all his connections.

Again, I don't fault him one bit.

As long as humanity can still create. And that's where I side with Fairey in the sense that I think human creativity feeds itself. It's how we sustain our culture. Remixing, sampling, quoting must be allowed, and I think encouraged in order to encourage us as people. Shut it down and we wither.

But that creativity indeed BENEFITS from attribution. When you gratefully share those on whose shoulders you've stood, you encourage camaraderie and ease egos, you show your character, your essential truth, and build trust.

My gut says I'm good.


Monday, May 18, 2009

It's Just So... ughhh, Tedious

David Bowie - (i) inspired by photo by Mick Rock

So what do I do on a Monday morning when my brain is backfiring? I try, once again, to wrap my head around Fairey's legal wranglings with the AP. Yeesh.

It seems that in an inextricable series of mistrusting communications, the AP, as scared middleman, fucked things up. They're acting completely inconsistently and bullying both Garcia and Fairey. Garcia didn't even want to sue people over the situation, and didn't even know about the Fairey poster for quite awhile.

And that's my underlying issue and why I still don't get Fairey. He says he meant no disrepect for Garcia, justifying his position with the fact that Garcia is an Obama supporter too, and all Fairey wanted to do was help Obama's campaign. He even says he wouldn't've done anything differently on the off-chance he had a substantive impact on the campaign. Ego! Jeez. But Garcia didn't know about it! That's my point. Fairey knew, he knew enough to preemptively file to protect his fair use of the image before the AP filed any copyright claims against him. But he didn't clue Garcia in.

Garcia took the blasted photo!

I don't know, maybe it's touching on my own insecurities again of transformatively using the photographs of others to paint my portraits. Maybe it's the fact that the AP screwed things up communication-wise, between Fairey and Garcia. I don't know that I could determine the photographer for all the photos I've found on Google, the way Fairey found Garcia's photo. I really really tried after my last attempt to understand this issue. Now all the images for whom I found photographer credit have them listed as inspiration.

For instance, this image of David Bowie was taken by Mick Rock. He even has a David Bowie page on his site. The guy's a legend, having taken some AMAZING photos during the '70s, most of which would be perfect to use as inspiration for my portraits. I'm going to try to contact him. I'm not really expecting anything from the contact other than to hopefully just thank him.

I just don't want any middleman fucking up my communication with anybody relating to my Vinyl Art.


David Bowie 05/18/09

Friday, May 15, 2009

Following The Followers

Billie Holiday - (i) inspired by photo by Bob Willoughby

Today, like every Friday on Twitter, is #followfriday. For those who haven't the foggiest about Twitter, basically you can label updates with #[blah] so your tweet will be grouped in with a larger trending, or popular, topic. The hokey word play of followfriday just became a routine for people to tell other people who they like following and why. It helps expand your Twitter circle, which can get to feeling real small real quick.

I don't follow everybody who follows me. I do, however pay attention to who is following me, especially when they direct tweets at me. I decided to turn the idea of sharing who you like around and share who likes me. So I do #followerfriday.

On Twitter, I have the benefit of knowing who is watching and reading along regularly, for the most part. However, here on my blog I only know those who've followed using Google's friend connect, or who've subscribed via email, like my friend Rodney. I've got some 50 people right now presumably regularly reading this blog who I don't know.

I'd like to.

To that end, I'm going to try not moderating comments. I explained before why I'd stuck to moderating them even though some people in other circles consider it a surefire way to discourage commenters. Basically, I wanted you to know I was listening because you'd know I was forced to decide to accept or reject every comment submitted, and it is my blog and I wanted to avoid having to delete spam comments.

But I want you to feel totally free to leave whatever comment you'd like. I want to know anything about yourself you want to tell me, like what music you like right now, what you think about American Idol or Grey's Anatomy, or why you keep up with this blog. Anything.

So we'll try it.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

I've Gone Dotty!

Cooper, Morrison and Clapton
Early on I realized that trying to paint normally as one would with a brush wouldn't work well on vinyl. It ended up looking blotchy or too thick. In the back of my head, my high school art teacher's favorite project helped me figure it out. Dots.

I've described my work kind of like a reverse newspaper photo, with the density of the dots of paint creating the illusion. What was this project Mrs. Kahn loved so much that gave me the idea? Using only dots to create drawings with a very fine point rapidograph pen. I was in her elective class 3 years and each year we'd do these things and have a book printed of the whole classes' work. They were insane.

high school rapidograph drawing
The idea stuck in my head from such a repetitive action so much so that after high school I actually was planning on trying one with colored ink. Yeesh. But, the theory is really useful. With enough care, volume can be created with smooth surfaces, and edges can be defined without solid lines. Indeed, the best lesson for me from the whole thing was that using lines to create shapes truly flattens objects, breaking the illusion of real substance.

This, along with my lessons from sculpture, are why I start in the middle of shapes and shade outward, bringing the volume out of the dark into the light.

It's also why I have to paint to music with a beat to it to drive my wrist's repeated dabbing.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Sculptading of Paintrature

Roger Waters
I realized I haven't shared very much of my artistic upbringing. I'd listed some artists who'd influenced my aesthetic growing up, but haven't shown much of what I did back in school.

This image of Roger Waters of Pink Floyd is one of the more sculptural ones I've painted. So I'll take this opportunity to show you a couple sculptures I did back at the Brentwood Art Center with Jonathan Bickart.

Anne and Charles Like my portraits, which kind of emerge from the vinyl, I tended to create figures emerging from chunks of clay. The woman's general shape looked like a triangle from a certain angle, so I had her fade into the geometrical shape. The man's face was more of a study, so I just took the block of clay straight from the bag and sculpted him into the corner, adding back on removed clay for the nose and beard, so it sort of look embedded in the block and sort of like a mask.

This tendency might be attributed to a bit of laziness on my part. With my portraits on vinyl too, as I don't use any black paint. Just using white, and very little at that, makes my job easier on one hand. With painting, it's more difficult on the other hand because I can't screw up, I can't remove the paint. So if I get a part of a face too bright, it'll pop out too much, messing up the contour of the face.

I'm basically sculpting the painting, or shading the portraiture. After I've gotten the shapes of the face, I rely quite a bit on my sculpture training to understand the flow of the face and to brighten or raise the right places. Both painting and sculpture use light to create relief. Sculpture has the benefit of actually being raised, while I use paint density to create the illusion of relief on the vinyl. But I definitely think like a sculptor while painting.

Next, I'll show you how my high school art teacher got me hooked on dots, dabbing, and basically density.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Story Of My Life

Sammy Davis Jr.Last night on "House", Wilson asked House how he wanted the story of his life to go. It is in your control how you act, how you live. That is the free will we beings have. I've pondered before about whether we truly have free will or not, but it really came down to semantics, as philosophical ramblings usually do.

The bottom line is that we live as we live. Is as does, and it is by our actions that we are judged. The title of this post was just quoted by a friend and it, and something else big, got me thinking again about responsibility and how the story of our lives fit into the tapestry of humanity.

The Summit is so iconic, such a known part of our culture, because of their stories, their lives. I am sooooo humbled to have become a teency part of those stories as I shared in my first email newsletter. (If you haven't gotten that newsletter and want it, please email me and I'll send it to you.) I'm humbled because Frankie and Sammy are more than just entertainers in our culture. The way they lived changed our culture and did their part to change the way Americans live.

For me, big news is coming at the end of this month. Big. Life changing.

Frank Sinatra So please stay tuned.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Live Painting Again

Neil Young - (i) inspired by photo by Tom Sheehan
There, that worked better. Cool.

I think this is a pretty neat use of the integration of mobile technology with the web. What do you think?


SOLD - Neil Young 05/06/09

Live Painting

Joe Strummer
Well, that was frustrating. Yesterday afternoon, I painted this piece, trying again sending "live" cell phone photos to Twitpic. Either my phone or the cell network weren't cooperating because after 2 shots, the rest failed to send. I had to resend them. Oh well. They're there.

I'm trying this to let you in to my process more. I'd done those timelapse YouTube videos quite awhile ago which were cool, but a lot of work. This way you, ideally, get to see the painting develop just about as it happens, or at least get a sense of how it happens. I think it's neat, anyways.

My phone won't let me put a caption so that Twitpic will recognize it, so it comes out as a list of unidentified picture links on Twitter, but I think that's ok. The point is the pictures, being worth a thousand words, right?


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Speed Painting

Sarah McLachlan - (i) inspired by photo by Kharen Hill
I got the record really fast for this commission. That's always nice.

And speaking of speed, I received an email today that made me realize how fast I actually get these done. This fellow does pointillistic portraits on "At-A-Glance" desktop calendars of various famous subjects using fine-tipped markers. I did several drawings in high school using a rapidograph pen. Insane. They took forever. This guy says he puts upwards of 300 hours into each piece! Wow.

Yesterday, doing the cell phone shots of my painting as I painted it, I showed you all that it takes 1-2 hours for me to paint a piece. I don't do it fast intentionally. That's just how it comes out. I'm also not saying this to show I'm better or worse, or my work is better or worse than anybody else's. Or that I take less care.

I actually don't really have a point. Sorry, my brain is a bit scattered this week.

Good thing I don't have to focus for too long on a painting!


Friday, May 1, 2009

Sweet Lullaby

Robert Plant - (i) inspired by photo by Dick Barnatt I'm really dragging today. I got my teeth cleaned and almost fell asleep in the chair. It was the softest cleaning I've ever had, so that had something to do with it, but I'm really just tired.

I love sleeping. I wish I could take a siesta every day. We want to build a cabana out back by the pool so we can feel like we're down in Rocky Point on the beach.

When you wake up, do you have a song in your head? Like a brief chunk of music?

Just about every morning when I wake up, there's like one phrase of a song playing in my head, lyric and music. Wanna know what happens when I loop that chunk and focus on hearing it in my head?

I fall back asleep.