Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
From the Jackson 5 era to the Thriller era to today, Michael Jackson has undergone a dramatic and public physical transformation. He clearly is not comfortable in his own skin. For all his creative brilliance, he seems to continue to question his worth as a human.
This new comment on my post of a couple days ago brought up my own deep fears, in a good way. From the same artist who'd made me think previously about why I continue to paint solely on vinyl at the moment, this comment led me to ponder the root of my issues regarding my worth as a human, as an artist. I responded in a comment on that same post.
Then, I read Godin's post about public and personal perception of creativity. Please go read it. Don Miguel Ruiz discusses at length, well it's really the main idea, in his books about the way our and others' perception of the world and ourselves is basically a lie. The only truth is the fact of our actions. That's why I think the Tao Te Ching is so focussed on action. What we think, what our brain does, how we filter the personal and environmental effects of our actions is not truth in fact.
But it sure does seem to be, doesn't it? We can get so wrapped up in our own shit, that we block and distort and then react to our thoughts and our interpretation of the actions of others in seemingly bizarre ways. Bizarre, that is, to someone outside of the bubble.
We can look at young Michael and think about how cute he was, how talented. All he thought about, though, was his father's comments about his appearance. He hated what he saw in the mirror of his father's eyes.
Deep down, I still think about those schoolmates' accusations that I was cheating with my art. I still question my value as an artist, feeling like anybody could do what I do. I still worry about the reaction of the photographers who took the original images I use to paint from, which I guess could be a twisted backwards way of being egotistical about my work, but is really bourne out of my fear I'm doing something wrong.
This is one reason why I was so conflicted about the idea of reproducing my work. I don't think I realize how much I appreciate the comments I've gotten in response to my news about the Hard Rock Hotel. I know looking for outside validation is really just more lies, but to know how what I do is filtered through the perception of others gives me new perspective from outside the bubble.
So, from the depths, thank you.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Well, I've passed under the limbo pole without dislodging it or killing my knees. My nose did brush it, making it wobble for sure. For an afternoon, yesterday, it seemed all would fall apart due to a bunch of reasons. Let's just say communication can be challenging.
Here's what's going on. I was approached by a gallery in California that has a relationship with the interior designer of... are you ready for it?
The Hard Rock Hotel.
I'm not sure exactly how, but both he and this gallery had found my website and were interested in my work for one of their hotels in Florida. Lots of rooms. Time crunch. Uhoh. How could I paint so many so quickly?
The lady at the gallery explained that most of these projects use reproductions so every room's decor is the same. Ahh. Ok. But I hadn't liked the idea of reproductions. Hmm. Well, it would be done by a very high quality outfit that I'd actually heard of previously, it would be contractually limited to 23 high-end suites, they would be framed better than I frame them, and they'd be enlarged a bit. Interesting. Kind of pop art-ish. Kind of intriguing. Nice exposure.
Nice exposure indeed. That was what I focussed on, that and the valid connection of context and my work. I mean, the Hard Rock! I'd sent an email to their info@ address a long time ago with, of course, no response at all. They cater directly to my audience. My signature and logo will be on each piece and the concierge will have the gallery's contact information. And the lady said most artists who have participated in projects like this get approached again.
So, do I do it? First of all, I had to do a gut check. Some of you will say this goes against this statement. But I think this project will make me more able to explore my creativity. I started thinking about it and realized that if I were ever going to try reproducing these paintings on vinyl of mine, this would be the best scenario. Their contract definitely protects the artist in the right ways, clearly limiting the scope and size of the project as well as designating responsiblity and copyright ownership. They work with this high quality company and have an impressive list of corporate clients. All that was left were details in order for me to decide yes or no.
Those details almost killed the whole concept. Who I was going to do, on which albums, reproduced with or without the album cover behind were all sticking points.
But, I say strongly to all, it pays to stick up for yourself. If you have a line that if you cross it, you won't like what you see in the mirror, don't do it. And say you won't do it. And say why. Get forceful if you have to, even if you're uncomfortable.
I'm normally a mellow guy. It takes a lot to get a rise out of me, but asking me to compromise my artistic integrity is the wrong thing to do. In the most complicated set of choices possible for the project, legal reasons of the gallery and design choices of the designer led them to propose cropping an album cover image, enlarging the remainder to the size of a normal cover, and digitally superimposing my painted record on top.
They wanted to mess with the original album cover.
The whole point of what I do is to celebrate the art and creativity of the music and its artifact, the record album. The cover is an integral part of that. A lot of creative thought and energy goes into producing an album cover. Artistic careers have been forged from amazing, distinctive cover art. The fact is, I don't own the copyright for the cover art and couldn't even presume to begin thinking about messing with one. Worse still, the part they wanted to eliminate had both the band name and album name in it. You wouldn't even know what album it was anymore. It'd look like they'd stuck a piece of stock photography behind it. Man. Pissed me off.
So I said something, first in an email and then in a phone conversation. I thought that'd be it for the project.
Then, this afternoon, the gallery called and said the designer would go for a different album altogether. A better one, in my opinion, anyway. Wow. I was surprised. This whole thing has been unexpected, and I love the unexpected.
So it's on! The final piece will be a triptych of slightly enlarged, silver-leaf framed portraits with the album cover behind, printed on rag paper. The 3 portraits will be the John Lennon shown in my online gallery on its first row, the Carlos Santana shown above, and a Mariah Carey. Odd grouping, I think. But it is for Florida.
I know this might bother some of you who've kept up with me on this blog. But I've gotta try. I've gotta try in order to fail and learn. This might be a disaster. But then I'll know and I won't try something like this project this way again. With the smallest financial and time cost to me, I'll be afforded the most reputable partners in a project I could've thought to put together to potentially get my art to reach another level of attention. I am trying to take over the world, after all.
I would be interested in your feedback about this, positive or scathing.
SOLD - Santana 01/27/09
Monday, January 26, 2009
I don't think I've ever mentioned local politics on this blog before. I feel a responsibility to do so today.
This Clapton is for my mother-in-law's boss in Florence Unified School District in the far east part of the Phoenix metro area. It's going to be a birthday gift for her husband.
Along with my mother-in-law, my father-in-law works for that same school district. My wife works in Arizona public education as well.
Arizona, like the rest of the country, is financially in trouble. We are looking at a $1.5 billion deficit this year and much larger one the next. The first budget proposal publicly presented, developed in close-door meetings apparently by just 4 members of the state legislature, lays the entire burden of that deficit on public education. All of it.
If approved, this budget would devastate our state's public education system, which is already around the 48th or 9th lowest funded system in the country. Can't go much lower than that. Kindergarten would no longer be full day, school for all K-12 students would be 4 days a week and programs would be either eliminated or slashed. Amazingly, on top of that, it would cut way back on child care. So not only would the kids be getting educated less and the parents would have to figure out what to do with them, but they'd also have to pay more for whatever they did figure out what to do with them.
This is like making the women and children on a sinking ship go below deck to work on the problem without tools while the men row away in the life rafts. Come ON!
Dr. Gary Nine, the superintendant for FUSD, couldn't believe it when he found out about this proposal. He's taking a stand: http://www.respectforregularfolks.com/index.php/home.
This past Sunday, my family took a stand with him. Please go to the above link and read his letter. Understand the situation and this horrendous proposal's consequences.
Then help do something about it.
SOLD - Eric Clapton 01/26/09
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Yesterday I talked about abundance of value. The counterpoint is time, its value in its uniqueness AND scarcity. Our time as individuals is limited. Attention is precious. Thus my overwhelming gratitude at your sharing yours with me, spending it on me.
So, to those paying attention, a return more than expected. I'm going to introduce framed double albums with a limited time offer. My framed single portraits go for $175 plus shipping ($10 US, $40 int'l) currently. For commissions paid for through the end of February, double portraits framed in the same type of frame, just a double-wide, will be $300 plus the same shipping.
I've done three examples. Sorry the picture above is a wee bit blurry. Here are closeups of the Kings Of Leon: Caleb and Jared and Matthew and Nathan. I also painted Smashing Pumpkins and Pink Floyd. The Kings Of Leon and Smashing Pumpkins do have 4 portraits, so they would be an additional $20 ($10 per added portrait).
A last detail: if you want 2 single albums each with a portrait, framed side-by-side, you can do that too for the same cost. So, for instance: Page and Plant of Led Zeppelin.
When you Email me I can send you a PayPal invoice or I do accept personal checks. Thank you so much for your time.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
A line from a song on Jefferson Airplane's "After Bathing At Baxter's", one of my favorite albums, jibes with my view of Life. We're all part of it. Life explores itself in creation by individuating into individual beings. Each with a purpose as part of the whole. With free will, we can apparently muck up that purpose, but I'm not entirely sure that's not part of the plan as well.
So, all Life, all beings are precious. Whether we were created to find the question to the answer "42" or not, we all are vital. Vital is a good word, relating to that which is necessary and that which is alive. All alive, all necessary.
My question of late to the void has been why, then, is scarcity prized? The rarer, the more expensive. Supply and demand. Why is this the system?
I'm thinking before the creation of the capitalistic way of doing things, a goat was worth what a goat was worth. That worth being determined by usefulness. In barter, I suppose need played a part in what one was willing to exchange for said goat, but quality meant more than quantity. Substance over salesmanship.
I think we've lost sight of substance, buried underneath the commercialism of our society. Solely based upon quantity of a commodity, substance is passed back and forth while at the same time being passed over by attention. Collectors don't value things based upon use, but based upon how few there are. This seems to spread to people on occasion, frighteningly, as groups are reduced to numbers for statistical analysis which is then relied upon for individual action. No wonder people feel alone, exploited, flattened. You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.
When the economic and possibly the social system is in crisis, the creative can dig out from underneath the complications of market value. This applies to everything made. What is real matters again. True value can be recognized, and in abundance. Preserving quality, quantity can be increased without fear of disconnection. Use, both practical and spiritual, food for the body and soul, will determine value.
I hope this happens. Humanity would do better, I think. We would work together to create value, rather than work against to horde. Value is not a zero sum game. Along with Life, it is boundless.
Remember that the peninsula is attached to the mainland.
Peace.SOLD - Grace Slick 01/21/09
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
With tears in my eyes watching the opening video of Oprah's show last night juxtaposing Obama and King, I realized why Shepard Fairey's campaign portrait should be in the National Portrait Gallery even before Obama took office. Hope is truly uplifting.
As those who were young back when MLK spoke his piece now take over policy, the generational impact of the civil rights movement can be sensed powerfully with all our senses. While we currently are most certainly a depressed country, both emotionally and economically, I hope we as individuals can generate more change as we recognize that without the individual there is no country. Yes, we can take responsibility for ourselves. Yes, we can create change based upon hope instead of fear. Yes we can.
Exciting day, huh?
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Paint on a Nick Drake record? Am I nuts? Well, it is a reissue, but still! It's my one reservation about what I do, rendering records unplayable, at least on one side. Especially when it's music I love. So how do I justify it? How can I say I love vinyl so much that I ruin it?
Well, I can buy another one on eBay for $25 since it's a reissue. But, more importantly, I like what I create. I'm repurposing something mass produced into a unique piece of art directly celebrating the original art of the album. To make the record collectors out there gasp, after all it is just a record. It's not like I'm depriving the world of Nick Drake's wonderfully wispy voice. Also, there's something cool about using a physical representation of the actual music, the record, to pay hommage to the creator of said music with another physical representation, the portrait.
This past week I've been prompted to rethink the idea of reproducing my work. Sort of paying hommage to my own creation? Seems egotistical a little. I'm still not 100% sure. I'm opening up to the idea of editions of prints limited in scope and number, on something other than vinyl, by a very reputable outfit. I wouldn't want it done on records. I know that. Not on random records, blank records, or records by the subject of the painting. Maybe on wood panel or metal? How would that even look, a record with grooves printed flat?
It would open up the possibilities for more sales, more quickly. But both of those aren't really my end goal though. My goal is to make individual meaningful connections that give people a way to share their music, their culture. More more more, faster faster faster isn't my style. Hmm, in the right context maybe, so it's different sales, with rigorous quality?
I'm just not sure. What do you think? Is it selling out in the short term or smart business in the long term? I'd really appreciate help here!
SOLD - Nick Drake 01/13/09
Monday, January 12, 2009
The Verve have become one of the biggest influences on my musical taste, especially since we saw them in London shortly before the release of this, their most recent album. Before my dad introduced me to music with The Beatles "Revolver" and his other albums, reading was the main form of human communication of which I availed myself. I have previously listed certain things pertinent to who I am as an artist and person. Here, then, are some of the more important influences on my literary and linguistic taste:
Edgar Allan Poe
"Calvin & Hobbes"
"The Phantom Tollbooth"
"Over Sea, Under Stone"
"Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy"
"The Gnu And The Guru Go Behind The Beyond"
I've tried to keep this list restricted to those authors and works I discovered independently of school. For while "the classics" have their place, it's more of an academic one. These had lasting impact on my use of the English language, frought with peril as it is, for better or worse. Blame them for my ramblings. Blame my parents and childhood friends indirectly for providing me with such radical literature. I happen to thank them for it.
SOLD - Richard Ashcroft 01/12/09
Friday, January 9, 2009
Music has a way of getting inside you. It doesn't always demand direct, focussed attention, but while you may think it's just in the background, watch out. For instance, you can drive and listen to music, right? You can work your legs and arms to work the velocitator and deceleratrix. But has the music ever suddenly stopped unexpectedly? What happens?
I know for me, I realize that my driving has been subconsciously influenced by the music. The part of your brain that's processing the music has its impact on you and your actions. How else would music have the power it has? I just read about a study that showed people jamming to music they enjoy basically had a higher threshold for pain. Why is music played at sporting events?
So, I paint listening to music. What I listen to depends mostly on my mood and the time of day. It's all energetic and rhythmic, but early in the morning, I usually listen to lighter music like Fiona Apple, Beck, Bob Marley or Dave Matthews. Most of the time, however, it's what you'd probably call hard music. Eminem, Beastie Boys, Parliament, Infectious Grooves, Blind Melon, Black Sabbath, Disturbed, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian. Even Korn.
Surprised? Or not?
The main reason I listen to high energy music is because my painting technique is stippling, dabbing the paint onto the record repeatedly. The music, the beat flows through my wrist onto the record. I found over the holiday when I painted a couple pieces without music playing because of family, I painted much slower, more hesitantly.
Interestingly, even though most of that music could be called "angry music", I get more passionate than pissed off listening to it while painting. I think the reason is that I really like the music, so it doesn't anger me. Put on a jangly jam band and I'll probably break the record! ;) Don't wanna do that!
So what kind of music, what bands do you listen to while doing what you do all day? Have you thought about it's influence on you?
Totally. But I have to get it out there.
I woke up this morning half an hour early with this idea in my head. One of those cute, silly things that take advantage of a new technology for pure entertainment. The technology? Twitter.
See, I'd just found http://www.twitterforpeace.com/ yesterday through a re-tweet by John Cleese (@JohnCleese). Everytime somebody posts a tweet with "#peace" in it, it shows up on this webpage automatically in real-time. Neato. That's the specific technology I'm talking about using for laughs, the hashtag (#).
There's a kids' group drawing activity that my old art teacher is calling the "kangaroo" game, where each kid gets an 8.5x11 sheet of paper with two dots on each 8.5 edge kinda near the corners positioned so that if any 2 sheets are placed 8.5 edge to 8.5 edge, the dots line up. The kids then draw a wacky animal body that connects the dots the long ways. When done, all the pages are assembled end to end randomly creating a really funny looking long caterpillar-like animal. The birthday kid gets to do the head and tail.
That's the idea, with tweets. Each tweet will start with the end of a sentence, the verb-object part. The middle of the tweet will be some random narrative content. The end will be the start of a sentence, the subject. So a tweet will look like:
"#tp ...[verb phrase][object phrase]. [sentence or 2]. [subject]..."
Here's my first example: "#tp ... ran to the window. "Holy mackerel" John mumbled, almost knocking off the fishbowl. The fish..."
I want to call it Twitterpillar (#tp).
If you want to play, do your tweet first: http://www.twitter.com/. Then here's the link to read what's come before, or after as the case may be: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23tp. Don't read the stream first though, keep it random. Tweet before you peek!
A good trick to make sure it'll fit in with the idea is to read your tweet like a loop. If the first and last sentence fragments, well, last and first, go together grammatically, then you're good.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Before most of the holiday craziness, I'd started to paint the Kings of Leon. With a couple commissions and consignment replacements done, I wanted to get back to it. Painting the musicians that I both love and respect. Coming up will be the final member of KOL, Richard Ashcroft of The Verve, and Nick Drake to name a few.
It's nice to get back into the swing of things, especially since I love what I do. I feel so dang lucky that I get to these days.
The swing of things also means getting back to new episodes of TV shows. I'm not much on that form of entertainment these days, well, years, but there are some fun ones that make for a relaxing evening spending time with my wife. So, along with continuing to watch the DVDs of "Get Smart" she gave me for Christmas, she and I will get cozy and watch "Ugly Betty" and "Grey's Anatomy" tonight.
What shows are you glad to have back?
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Since it's a new year, I want to re-introduce the Vinyl Art Elliott Collection [EC]. I'm hoping this idea will catch on this year as the potential is cool.
Here's the deal. I received a whole bunch of great albums from a lady in exchange for a Van Halen painting. Really really great albums. In perfect condition. She wanted me to have them to use for my art rather than simply sell them to a used record store. So, I came up with an idea to link my art to charity, piece by piece.
Normally, my pieces are $175 (plus shipping) framed and delivered. For these pieces, every time I use an album she gave me, the buyer of said piece gets to give $100 to a charity and $75 to me. Most are for a charity of the buyer's choice. A couple are specific, which is noted in the blog post about it. Speaking of, listed below are all the posts of the pieces so far.
Debbie Harry - Blondie
Dave Gahan - Depeche Mode
Gene Simmons - KISS
Tommy Lee - Motley Crue
Steven Tyler - Aerosmith
Snoop Doggy Dogg
The way it'll work is you'll give me 2 checks: one to me, one to the charity. I'll get the info from the charity and send them the donation in your name and address. You'll get the receipt and whatever other stuff they send, and the painting.
So then you'll get to tell people how you got this cool original piece of art by donating to your favorite charity! Sound good?
Let me know what you think, and if there's anybody you'd like me to paint if I have an album!
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
There is a lot of creativity out there. A lot. I differentiate creativity by like vs. respect. Not mutually exclusive or inclusive. Picture one of those ven diagrams with the 2 circles overlapping somewhat.
I respect Willie Nelson. And he does have a hauntingly beautiful voice. But I don't particularly like his music.
Can you think of music that you like, would be ok waking up next to, but wouldn't introduce to your parents? Think: guilty pleasure.
Can you think of music that slaps you in the face, storms out and then outclasses you at the company suaree? Think: wouldn't look right next to the above guilty pleasure.
How about music that you both want to do dirty things to and to show off at the ball?
Finally, music that never should get out of bed?
Let's get a good list going here on this one! What do you say?
ON CONSIGNMENT - Willie Nelson 01/06/09
Monday, January 5, 2009
Even though I'm suffering a might bit of post-holiday lack of motivation, a bad thing for the self-employed, and a persisting upset stomach with accompanying joint aches, I need to keep painting.
I just found out over the weekend that a couple of my pieces, the Page/Plant Led Zeppelin and the ZZ Top, are in the front window of Wild About Music. In the center too! I know because my sister-in-law, the one who's just been visiting for 3 weeks lives near Austin and goes to 6th St. for Saturday night fun.
So I've gotta replace the Stevie Ray Vaughan and Willie Nelson they'd sold last November! Chop chop! A-listening to Rob & Big.
SOLD - Stevie Ray Vaughan 01/05/09
Friday, January 2, 2009
Entering 2009, Vinyl Art continues to seem to do its job best as a gift. I've pondered a reason why before. From Christmas to birthdays, like with this GG Allin, people are apparently keeping my work in mind to give to close friends and family. Coworkers too.
I can hardly begin to convey how good this makes me feel.
Really. I mean, how cool is it that people are seeing my work and taking the time to think about someone who loves music and who they'd like the most? Right? I might even get to do a couple wedding gifts this year!
It is all about those connections for me, my ultimate goal being to bring people together to celebrate human creativity. I mean, if the financial necessities of capitalism didn't exist, I'd give these away. I do, heck. I love helping charities, finding ways to exchange my art, and so on. My job is to express my love of music, art and Life and to spread that as far as I can, meaningfully, deeply.
To all those who've given my work as a gift, from the cockles of my heart, thank you.
SOLD - GG Allin 01/02/09
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I love what I do! I guess that means I love me too. Cool.
So, I'm back to painting. Yeehaw! This Springsteen is my very first international order, from Italy. Cool.
Next is a GG Allin for a lady who works for the guy who's sending me back my pieces. Sending me back my pieces? Not cool?
Nope, totally cool. Primitive Kool has decided to end our consignment agreement. I don't blame them much. I mean this show didn't sell any and they'd spent a good chunk of change on local promotion. They'd sold several over the past year through online connections and gallery walk-ins, but the economy's woes hit San Diego hard. So even while one of their own employees buys the Joey Ramone from that show and commissions GG Allin, and after Johnny Cash sold before the holidays, I'm getting my paintings back! Cool.
The pieces are all dead rockers, the theme of that show, like Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon... you get the idea. Some of my best paintings too. So they're available direct! With immediate delivery! Coolness.
It all depends on how you look at it. I could remain frustrated about a relationship's end. I'd have cause. But, like in don Miguel Ruiz's "Mastery of Love", forgiveness is really for yourself. I mean, now I get to sell them myself! And my wife was kinda hoping we'd get to keep the Kurt Cobain and Joe Strummer. Very cool pieces.
So, it's nice to take responsibility for my feelings about events. I'm really working on self-confidence, artistically and socially. Over the break, I took big steps for me, connecting on Twitter with a bunch of people I've really come to respect over this past year. My goal is to, like with my art, make meaningful and continuing connections with people passionate about human creativity. I've added a link to your right to come follow me on Twitter. I won't take it personally if you don't. Your attention is yours to give where you choose. Cool, huh?
Kathy Sierra, the author of one of the sources of inspiration over to your right, is one of those people on Twitter who I've had the pleasure of interacting with there. She came up with the idea of looking to understand Life's events by looking only at their effect. Disappear the cause. She got the idea from a YouTube video of some kids skateboarding with the skateboards invisible. Cool.
It's an interesting thought, no? Leads to complete unselfishness. Only your impact remains. Return and reaction fall away. Intent and action are what will matter.
Peace. And Happy New Year.
SOLD - Bruce Springsteen 01/01/09