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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yule (b)Log

The weather in southern CA has been perfect for our 1st holiday season here. Just perfect.

We love the gloom.

We love feeling the need to be warm and cozy.

We love the warmth of family.

I was glad to be included in the 1st Holiday Sale at the Santa Monica Art Studios because my mother has her studio there.

And I sold the Louis Armstrong!

He went to a fellow who delighted in twice telling me how his father loves Louis, how he loves Louis, and how his 4 year old granddaughter now loves Louis. Beautiful.

I hope all the pieces that are being given as holiday gifts this year bring joy and delight. I know it's been a joy painting them.

Peace, and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On The Record Label

Stark white. Lou Reed was the 1st piece I painted with white acrylic straight from the tube, no gray. It was on a demo record, which I thought was appropriate at the time. Demos usually have a white label.

I hadn't thought of sharing the importance of the label until I was commissioned to paint on this Matisyahu album which also has a white label. The art of the record label is wonderful. It has its size constraint like what I do does as well. And it seeks to both brand the album, connecting it to the record company, and unify the record with the album cover art.

Historically, usually, the record labels seem to simply be a connection to the record company like those shown at without any album text. I love these because they are often instantly recognizable and add that nostalgic element to my composition.

Ones like the Matisyahu though make for a unique composition and sometimes a more artistic piece. I just finished painting all five members of The Strokes, each on a different album, each with a unique label. The grouping, then, has a different feel than, say the Zeppelin grouping shown at the end of, all with the standard Atlantic label.

I try to work with the label when figuring out my composition. I like to draw attention to specific songs or the album artist with the placement and size of the portrait. In this Matisyahu, his name becomes part of his eyebrow. In this Zach de la Rocha, one of my favorite pieces, the label became the camera lens.

When the label is light, or white even, sometimes I need to use black paint instead of white. Usually it's for the eye, like in this piece and that Lou Reed. Mick Mars is another that ended up with a cool composition highlighting the album title and using black on the label.

A goal I have for my Vinyl Art is to celebrate the creativity that has gone into producing the artifact, the record. The design and content of the label is a big part of that. They are, after all, part of the record.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Die By The Drop

Alison Mosshart and Jack White of The Dead Weather
"the hardest decision you will ever have to make / lies underneath your fingers" - dead wax inscription

By L.Phelps

I've been thinking a lot lately about changes. About who I am. About what direction my life is going.

Fifteen years ago, I was a different person. I was young, idealistic, and thought that anything and everything was possible. I was half right. Anything and everything is possible. I was only half right about this because I made a gigantic miscalculation.

It's up to me to make it happen.

It's not that I am lazy. Far from it. I am a stubborn ass. If I set my mind on something, there is no stopping me.

The problem? I feel like my life is constantly being pulled in two directions. The life I am living. Safe, comfortable, predictable. And the life I could be living.

I am too scared to make the change.

Failing would be the death of me. The twist? Not trying will be the death of me too, just in a different way.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Showing Up

This past month or so has been busy! I've had 30-some pieces in a solo show at a restaurant in Pacific Palisades ( and now 21 of those pieces are up in Santa Monica near the airport for their upcoming Open Studios show.

Also, a Laguna Beach gallery, AR4T, is showing 4 pieces as part of a group show called Heaven's On Fire. The timing was perfect for me to find and contact this great gallery in a great location.

I was able to do this all because I've been working on showing myself and my art a bit more professionally. Since I'm trying to support my family with my art, it's been important to get organized.

To that end I wrote an actual artist's statement and bio and compiled my resume. I also reworked my website ( and created a video ( that shows a good bit of my technique.

I'm showing up.


Monday, September 12, 2011

The Day After The Day After 10 Years Passed

I was still too stunned yesterday.

Today I'm still too wiped out.

Memory is a funny fickle thing for us humans, isn't it? Part of me loathes the reflection and part of me loathes the absence. I think the grove of trees around the pools at the WTC plaza is good for people like me. The right balance of prospect and refuge, architecturally and emotionally.

Ten years ago today I somehow managed to drive to the BAC where I was to help hang the annual art show. On autopilot I suppose. It was both trying and comforting to make eye contact with others there. Even the Airforce trained sniper looked exhausted.

We somehow managed to hang the show. I somehow managed to create this piece.

World Trade Center, 2002, stone and stone filings on base of wood and styrofoamSomehow we managed to get to 10 years after the day after.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Shortly after we moved to southern California I got to help VH1 Save The Music Foundation by displaying the work which had been at their NY corporate gallery at the Billabong Design For Humanity event at Paramount Studios.

At that event the lovely people from VH1 told me about the Songwriter Music Series presented by Starburst coming up in Los Angeles with an accompanying online auction. I was delighted to contribute a couple pieces. The auction is now live!

Bob Dylan for VH1 Save The Music Foundation
The Dylan above is one of my favorite pieces I've ever done. Its listing is here. As of this posting, it's a good deal at well below what I usually ask for pieces. Please help it doGOOD, as charitybuzz says, who is running the auction.

The Colbie Caillat below is special because she is going to be the performer at the live event and will be signing the piece! It's part of a package for people who'd like to attend the event, travel and accomodations included, listed for auction here. The bidding for this ends tomorrow! It's also currently at well below what they've valued it. Go to this cool performance and liveWELL, also as charitybuzz says.

Colbie Caillat for VH1 Save The Music Foundation

Please check out the auction listings, bid if you're so inclined, and share them with those you think might be interested. As with the DLF Music pieces, I want these to do as much good as they can for the charity. I know that if someone who enjoys my work were to win a piece this way, the story of the art would just be that much better. Thanks so much!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sharing The Passion

Another project I was working on along with the pieces for the David Lynch Foundation during our move was a secret one. Until now.


Yep. I'd avoided doing pieces on 45s because of the limited space. And because of the sizeable cost of ones that people would dig having painted.

Then along came Norm. Norm is one of those guys who would make me nervous in my earlier Vinyl Art days. A record collector's collector. A dealer.

Many dealers have snarled at me, incredulous that I ruin things of such collectible value. Most however, thankfully, end up really really REALLY getting what I do and loving my work. Norm came to me already loving my work.

And he wanted me to ruin $100-500 dollar 45s. My hands literally trembled when I started these. I'm a closet collector too, so I get what these meant.

And that's why this project worked. Shared passion. I didn't know about the Northern Soul movement before this beyond the fact that the Verve was from the area and had an aptly named album. But I love records, the physical manifestation of music. I love the feel, the history, the design, the creativity that goes into every part of a pressing.

Norm does too, and he had an idea. A series of 4 pieces based on the dance scene at the Wigan Casino in the '70s. The 4 singles would be the "3 before 8" and the final song played at the venue as described in the Wikipedia entry. Very collectible 45s. VERY. People who know and collect these might've involuntarily cringed just now.

But the idea was seriously cool. 4 scenes characteristic of the place: the exterior, the circle skirt the women wore, the backdrop dance move and the dancefloor. With color.

I'd never done anything like it, but Norm trusted my artistic vision. Introducing these pieces recently during an interview I said, and meant, that I was honored he'd go through with an idea like this with me. He said that I was a pleasure to work with, which is good.

Because it took a long time.

The coolest thing was though, that because it took so long, I was actually able to hand-deliver the pieces. See, while I was working on them, we moved. A mile away from Norm.

So here they are, in the order of their final playing in 1981:

Circle Skirt
Wigan dancefloor
Wigan Casino Peace.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Vinyl Art Goes Bicoastal for VH1, Sort Of

VH1 New York Corporate GalleryMoving to CA has brought with it some really unexpected opportunities. Awhile back before the move I was contacted by a fellow at VH1 in NYNY. They have a corporate gallery that displays music-related art and photography. Pretty cool. 20some of my pieces were up for 3 months! Some friends were able to check out the exhibit and said it looked great. I wish we could've seen it, but we were moving!

Then we moved. I got the pieces back from VH1 at our new house and pretty much the next day, a lady from VH1's Save The Music Foundation there in NYNY contacted me asking for help. Every year Billabong puts on their Design for Humanity at Paramount Studios in Hollywood on the NYNY backlot that benefits a specific charity. This year it was benefitting them and they had been given a space to hold a silent auction for some autographed guitars. The space needed some dressing up to make it feel more music-related since it was basically an empty set made up like a New York diner, maybe. Anyway, it, they, needed help.

Paramount Studios' New York backlotSince I had the pieces back it was pretty simple to take them to the event. That meant we got to go to the event! At Paramount Studios! Back to NYNY, sort of!

VH1's Save The Music Foundation displayMy wife went with me, while my in-laws, who were conveniently in town, watched the baby. She really helped coordinate and laid out all the pieces in the space they'd given us to hang them. The above shot shows the main wall at the back of the space. There were a few more pieces on the side walls as well. My pieces drew people in, past the autographed guitars. There were like 4,000 people there for this thing! It was incredible.

Full moon at Billabong's Design for Humanity The best part was that at the end of the evening, 2 couples came in and did a deal to win all the remaining guitars! So all the pieces they brought had been bought. And the whole night brought in around $120,000 for the charity. It was funny because Billabong's people had given VH1's people cash. Cash! That much! They didn't quite know what to do with it all, and how they were going to take it back to New York.

For me, it was a great time. And next I'll get to give STMF a piece or two for an upcoming local songwriters' auction. Maybe even get the musicians to sign the pieces like with DLFM. Very cool, fitting in with my new mantra.

Push to give, Peace.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pushing To Give

four for DLFM - Waits, Iggy, Moby, LynchMy new mantra.

Usually people push to get. To get attention, to get money, to get love. But it can be a challenge to give too. To give attention, to give money, to give love. To get taken.

A lot of the metaphysical, philosophical, religious types from the East and West talk about our purpose in this Life here being tied to giving of ourselves, finding what we can contribute to humanity, loving as we would be loved. As I've pursued my Vinyl Art as a means to share my passion for music and art, it has developed into a means to give back as well as to gain financially.

During this past half-year, while my family was in the process of moving, a MAJOR opportunity to do so arose. I had quite awhile ago painted auteur David Lynch and was honored that he signed my piece as an eventual auction incentive for his foundation. He then set out to create a charity music label, DLFM, that would pull unique music tracks from various musicians whose online downloads would benefit the David Lynch Foundation.

I fortunately got in touch with that group and got to contribute pieces to the new venture. My goodness, indeed. Above you can see the photo of my paintings of Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, Moby and David Lynch signed and pledged for during the initial Pledgemusic drive by one fellow in France. Other pieces also were pledged for at that point and I have the rest ready to auction off on DLFM's website launching soon.

While there were challenges requiring that push, it has been an amazing chance to do good helping Mr. Lynch with his DOWNLOAD FOR GOOD campaign. My video on the link above about my pieces says it all for me.

I don't know where it will lead, as I've also gotten to give "thank you" pieces to Tom Waits, Iggy Pop and others whose pieces have benefitted the foundation, but pushing myself feels very gratifying. I only hope the Universe feels it too.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Moving On

Howdy! Been awhile hasn't it? Why?

Because WE MOVED!!! We actually did it. Moved to southern California. And LOTS happened during the time between my last post and today. Lots. I'll start to share it with you as I get posting again. Can't remember all of it right now, but it'll come back to me.

For now, though, interestingly, Hazel Dooney is ceasing her blog, Self vs. Self, of several years. Her reasoning is terrific. That blog which started out as a daily journal had become a prison for her, as her life had. With huge trauma in her art and personal lives, what she had written tied her too much to her past for her to start fresh. After a stint in hospital, bankruptcy, floods, and then her father passing quickly but painfully, she needs that fresh start. She needs the world and herself to be able to let go of her old self, to not fight it anymore. Moving on.

In much less dramatic fashion, my little family is doing sort of the same. I'm becoming the financial support with my art while my wife gets to spend daytime with our 15mo rapidly growing daughter. We've traded in land for cooler air. And I've gotten involved in a couple really cool projects.

Moving on.