No. 122 is a larger portrait of Woody Guthrie. I tried to take the things I learned with 121 and bring that same spirit into the larger version. It’s a totally different painting but I really wanted this one to look and feel like him.
In regards to the subject– there is no way to touch what Dylan wrote, nearly 50 years ago, so here you go…
I’m out here a thousand miles from my home
Walkin’ a road other men have gone down
I’m seein’ your world of people and things
Your paupers and peasants and princes and kings
Hey, hey, Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song
’Bout a funny ol’ world that’s a-comin’ along
Seems sick an’ it’s hungry, it’s tired an’ it’s torn
It looks like it’s a-dyin’ an’ it’s hardly been born
Hey, Woody Guthrie, but I know that you know
All the things that I’m a-sayin’ an’ a-many times more
I’m a-singin’ you the song, but I can’t sing enough
’Cause there’s not many men that done the things that you’ve done
Here’s to Cisco an’ Sonny an’ Leadbelly too
An’ to all the good people that traveled with you
Here’s to the hearts and the hands of the men
That come with the dust and are gone with the wind
No. 121 is a quick little portrait of Woody Guthrie. It’s not great but I was trying some new things and pushing out a little bit.
Here’s a little painting of Ralph Waldo Emerson. I think I was about 16 years old, sitting in a literature class, bored out of my mind when we were told to read Self Reliance. I got about a paragraph into it before it started to sink in and the entire world seemed to disappear.
Now, telling a 16 year old to embrace their genius and trust themselves is a little like throwing a bale of catnip to a kitten. They eat it up. But, something clicked that day. My eyes were opened and I could see the world clearly for the first time.
I owe a lot to Ralph. He coaxed what is inside of me out. He let me know it was alright not to be on the basketball team, to be an artist, to sit down when everyone else was standing up. Alright to be who I am.
Here’s the second portrait of Grant. I was irritated with how the smaller one did not really look like him so I took my time on this one and made sure it captured the essence of what I was seeing.
I don’t really know why I wanted to paint Grant. I’ve read his autobiography and the Civil War series by Shelby Foote so I felt like I got to know him in a weird way. The thing that is so remarkable about Grant is that he was designed for war. He was a failure at most of the things he tried in life except designing and executing warfare.
More than anything Grant had a will to win. He had this strange confidence but it was not rooted in pride. If anything it was the opposite of pride. A sort of unflinching commitment to rolling over what was in front of him regardless of the cost.
I think I just free-handed this one after drawing it a time or two in a sketchpad. It does not really look like him but I had a great time painting it. It’s a remarkable thing to capture the essence of someone with paint and if it’s just the slightest bit off you lose it.
No. 101 was a gift. It’s a portrait of my friend, Chuck, who had diligently led the men’s group I attend each Wednesday morning. For the last five years Chuck has been there to teach us, mentor us and put up with my garbage.
The first time we met he told me that at 30 he had a successful business, a loving wife and a little baby and asked me if that sounded familiar. It did. He then proceeded to tell me how a few bad decisions blew apart his life and left a trail of emotional wreckage he was still cleaning up. He told me to check myself and be very, very careful. Wow, nice to meet you too.
Chuck has spend probably the better part of 15 years putting his life back together after that and using his experiences to help guys like me avoid the pain he went through. He got married in January and the painting was a gift from the guys in our group. It was an honor to do it and I love the idea that with time and forgiveness we can get a second serve in life.
No. 79 is the last of the ones from Amelia Island for the year and features a lady hunting for shells early in the morning. I had gotten up early to try and catch the sunrise and she happened to be walking by. She was a long ways off but I was able to crop in and not look like a stalker.
This is the first real one of the year with a person in it and for good reason. It’s really hard. In your head the colors you choose to paint people are totally different from what is really there. This lady is a bright orange paired with a muddy orange/brown but that’s what was there and following it makes it look real.
Eric introduced me to the music of Mr. Ryan thirteen years ago (yikes) and since then he and I have had the pleasure of sharing a beer with Matthew and even opening up for him once at Eddies Attic. His music is so freaking good that it just hurts sometimes. Dear Lover, his latest album, is one of the albums I listen too almost constantly while painting and has been a part (indirectly) of a lot of these paintings.
The world is held together with lies and promises. Broken hearts, brand new days, for you to start all over again.