Sunday, June 8, 2014

Jazz Legends: Louis Armstrong

Jazz Legends: Louis Armstrong   16x20" Acrylic on Canvas
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you'll have noticed my occasional postings of works in progress on a website called Global Vernissage. This is an online gallery type of site based out of Europe. Over the next year I am going to be working on a series of portraits of Jazz Masters, and posting all my working photos over on this site. The first one, of Louis Armstrong, was completed last week. If you are interested in how I work up a painting from the very beginning, you can see that here. The next one will be starting any time now... if you sign up to follow the site you can get notifications when a new photo gets posted.

"Louis" in progress. Mask is in place.
How I get from A to B in a piece may see a little strange to anyone who paints. I spent years doing things the way I was taught in school, but honestly, I got bored making little thumbnail sketches and working drawings, and many of my ideas never actually made it to the canvas because of this. I thought this was some kind of flaw in me... my boredom threshold being unreasonably low means that lots of things I start don't get finished and things I set out to learn I don't actually accomplish. The thing is, once I gave myself permission to do things my own, unconventional way, my art just took off and improved immensely. 

I had to figure out a way to get the excitement I felt when I had an idea to keep until I actually started to paint. I do it by putting off the "planning" stage until I'm about half way through. Seems a bit counter-productive, but it works for me. Even when I want to paint but don't have an idea, just starting will often lead to something coming to me as I see the marks I'm making. I'll see something in the shapes I'm getting, or I'll try a colour combination that just sparks. It's an energy that I feel, and I think it shows in my finished work.

As for my subjects.... I'm painting portraits of artists that definitely did things in their own unconventional way. Each one of them had a style that was uniquely their own, and it made them legends. How inspiring is that.