Sunday, June 21, 2015

Creating a Portrait: Charlie Christian

"Jazz Legends | Charlie Christian", 16x20" Acrylic on Canvas. Giclée prints available
at Global Vernissage.

I decided to add Charlie Christian into my line-up of Jazz Legend portraits after finding this fantastic (and apparently, fairly rare) album at Village Vinyl  (for those who live in the GTA, definitely worth a trip. They have some great stuff there). Even though it seems my 18 year old has managed to appropriate my turntable (to be fair, I rarely used it, and he uses it all the time... who knew records were making a comeback?), I've gotten a chance to listen to it twice and that man was truly an amazing musician. He may not have been the first to play an electric guitar in a jazz band, but he certainly managed to change how everyone thought about it. He played with the Benny Goodman Orchestra in the late 30s... and Benny is credited with making jazz popular across America. For a black man at that time, that is quite an accomplishment. Even though jazz is a black invention, it took a white man to make it popular.... The documentary series Jazz by Ken Burns goes into detail about the racial history of the music. It is a great series for anyone interested in the history of the USA, not just jazz fans. But I digress...

I did working photos for this piece, but my peeps at Global Vernissage aren't going to post them there... they've already done 5 paintings and as the entire series is done the same way, it can get a little tedious to follow along. There are slight differences... mostly in where I screw it up and how I manage to fix it. This one I messed up the position of his nose and had to move it up... which made him look like Voldemort for a bit. Not pretty. Anyway, I took my working photos and made a little movie, which I've posted on my YouTube channel along with the other ones. I've done Duke, Coleman Hawkins, and Cab Calloway so far... I will do the others as I have time. If you've missed them and want to check it out, I've made a playlist. You can also subscribe... I've not posted much so far, but as my son is very handy with a video camera, and he is as of yet unemployed for the summer, I'm hoping I can recruit him to help me out in that department....


I'm in the process of finishing up a few pieces I've had sitting around for a while. Well, in truth, a couple are getting painted over, because after looking at them for a few weeks I've decided they really aren't going anywhere. Doesn't happen often, because in my experience, every painting goes through an ugly stage. If you can get past that, often you can get somewhere you are happy with. But some ugly stages are uglier than others, and if I've lost the thread that had me tied to the piece in the first place, its really tough to keep going. And after last week's retreat, I have a load of new ideas floating around in my head that I am really eager to start... I have no idea how I'm going to get them to work, or even IF I can get them to work, but I will never know if I don't get to it, will I?