Here is my third and last panel for the Collaborative Project sponsored by Connexions Gallery in Easton.

Second Stage of panel

Bruce Solt painted the sunburst circles.  Karen Skirka painted the little silver trailer.

I didn’t where to go with this.  I think the styles of the first two artists are somewhat compatible, but I didn’t feel there was room for a third, totally different style of drawing and the trailer is far to literal for the painting to go in a more abstract direction.  What could I do to bring this painting to completion?

My contribution was to bring motion and a greater sense of space to the painting.  I opted to repeat Karen Skirka’s drawing style, unhinge the door and give it a touch of tornado.

Final Stage

I added three circles of black netting.  I used the netting on the first two panels I worked on.  I thought I would use tissue paper on all three panels, but I didn’t think it worked on this one.

Collaborations are always unique!

I believe all three stages are acrylic paint.

The ‘WE’ collaborative painting project has begun.  The first trade of panels happened this weekend.

Stage One by Stephanie Smith

The panels are 10″ x 10″ and .75″ thick with a hanging hole drilled in the back, perhaps limiting the position that the panel will be hung.  Participants picked up the blank panels two weeks ago.  Each panel will be painted on by three different artists.  Each artist must leave something of the previous artists’ work visible.  The above panel is the one I received in exchange for the panel I turned in.

Stage One by Chris Carter

I decided to add three-dimensional elements on each of my three panels.  I’ve saved this netting for a couple of years, waiting for the perfect project and I think this is it.  I sealed the panel with acrylic GAC before applying some scrubs of acrylic yellows and oranges.  Finally, I adhered white tissue paper and the black netting to the surface using acrylic matte medium.

The final panels will be exhibited at Connexions Gallery in August.

Listening to Mike Bisio and Gary Hassay on Saturday night at Connexions Gallery was a real treat.

Mike Bisio playing stand up bass while Gary Hassay "sang" sounds

I am at a total loss for words to describe what it was that Gary did with his voice.  I have been so out of touch with the world of jazz that I don’t know the vocabulary any more.  I might guess that I was treated to a night of “progressive jazz”. (I have heard back from Gary that the singing is called overtone singing or tibetan throat singing. )

Mike Bisio playing Stand Up Bass

I used only my small moleskin sketchbook and my fountain pen.  The music demanded attention and quiet from the audience.  My usual method of painting to live music would have been far to intrusive.

Gary Hassay playing saxophone

Perhaps I will bring my tiny watercolor tin and a tiny spray bottle next time.  I would love to add a wash or two to the line work.  I definitely won’t be able to use my dip pen, so I will have to stay with the fountain pen.

Mike Bisio being one with his stand up bass

Mike played his bass, all parts of his bass, in ways I haven’t seen before.  I was delighted and felt myself smiling from the inside out.  Thank you, Mike!  I loved it.

Sitting in the front row, six feet away from Tom Waits as he sang and played the piano at the Passim Coffeehouse in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I scribbled this pencil sketch.  It was November 10, 1974 and it was my first experience of drawing a musician during a performance.

Tom Waits, Passim Coffeehouse, 1974

Nine years ago I gave this little sketch to the owners of the gallery that was representing my work.  It was seen hanging in the gallery by a man who immediately recognized it as Tom Waits.  He insisted on buying it even though it wasn’t for sale.  He didn’t want a reproduction, so I agreed to draw a “copy” of the little sketch.  What a mistake!  The original drawing was done in less than a minute, inspired and guided by Tom Waits himself, sweat on his face, smoke spiraling up from where his cigarette rested on the piano.

Three and a half hours of struggling to be expressive with my pencil and re-capture the magic of a moment that happened two decades before resulted in a less than spectacular copy of the sketch.  Fortunately, the customer was satisfied, but I felt miserable.  I hadn’t drawn or painted “live” for at least ten years and I realized how much I missed those moments of bringing art and music together.

Though I have only this blurry reproduction of the original drawing, I am printing it and framing it to hang in the show at Connexions Gallery in Easton PA, a tribute to the moment that started it all, the seed that has grown into my greatest passion.

Even when I’m not quite in the right balance for ink and paint to flow, a few gems come home with me from the Tuesday Night Blues Jams.

Joe Mac at the Blues Jam

The portrait of Joe Mac is my favorite painting of the night.  Nothing seemed to be going right for me until he started playing and the hand responded.  My mind was in such a funk, I wasn’t sure if it worked or not.  The smile on Joe’s face when he saw it made the whole night worthwhile.

Drawn first with dip pen and black ink, followed by watercolor washes of cool blues and purples.

Postcards for the exhibit of the Blues Jam paintings at Connexions Gallery (opening reception onMarch 16th) didn’t make it in time for me to pass them around to the musician last night.  I’ll post info on Facebook and pass out postcards next Tuesday night.

On yesterday’s post I listed the date for the Artist’s Talk at Connexions Gallery in Easton, Pa as May 7th.  I was wrong!  It is May 15th at 2pm.

Todd Wolfe, watercolor and ink

Maria Woodford Spillane (and a few other surprise musicians… I hope) will be playing during the Opening Reception on April 16th.

The portrait of Todd Wolfe was done first with a dip pen in black ink, followed by strokes of watercolor.  Painted while  he was singing during the Todd Wolfe Blues Jam at Larry Holmes Ringside Restaurant in Easton, PA on March 8, 2011.

Whew!  Thanks to the help of a dear friend, the 54 small paintings of musicians are now matted, framed, dust covers attached, and wired for hanging.  What a relief.  An additional 22 paintings are matted and slipped into clear bags.  They will be in a portfolio stand.

Rob Fraser and Roger Voss

The opening at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA will be on April 16th at 7 pm. My hope is that the musicians I have painted will come to the exhibit and see what a fabulous inspiration they are.  The paintings are, in my mind, a collaboration between me and the musicians.  The passion for rhythms expressed through sound and the energy of all the people in the room responding to those sounds are the driving force behind my lines and brushstrokes.  The marks on the paper are my expression of those moments.

Ray Higgins, Steve, Joe Mac

On Sunday, May 15th at 2pm I will be giving an artist’s talk at the gallery.  I hope many of the musicians come out for both events.  Almost all of the paintings were done during the Todd Wolfe Blues Jam at the Larry Holmes Ringside Restaurant in Easton, PA during the last four months.  Unfortunately, Todd just left for a two month European tour last Wednesday and will miss the exhibit.

Both of the images posted above started with dip pen, black ink line drawings followed by strokes of watercolor allowed to blend wet in wet on the paper.

As I sorted through drawings and paintings I found a sketch I had done of John Anthony Franklin, alias Johnny Dock, musician and owner of the Raubsville Inn in 2004-2005 when I returned to painting musicians in bars and restaurants.

John Anthony Franklin, alias 'Johnny Dock'

Those were wonderful years.  My abstract oil paintings filled the rooms at the Raubsville Inn.  Four nights a week I painted at various bars throughout the Lehigh Valley.  My heart was filled with music, both fresh music composed the night before and music that had weathered decades, still sounding vibrant and alive.

I have spent the last 48 hours matting and framing paintings for the show at Connexions Gallery.  Most of them are from the Todd Wolfe Blues Jam on Tuesday nights at the Larry Holmes Ringside Restaurant in Easton, PA.  Some of them are from the time when the Raubsville Inn and Maria’s open mic at Porters Pub were alive and pulsing.  That was before the floods that shut down the Inn.  That was before a return to college for Maria and before Baer was born. That was before Tom’s heart attack. Those times were great times…. and so are these times, just different.

The tough times show me what it is I love the most as an artist.  It is what I make time for even when I don’t have the time to make for it.  Though I have had major solo exhibits, this upcoming show at Connexions means more to me.  I love capturing the moment when energy is high, especially group energy such as musicians playing together or dancers dancing together.  I hope that the musicians will come to see how they have inspired me.  My own heartbeat is present in these paintings.  It merges with the beat of the music and the energy that drives the musicians to come out and play together after a long day’s work.

Thank you, my dear friends, for picking up your instruments and playing for me.