Wednesday, December 3, 2014

tommy johnson and the raincoats

Tommy Johnson, the Raincoats
8" x 8.5", oil and collage on wood, 2014
I worked incredibly hard and long on this painting. It measures only eight by eight and a half (68 square inches) which makes the average time spent on each square inch about twenty minutes. It first was an oil sketch depicting the Raincoats, and as such discarded. I picked it up much later, turned it sideways to paint a portrait of blues musician Tommy Johnson. That portrait was alright but the painting still wasn't. There was a ghost left of the Raincoats that I liked and refused to cancel out. So it then was turned back to its original orientation and the Raincoats took precedence again. But not after a border of World Cup stickers were added. (I particularly like Didier Drogba right on the shirt of singer and bass player Gina Birch.) Tommy Johnson's song in the top 100 is Big Road Blues, a song so powerful that bands, a radio station, and websites were named after it. And it also was a book, a whole book dedicated to that one song, and it's one of favorite books on music, ever, it is Big Road Blues:Tradition and Creativity in Folk Blues by David Evans. Themes in that book can universally applied and, as a matter of fact, my whole artist thesis is based on it. And of course, the song was covered many times, Canned Heat is just one of them (Johnson also recorded a song, in 1928, called Canned Heat Blues.) The Raincoats' song is In Love, which is together with Fairytale in the Supermarket, my favorite Raincoats song. Now the Raincoats don't have much in common with Tommy Johnson, and even less with a bunch of World Cup stars, but hey...

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