Posts Tagged ‘Tom Waits’


An Average Night In Refugee Studio.

No easel, record’s playing, newspaper on the floor, smudges all over from fingers, feet(in this case elbow)…the only thing missing is either a cup of tea or a glass of bourbon(just not pictured here). This post is mainly for me to have everything I painted in one place and kinda in order. It all started this year with two veeeery small pieces(I only mention this because I like to work large) for a charity exhibit benefiting a suicide hotline in NYC. It took off from there with various series and some one-offs. Some were sold, some were made for special people in my life and most hang on my walls. I generally put my ipod on shuffle while I am gathering materials and getting the space ready and most of the time a song jumps out and sets the mood. Sometimes I put on records, sometimes I leave the ipod shuffling and see what happens. In a few cases below, I will list the music that helped make these, although some will be more obvious than others. Anyway, here is 2012(basically from April on…)



Those two were only 5″ X 7″. But that’s all I needed to get the juices flowing. I was painting again.


This one was huge(for my work space anyway…36″ X 48″ I was listening to Coltrane albums non-stop for this. This was the first time I ever started to paint with nothing in mind. It was amazing. I wasn’t worried about how anything was supposed to look…total creation. I just listened to the music and went with it. Also, working on the floor is great for me, I kneel, lay, sit and straddle the canvas. I always find thumbs, toes, arm prints…I really get into it.


Below starts a Freddie Mercury series, but it didn’t start out that way. I heard a song off of Queen’s first album and played the album over and over. The next day I wanted to paint Freddie again(I was on a Queen kick now) so that night I painted something inspired by Queen II. The next morning I wanted to keep going and realized that the canvases were shaped (sorta) like playing cards so I decided that I would finish with 4 and make them each a suit(Queen of Hearts, Diamonds etc…) This was interesting to me as it progressed because I hadn’t don any realism/portraiture for years…I was trained but hated realism so I abandoned it for a long time. On the second piece, I did a portrait that was basically the equivalent of a stencil, just black and white-no real shading but then it progressed. I liked mixing abstract with realism.





Now another big one…could it be anything less for Prince. I had used pieces of a mirror ball and other things for texture previously, but Prince got a purple feather boa and zebra skin…Another big piece


This was done for the cover of a friend’s book/manifesto I was listening to the Clash, Gil Scott-Heron and Slayer, trying to distill the energy of Wilkins Frias



I started a series of blues musicians here. Also, the portrait of Lady Day is probably the most classical technique I will employ for a long time. I enjoyed it, but it was around this time I found myself being too concerned with the technique…I am done with worrying about technique. The art is in the journey and when I am “working” at making something look a certain way, it wasn’t as much fun. I loved the outcome though



This one was interesting as it has two kinds of booze and some hot sauce mixed into the paint, labels from said booze and hot sauce, speaker wire laced through the canvas and a rubber chicken foot attached to it.


Inspired by some stencil graffiti I saw and Sigur Ros


The only painting I have ever done where I didn’t coat the canvas in black to start(I always like to start with black…always have)


The four pics below are really of two pieces. I had painted each one and the weeks later was moved to paint, but didn’t have canvas so I took them down off the wall and painted over them. They are shown in order here.


I was watching Aguirre Wrath Of God and Kinski’s rage inspired me to take this off the wall and pillage it


Woke up from a dream where I was doing Chekov…these were the lines…I got out of bed and painted this in about an hour(mostly drying time of the blue so I could write the lines)


Similar story, except with a book on Crowley

003 (2)

001 (3)

This last one was done election night. I was in the middle of worrying about the election, studying for exams, and intentionally not getting laid…those three things really found their way into this piece – pic of Obama, Chemical Formulas up top and my first nude…which carried over into my work in 2013(see this post )




I love Tom and absolutely celebrate his entire catalog. As amazing as I find Mule Variations, Frank’s Wild Years, Nighthawks, Blood Money and all the others to be, Black Rider is my favorite and in my opinion(which is the whole of the law) the most completely realized song cycle God(Tom) has ever put out.

The overall feel of the album is 30’s Germany Cabaret/ Brecht mixed with old time circus freaks as well as old shitty late night sci-fi and spaghetti western shlock. Just check out these three tunes for a taste(or smell) of the record

You almost have to squint to fight the static-y snow of an old black and white tube television playing the late late late show…the only light in an otherwise dark, shitty apartment.

Now we’re in a smokey basement cabaret in Berlin, 1931….then bam, Almaria, Spain on the set of Three Bullets for the General or some other B grade, Italian made western….

Here in Black Rider’s title cut, Tom is almost Joel Grey’s Emcee character from 1972’s Cabaret…These tracks can give a small feel for the scope and overall feel of the album. As for the lyrical theme, I will let the listener work that out. I will say that he co-wrote several tracks with William S. Burroughs…not exactly Desmond fucking Child***

Anyway, check this amazing album out. It’s more a ride than a listen. Tom is God

***Those who don’t know him, good for you…Seriously. Unfortunately I am familiar with his career as a contributor of such Giants as Kiss