Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Reverend Gary Davis

The Reverend Gary Davis
22x30" Watercolor 300 lb. Arches cold press.

This is the first in a series of paintings I want to do of old blues musicians. The idea came from my discovering You-Tube videos, as I was generally astounded with what I found to be available with music. Artists such as Gary Davis are there to study and listen to without having to seek out specialized music collections or spend anything to purchase the music. Even though Gary Davis is rather famous, and his music is now readily available, I chose to start with him for a number of reasons. First - he was one of the world's greatest guitar players. He was unselfish and taught guitar to many young folks back in the day - the quintessential bluesman. His influence is unquestioned. Finally, along with Blind Boy Fuller and Brownie McGhee, he was considered to be a practitioner of what is known as the Piedmont style of blues and guitar playing - originating in the Carolinas and in south central Virginia.

I'm thinking that the first one in a series like this can take the longest to do. This one took me a good little while - not so much in the actual painting, but in the research (so to speak). My first thought was to do imagery deriving solely from on-line video captures. The real good old ones are over-contrasty, black and white and often out of sharp focus. So I found myself taking screen shots of hands and so on. I found myself researching the kind of guitar Gary Davis played (Gibson SJ-200) and down loaded many guitar reference shots, etc., etc.

So now I'm looking at Blind Boy Fuller - but haven't found any actual video images of him - yet. I do not intend to copy a single photograph (someone elses composition and copyright) - but to create a composite representation in a way that somehow expresses my impression of the artist after reading bios and recording histories and, most importantly, listening to the music itself. I've got lists laying around everywhere of possible blues artists to do - I'm thinking the more obscure the better.


Anonymous said...

I think you caught the essence of the man, it's a great pic.

Gary said...

Thanks X. This project has been a real joy. G.

Shelley Ross said...

Hi Gary
I love this painting - the gesture of the figure is perfect and your handling of the hands in particular show such finesse with drawing and control of water colour. Your idea of combining your interest in blues musician with painting is terrific...meaty content in the painting along with informative blurbs on the subject matter. Way to go. I'll be watching for the next ones.


Shelley Ross said...

And the guitar! Wow. The more I look at it, the more I see.


Ellen Burkett said...

Love it! And Shelley's right about the guitar. It's wonderful. And I love getting a little music history info as well. Great idea Gary!

Jeanette Jobson said...

I like this painting and the story behind it. To create a piece like this keeps the legacy alive.

Doug Fireman said...

Hi Gary.

I'm impressed with the research you did prior to your painting of Reverend Gary Davis.

The painting exudes heart and soul. I suspect a lot of that went into its creation as well.
What a wonderful way to honor this outstanding musician.

Interesting narration.
And the detail in the guitar!

Gary said...

Thank all for you for the support. Certainly a lot of heart, hopefully a lot of soul went into this Doug.

Alex said...

As soon as I saw this, I was like "GIBSON GUITAR!!!"
You have such great way with background, and delicate touch on details, and both combine so well they usually bring people to speechless.
Thanks Gary for your comments on my plum flower post too. You're right that I was playing with lights there, I didn't know I was doing it until you pointed it out :) A great revelation!

Rosemary said...

Don't know what I can add to the above comments! Like Shelley, the longer I look, the more I see! This piece is a fabulous start to the series! Looking forward to the next one!

Leslie Hawes said...

I am a serious blues fan. Will look forward to this series with great interest.
R.L.Burnside, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker...

Michele Theberge said...

Thanks for sharing this link. It was cool to learn Gary Davis played the SJ-200 and about your whole blues musician series.