Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen -- one of my favorite pieces. It gets a lot of hits on both my website and the various other portfolio sites in which I participate. It made the Communication Arts Illustration annual and both the Los Angeles and New York Society of Illustrators annuals. People have inquired about purchasing it (which I'm willing to do, by the way).

I did this illustration shortly after college, which initiated one of the "golden ages" of my development as an illustrator. I had moved back home, after my freelance work ran dry, working at the local Hy-Vee grocery store stocking shelves by night and working feverishly during the day building my portfolio. I found some reference one day that inspired me to create another Bruce Springsteen illustration. You see, in college, as an assignment, I did a Springsteen illustration. So why do another? All I do know, is it seemed like the right thing to do. But, it didn't come easily. I made one pass at it and failed. It had become labored-looking, and had no integrity or direction. It didn't look like I knew what I was trying to accomplish. So, I scrapped it and tried again. Some of my favorite pieces are the result of second attempts. This time it came together like the planets lining up. When a painting paints itself, as Bruce did, one tends to bookmark the occasion in their mind. When it was complete, I felt like it could be something special -- it said much with deceptive simplicity. When it fortunately snagged all kinds of space in the annuals, I decided I might be onto something. In many ways, it has proven a benchmark for my measurement of later pieces. It is also one of the few I have done that tends toward a cool color palette.

One thing that helps this piece hold up over time is the fact that Sprinsteen seems to hold on to this look. He looks about the same now as he did in 1995, which is good for me, as I can continue to ride this image. If an artist likes a musician's work, it shows in the illustration. Bruce is certainly one of the great storytellers in music. Today, he hangs on my wall, with the other illustrations that needed framing for one reason or another, keeping an eye on all things to his left.

Check out this version of "Fire." You can feel the energy aching to burst through. Bruce wrote this for Elvis in '77, but Elvis died shortly thereafter.

And, here is a duet with Melissa Etheridge. "Thunder Road" unplugged. Pretty cool.

And, speaking of Melissa Etheridge unplugged, here is a killer version of "Maggie May."

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