BOWIE (Station To Station)
It has been several weeks since my last post, but for good reason. This entire year has been a process of redefining my creative process and creative direction as well as restructuring my product line. The time I spent away from the distraction from social media, and intermittent breaks between Blog entries allowed for more room to focus on a certain quantity of output, while withholding it has also helped to attain more quality control and set a higher standard for myself and my work. The mix of passion projects without a deadline, and the outlet of occasional commissions over the past year has also been a healthy process that has helped me to arrive here, more productive than ever. I enjoy writing and maintaining a Blog and sharing projects with the public via social media, but sometimes it can be an awful lot to contend with when you have an overactive imagination and not enough time to apply to being creative. At times the race to complete projects faster, coupled with the self imposed time constraints of posting in-progress pics and finished art slows the process. Maintaining the documented process of these projects with a Blog is, unfortunately, sometimes the last thing on the priority list, but it is still satisfying when time allows for it. That's why I'm extra happy to, at long last, release my 2nd David Bowie inspired piece: BOWIE (Station To Station). It is a project that took a long time to get to get around to, but happened quickly, and like all my best work turned out exactly the way I wanted it to.
** BOWIE (Station To Station)- Mixed Media
My last several projects, including my debut Bowie piece, (Serious Moonlight) have gradually delved further into a graphic sensibility, combining image and type. Fine art was a world I tried to fit my work into, but I knew it had to be something more or myself and it would always be only representing half of what it could be. For starters, I have always loved psychedelic rock posters, movie posters and especially powerful and memorable album artwork. I have long wanted to push my graphic skills forward by experimenting with typography...a design element I have always appreciated, always understood, but had little experience implementing. I knew I wanted to continue to use it in my new work and use it better each time with style and grace, to augment the subjects I've been painting. After the experimental nature of BOWIE #1, and the more effective use of image text on other subsequent projects, I couldn't wait to apply what I learned to a more ambitious and inventive spin on one of my favourite icons. BOWIE (Station To Station) is a project I had completely worked out in the back of my mind, and it feels good to finally get it down and to feel, more than ever that I've created something valuable and unique.
**Serious Moonlight , Thin White Duke portrait (Station To Station), Bowie Typeface (grayscale).
Stage 1- With Serious Moonlight, (a simple juxtaposition of an old painting with hand rendered text) the experiment led to an exciting and unexpected result. It set the tone for my recent trip into the image and text aesthetic. By finding a new use for a discarded image, I had opened a door to a new creative phase that I had been needing to pursue for a while. I was happy with Bowie #1, but deep down I knew that it was not my best painting, not my best portrait, and not my best work to date, however, the look and feel of it left an impression on me and influenced every Pop Culture themed piece I have done after it. Over time, I have learned that even old projects I decide to discard or discontinue can have value. They can be threads leading to new ideas.
The portrait for Serious Moonlight was inspired by the Thin White Duke persona that Bowie adopted in the mid-late 1970s and was born at the time that he was recording his acclaimed (although sometimes widely unknown) 1976 album Station To Station. It might be my favourite album in Bowie's large and varied discography. With BOWIE (Station To Station) I set out to capture the Thin White Duke character, emulate the essence and style of the original Station To Station album, and utilize a square format that would look an LP cover and a stylish, modern piece of hangable or framable art.
I created a new grayscale mixed media Bowie portrait, designed a new BOWIE typeface and then set myself to the task of creating a compelling composition.
Stage 2- Finished Art. Another interesting aspect of creating BOWIE (Station To Station), was implementing another design element that I've never used on another piece before: repetition. While experimenting with the arrangement of the type and portrait, I began toying with the idea of duplicating the portrait. By creating a mirrored version of the original portrait, or setting the original portrait in a line of multiples, my original idea is that it may give the image a Warhol kind of feel, and with my art slowly moving towards a printed format, that idea was appealing. I thought the arrangement looked great when I placed them in a line, and then suddenly, and quite accidentally, a reason to stay with that layout struck me.
On the original album cover, the album title "Station to Station" is repeated, and additionally, the phased white noise heard at the beginning of the title track is of a train screeching and rumbling down a set of tracks. It occurred to me that while the motif of the repeated Bowie portrait worked on its own visually, the "train" of them also echoed the sonic aesthetic of the album's title track which I thought was a very cool idea. The steely character of the Bowie typeface reflected that concept beautifully, and I also rendered and repeated another three lines of the album title underneath in varying shades of gray and red to tie everything together. The other aspect of the final design that excited me was that as much as Station To Station was a transition album for Bowie, (prior to abandoning the LA scene to escape his cocaine addiction, and work on his famous Berlin trilogy with Brian Eno) the black, white and red colour scheme also reflects on a stylistic approach that is reminiscent of German graphic annuals of the 1960s and 1970s. I may have tripped over the conceptual aspects of this piece during the process, but like most art, the best discoveries happen when you're not looking for them.
I'm very proud of BOWIE (Station To Station) and see it as a true leap forward, and what I consider to be the official first Bowie inspired piece in an ongoing series (and I promise there will be many more). I have drawn and painted Bowie many times, but have just barely begun to scape the surface of his potential as a basis for strong creative material. The man's music, art and legacy continue to inspire me, and will continue to do so as Graydon Wallace Art moves forward and my work continues to develop. I hope for those of you reading and viewing this piece here or on social media, that you love how this piece turned out as much as I do. I'm already thrilled with the response I've received from this piece and can't wait to do more!