** DAVID GRAY Mixed Media 16 x 20 Inches
Generally when it comes to doing celebrity portraits (whether film actors or musicians) I have tended to remain in the realm of covering the "classics" for easy identifiability, and a certain challenge in redefining the iconic. Even though liberties can be taken with any portrait in order to more firmly accent character, personality and various other attributes that make a character special and unique, the goal has always erred more towards capturing a keen likeness of the subject in question. It is for this reason, that the majority of my celebrity portraits focus on faces and personalities that are recognizable in the public domain, so buyers and viewers alike can easily identify and connect with them on an emotional level.
This is not to say that there aren't plenty of contemporary artists and personalities worth covering artistically. It's more that contemporary figures aren't defined by legacy because their stories are still being written. There has always been a nostalgic allure for me in subjects that are of the past, and have defined eras in their time. Contemporary figures are like sketches still being honed as time passes, and therefore, without a historical context to place them in, they become more of a niche statement. With DAVID GRAY, I chose to cover a modern singer/songwriter that has accrued fame, has had commercial and critical success, and while recognizable in certain circles amongst those who are familiar with his music, Gray could not be categorized as a household name, but more of an artist appreciated by those already initiated.
DAVID GRAY came into the public eye in the early 2000s for his album White Ladder, and hit songs from that album such as Babylon, Please Forgive Me, and This Year's Love. For me, it was his cover of a the Soft Cell song Say Hello, Wave Goodbye that really got me paying attention. I became a big fan of Gray in the wake of the international success of White Ladder, A New Day At Midnight and Life In Slow Motion, but it was mining his music pre fame from albums such as A Century Ends, Flesh and Sell Sell Sell that solidified my fandom. I have been fortunate enough to see him live and his songs touched me from my early 20s onward. While I don't tend to cover celebrity portraits of contemporary figures who aren't particularly well known, it was nevertheless a fulfilling experiment tackling a faithful portrait of Gray, even if I never find a niche buyer who knows and appreciates this wonderful artist. Like my previous portrait of Josh Tillman (Father John Misty), this was a project that was made from a personal place and more of an exploration of character and a love of portraiture than anything else.