Over time, I have grown to surmise that the majority of my portraits have tended to focus on (although not intentionally) a single figure or icon at a time. In some cases, that approach made total sense, given that the vast majority of the icons I covered in my projects were either solo artists, performers, or famous frontmen for particular groups. Other times, it was a matter of simply shining the spotlight on an individual in order to bring them to life and highlight their specific attributes. With my latest classic rock portrait, however, I resisted the urge to focus on an individual, and rather, to focus instead on creating an arrangement of figures to be featured in a collective piece. Following on the heels of LENNON & McCARTNEY (which was a portrait exploring the duality of an iconic songwriting team), my latest project focuses on American psychedelic rock band: THE DOORS.
**THE DOORS mixed media 16x20 inches
While it can be argued that the most famous individual in most bands ( as is the case with The Doors) is frontman Jim Morrison; recognized for his voice, charisma, brooding personality, poetry, and of course, his fallen idol status as an artist who succumbed to a tragic and premature death. However, without the stellar collective musical contributions from his bandmates Ray Manzerak (keyboards), Robby Krieger (guitar) and John Densmore (drums), Jim Morrison's voice, songs, and lyrics wouldn't have had vehicle to take the shape they did or made the impact they did musically or culturally. As a collective, all bands should be a self contained unit in which all band members are essential and indispensable. Otherwise, the art they create will never thrive or have the potential it should because a good band, with the right blend of personalities and talents, are what create the magic. If one member towers above the rest in terms of ego or talent, the group dynamic is split asunder and collaborations between creative minds is left to die, while morale collapses and motivation, direction and loyalty to the art is abandoned. While many a band has suffered from in-fighting, ego trips, members going solo, members dying or quitting, or even redefining themselves as a new band with an old name when losing but not replacing old members, all the most memorable, legendary and successful bands only survived the test of time when they lasted (and ended) as long as the very individuals that created the group decided to or decided not to carry on. The Beatles started and ended their recording career as the same four that began it. The same with Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Smiths, etc.
**THE DOORS framed
With my portrait of THE DOORS, I wanted to create a strong group image that captured each band member and their individually unique traits...almost existing more like a four headed animal, rather than four separate portraits. Jim Morrison is placed amongst his peers rather than in front of them. Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore all shine with equal presence, and contrasting light and shadow. THE DOORS are a fine example of a band that had its time, and only existed and thrived as long as all four members were there to write and perform the songs, and brandish their label.
I love how this portrait turned out, and I look forward to doing more full band portraits soon.