Monday Morning

Nothing earth shattering here; it’s noon and I thought I’d update you on what I did this morning and talk a little about the rest of my day.

Pretty mundane beginning; I answered e-mails, made business calls and cruised Ebay for a bit.

Then, I approved Randy Dahlk’s brilliant design for the cover of my murals book coming out from Flesk Publications this summer.

Following that, I penciled the last two of my Blues Legends portraits: Blind Willie Johnson and Water “Shakey” Horton. I’m drawing 150 portraits of my favorite blues artists: 50 Blues Legends, 50 British Blues Legends and 50 Modern Blues Legends. I’ll ink the two I penciled this morning later this evening (probably after my wife has gone to bed). Then the first two of those groups will be completed, leaving only the 50 Modern Legends to complete (actually, 49; I’ve already drawn Otis Taylor). I began this project when I was convalescing from my cancer surgery in December 2006.

Actually, it began a little before that when Richard Foos (co-founder of Rhino Records) of Shout! Factory hired me to draw CD covers for Ma Rainey and Mississippi Fred McDowell. His other blues CD covers were reprints of some of the Robert Crumb “Heroes of the Blues” trading card images. Robert hadn’t drawn McDowell or Rainey and didn’t want to. So, Richard asked if I would draw those two in the same general style and format to keep his blues CD covers graphically consistent. I did, and was surprised at how much fun I had.

So I had my surgery and began my recuperation. It’s not my nature to just sit around or be idle. Remembering the covers I had drawn for Richard and how much fun they were, I made a list of all my favorite old blues guys, deliberately excluding the ones Robert Crumb had already drawn in his card set (except for Skip James and Blind Willie Johnson — I just HAD to draw those two guys!). I initially decided to come up with 36 musicians, the same number that Robert had drawn. That was an easy list to compile; Crumb hadn’t drawn any of the great Chicago guys like Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf or Sonny Boy Williamson. He hadn’t even drawn Robert Johnson! Woo hoo!

As I was working on those images I began to think, “I shouldn’t stop with these guys; I should also draw all of my favorite British Blues greats!” That led to my compiling a list of not only 36 Brits (i. e., Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Eric Burdon, Peter Green, etc.) but also a list of 36 modern blues guys. Heck, I couldn’t leave out Paul Butterfield, Ry Cooder or Jimi Hendrix!

Eventually, as I compiled all three lists, limiting each list to 36 became much too restrictive. So, I expanded each list to 50 (even those lists continue to slowly grow). As soon as the text about each artist is finished, I plan to publish them as three books. I’ll let you know when the first book is off the presses.

After penciling those two portraits, I tightened up the pencils and lettering on a CD cover for The Moore Brothers. Thom Moore used to babysit my sons when they were small. He especially loved sitting at our house because of my vast record collection. Thom used to pepper me with musical questions about the 60s. Well, years have passed since Thom was in high school; he’s now become a pop star with a huge following in the Bay Area (San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, etc.). His brother Greg has joined him. They’ve produced a number of excellent CDs and now live in Bud Plant Country (Grass Valley). They just finished a European tour as the opening act for the phenomenal Joanna Newsom. She plays on their new CD, “Aptos,” the one for which I’m doing the cover.

After my run this afternoon (I run three miles of hills every other day to keep in shape), I’ll pack up and ship some of my website catalogue orders.

After that I’ll be out on my porch continuing the painting of a book cover and poster for “War Eagles” for my friend Ray Harryhausen. If I can squeeze it in, I’m going to try to finish an oil portrait of Dracula for a collector of mine (Hi, Craig!) in Louisville, Kentucky. I’ve just got the bats in the picture to complete and it’ll be done. I’ll also be painting another private commission, a big triple portrait for a dear friend of mine from art school. It’s his sister, mom and dad, who were all prominent in Los Angeles’ black community and were enormously important to the civil rights movement. I’m really enjoying this painting!

After the sun goes down I can’t paint (I don’t like to paint by artificial light; I’m trying to save my eyes), so I’ll use my remaining early evening work time to draw up the initial concept designs for a magic poster featuring the amazing New York magician Steve Cohen.

After dinner, I’ll spend a little time with my wife and maybe watch a movie. After she retires, it’s back to work. Like I said, I’ll probably ink the drawings I penciled this morning. I’ll knock off work probably at about 1:00 AM, then zone out for a little doing some research, pleasure reading or channel surfing, after which I’ll hit the hay.

I wouldn’t call this a “typical day” because I don’t really have typical days — every day is different. But I guess that today is about as typical as they come. Tomorrow will be different, though — I guarantee you!

2 Responses to “Monday Morning”

  1. Rick Tucker says:

    Bill, Just a couple of questions:
    Will the blues portraits ever be collected for a book?
    Is the War Eagles painting a sure thing? I read about Willis O’Brien’s film project and assume it’s the same concept that Ray Harryhausen’s expounding on. If this is a story adapted to a novel I’d love to read it. Too many of Obie’s best ideas were never realized.
    Anyway, that’s a GREAT routine you have. Who cooks?

    Rick

  2. Rick Tucker says:

    Bill, Just a couple of questions:
    Will the blues portraits ever be collected for a book?
    Is the War Eagles painting a sure thing? I read about Willis O’Brien’s film project and assume it’s the same concept that Ray Harryhausen’s expounding on. If this is a story adapted to a novel I’d love to read it. Too many of Obie’s best ideas were never realized.
    Anyway, that’s a GREAT routine you have. Who cooks?

    Rick

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