Nine days in Vegas was the case that they gave me. Actually, it’s the trip I booked online.
Painting number two was to be a true Las Vegas experience. The El Cortez Hotel on Fremont Street — the uncovered portion (important detail). We wanted to experience the Vegas you see in the movies… from the books.
So with a great deal of help from the friendly police officers and hotel security, we began our mission. This particular two day stay wasn’t without some choice encounters, of course. More of that, and the process, after the jump.
Nothing beats a location sandwiched between two palm trees in the staggering desert heat. And a blank canvas. Fresh.
Oh, oh, oh, getting busy with the New York Post headlines. People wondered why I didn’t go exclusively Vegas newspaper headlines? They lack the girth and typographical enormity of The Post. It’s a visual choice… and of course, where else can you contextually shore up such consistent headline gold?
As it was with the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign painting… with the staggering heat, my initial drawings rounds were done with Sharpie. The paint dried too quickly to create fine, widespread, exploratory lines.
Starting to white out the letters, making an instant visual leap.
Behind my head, blaring, for two days, Santana. The same four live songs. Santana. I don’t know Maria, and it’s been so long since I’ve seen a West Side Story, it’s lost all descriptive power. Torture by Santana.
Cerulean blue straight from the tube. Such a guilty pleasure.
Beginning to slide colors across the surface, anchoring the foreground with a deep cadmium red and aggressive orange.
To keep the visual balance, I find working the whole canvas is key. My art teachers taught me this in high school, but back then, you know, all you want to do is draw an awesome eye in the middle of the page, then mess up the nose, and then rip it to pieces. This is real life now, so none of that. I also now appreciate, wash and respect my art supplies.
Susan Pieper, visiting from Ohio, took this great snap…. you get to see the set-up in context. Looks like a ghostland, right? Well, it was Easter Sunday.
Another Susan Pieper shot. It’s important to note, the flipped collar was practical… for the purpose of blocking the sun only. I’m not about to trade in my fedora for a Red Sox cap, and my Air Force Ones for flip flops. Start saying, “Brah”. Drinking “Coohrs Lite”.
Getting in that secondary teal behind the letters and on the sign.
One of those step-backward, to take a step forward phases. Light blue in the building behind the sign…
This is when you have to focus, or you start painting in the wrong things and find yourself exclaiming “Dangit” — only with a different word between the quotes. Perhaps part of this potential pitfall has to do with the amount of F-Bombs you hear behind you all day. And a few idle physical threats, of course.
OK… time to make some sense out of this puppy.
Oh, outlines. They don’t actually exist in real life, but in art, they sure are fun to create.
Taking the individual windows and creating dark window columns. Painting allows you to be a walking, talking Photoshoper of life.
Yes. The background is far more anchored now.
At night, sexy, no?
Finished! Chilling next to the Mexican joint and my easel. Growing up in Spanish Harlem.
And the world famous El Cortez Hotel, completed. This is Vegas painting number two, following, “The Sign”.
Stand by for more Vegas action. Up next? The Sahara!