Tuesday, February 07, 2012


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Monday, December 19, 2011

Steve and Me

last summer i began work on a new project called "Brief Interviews with Great Drummers". i record/transcribe each interview, then magically turn a portion of it into a hugely entertaining 2-page comicstrip! conceived as a sycophantic way for me to rub shoulders with some of my heroes, it's become a really strange challenge for me. both the pseudo-journalistic angle, and the tracking down of celebrities are totally new to me. i have a few interviews in the can and i feel like i'm starting to get the hang of it a little. 
of course you always have to have a wish list for a project like this, and right at the top of mine was the great Steve Gadd. i'd been trying to figure out ways of contacting him over the past several months but all attempts were fruitless.
..until i happened to mention the project to my writer buddy Kyle. turns out Kyle knows the wonderful guitarist Fuzzbee, who knows Malcolm, who does Steve's website. i send Malcolm some of my books, he loves them, emails Steve's wife, Carol, who arranges for me to meet Steve in New York during a weeklong club gig with his all-stars band, L'Image!
Carol just gives me Steve's cell # and says to call him when i get to New York. says he'll see me at some point during the 16th or 17th. so i jump onto my private jet and check into a snazzy hotel. once i'm settled, i nervously phone one of my biggest heroes and he kindly offers to meet me at his hotel at 1pm on the following day- the 16th! yay, i go to bed early and wake up buzzing. bacon and eggs at a groovy Manhattan diner, then my usual stretching routine, shower, then hop in a cab to Steve's hotel, The Phillips Club. it's a swank place right across the street from Juilliard where lots of music royalty VIPs stay.
i got there early to case the joint, then went for a walk. 20 mins before 1 i leave a message just to let him know i was there, no pressure. 
called at 1. answering machine again. just kicked back and chilled in the elegant lobby. 15 minutes after 1 i left another message. starting to get worried. sitting waiting/thinking. 
at about 25 after, a scruffy guy comes in off the street wearing running gear holding a cardboard tray with 4 coffees. as he approaches, i start to recognize him. he notices that he's being recognized so he kind of slows down with a puzzled look, as if to say, do i know you? "hi Steve, i'm Dave, the guy that's supposed to interview you?" 
he'd totally forgotten. 
he sat with me trying to decide what to do. finally he said he'd go up and talk to some friends then come back and let me know. waited for 10 minutes. he comes down, shakes my hand warmly, apologizes sincerely. he says he has plans and it would be great if he didn't have to change them. "of course", i say. any time is fine, i'm at his disposal. he says tomorrow, same time. i gratefully accept. 
he asks if i'm going to see him play at Iridium. i say yeah, tonight. he says maybe he'll get his second wind after the show and we can do it then. but if not, then definitely tomorrow. he shakes my hand again and gives me a warm hug. whatta guy. real laid back and kind.
spent the day wandering around Manhattan, then met up with my good friend Scott and his wife and daughter. went out for a lovely italian meal. after dinner Scott (a big music fan/aficionado) and i headed over to Iridium. cool place, lots of history. interesting ticketing system- you just go in and there's a $10 drink minimum, but at the end of the night you're also billed for the entertainment ($40ea). we got seats RIGHT next to steve's kit. perfect! it was a thrill watching him play. he spotted me in the crowd and smiled (swoon! ha ha!).
afterwards we waited around for a while and finally he came out to shake some hands, sign some autographs. i waited till everyone was seen to, then came over. he was pleased to see me and we went into the back room. he was obviously exhausted, but gave very generously. it was a really nice, warm interview.
i went to see him the following night for the early show (can you believe they do 2 shows/night?) and was pleased to get the chance to meet and thank Carol Gadd for her help. that night's show was quite different from the one i'd seen the previous night and i felt really fortunate to be able to see Steve play twice. i even got to see him drop a stick (so weird to witness). of course he didn't miss a beat, and no one but a drum nerd like me would have even noticed.
walked back to the hotel buzzing from the fanboy thrill of it all. super-cool!
hopefully i'll have this strip (along with 2 others) done early in the new year. watch for them!

arriving at Iridium, being seated...
New Yorkers! this is nothing unusual for them!

hard to believe i was this close. the second
night my view was JUST AS GOOD!

the legendary Tony Levin

that's Scott taking a drink of his G+T

It's hard to explain watching Steve play. he's practically
a mythical figure to drum nerds. his playing is so masterful, yet beautifully primal and intuitive

Steve getting permission from the sound guy to
use the back room for the interview

Steve chatting with the great Warren Bernhardt
just prior to the interview

needed proof of my presence!

Steve just after showing me the most baffling magic trick!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Dental Exam pt 1 (photo shoot)

i've wanted to make a painting with a dental exam theme forever. well, no time like the present! here's a super-quick doodle that got the ball rolling. but for this piece, rather than going directly from sketch to painting, i wanted to get some photo reference to bolster my drawing.
original doodle

and that's where my buddies émilie and tanya and other dave came in. we got together at my swank downtown studio for an evening shoot. i wanted to try and get material for the painting, but i went in open to improvisation and exploration. which is good, because i pretty quickly realized that my sketch is anatomically ridiculous. so we set out to just take a million pics and see what happened.


dave is my studio mate, and a seasoned professional photographer. a good friend/ally to have at times like these. he's got a great eye, but he's very sensitive to the things that i want. he even lets me shoot with  his one million dollar camera if the spirit grabs me.
when discussing wardrobe in emails before the shoot, émilie said, "i'll just bring a suitcase full of shit and we'll play dress up." *swoon* 

and she even brought a friend too, so BONUS!

make-up and hair

facial exercises

testing the location/props

"what the hell have i gotten myself into?"

it's not that kinf of exam, ém!!

models cocked and ready

last minute wardrobe adjustments...

set ready, lights, camera...

models, take your postitions...

SMOKE BREAK?????!!!!!!

after i tried to get as much material for the painting as i needed, i asked everybody if they had any advice/suggestions. émilie said she thought we should get way more aggressive and kinetic. so at that point the models started face/wrestling and dave and i just tried to keep up. i can't believe what great sports these gals are! i think i have a new favourite hobby!
let the insanity begin

me getting in the way

tanya, "lemme just wash my hands..."
émilie, "eh, it's a livin'"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

96 little offerings to bring on the road...

whenever i go on a tour these days, i like to bring 96 little drawings with me. they serve a bunch of different purposes. they give me something affordable to offer at the signings so that i can offset the cost of my trip, they're something i can give to the kind people who help me out in one way or another, people who let me crash on their sofa, that sort of thing. drawing them gives me something to focus on before a big trip, a reason to sort of take stock of what i'm into. still girls girls girls and/or ridiculous little cartoon characters (PIP+norton, Eddy).

when i get back i plan to make a big, fancy gicleé print of all 96 drawings, all on one poster...

anyway, i'll be leaving on my big west coast adventure on wednesday, so probably won't be posting again till i get back. i hope to see you at one of my signings (i'll post the announcement again above).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

a super-duper drawing for "Blab"

i've been a fan of Monte Beauchamp's publication, "Blab" for many years. recently Monte asked me to contribute something to the latest issue of this seminal, semi-annual collection of bizarre drawings, paintings, and stories.

much of the work from this issue will be shown at LA's Copro Gallery on sept 11th. check it out if you're in town. monte's taste in artists is always impeccable.

the theme of the issue is "the afterlife". and as is my way, i adhere to themes inasmuch as they allow me to somehow make something weird that involves lots of naked ladies. i self-servingly offer that my contribution is to be a drawing of what someone's idea of the afterlife might look like.

i haven't spent much time drawing lately (been making an animated project for the last several months), so i wanted to use this as an opportunity to really get lost in a drawing trance like i haven't done in a long time. the format of the book is nice and large and i've been offered a double-pg spread, so there's plenty of room for me to cut loose.

i had a stack of past doodles to refer to for the figures, so that part was pretty much taken care of. so i set to doodling a thumbnail of a strong composition that i could drop all those figures into. it actually took quite a while and was pretty frustrating (since i was so rusty), but eventually i settled on this:

rough composition doodle

i scanned the drawing and enlarged it a lot. then in photoshop, i adjusted the pencil lines to very light  "non-repro" blue, and printed it out on a nice big sheet of strathmore paper. from there i just hunkered down to filling that sparse skeleton with as much mayhem as i could come up with. here's what the pencil drawing ended up looking like:

large pencil drawing

here are some close-ups of the pencils. i'm a sucker for close-ups!

the next step was to scan in this 25x13" drawing (done in four parts, then manually stitched together). i ended up adding a few more figures before then printing this one out in non-repro blue as well. this time i printed it out onto a synthetic surface called yupo paper. this stuff isn't actually paper at all, it's made of polypropylene, but feels SO nice and organic. if you've ever drawn on mylar with graphite, imagine that great sensation- and line- times 10. i use 4B graphite and the result is basically what i've been looking for with pen+ink for the past 20 years. it's like drawing with the best nib you've ever owned, with none of the unreliable/unpredictable headaches. technically, this is grahite, but since it is replacing ink, i'll refer to it as the line drawing. this way, the previous pencil drawing (above) and the line drawing (below) won't get confused, even thought they're both graphite.

here's a shot of the pencil drawing with the non-repro blue print-out underneath.

i started with really fine lines first, almost like the approach of a printmaker. because it's such a complicated image, i wanted to start by just getting a clear map of all the elements of the drawing. but to be honest, i totally lost my nerve at this point and realized that there's no way i could do this piece justice by just improvising the lineart as i usually do. so i printed out another non-repro version to use as a tonal guide. i know, this is getting ridiculous. i never thought i'd be the type of artist that would put this much planning into a drawing. i always took pride in my seat-of-my-pants approach. but for a change i'm enjoying the attention to detail, and i really feel the need to allow the drawing to tell me what it needs, and not be concerned with any outside factors.

so for the tonal guide, i printed it out on strath again, and just attacked it as spontaneously as possible. i just wanted to figure out what parts should be light/dark, prominent/obscure, near/distant, clear/diffuse, etc. like i said, i normally take a lot of pleasure in improvising all that stuff, but this piece feels like it needs more.

here are some shots of the tonal guide:

once i was confident that i understood this insanity and could somehow make it work as a cohesive whole, i went back to the line final line drawing. i really wasn't sure this would work, i had crammed a ridiculous amout of stuff into this thing. here are some in-progress photos:

this whole process was pretty intense, i definitely succeeded in creating a situation where i'd have to get lost in the process. it was a welcome return to good ol' fashioned drawing.

here are some snaps of the finished piece:

and here's the final drawing. it's  25.5x13". remember, you can click on it to see a larger version: