Blog Post written by Chris Clark: The making of Stompin’ With Louis, a passion for dancing and painting combined
This painting of Louis Armstrong was actually a commission for my dear friend, and fellow Lindy Hopper, Michelle. She wanted a painting of Louis playing trumpet for a pair of dancers, as if his music was coming from the heavens and he was playing live, just for them. At first, I thought the painting might be a little cheesy, because I imagined Louis being in the clouds, with a sunset sort of environment. Which I thought could be pretty, but a little too “biblical” or something, like it should have angels and cherubs and light streaming from the clouds. It’s always my process to do a sketch in pencil/charcoal before I actually start a commission painting, to make sure I have the idea right before actually painting. I’m sure glad I did for this one.
As you can see, the dancers were inspired by the famous photo of Jo and Kevin, which Michelle chose to use. We also had gone through several photos of Louis, and she chose one that was a little less iconic and common, which I agreed would add more uniqueness to her painting. After seeing the sketch, she told me she rather had in mind a more sultry, dark background, though she did like the idea of a city in the background. I then did this sketch:
Right on the money. So I proceeded to do the painting, and for some reason I had the idea to do this one using only palette knives instead of paint brushes. The result was just fantastic. The palette knife was still a newer tool for me, and I was just loving the sharp edges and motion it created.
I delivered Stompin’ With Louis to Michelle at the Atomic Ballroom one Friday night. Michelle loved it, and I got lots of great comments from my fellow dancers. What’s funny is that as soon as my friend Jenny saw it, she instantly wanted one too, so I painted another one just for her (only more of a landscape format).
One of my first palette knife paintings was a set I did for another friend/dancer Katey, of Louis Prima and Keely Smith. The results were similarly fabulous. I’ve been using the palette knife a lot more extensively since these paintings.
I’ve been really wanting to do a series of paintings featuring swing dancers, because it’s a perfect combination of two of my passions. It’s also a way to help teach the world what real swing dancing looks like, because the common perception is such a dorky, inaccurate one featuring way too many zoot suits. I also want to do a series of famous jazz musicians.
Here are two paintings I did of my friends/Lindy Hoppers Charles and Cristi. I took them out for an afternoon photo shoot, and they just danced and were in love and the magic happened. The paintings were a breeze because they gave me such great material to paint from.
I always have tons of paintings for sale, and I’m available for any kind of commission paintings. And I freakin’ love Lindy Hop!!
What do you love about this? What strikes you the most? Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or find us on Twitter us @Kevin_and_Jo and we’ll retweet your fabulous art! Don’t forget to tag it #aprilartists !!