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John Lee Hooker, 1985

(Hooker Handbill)
Antone’s, Jan 25 – 26, 1985
8.5" X 11" (21.59cm X 27.94cm)

This rare handbill has garnered me as much praise and has been as warmly received and appreciated as anything that I have ever done. It is a remarkable study of countenance. Histories of worlds and of times are written there, a landscape of spirit rendered in flesh. The form that emerges from the darkness seems complete, sufficient unto itself. Is it contemplation; an effort of thought, or merely a capitulation to feeling? I can remember that as I was doing the piece I almost felt physically drawn into it. As I stippled the mitigating tones about the dark areas, I was leaning into it, feeling a hint of torque in my pen as I listened to his music.


One of my very best pieces; one of my most successful pieces. This is a pen-and-ink drawing; utilizing a shading technique called stippling. Stippling is a means of valuing, or gray scaling, between pure black and pure white by creating fields of dots. The more of them, the darker the value; the less, the lighter the grayscale. I think it worked very well to evoke the presence of John Lee Hooker and his music. This dotting softens the face; a closed eye softens the whole image. While a spotlight makes the profile dominant, its concentration loses the sparse falloff in shadows, and the face becomes insular. A false tranquility – the cant of head and purse of chin -- reveal the torque within. There, just beneath, are hints: a determination informing the sinews connecting cheek and chin, a fugitive thought that furls the eye. Something is about to be released here; the blues. And I’ve cast a net of dots to capture it.

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