Synergy #2 – Suchiu/Prakash John -True North
So let’s dive right into Synergy Painting #2.
This piece I did with synergy partner and bassist extraordinaire, Prakash John. Prakash is very well known as an icon in the music business but for those who don’t know him let me fill you in on just a few of his many accomplishments and cool tidbits of his outstanding musical history.
He started playing bass at the age of 17 and in no time was playing with some of the most notable performers in the world such as Edgar Winters, Rick Derringer, George Clinton (Funkadelic), Lou Reed, The Blues Brothers, Paul Shaffer, Pinetop Perkins, Jr. Wells, Mike Bloomfield, Dr. John, Rory Block, Murray McLauchlan and he even toured for many years with super rocker, Alice Cooper. Prakash went on to found the well known Toronto band “The Lincolns” who, the great one Wayne Gretzky chose as his band of choice for his wedding in 1988.
Prakash John is presently directing his eldest son Jordan, a musician and vocalist, and living in the Toronto area. He is also playing bass in Jordan’s band. Jordan is my very next Synergy Partner in this series.
When dealing with Synergy Art I find it takes me into color zones that I never would have imagined myself using. In this instance, Prakash asked me to use burgundy, deep reds, off-whites, and beige. I must say wow; what a delicious pallet it gave me for the painting.
What I find is a bit of a tricky part of synergy art is that if you’re not careful you could easily get locked into doing the same background over and over again. I find though if I do a little study of the artist I am partnering with, in this case, a famous bass player, and as long as I keep the colors in mind at all times my subconscious seems to give it the twist I need. Is this case was basing my brushstrokes on what I imagined to be the silky smooth sounds of a well-played piece of bass music. I don’t know if that really makes sense but it’s more a gut feeling than a process at that point.
Oh, I had forgotten the mention in the earlier article of Synergy #1, most of these paintings have online videos that show the painting being done from the very first brush stroke through its fruition. I promise you you won’t get bored with them because they are speeded up 10 – 20 times to get you through fast. Definitely take a peek at those when you find a specific painting that you’re interested in knowing more about.
The exciting thing about this piece was that we had the chance to take this painting and the next, Synergy #3 to Oakville Ontario, directly to the home of synergy partners Prakash and Jordan John.
Like every painting I’ve ever done, I seem to receive some sort of unsolicited life lessons that happen through the natural evolution of my talent practice. I found it really neat that as I actually was working on the painting with Jordan I noticed Prakash in the hallway with his Synergy background. He was turning it sideways, standing back and looking at it, putting it upside down and pondering it again and it seems, that really paid off.
When it came to Prakash’s time to work with me, he had already seen an image of what he believed the painting should look like. I was so happy it happened this way because this is one of the things that I really wanted to occur in the Synergy process.
Unlike the piece I had done with Dan Aykroyd, Prakash spoke out about what the painting was telling him. As he went along he had mentioned that because he came here from India when he was only 2 years old he had learned to love Canada above anywhere else in the world. He did mention though, that it was always in the back of his mind that the indigenous people of Canada were the real residents of this country. And at the end of our painting session, he surprised us with a little humorous banter of his own by exclaiming “But I’m the real Indian!”
Getting back to the canvas, as we started out Prakash said that he wanted to dedicate the piece to the indigenous people of Canada. He wished to show Canada as a country and as the originating home of our native people at the same time. These are the interesting challenges that I always look forward to.
So, as we started out Prakash, employing a reasonably wide brush and black paint, described what objects he wanted in the painting and basically where they should lay. I felt blessed because just hearing his story behind the lines he was placed on the canvas got my imagination going “full speed ahead”, in other words, he made my job much easier.
In Prakash’s interpretation of the painting, he said that he would love to see the Canadian maple leaf from the flag and he also definitely wanted to see an eagle’s feather. He also made it clear that he didn’t want the representation of the country to be overpowering. Of course, when I took this back to the studio to finish it off, that was probably the main feature that I wanted to protect and honor him with.
He also mentioned that he would like to name the painting. I said “Of course, this is your painting to do whatever you choose to do my sole job is to make it work. Prakash chose “True North” as the title of the painting. He also requested that we title it in a translated native language. I loved the idea and agreed, not knowing at the time that would become quite the challenge, I wasn’t aware that very few native languages are not written languages. Most are simply passed alone in conversation by person to person. I did get lucky and found a nice translation of “True North” in the language of the Saskatchewan Cree which I added just below the English title in the painting.
Prakash also noticed at the bottom of the painting there was what appeared to be a line of trees. Of course, any mention of an object or something that my Synergy partner recognizes in the piece is a detail that I feel compelled to embellish or enhance.
So let’s look at the painting itself as a finished art piece.
Getting back to what I said earlier, the colors of this piece are stunning, the richness of the burgundy’s with the contrast of the off-whites lends itself spontaneously to a piece with discernable depth and certainly one of the thought-provoking qualities.
I had a lot of fun doing the native work in the maple leaf the original Maple Leaf from our flag has been stylized here in a way that holds faithful to what Prakash wanted as his dedication to the native people of our area. I must admit that native look is not something that I have done in the past and I had to go online and search many pictures to allow the stylization of their line work to become something I would feel comfortable to paint.
I also wanted to put natural Maple Leaf in the background just to give it that earthiness for natural appeal.
While Prakash was working away on the painting, he also mentioned that he saw the Aurora Borealis, better known as the Northern Lights behind a line of trees. I always find coincidences intriguing and in synergy #1 painting the finish on the crystal skull is representational of the Aurora Borealis and in this painting the lights are actually being portrayed directly.
Here is a little secret for taking the time to read this. As in so many of my paintings, I have hidden something. Prakash wanted the large eagle feather and as I was painting it I began to notice is that the Eagle head is revealed to us in a very bold fashion. You might have to look hard for it. I find that sometimes the most obvious image in a painting is the hardest part to see.
I am very happy with the outcome of this piece and unlike all of the artworks I have done on my own without a partner, and the more I do these Synergy pieces the more I’m blown away by the unfettered diversity that can only happen by “Synergizing”.
Artist Proof, Press Proof, Signed & Numbered
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