Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (based on 12" cover and original art photos of original people used in the creation of the photograph)  60" x 60" acrylic on canvas -  2018. Please click the image above for an enlarged version.

I was in the middle of creating a series of paintings for my Rock Legends project, when I was invited to lunch by my friend and benefactor, Rich M., at his favorite restaurant. He had spoken to me previously about creating a painting based on the Beatles’s 1968 cover for their Sgt. Peppers’ album, and had provided a reproduction of the cover that came with a boxed set of photos. I explained that it would be very difficult to paint a straight reproduction of the cover from the printed material provided, since many of the portraits of people in the background were unrecognizable.

During lunch I told him that I would need to work from original photos, similar to those produced from hand colored xerox copies, but not exactly those used for the cover in order to make many of the characters recognizable. I mapped off a section of wall, and showed him how the painting would need to be 5 times the size of the 12" cover, or 60" square for me to paint a clear rendition of the artwork.
I also told him that it would be expensive, since I would have to match  style of each of the people on the cover with the style of the person used on the cover. “There are more than 60 people I must paint portraits of plus a lot of stuff I can't even recognize without researching them. This is a 6 month project — at least!”

None of this stopped Rich in his enthusiasm, and he told me to “get to work! No napping!” So I got started.

Even as I began, I was not convinced that I could do justice to the project, but I photographed the cover to enlarge it, and also researched all of the people who were named from outlines of the characters on the cover. Many names I didn’t recognize, and some people were obscured by other people in front of them in the photo. I soon discovered that Leo Gorcey, shown at the far right in the original photo, had been airbrushed out, and that Gandhi had also been removed in the retouching, probably because of a palm leaf that covered part of his face.

I began the process of assembling, texturizing and and colorizing each person not viewable on the photographed cover, in some cases using a similar photo of the person, but from a different angle. I discovered that in the original photograph they used a print of George Bernard Shaw that wasn’t really the writer, so I put his real image in place. Meanwhile, I ordered a set of 5' stretchers, heavy duty canvas, gesso, paint and brushes that I would need for the project.

When the materials arrived, I assembled and gridded off the canvas, as I had done on my printed mockup assemblage, and began in the upper right hand corner with the singer Bob Dylan. It took me forever to get him looking like he belonged, and all I could think of was  the remaining 60-some characters I would need to construct in order to complete the canvas. I also found a photo portrait of Rich M., and placed him in the space where Leo Gorcey had been removed due to a request by the actor for payment.

Towards the end of the project, I fell in the snow while trying to move my car from a snow drift. and completely tore the muscles in my rotator cuff. To complete the painting, I had to jack the canvas off the floor high enough so I could paint the unfinished lower-left-hand section without raising my left arm above waist level.

The painting was completed by April, 2018, and Rich was pleased with it and he paid me in full. The unfortunate turn of events was that he soon discovered he had no place to display the 25 sq. ft. painting, and realized he would have to sell it. As of yet there have been many interested, but no buyers have come forth. Hopefully, a fan of the Beatles will find his or her way to the exhibition at the Community Art Center and invest in this one-of-a-kind item.

The Diverse Artistic Universe of George H. RothackerA Memoir is available at Amazon. Click here for paperback or Kindle version. Please review the book if you like it!

Also please call, or email me with regard to the schedule of events at the two art centers. Any and all events will follow COVID-19 guidelines. I will respond to all emails and calls.

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