Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Richie Havens: Profiles from the Illustrations

Richie Havens, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

     On Tuesday, March 20, 2012, it was announced that Richie Havens was retiring from performing at age 71 due to health concerns. This sad news marks the end of a forty-five year non-stop tour around the world for Richie, one that brought his music and kindness to millions.

Richie Havens- Just Like a Woman (Bob Dylan)


     It all started in New York City coffee houses in the 1960s, with Havens developing a distinct, powerful style delivered with soaring vocals and furious guitar strumming in open tune. By the late 1960s, Havens had a hit album, Mixed Bag, and as a career defining highlight, whether by fate or chance he was the opening act at Woodstock in 1969... performing for hours because all the roads were blocked and the other performers had yet to arrive. His impromptu rendition of Motherless Child, "Freedom", has become a classic anthem. 

Richie Havens- Woodstock, 1969


Richie Havens, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

     His interpretations of Bob Dylan and Beatles songs are legendary and his own composition ring with a sensitive truth...

Richie Havens- The Key


Richie Havens, 2012. By Travis Simpkins
Richie Havens- High Flying Bird


     Richie's absence in the performance circuit will be felt, he will be missed. But his catalogue of work and the happiness felt by those (such as myself) who were lucky enough to meet him is as great a legacy as anyone could wish for.

Thank you for everything, Richie.


Richie Havens, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion: Art and Music (Songs that Inspired the Illustrations)

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

Holdin' Back

Kindness

Speed of Light



Johnny Irion, 2011. By Travis Simpkins


Target on Your Heart

This Land is Your Land (Woody Guthrie cover)

Sarah and her Dad, Arlo Guthrie


Sarah Lee Guthrie, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

For more info, visit: http://www.sarahleeandjohnny.com/


Monday, April 2, 2012

New Portrait Illustration: The Handsome Family (Brett and Rennie Sparks)

The Handsome Family, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

     Brett Sparks and his wife Rennie have been performing together for almost twenty years as The Handsome Family. Each's individual efforts are perfect compliments to one another and essential to their unique sound as a whole (she writes the lyrics, he writes the music). Brett's baritone voice and expert guitar playing and Rennie's haunting words make them a favorite among fellow musicians. Each album they make is a work of art, and with eleven albums to their credit, The Handsome Family continues to grow artistically as well as keeping up what has sustained them thus far: They are a cool couple that write cool songs.

The Handsome Family- "So Much Wine"


Brett Sparks, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

The Handsome Family- "Bottomless Hole"


Rennie Sparks, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

The Handsome Family- "Amelia Earhart"


Brett Sparks, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

For more info, visit: http://www.handsomefamily.com/


Friday, March 30, 2012

New Portrait Illustration: Ron Hansen (Author/Novelist)

Ron Hansen, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

     My introduction to Ron Hansen came in 2006, when I went to his lecture on "Writing as Vocation" at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. At that point, my knowledge of Ron's writing was limited to his novel, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, his historic-fiction masterpiece about the old west outlaw, that was then being made as a feature film starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck.
     Ron's lecture and the way he articulated himself inspired me to seek out his other works, many of which are now amongst my favorite books. His prose rings as beautifully true and smooth as poetry... Atticus, Desperadoes, Hitler's Niece, A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion... to name a few.
     Subsequently, Ron and I developed a cordial, friendly correspondence in which he provided me with insight, thoughts and tips, not just on writing, but on all art in general. He is a very talented artist, and a gracious, helpful and kind man. I'm glad to know him.

     And I'm glad this portrait met with his approval.


The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford- movie trailer


Ron Hansen talking about his novel, A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion


Ron Hansen Reading at Cornell University


Read more about Ron Hansen here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Hansen_(novelist)


Ron's classic: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (1983)



Ron's latest: A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion (2011)







Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tom Rush: Profiles from the Illustrations

Tom Rush, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

     Starting his musical career in Cambridge, MA in the early 1960s while attending Harvard, Tom Rush had already become an established performer before graduating. While other Folk musicians found a niche and stuck with it, Tom didn't subscribe to any one particular set, instead combining traditional songs, blues and country into a unique style that perfectly complimented his gentle voice.

Tom Rush- Panama Limited


     After releasing a few great albums, he hit a career highlight in 1968 with The Circle Game, which combined his own original compositions with covers of then-fledgling songwriters, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and James Taylor.

Tom Rush- No Regrets

Tom Rush- These Days


Tom Rush, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

     Recently celebrating 50 years as a professional musician, Tom Rush still performs to both large and small crowds alike. His keen ear, humorous wit and smart song selection make his shows as current and relevant as ever.

Tom Rush- Child's Song

Tom Rush- Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian

Tom Rush- The Remember Song

For more info, visit: http://tomrush.com/

Tom Rush, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Prints are Available for Purchase

     By popular demand, 12x16 signed prints of some of my illustrations are available for purchase. The print(s) will be rolled in mailing tubes and you can pay securely with a credit/debit card via Paypal. They can be had for the low price of $15.00 each (plus shipping). Just click on the "Add to Cart" button under your selection on the side column here ----------->>>---------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>



For the time being, only these illustrations have been made into prints. More to follow. I am open to requests as well.
Quiet Desperation #4, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

Quiet Desperation #3, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

Golden Bloom, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

Arlo Guthrie, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

Dan Burke, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

Monday, March 26, 2012

New Portrait Illustration: Brad Roberts (Crash Test Dummies)

Brad Roberts, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

     With an instantly recognizable bass/baritone voice and beautiful, inspired music and lyrics, Brad Roberts and Crash Test Dummies had a string of hits in the early 1990s with songs like "Superman's Song" and "Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm." Though slightly under the radar now, Brad Roberts is still writing and recording music with the same level of artistry as he did twenty years ago. He is a nice, cool, witty, creative guy... and true to form as an artist, he is not afraid to experiment in different musical genres.


Crash Test Dummies- Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm


Brad Roberts, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

Crash Test Dummies- Superman's Song


Brad Roberts, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

Crash Test Dummies- God Shuffled His Feet


Crash Test Dummies- The Ghosts That Haunt Me



Interview with Brad Roberts



Brad Roberts, 2012. By Travis Simpkins


Follow Brad's blog here: http://crashtestdummies.tumblr.com/


Friday, March 23, 2012

CLOSE UP: Joe Wong

Joe Wong, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

Joe Wong- Stand-up Comedy (Late Night with David Letterman)


For more info, visit: http://www.joewongcomedy.com/


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tony Norris: Profiles from the Illustrations

Tony Norris, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

     Acording to his website, "No western entertainer does it all with the warmth and wit of Tony Norris. Based in Flagstaff, Arizona, he is a regular at storytelling festivals, cowboy poetry gatherings, schools, campfires, and corporate conferences. Young and old alike are captivated by his homespun charm and rich tenor voice. With the accompaniment of his big Martin guitar and healthy doses of humor, he invites the adventurous spirit in each of us to leave the everyday world behind and journey into the old West. Performing solo or in an ensemble, his concerts are for those who want to hear the old songs, learn about the West, relax and have a good time."
     All of that is true... but after knowing Tony for 25 years, I'd add that he is also a loyal friend, very helpful and a hell of a nice guy.

Tony Norris- Rock Salt and Nails

Tony Norris- I Still Miss Someone


Tony Norris, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

Tony Norris- Paganini Is Not a City in Japan

Tony Norris- Besame Mucho

Tony Norris- Old Lee

Tony Norris- Me and My Uncle


For more info and a schedule of performances, visit: http://www.tonynorris.com/

Tony Norris, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Justin Townes Earle: Art and Music (Songs that Inspired the Illustrations)

Justin Townes Earle, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

Slippin' and Slidin'

Mama's Eyes

Harlem River Blues

Maybe Baby (Buddy Holly cover)

Who Am I To Say?


Justin Townes Earle, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

For more info, visit: http://justintownesearle.com/


Monday, March 19, 2012

Matt DiBiasie: Profiles from the Quiet-D Illustrations

Matt DiBiasie, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

     As the resident drug dealer on Quiet Desperation, Matt DiBiasie plays the catalyst to much of the show's wild antics.  Mushrooms and fireworks, and slingshots and jolly ranchers are among his favorite combinations. He is a loose cannon (don't tell him he can't smoke a cigarette at a party), that is eventually tamed by Tetra, a woman he initially avoided at all cost.

The Cigarette Outburst- Quiet D: Holidays Episode

Mushrooms and Firecrackers- Santa's Village

Slingshot and Jolly Ranchers

     Although he wasn't a trained actor, Rob Potylo saw something in his friend, Matt DiBiasie, and cast him in some episodes of Quiet Desperation. From that work, it is apparent that Matt has a gift for improvisational acting. He has since left Boston and lives on the West Coast.

Matt's initial reaction to Tetra

Matt and Tetra in Love


Quiet Desperation #6, 2012. By Travis Simpkins


Friday, March 16, 2012

CLOSE UP: Dan Burke

Dan Burke, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

Gamble & Burke: Let's Go Together


For more info, visit: http://www.gambleandburke.com/


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rob Potylo: Profiles from the Quiet-D Illustrations

Rob Potylo, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

     As the central character, Rob Potylo is the crazy glue that holds Quiet Desperation together. Much of the show concerns Rob's struggle to keep his head above water in the whirlpool of the Boston music scene, and the pitfalls and criticism he faces in expressing his unique artistic vision.

Quiet Desperation Act One- Episode 16

Quiet Desperation Act Two- Episode Five


Rob Potylo, 2012. By Travis Simpkins
     In real life, Rob essentially lives his existence as it is portrayed on the show. Starting out as a comedian/musician, he moved into radio and television. His character/alter ego, Robby Roadsteamer, was successful but proved to be a nuisance when Rob decided to express his own voice in music as himself: Rob Potylo. He has since distanced himself from his old character, and is producing music and video arts that are uniquely his own... stylish, introspective, ever-evolving and a bit crazy at times, but always straight to the point and true.

Read more on his websites: http://robpotylo.com/ and http://www.quietd.com/

Rob Potylo- Drawing Up Circles


Rob Potylo- Five Steps


Rob Potylo, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

Robby Roadsteamer- I Got Construction Boots


Robby Roadsteamer- I Put a Baby in You


Quiet Desperation #6, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

Quiet Desperation #8, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Currently Accepting Portrait Commissions...

     If you are interested in commissioning me to do a portrait, send me a message with a general idea of what you'd like to have done (with a reference photo attached*) at email: travisliam@aol.com

    I will be able to estimate a price based on the info and photo provided
(simple, single subjects are very affordable, starting as low as $50, prices increase relative to quantity and complexity).

* it is integral that the photos be clear, with decent lighting (no bright flash)

Sarah Lee Guthrie, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

Tony Norris, 2012. By Travis Simpkins
Quiet Desperation #8, 2012. By Travis Simpkins
Shawn Fogel, 2011. By Travis Simpkins
Susan, Louis and Mario, 2011. By Travis Simpkins
Dan Burke, 2011. By Travis Simpkins

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Portrait Illustration: Richie Havens (Folk Musician)

Richie Havens, 2012. By Travis Simpkins

       When I first met Richie Havens, I already knew he would be a nice guy going into it. That rarely happens. Such is the reputation of Mr. Havens and the general consensus about him, which speaks volumes about his character: that his gentle, friendly demeanor could never be misconstrued as being anything but genuine. He is a deep, caring man, whose musical style hasn't changed much over his decades-long career, but remains forever relevant. Perhaps that is what draws people to him, and his music... the sense that he truly cares about and means what he is singing. He's a great singer/songwriter, a wonderful interpreter of songs, and he plays the guitar in open tuning like no one else.

Read more about Richie, and see a full schedule of shows on his website here: http://www.richiehavens.com/official_site/home.html

Richie Havens- "Freedom"- at Woodstock, 1969

Richie Havens- The Key


Richie Havens, 2012. By Travis Simpkins
Richie Havens- Here Comes the Sun (Beatles cover)


Richie Havens, 2012. By Travis Simpkins
Richie Havens- Just Like a Woman (Bob Dylan cover)


Richie Havens, 2012. By Travis Simpkins