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I have never experienced the Mississippi Delta as a mortal entity, but I feel I have been granted the incredible journey through the music of the blues.

My interest in both blues music and painting has set me on a path through the delta, creating a visual history that stretches to Chicago. From my History paintings to my Portraits, they reveal a story of people and places that created the blues.

Blues is a feeling, a heartfelt passion of soulful sounds and lyrics. It's a music that affected me deeply, which drives a passion in me to create an accurate visual story that will reflect the life and times of early blues. The power within each song was created from the joys and sorrows of regular people, and the simple existence of their everyday lives.

Only from black & white photography have we shaped our ideas of this period, but they portray a distorted and very static environment of the past. My carefully chosen palette of rich muddy earth tone colors bring a natural warmth and realism to this period that recalls a more true perception of life in the south. The paintings release the smell of earth into the air, while letting the viewer enjoy the intermingling of dust and music from long ago. Every scene is researched for accuracy and rendered in colors to show an actual window in time.

My Portrait Series gives insight to some of the performers that left a legacy. They are the blues musicians who have influenced me through their sound, playing ability and lyrics. My objective in each portrait is to capture their character, music style and sound by using a certain pose and expression. Their personalities seem resurrected with the paint I apply and revives the warmth and realism they showed.

The History Series evolved from collecting photo imagery from the Library of Congress in Washington. Actual street corners and roadside jukes from the south harmonize with the real people who walked them. This resource enables me to create accurate clothing styles, structural landscape and daily life from the southern states during the 1930s Great Depression. By using multiple photographs I can construct a musical and social atmosphere on the streets, at roadhouses and in the cotton fields using the true people of the time.

After many years of painting blues history my work depicts the actual movement of Black Americans migrating from the deep south to Chicago in search of work. Where the people went the musicians followed. Both know, as well as un-known musicians take equal importance in my work as they arise in unexpected places just as they did back in the day. In all of the hardships and poverty Black Americans had to endture they have left a true gift of passionate sound that makes you feel good when you heard the blues.

Being an artist that paints blues music has opened the door around the world for me. From Europe to South America, Australia to Asia, I have come to realize that the music has become a universal language. It has brought people together from around the globe to interact through all language barriers. It seems the the Blues has no borders...

Peace & Blues,
Earl Klatzel

    Bluesworks by Earl Klatzel
Copyright ©2006+ Earl Klatzel, All Rights Reserved.