Jody Hewgill
April 2011
Tom Petty : such a Heartbreaker !
There are some days when I love what I do. Getting a call to paint Tom Petty's portrait is one of those days.

I began this assignment for Rolling Stone 's 100 Greatest Artists of all Time " issue by immersing myself in Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker's video's and music from the 80's. Petty's performance in the video " Refugee" provided  inspiration for the spirit of this piece in which he exudes this sexy, charming, aloof vibe. No one sings like Tom Petty.
He is also a pretty incredible lyricist. I remember listening to his music in high school, but to refresh my memory I purchased the CD " Anthology: Through the Years". I was stunned at how many amazing songs he had written during those early years. Steven Charny at Rolling Stone had requested that I paint a classical portrait of Petty from this period.
I was considering setting him in an alley with some ripped posters in the background to reflect the subtle punk quality of the band's music from that time, but I didn't want to repeat anything that had been done in "the Immortals" issues ( which I knew would be republished in this edition ). Owen Smith had done a fabulous alley wall scene for his portrait of Springsteen and
Robert Parada had done the leaning forward gesture with the guitar for his great portrait of Elvis Costello. So I focused on the mood and lighting from a photo from the 70's of Eric Clapton onstage.
 Petty is my guitar god. If you are going to depict a guitar god, you had better get the details of the guitar right. Petty played a lot of different guitars, mostly Fender Telecasters and Stratocasters, from that period. Balvis helped me with some guitar education here.
I'm a terrible photographer, but I took a couple of shots  to show my process. I apologize for not taking more as the piece evolved, I was too immersed in the piece and the music and  just forgot.

The illustration was originally designed to be a single page but then was changed to  2/3 spread so I had to change the composition slightly to accomodate the gutter ( however the printed version ended up as a single page ).I use an artograph to project my drawing onto a gessoed panel.

 I paint with Golden acrylics on wood panel and work in layers, structured with preconceived underpainting which I allow to show through the textures.
Throughout most of the process it looks horrible . It always seems like a head game not to freak out during this process and to move forward towards the image that I have in my head.
Final details are done with sable brushes.

In December I went to NYC for RS's holiday party and finally got to meet RS's editor and publisher Jann Wenner.  Jann is a huge patron of illustration, and this couldn't be more  apparent when you visit the offices.
You would think the common areas and meeting spaces would be lined with photographs, instead Jann has filled these spaces with the multitudes of illustrations he has purchased over the decades. It was a such delight to see this fantastic collection.

Photo of me in front of portraits of Springsteen by Daniel Maffia , Tina Turner by Blair Drawson ( my apologies for blocking that very cool piece ), my Bowie portrait,  Johnny Cash and Hank Williams by Marc Burckhardt.
Kudos to Rolling Stone for this fabulous issue filled with beautiful illustrations.
Below are three of my republished pieces( from the Immortals issues ) that were included in this issue, which are more graphic in the style that the Petty piece
Tina Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis , and Bowie.

Art for Japan

Gallery Nucleus is hosting a huge online auction to benefit the relief efforts in Japan. The situation there has touched us all greatly. “Art for Japan” auction is an emergency fundraising campaign project in support of Give2Asia and Artistshelpjapan.
Please help out and buy some cool art, for yourself or as a gift to a friend. It's the gift that will keep giving.
100% of the proceeds from the sales will go the and the relief effort.

 The auction will take place exclusively on Galley Nucleus' site from April 20 - 25. The event link and the auction site is now live.
If you are in the Los Angeles area the opening exhbition is tonight. see the details on the website ( above )
This Kokeshi " Floria" is my donation to the auction.

Recent Articles

Commissioned Work (17)

Gallery work (9)

Portraits (11)
My website
Facebook page