Tom Petty : such a Heartbreaker !
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.