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  • Anita O'Day

    Jazz Alphabet // watercolor

    A Labor of Love: The Jazz Alphabet series is a work in progress and a true labor of love. My wife Maureen was very instrumental in my discovery of the genre; I fell in love with her and in love with jazz almost simultaneously. When I was in grad school I began working on this series, which combines my love of letterforms and portraiture.

    Anita O'Day was born in Chicago and passed recently, having lived well into her nineties. She was an interesting character, a hard drinking jazz singer with a rough edge, admired for her sense of rhythm and dynamics.

  • Dave Tough

    Jazz Alphabet // pencil

    No Hard & Fast Rules: I create the portraits in various sizes and in various media - sometimes with color and sometimes simple pencil sketches. There are no hard and fast rules - just like with jazz itself. I find the subject matter fascinating as a lot of these musicians lived very rough and ready lives and you can see that in their faces.

    When the alphabet is finished I think it'll make for an interesting book, another project for down the road.

  • Studs Terkel

    watercolor and graphite // 12.5" X 15"

    A Cloud of Words:: Someone once referred to Studs as 'The Conscience of America', and I think that's a fitting description. As famous as he became, he never lost his ability to relate to the common man. He was able to convey a message across generations and movements.

    I often include a subject's hands in a portrait. When Studs died, I created this portrait of him in his trademark red-check shirt, gesticulating passionately as he would, with a cloud of words surrounding him. Click the image at left to view the entire portrait and quote.

  • Watercolor #1

    watercolor // year

    Landscapes: I feel very much rooted in the land of the midwest. I love vast, open spaces and when I took a series of trips across the country in the mid-2000s I drove across Wyoming and Idaho and was inspired by the landscapes there.

    If you've ever been out that way you've no doubt seen the billboards for Wall Drug - a huge, kitchy roadstop that's grown into a giant emporium. When we were on our way through there was a motorcycle convention. I created a few scenes like this - taking the billboards, bikers and landscapes and working them together.

  • Watercolor #2

    watercolor // year

    Kum & Go: This was a convenience store I saw on the road called Kum & Go. I just loved the name - it made me laugh. I wanted to do a photo-realistic painting. It was a bit of an experiment.

    This collection of landscapes and photo-realistic paintings are quite different from my editorial work and were created for gallery exhibitions.

Neil Shapiro Artist Statement

Whether it's my portrait work, my landscapes, or my illustrations for both newspapers, magazines or children's books, I hope you find some common threads here. I think you'll see that, despite the intended audience for any particular piece, that I have a deep respect for line, shape, and form. I think you'll see that I have a love for letterforms. Perhaps you'll get an idea of my sense of humor, or my handling of various media. I've been creating imagery for as long as I can remember, and I can't imagine not doing so.

There's so much more to draw, so much more to paint! First, though, I really must get a bite to eat.

- Neil Shapiro // Chicago
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