Being Jim Morrison couldn’t have been easy. Was he really an innocent bystander of the chaos around him? You have all these adoring fans who love you for the wrong reasons perhaps? At least that’s what Jim must have thought while his tenure was in The Doors. Outside of his bubble, people assumed he was a spastic, wild man at a rock-n-roll circus.
Painting an innocent, poetic legend…
Inspired by the lizard king himself, I wanted to see what my rendition would look like from a tv photo I saw from a soundstage performance. I wasn’t trying to get the likeness as much as the essence. And I used a limited palette of colors and brushstrokes. With unapologetic, decisive calligraphy-like brushstrokes, It resulted in a clean, unfiltered version which surprised me when I saw the result. I’m a huge Robert Henri fan and his influence was clear from this oil study. Not really a finished painting, but just a quick drawing of possibilities. I was trying to break through my own personal boundaries as well.
Back to the Lizard
The Doors were often mentioned like a “mirror”, to reflect what was happening in the 60’s. Jim expressed himself in a highly intelligent form of music that was truly poetic, because that’s what his mystical lyrics were. Mystical and beautiful. Pure Poetry. Purer Magic. Bob Dylan was similar in that he express his poetic views of the times as well, but Jim took that to another cosmic dimension where abstract thinking and the sublime subconscious brought us to different worlds to help see our own from a different perspective. Maybe not so innocent?
Rebelling against himself?
Yes, the Doors and especially Jim Morrison helped break boundaries of what reality was and could possibly be. He lived, breathed and believed his own art and wanted people to believe it with him. Unsurprisingly, Jim became antagonistic towards most of his fans because he thought all they wanted to witness was the spectacle of a wild child rock god. “Hear my words if you want to understand me”. How displeasing Jim must have felt knowing most people didn’t quite understand his words at that time.
Years after Jim broke through to the other side, his music and words endure today. Time has revealed the endurance of the artist’s poetry and persona. In fact, the lizard was deemed a mythical figure and somehow gave the audience exactly what they wanted. A legend or jester? A musical shaman or superficial showman? Additionally, Jim was never perceived as an innocent artist in the circus of life. As a result, he became an unapologetic outlaw wearing his snakeskin soul on his sleeve.
This is the end…
To conclude, Jim Morrison tested the boundaries of music and life. Most of all, he gave us a new meaning of what possibilities are within us if we just recognize the beauty in our light and darkness. Expressing your own art isn’t always rainbows or roses. Especially if you’re an artist and sometimes you have to let the darkness in to make it free again. Painting Jim was great for me and personally I felt like I broke through something special. Jim broke through the darkness to help us see our own insecurities and accept them, so that we may bravely experience some personal revelation within ourselves. And through his art, we sure did.