Dale Stephanos
April 2007
It's a Sonny day
Sonny Barger
This was done for a book review of Hell's Angels founder Sonny Barger's autobiography. Another from my "trying to be an oil painter" period.

The book is pretty much what you'd expect - Lots of tales of badass derring do and mayhem of all sorts. My favorite stuff was how he described threatening kick Hunter Thompson's butt while Thompson was writing his breakthrough "Hell's Angels" even though Thompson's book would put both parties on the map.

I find that I'm attracted to thugs and derelicts of all stripes. Since I can't afford real art, and I'm totally self obssessed, I have a lot of my work hanging in the house. My kids are probably more familiar with what I like to call "Badass Culture" than the more worthy recipients of historical recognition.

I'm probably the same as those white collar Harley types. I like to paint these guys, but I wouldn't last long around them.
Short Cuts
The late Robert Altman, legendary film director.
I had the good fortune of getting a piece into American Illustration this year. The piece was unusual for me in that I normally get pretty anal in how "finished" a final is. My favorite part of the process (after the idea itself) is just plain old fashioned drawing. The spontaneity of a good sketch is hard to beat, and layers of paint won't make it any better, just more colorful. In my opinion anyway.

So I'll be trying out a fresh approach and we'll see if it works. It's fun to change it up sometimes.
Sox vs. Yanks
There's no better place in the world than Fenway on a nice summer night.
There’s nothing like Fenway Park on a nice summer evening. After the weather we had this past week, the mid 70’s temperatures were like a gift. Almost as good a gift as a Red Sox vs. Yankees 3 game stand at Fenway.

My son Liam is turning 7 this week and he’s a Red Sox fanatic so I thought I’d get us both tickets to the Big Game. We had the honor of seeing a David Ortiz homer and watching Jeter strike out. But of course, best of all was the fine cuisine: Hot Dogs, Cotton Candy, Cracker Jacks, Peanuts, Ice Cream, soda and beer. (I only let Liam drink Bud Lite)

Sox won, 7-5.
Poor kid's father looks like E.T. Obviously Liam gets his good looks from his mother.
I sit behind this guy everywhere I go.
Good Eatin'.
Wall Street Journal
It was Drawger weekend in the Pursuits section of the WSJ this weekend. I landed on the front, with Michael Sloan over there, and Joe Ciardello inside.

The AD was Susan McDermott, who I always enjoy working with. It feels like she trusts me to just do my thing and that's usually when the best work happens.

I think that when they were having their brainstorm session to decide the content, David Bamundo coughed several times, subliminally mixing in "Dale Stephanos". It worked.
I actually like how newsprint messes with the color and texture of my stuff. It gives it a weathered look that I'd like to introduce into more of what I do. Where's that filter?
Belated piggyback
This is in response to Sterling Hundley's post a few days ago on the Illustration Academy. I had this at my old blog, but I thought the Drawger crowd might appreciate it more than my former audience.(My mother)

Chris Payne is one of my favorite illustrators. I attended a couple of weeks at the Illustration Academy in KC a few years ago, and I had the privilege of sitting across from Chris for a week. He did a few demos, and told a lot of great stories about his life as an illustrator. Come to think of it, he told great stories about EVERYTHING. I enjoyed the fact that he seasoned his amiable mid western accent with perfectly placed obscenities. Although I didn't really get to know him, I thoroughly enjoyed the CF Payne Experience. I still drop some of his quotes just to make my wife roll her eyes.

The first thing Chris did when he entered the studio was to pull out this big 10 pound blob of color and plop it on the desk. It's his palette, and I think it has paint on it from every job he's ever done.

The coolest thing was getting to watch while he worked on an actual job. It was a Mad magazine cover.(At the time, I thought that if I could do a cover for Mad I could pack it in and call it a life. It was a goal I'd dream of, but I didn't think it would ever happen. Within 2 months I had done my first Mad cover).

The thing I remember most was how hard he worked. I heard some really smart college kid say "He's not showing us his real secrets during the demos". I said to this kid, "You know how when we go to lunch, Chris keeps working? And when we take our afternoon break Chris keeps working? And when we go to dinner Chris keeps working? And when we're done at 9pm and go out for a beer Chris keeps working? And when we go back to the studio at 9 am and Chris is there working? THAT'S the secret step he does't show you during the demo"!

How many great paintings do you think came off of this?
Mob Tie
This is something that got whacked early in life, but I decided to give it another chance at life and use it as a postcard. If it doesn't go out there and earn, I'll give it two in the hat and you'll never see it again.

I'm not one of those "It's not as good as it used to be" Sopranos viewers. I think the heart of the show lies in Tony's hopeless attempts at growth. For me, the mob hit scenes are okay, but not as memorable as the subtle elements of family, work, and the intersection of the two.

Anyway, the end is near.
A Big Fat Greek Easter
Homemade Tyropeta. I'm not sure what's in it, but it's good!
Actually, there weren't any fatties there, but if you've seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you get the basic idea of what Easter was like today around here. It's all true!

My wife made her signature appetizer - Tyropeta. It's filo dough filled with feta cheese and something else. She won't tell me what. That's one of the things I really get a kick out of. There's a subtle but very real competition among the greek women to make the best dish. You hear things like "Oh, this is great, what's the recipe"?, "Oh, you just make the dough and then maybe ten minutes". There are more non answers and obfuscating than a White House press conference.

I'm Irish on my mother's side and greek on my father's. We weren't raised with a lot of the greek culture, so I've enjoyed it more as a tourist than a native, which cuts both ways. "Dale" is obviously not a greek name, so when I meet a member of the family I've never met before(yes, after 27 years, I meet people in my wife's family I've never met before. Talk about "It takes a village"), it usually goes like this: (Imagine a greek accent) "Dale? Dale" What is Dale? Is not a GREEK name", and then a look of disappointment, then "But STEPHANOS! Yes, STEPHANOS is GREEK! VERY GOOD!" and then a hug and a kiss and on to the next.

The good thing is I'm a pretty skinny SOB and all the yiayias keep pushing food on me, so making a pig out of myself at these things is no problem.

Ornette Coleman
Marc Burckhardt's Medal of Arts post describing how he met, among other VIP's, Ornette Coleman reminded me of this piece I did a long while back. It's just pure fanboy art, and the only egg tempera I've ever done.
Classic Hits
This is usually what September looks like in New England.
Roberto Parada's post inspired me to trot out this oldie. I painted this after the crushing Red Sox loss to the Yanks in the '03 playoffs.

I remember talking with my brother on the phone (he was at a bar, I was at home biting my nails into stumps) toward the end of the game. My brother was screaming that we'd won it, and it was all over, but I had a sinking feeling as Pedro Martinez started to  falter. As I remember it ( I'm no BB historian, so I could be wrong), they finally pulled Pedro, and Wakefield threw a meatball for Boone to homer off. Head in my hands, I slunk off my chair, muttering "Nonononononono" to an empty house.


I guess 2 good things came from that night. It brightened up a very dark time for Roberto, and I did this painting in reaction. I used this as a mailer and I'm still getting jobs from it. This one image has brought in more business than most of the advertising I've ever done.

I was on my way to doing a book about the inevitable failure of the Sox every fall, and wouldn't you know it, they turn around and win the World Series in the middle of my project. So now I'm changing all those "B"s on the caps to "C"s.
This is the Year!
Really! It really is this time. Dice-K is here to prove that '04 wasn't a fluke and the Red Sox are the real thing.

Or not.

All I really want to do is go hang out at Fenway a few times this year. On a nice summer night, there is no better place in the world, no matter what the score is.

Play Ball!
Grown Men Who Shave Their Legs
It's a very diverse crowd that shows up on race day. You have carpenters, accountants, pilots, former pros, hedge fund managers, and even artists. I probably wouldn't know a lot of these guys if I bumped into them on the street, because we're always in helmets and glasses. But throw them in spandex and throw them on a bike, and I'll bet I could identify every Masters racer's ass in New England.

At the start of every race I look around at all the other 40 year old men who shave their legs and spend thousands of dollars on equipment and hundreds of hours training, and I think "What the hell is wrong with us"? We drive hours out of our way to get in a few hours of nearly unbearable suffering. These folks might look like skinny MoFo's, but they're really tough bastards.

So today was the first real race around these parts. It's a team sport, and you decide before the race who everyone else will work for. I came in mid pack, but we got our sprinter across the line in 2nd.
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