SKYNYRD DRUMMER PICKS UP BRUSHES IN DOWNTIME:
July 3, 2004
NASHVILLE (Billboard) – The long hours of downtime for touring artists have been well-documented in classic road songs like Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” and Jackson Browne’s “The Load-Out,” but one rocker has found a way to make that spare time productive.
Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Michael Cartellone uses his ample free time on the road to tap into his other creative discipline, painting. His Road Series of five paintings each capture a color-themed snapshot of touring life.
Cartellone, a former member of Damn Yankees who also has toured with artists ranging from John Fogerty to Cher, studied art before he began playing the drums. He dreamed of being a cartoonist until he picked up the sticks at age 9, and “that quickly became an obsession,” he says.
He says the Road Series is truly a reflection of the touring environment. “I literally painted on the road, in hotel rooms,” Cartellone says. “There’s so much downtime, so I carried a sketch pad around to try and fill the time creatively. Then I realized I could actually paint on the road; I’d just have to downsize.”
Each painting focuses on one aspect of the touring life, be it a hotel room in the morning or guitarist Ricky Medlocke’s 1960 Gibson Les Paul Special and guitar tech gear. Each features a Skynyrd laminate somewhere on the canvas, and Cartellone says his art has been warmly received by the rest of the band.
“I have an agreement with the band, because I used the logo in the paintings,” he says.
One standout piece in the series is the purple painting that focuses on late Skynyrd bassist Leon Wilkeson, who died in 2001. Wilkeson was nicknamed “the Mad Hatter” for his penchant for wearing bizarre headgear onstage, two samples of which are depicted in the painting.
“The painting turned into an unplanned tribute, because I began it while Leon was still alive,” Cartellone says. “Leon was around when I was painting it, and he got a kick out of it. I think it will be special to Skynyrd fans.”
Numbered and signed prints, 250 of each in the series, are available at michaelcartellone.com and are being released in the order of the colors of the prism. The first print, Red, was available May 10, with additional paintings debuting every two months until the final print, Purple, is released Jan. 15, 2005.
Cartellone will show the originals in a New York gallery at that time, with proceeds from a silent auction for the complete set going to charity.
Ray Waddell courtesy of Billboard