Q: How do you induce the roosters to be models?
A: The only rooster I’ve known is Charlie. He lives at my studiomate Leslie’s second studio in the Santa Cruz mountains. The rest are variations of things I’ve seen in books and photos. I paint from photographs and use whatever colors I want, mixing and matching different qualities of different breeds. At this point I’ve done so many of them I can do roosters from memory.
Q: How do you feel working so tightly around a single topic?
A: I feel it’s not so tight - you can do lots of different things, from nudes to Japanese-style murderous roosters... that’s an ax in the background of this one, “Red Barn,” (pictured below) which was inspired by the Tom Waits song, “Murder in the Red Barn.” The rooster in the picture is very much how Japanese artists of a couple hundred years ago depicted roosters.
Q: Any gender bias? Any gay roosters?
A: Haven’t any idea... probably. Roosters generally don’t like each other very much though. They fight a lot.
Q: Do your roosters have a political basis?
A: That’s how I started. The first one I ever drew was from an ad in The Economist depicting two figures -- a white man with a red nose who had clearly been drinking too much for too many years and a rooster in similar colors with its beak sticking out. I have no idea what the ad was for, but that was the beginning of it all.
Q: Is there a difference in style for those created from memory or in person?
A: The ones from memory tend to be looser. You can see that the Charlies (some from this series pictured below) are tighter.
Q: With your paintings are you hoping to influence the world of roosters or the world of humans?
A: Not influencing anybody, just having fun. I can’t think of what would influence anybody.
Q: Do you think they will become more abstract?
A: In some way they are abstract. Most of the backgrounds are abstracted. It’s getting fairly abstract. Don’t ask me what kind of flowers those are... I have no idea.
Q: Have you ever shared with the roosters that they’re related to dinosaurs?
A: Scientists recently found from dinosaur tracks that they walked like roosters. They could tell from the pressure points how creatures moved.