This baby went through several transitions as I tried to fit biographical elements into the painting. Since this is a young Otis I avoided some of the health issues he's been dealing with over the last several years- namely his stroke.
I fit the bio elements into the ominous moon hanging in the sky. The crow, who has become a fixture in several of my latest paintings is the trickster character. The raven is a trickster character in many Indian and Inuit mythologies-much like the trickster character Legba in African mythologies. That's why he's always looming as a character in my blues paintings.
The woman is obvious as I've more then once heard Otis talk about the heartbreak he has endured over the years. I'm thinking specifically of a clip on Youtube where he gives an interview and articulates his experiences with the opposite sex. he sounds as if his heart had been through a meat grinder. Fortunately for Otis he found his true love in a Japanese fan who sought him out. I plan to include this when I do a painting of Otis as an older man someday.
Finally the snake is coiled into the shape of a dollar sign9hopefully not too obviously). Otis has had his share of sour business relationships with record companies over the years -which led him to putting his guitar down altogether at one point in his life. It has also resulted in very few recordings for such an influential and important artist. Otis has seen his share of greedy snakes over the years I'm sure. I think most blues artists have.
The gathering clouds have also become a fixture in my latest paintings. In this painting they take on a more significant role (other then just looking cool). I've read in several articles and books that Otis can get down. Real down. Some have even gone so far to suggest that he might suffer from depression. I find that easy to believe when I hear him sing-it's a blue as you can get. I'm not romanticizing depression- I'm just saying I hear a genuine pain in some of his performances.