While I was still in art school, our teacher, Mike Salisbury took the class to a private screening at the United Artists Studio to see Yellow Submarine before it hit the theaters. Four years later, while I was working for Peter Palombi, I did my first airbrush illustration. The images from Yellow Submarine were still floating around in my head, along with the psychedelic British illustrators of the time. I’ve been trying to remember their names but other than Phillip Castle, I can’t remember them at all. But I do remember that I was talking on the phone in the studio one day and started doodling. I came up with this image that was an attempt to do something psychedelic as well as memories from my childhood in New Orleans.
The doodles were not directed at all, just stream of consciousness. After the call I started to put them into some sort of coherent order. The giant clown head statue at Ponchartrain Beach (the only amusement park in the city) was my inspiration. You could climb up his collar ruff and sit on his tongue. Being that high off the ground was a mind-bending experience for a kid in New Orleans! And that was the start of the picture. So, this was the result. A sample to show that I could use an airbrush. I can’t tell you how happy I was when the computer came along and I never had to clean another airbrush in my life. I hated that thing! I never became an airbrush artist, but I used it on every painting I ever did. And I cussed at it constantly. We did not get along.
I remember one afternoon I was so mad at it that I opened my studio window and pitched the airbrush out over four lanes of rush-hour traffic on Western Avenue! Of course I had to go buy a new one the very next day, but I can’t describe the satisfaction of pitching the cursed thing! And for at least one day, I had a clean airbrush.