When Oprah got in touch about commissioning me to do a portrait of Greg, I thought he had hired an Oprah impersonator to play a trick on me. But she really loves this guy. So much that a portrait for her living room is in order. Who am I to complain.
G. Neri by Jesse Joshua Watson
ink and acrylic on Kapa Bloc
This is a portrait I just finished for my man, Greg Neri. For a few years now, I have wanted to begin a series of portraits of great writers and artists. This is one of the first in the series, which also includes Tomie dePaola. Greg and Tomie. Between the spectrum they bookend lie all kinds of beautiful and amazing people I would like to capture in paint. Eventually. If book work slows down a bit, I am on it. This one I had to finish soon because Greg is taking an extended mystical voyage to the land of techno and shorts with black socks and sandals.
The painting was inspired by the man who has written some of my favorite projects, Chess Rumble and Ghetto Cowboy. He also has done plenty of other top shelf work, including the upcoming Yummy. Imagery in the mosaic wall was derived from his past and future books, some symbolic fortunetelling on my part, and random shapes. The color palette was not because Greg loves Prince and rocks When Doves Cry morning to night. I just wanted to limit it and keep it more graphic feeling. To me, purples have always evoked feelings of monks and priests and popes and that kind of thing. Not for any historical or logical reason at all. Just because I am crazy that way. Anyway, I present you with the Badass Pope of Poetry.
*in case there are any fact checkers running around after hours, checking every claim made by mental hermit bloggers like, ahem, myself, please refer to Oprah Thompson, my next door neighbor, who can corroborate any evidence you might require about the commission of this work of art.