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Charlie 'Bird' Parker by Laurazee Charlie 'Bird' Parker by Laurazee
Charlie "Bird" Parker
Acrylic on Canvas, 20" wide X 30" tall

Source from Charlie Parker at Birdland, New York, 1949 photo.

Charlie Parker, 1920-1955, was arguably the greatest saxophonist of all time and a founding father of bebop. Brilliant, addicted, died at age 35. The photo was taken in 1949 at the nightclub named after him.

This is my first portrait in - what, twelve years? Difficult to work from black and white scanned newsprint; had to make up some of the lines. The face is pretty realistic compared to the rest of him, but I haven't learned how to abstract faces and leave them recognizable without veering into caricature territory. It looks like him in that anyone who is familiar with that photo will recognize the layout, I guess. I wanted to focus on the face and the saxophone and get lots of warm high-impact color in there.

Portraits are fiddly... you keep wanting to play with them long after they're officially done. I know there was at least one time this weekend when I scrounged up my crumpled-up disposable palette paper out of the garbage to add a few more highlights. There's always some minute detail to play with. I'm done for now, though.
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:iconfeebius13:
Feebius13 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Love him, and this. If only he'd lived past the age of 34. Keep it up!
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:iconfeldrand:
feldrand Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
yessss, i used to listen a lot to him... i once found a cheap record of him with gillespie... some club reordings with a very nice rough live atmosphere, you hear the people talking and shouting... just some two weeks ago i listened to that again... quite cool still, but a bit to much and too uptempo for me now... :D
i prefer smoother things nowadays - like very old herbie hancock... :D
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
I agree. I tend more towards darker, down-tempo stuff, too.
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:iconfeldrand:
feldrand Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
yes, yes - we grow older, haha... :D
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:iconiksaxophone:
iksaxophone Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2011
This really captures the essence of Bird's music...it looks to me as if he's playing Star Eyes :+favlove:
By the way, his face actually blends quite well with the rest of portrait.
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner May 15, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks so much (and my apologies for the way-late response). I've been meaning to do a series of jazz musicians with similar backgrounds and the colors that represent them. :hug:
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:iconiksaxophone:
iksaxophone Featured By Owner May 16, 2011
Cool! I can't wait to see them. Don't worry about the late response ;-) no biggie!
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:iconbailamelagua:
bailamelagua Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2010  Student
Amazing draw and amazing musician!
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you so much! He's awesome, for sure. :D
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:iconfanny831:
fanny831 Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2009  Student General Artist
Amazing! your style is so wonderful. this is an amazing portrait :dance:
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2009  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you so much. I'd love to do more portraits some day.
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:iconfanny831:
fanny831 Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2009  Student General Artist
you welcome :) i would love to see that :D
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:iconsebastian93:
Sebastian93 Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2007
Great colors. The way your colors are spinning gives the impression of music flowing in the air.
Bird Lives.
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
Hey thanks! That's what I was going for :)
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:iconsebastian93:
Sebastian93 Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2007
Yes. You really got it. Try making someone like John Coltrane next!
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
Sure! I need to get a whole band together!!
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:iconsebastian93:
Sebastian93 Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2007
That would be cool! :lol: B-)
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:icondarthfar:
DarthFar Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2007
That's a beautiful tribute to Bird Parker. :clap: And yeah, it's hard to do a coloured version of a black&white picture, but you seem to have pulled it off very well.
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:iconkadryn:
kadryn Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
very impressive painting :nod: the impression is perfect as well as all the tones :)
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you! I wish I could stretch the whole thing and make it narrower - I made poor Charlie a little fat here. Thanks for saying so, though!
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:iconerikakochanski:
erikakochanski Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2007  Professional Writer
Wonderful portrait! My sister got a cat (which is now my parents cat) and she called him Charlie ... after Charlie Parker because she played the saxaphone back then. Really lovely pic! ~E.
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you! :) One day I'll do a series of blues/jazz musicians - poor Charlie on his own seems kinda lonely. Thanks for the comment!
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:iconerikakochanski:
erikakochanski Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2007  Professional Writer
:XD: Sounds great, I love Jazz! :heart: ~E.
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:icontelecastercat:
telecastercat Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2007
I like the colors...its kinda like a colored film noir frame. The picture makes me think of coffee. So anyway , great great job . I really like it. Its so harmonious.
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you! I can see the coffee reference (maybe I'm just thinking of beignets and au lait).
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:iconpishum:
pishum Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
I like this painting, a while ago i saw a movie on his life very good movie also i almost stay up all night to watch it! Musicien extraordinaire!

Another reason to love your painting!
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
Oh, cool. Must try to catch that movie. Thanks!
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:icondehydrogenated:
dehydrogenated Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2006
Love it.
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:iconlisakoubou:
LisaKoubou Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2006  Professional Photographer
Reading your process on this one is really enlighting. I think what makes it so difficult to "finish" a portrait is that soul is so hard to truly capture. I think you did a great job at expressing that soul. I play drums for a choir and I can really relate to the moment you've painter here.
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:iconbyron7:
byron7 Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2006  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Beautiful work
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:iconpigletface:
pigletface Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2006
great job ! the highlights you've done on the fingers, sax and face are better than the original photo ! and i love the colours :love:
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:icontrillium65:
Trillium65 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2006
I know you sweated over this for a long time but I have to say it was worth the wait! What a wonderful gift for your hubby!:D It is so original with your signature style and saturated colours. You really captured the mood, as Redattore noted, of a dark, probably smokey atmosphere without losing focus on the subject. Great work!!!
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2006  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks - was kind of cool doing it and thinking, "Hm! How can I make it brighter and even more clashy?" Landscapes tend to lend themselves to more harmonious colors. It's fun to play with completely jarring colors once in a while.
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:iconredattore:
Redattore Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2006
Very nice. The visible brush strokes and colour pallet set the mood well.
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2006  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks! Red, yellow, and purple are the most intense nightclubby colors I can think of and I can't say I've ever used 'em all together before. It was kind of fun to learn how they behaved.
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:iconresada:
resada Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2006
This is marvelous!!!!
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:iconnorthlock:
northlock Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2006
very nice
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:iconforgetfulrainn:
ForgetfulRainn Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2006
WOW! Jesus! That is crazy good! Seriously, I'm stunned! I knew you were good but I didn't expect something so astounding. You totally kick ass as a portraitist!!!! Bravo!
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2006  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you! Overall I like it but I can see what I should have done differently now. It was definitely challenging.
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:icondusanmalobabic:
DusanMalobabic Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2006   Traditional Artist
Awesome stuff yet again!!!
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2006  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks, Dusan!
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:iconjustyt18:
justyt18 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2006
You said this is your first portrait in 12 years? I'm very impressed. I've never tried a portrait with paint, but I'm an art student so I will very soon be attempting it. You do a great job and I do think the face is pretty realistic. I can tell that the focus is the sax and the face and then the background is his suit and such which you add some color to. It looks pretty good I'd say.
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:iconlaurazee:
Laurazee Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2006  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you. I was playing around with a digital photo of the painting in Paintshop, and I think I should have made the whole thing a little skinnier. That would have made it look a lot more like him. That's the great thing about computers - I can go back and see what else might have worked better! Oh well. Next time.
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November 26, 2006
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