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Paul Stanley | Do What You Love

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art_smallI think many people miss out on the joy of art because they think you need to have an education or pedigree to have a qualified opinion. Everyone's opinion is qualified.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wentworth Gallery, Des Peres, Mo.
Aug. 17-18, 6-9 p.m.

For going on four decades, Paul Stanley has been known the world over as the star-eyed frontman, lead singer, and rhythm guitar slinger for international rock gods KISS. Though he may still be dishing out furious pirouettes in platforms while cranking out the classic riffs, Stanley is now successfully broadening his artistic horizons to include paintings. What started as a cathartic post-divorce rediscovery of self has now become an ongoing journey that will bring him to Wentworth Gallery in Des Peres, Mo., on August 17 and 18.

I had the opportunity to speak with the man himself, who called in from his home in Southern California. Not only was he gracious with his time, he was genuinely enthusiastic about his newfound creative passion.

 

Has painting been a recent discovery for you, or has this always been something you've explored?

I painted from the time I was very young. In fact, I attended the High School of Music and Art in New York. Something like the top 300 artists and musicians in the city get to attend this school, and I went there for art. It was great because you would get all of your academics, plus you get either art or music. Surprisingly, I never really painted there.

What was it that inspired you to finally start painting again?

About seven years ago, I was getting divorced. A friend of mine said I needed to paint; I guess he was tired of hearing me yelling. Something about his suggestion resonated with me, so I went out and bought canvases and brushes and started what really became an emotional journey. I was very adamant that I wasn't going to make teacups look like teacups, or flowerpots look like flowerpots. It was going to be more stream of consciousness, using color and texture.

Was it something you always thought you would share with the public?

I really started doing it just for myself, but as soon as I put a piece up in my house, it was the painting people would gravitate to and ask about.

That had to feel great to get that kind of immediate feedback

Yeah, it was interesting because it just reinforces my philosophy that if you do something you love, you'll find somebody else who loves it. Trying to second guess what somebody might like, is only going to get you in trouble.

Have your influences changed over the years?

You know, influences imply that you take after them or try to emulate them. I tend to think that whatever I see around me or hear around me somehow gets digested and put into the mix. From Da Vinci and Monet to Picasso and Jackson Pollock, there's no end to the amount of great art there is around. I would be delusional to think of any of them as anything less than inspiring.

art_infinsolMy favorite piece of yours is Infinite Solitude.

The thing about Infinite Solitude is that I sometimes feel that you think of a painting as complete only because of the fact that it needs to be shown at a gallery. Given time, perhaps it will develop into something else. What I've done with Infinite Solitude is that I've done prints on canvas and then paint over them. So in a sense, the painting gets to develop a step further, and each one is obviously different. It's always interesting to see where solitude leads when you give something time to gestate.

When you first approach something like this, how do you begin the process?

It's almost as though I find out as I'm doing it. I'm not always sure where I'm going, but I know when I've gotten there. I really wanted to be more visceral and gut-level as opposed to something I would intellectualize. To me, the beauty of abstract art is that it can appeal to you purely on an emotional level, and there's no reason to take it any further than that.

Have you been pleased with how the showings have gone so far?

The acceptance has been enormous, and it only spurs me to do more. When someone says they only create for themselves, I think they're lying. Ultimately, we look for acknowledgment and some sort of positive feedback from others. No one has ever been a starving artist by choice. So the dollar amounts are phenomenal, but just the idea of going into a gallery that's full of my work and have hundreds or thousands of people show up to enjoy it, it's just incredible.

Do you find that people who otherwise would not be interested in art are opening themselves up to it because of your work?

One of the problems I find, and it's a shame, is that many people who could possibly appreciate art don't get a chance to, because they've been told or fed the idea that you need some kind of qualification to know what good art is. Its nonsense, because I believe that if you go into a restaurant and you taste food and spit it out, you know it's bad; you don't need anyone to tell you it's bad. If you like it, it's good. I think many people miss out on the joy of art because they think you need to have an education or pedigree to have a qualified opinion. Everyone's opinion is qualified.

Besides the abstract works, you've also done paintings of the four original KISS members. Is there any chance you might do an Eric Carr painting?

No plans, and I really have no plans to do more of the band. That was really intended as a tip of the hat to KISS fans. It was fun doing them, but it was nothing that would make me excited to do more. Eric was a spectacular drummer and a really great person, but there's no denying the four iconic characters are the originals.

I know you currently work with acrylics, but is there any other medium you want to explore?

Right now, I'm exploring doing some glass pieces which will probably be shown in the next six months or so, which will compliment the paintings and incorporate some of the colors I use. There's no limit to what's possible

After 30 years, do you ever pinch yourself at the level of success you've been able to sustain?

It was all part of a plan. I've always believed that this is what I would achieve, and the best way to achieve something is to set it as your goal. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will, right? I'm thankful, but I'm not surprised. | Jim Ousley

For more information about Stanley's St. Louis appearance, visit http://www.wentworthgallery.com/.

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