Al Schlimm and his exceedingly big
hands (!) live, work,
paint, and make music
in Asheville, North
Carolina. Drop them a line at email@example.com.
"There's a unity among
the pieces, a sense that they come from the same person... someone who can articulate with conviction a mature, well-considered vision. The works are striking at first glance but also reward the persistent viewer."
-- Anthony Villa, DMA
When I was just a toe-headed lad, lacking in anything
resembling self-confidence, my city boy father taught
me to sketch the mountains, pines, and alpine streams
that lived so vividly in his imagination. With the plant-
ing of that seed I began to draw obsessively, and I
stood a bit taller with the attention it brought me.
My sketchpad took a back seat in January of '64
with the first of The Beatles' seismic U.S. television
appearances. From that evening on I simply had
to have a guitar in my hands for eight or ten hours a day.
And while those six strings became my creative voice for several decades and a thousand gigs to come, I always wanted to make more "tangible" art again.
Somewhere along a broadly meandering path I learned to keep the lights on by running a marketing research firm and, later, an executive recruiting consultancy. Then, about two years ago, as I was pushing around yet another pile of paper, a voice fairly erupted from my aging right hemisphere: "You're in your mid-sixties, fool. Trade one of those guitars (preferably that garish orange one) for some brushes.
I'd heard that voice before, but this time I listened. And the paintings you see here are the product of most of my Sunday afternoons since.
As a self-taught painter I lean heavily on intuition. But I've had some musical training, and that allows me to frame other creative challenges in a familiar context. When that works... when a painting's composition, dynamics, rhythm, color, tone, texture, and balance fall into place... then maybe I'm on to something. It’s a struggle, of course. As Randy Newman said of songwriting, “On a good day there’s still blood on the floor.”
My work is mixed media: oil, acrylic, graphite, cold wax... on canvas or wood panel... applied with brushes, scrapers, trowels, rags, sponges, squeegees, or fingertips. And almost nothing I attempt is preconceived. I’m more likely to begin by just playing around (and around and around!) while trying desperately to give my inner critic the slip.
As I add or alter marks and layers of paint I begin to search for an intriguing image, an overarching composition... a path forward. In trying to balance my native granular inclinations with the bolder and broader gestures that don't come as readily I'm looking to (ultimately) evoke an emotion. And, as with my music, I'm happiest when I've left enough ambiguity for viewers to bring something of their own to the exchange.
Every jazz musician knows it’s impossible to think while improvising. You simply have to get out of the way for the best music to happen. That’s the vibe I’m shooting for when I’m standing at my easel… that all-too-rare feeling when the guitar feels just right, the sound is dialed in perfectly, and the spontaneous energy coming off of my bandmates inspires a memorable performance.
I owe any inspiration I can muster to my lovely wife, Joan, who unconditionally supports every creative wild hair I’d like to consider. And I should also acknowledge my move to the Appalachians fifteen years ago. Asheville has attracted more than its fair share of dreamers, and living here has opened my mind to new possibilities.
A polymath called Leonardo once said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned." I'm heading into to the studio right now. With any luck I’ll abandon something today.
Thanks for stopping by.
Here's a bit of my music. This is a temporary track I've up-loaded to test this site's audio player. Please stay tuned for tracks I'll upload as time allows.