My new 4′ x 6′ life-size oil portrait of Duke Ellington is now showcased in the entryway to the Dreamland Ballroom. (The historic Taborian Hall and Dreamland Ballroom is now the Flag & Banner building in Little Rock, Arkansas.) It was painted using the Italian Verdaccio technique of the Old Masters. Verdaccio is an Italian term, and its root is the word verde, meaning green in Italian. Verdaccio as used in underpainting can really enhance skin tones to create high realism. It was used in the painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
I also played Duke Ellington’s music while painting his portrait, a technique used by John Howard Sanden, to meditate on the personality and sense of humor of the person whose portrait I am painting, to capture his personality.
During World War II, Duke Ellington and other bandleaders volunteered to serve the United Service Organization (U.S.O.) to play music for the soldiers. The U.S.O. in Little Rock, Arkansas was housed in Taborian Hall. Duke Ellington performed in the hall’s third floor auditorium, the Dreamland Ballroom, in the early 1940’s. In 1942 the State Press called “Duke Ellington the man who makes others take notice and is generally accepted by all as the master of orchestration.”
This oil painting portrait of Duke Ellington was featured in C.A.R.T.I’s live auction for their “All That Jazz” fundraiser supporting college scholarships and summer camps for children with cancer.