Last month, we reported that respected Los Angeles artist Steven Lopez was working on his After Mightnight Series, a project in which he has created paintings of soul singers such as Chaka Kahn, Sade Adu, Aretha Franklin, India Arie, and Jill Scott. His latest is of Erykah Badu.
Recently, Lopez got to meet Badu in her hometown of Dallas, where they both signed 100 limited edition giclee prints that respected Los Angeles artist created of the singer.
Meeting Badu and having her sign his artwork crowned his project. Although he’s well-respected in his own right, he glushed when admitting he’s been a long-time fan of the eccentric soul goddess.
“You can tell in her music that she pays homage to the roots of funk and R&B,” Lopez told BallerStatus.com. “Her music transcends popular culture and bridges people of different races. Her music updates us on what soul music sounds like.”
His limited painting was inspired by Badu’s song “Amerykahn Promise”, a song Lopez holds close to his heart.
“I loved it because she brought back a song that probably a majority of the young people were never going to hear,” he said. “It’s a testament of love, I’ll love you tooth for tooth and eye for eye. You can’t get more revolutionary than that.”
Lopez’ work has always been heavily intertwined in jazz and soul — music genres his father always listened to. He explained that his father’s influenced rubbed off on him so much that when he was introduced to hip-hop, he followed its samples back to its roots.
Suffice to say, music is a heavy influence when it comes to painting.
“Like every artist, we listen to music when we paint,” explains Lopez. “When I’m in my studio, I like to listen to a sound that can’t be placed in time. In other words, it must feel timeless. That kind of music is hard to come by, as a lot of rap songs sound like advertisements for corporations. But the music needs to set the mood for my painting. It allows me to feel the world that I want to be in.”
Soul music was the genre that eventually set the mood for his After Midnight Series series.
“There were a couple of things that lead up to the inspiration for the project. The first part was a Canon video camera that I bought for the studio. I wanted to develop a time lapse of me painting, so that I could see where I could improve my technique,” he said. “Since I wanted to use music, I thought painting one of my favorite singers would make it enjoyable and give it a little more meaning. When I compiled the video I was surprised with what the video brought forth. I couldn’t stop at one singer so I chose to do more.
“My selection has always been based on how these women are artists first,” Lopez continued. “I’ve always felt a connection to their work and I felt that this was the best way to express that connection.”
His latest in the series, the Erykah Badu prints, are currently available for purchase, exclusively through AfterMidnightSoul.com.
A portion of proceeds will be donated to Badu’s charity organization, Beautiful Love Incorporated Non Profit Development (B.L.I.N.D.), established in 1997 to provide community-driven development for inner-city youth through music, dance, theater and visual arts.