Three weeks after Elton John played to a capacity crowd at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, the Rocket Man’s legendary lyricist, Bernie Taupin, is expected create his own standing-room-only buzz inside Town Center at Boca Raton.
However, the author of such Elton staples as “Your Song,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “I’m Still Standing” and countless other rock classics isn’t coming to Boca to talk music. The “Brown Dirt Cowboy” will appear March 31 at Wentworth Gallery (6 to 9 p.m.) to discuss one of his other artistic passions—painting.
Boca Raton caught up with Taupin and asked him about the inspiration behind his artwork—and also what’s next with Elton. Check out the websites of Taupin and Wentworth Gallery for more information on the artist and the event.
Boca Raton: What initially led you to the canvas back in the 1990s—and at what point did it develop into something beyond a hobby?
Taupin: My desire to paint has always been there. It was just a matter of settling somewhere that could accommodate my needs. I’ve lived where I currently reside (on a ranch in Central California) for the last 20 years and have my studio in a converted racquetball court that is large enough to cater to sizable canvases—along with my need for swinging room! In retrospect, I’ve never considered it a hobby being that the time I devote to it outweighs anything else I do.
Could you talk us through one piece—New York, Winter—and tell us what the colors and contrasts represent to you?
I’m not in the habit of dissecting pieces with explanations of intent; I much prefer that observers do that for themselves. However, “New York Winter” seems a little self-explanatory in what it represents. It’s an old piece from the mid-1990s, and like so much of my work, is drawn from the teeming chaos of great cosmopolitan areas. I see that one canvas in particular as a blurred bird’s eye view of Manhattan.
You’ve said there is no correlation, for you personally, between songwriting and your artwork. Still, several musicians—from Tony Bennett to Ronnie Wood—end up exploring their artistic side (when it comes to painting). Why do you think that is?
I can’t speak for other musicians who paint. What I do simply comes from the same place creatively and just manifests itself in different mediums. But, essentially, they’re very similar both in their intent to stimulate sonically and visually.
Do you ever have the painting equivalent of writer’s block, and is that easier to work through when you’re painting?
I guess there are times when the muse is absent—but generally she’s close at hand. If she takes a vacation, I do too.
What can people expect to see at your Wentworth Gallery appearance in Boca Raton?
A cross-section of varying styles representing my work from the mid-90s up to the present day—including both originals and prints.
A few quick music questions: How was the experience of working with Elton and Leon Russell, along with producer T-Bone Burnett, on the critically-acclaimed “The Union?” Was it different from simply working with Elton on a record?
Every recording experience is different, new sets of ideas, new songs and new energy. “The Union” was another great experience with two new extraordinary talented components added to the mix.
Can we expect an album of new material from you and Elton anytime soon?
Elton and I just completed a new studio album with T-Bone. Maybe a fall release.