We've all heard "write what you know". Well the same goes with painting. I've spent many years downtown, street level, and find a richness that can be found no place else.
I simply try to do interesting paintings. Not many have picked up a brush with an intention to do otherwise, yet a positive outcome is never assured. Failures either fall to the knife, or become the ground for the next assault. Many years ago an instructor of mine stated, for the first time to my ear, that sentimentality is the enemy of art. I have always considered this statement in relation to the obfuscation of truth. I find it a useful thought to hold as I search around the city for subjects, or prepare to merely recycle a used canvas.
Downtown.LA visits with Carl Ramsey:
CR: We've all heard "write what you know". Well the same goes with painting. I've spent many years downtown, street level, and find a richness that can be found no place else. People are compacted. Life is on the edge. There is beauty to be found in that desperation.
Carl grew up in the San Diego area. As a youngster he became fascinated with all things bugs. Later it was baseball. There was a kids TV show that Carl watched. A child from the audience would draw a squiggly line and the host, actor Tom Hatten, would always deftly transform it into a brilliant cartoon. The power and wonder of creativity then became ever more apparent to Carl. He was hooked.
Ramsey moved to Los Angeles in his early twenties. He attended the Chouinard Art Institute (1966-70). Chouinard along with the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music formed CalArts, which under the direction of Roy and Walt Disney relocated from downtown L.A. to Valencia in 1971.
Carl was initially drawn toward illustration. Fine art was not on his mind so much in his earlier days. He put his talent to work commercially for Motor Trend and received a Grammy nomination for his work on Alice Cooper's "Billion Dollar Babies" album featuring Ramsey's snake skin wallet illustration.
Ramsey's signature streetscape paintings are what he is largely known for now. He is still out there, perched inconspicuously with his camera, finding beauty and truth in the most unlikely places. Says Ramsey, "Truth isn't in my paintings; it's on the streets".