Radio Icon Howard Stern Discusses His Fourth Dan's Papers Cover Painting
This week’s cover art was sent to us by radio legend Howard Stern, making this his fourth annual Dan’s Papers cover. Here, he discusses the inspiration for his featured painting of Corwith Barns, how he classifies his art style and more.
Howard Stern Talks Painting
During your cover artist interview for the August 12, 2022 issue, you mentioned your intention to paint Water Mill’s former Corwith Barns as a way of honoring your father and “all those growing older and then gone.” How did that inspiration influence the creation process and completion of this painting?
When I started painting nine years ago, I quickly realized I was turned on by painting landscapes that had architectural elements as well. Seems to be my thing. I didn’t search for this subject of the Corwith Barns but when I drove by it, I was immediately drawn in and took a bunch of photographs and began thinking about painting it.
It was a daunting task because I wanted to capture all the variations in the worn structure. It occurred to me while I was painting the old and weather-beaten barn that I was feeling sad about my father’s condition and the thought of how much of our world, that was once so valuable, is being tossed aside. The painting took on greater importance.
Can you tell us more about this skillful work of photorealism?
It is funny to me when people think this is photorealism. My friend and teacher, Frederick Brosen, and I were talking about photorealism the other day. We both could not see this painting as photorealistic. It still looks like a painting. I love photorealism, and it’s a tremendous skill that I would love to have, but I still want to create a painting. There would be no point in just recreating a photo, because I already have the photo.
This is a rather large painting, so I started with 300 lb. cold press Arches paper. It’s very sturdy and can really handle a lot of wet-on-wet washes. I do a very detailed drawing and once completed, I add watercolor. I have a very limited palette of Windsor and Newton paint, no more than 12 colors, and for a painting like this, somewhere around five or six colors. In that sense, it’s not pure sepia.
How do you decide whether to create a painting in full color or more of a sepia tone, and which is more prevalent in your portfolio?
It really depends on the subject. If it lends itself to a sepia treatment, I just feel it. I’ve done equal amounts of sepia and color paintings, but I’m starting to think that sepia is my thing. It gives the painting an old-world feeling that I like.
With the September 8, 2023 issue of Dan’s Papers, we’ve now featured four of your paintings on the cover. How many paintings would you estimate you’ve created since you began painting, and how many have you shared with the public?
I’ve lost count. There are many paintings I would not show anyone. I think some are successful, and the others are learning experiences. You can’t learn this language without a bunch of failures. I also do some paintings that are thumbnails. Some as small as three-by-three inches. They are excellent opportunities to work out colors and ideas for bigger paintings. I’ve shared very little with the public, but my wife will occasionally grab a painting and post it on her Instagram. I started painting for the satisfaction of knowing how to do it.
In the past couple of years, people have asked me to do a show and sell the paintings. Others have offered me money for the originals, but I don’t feel comfortable selling them. I know my output is not what it could be because my radio show takes up most of my time. It’s incredibly time consuming to finish a painting, so some can take up to a year to complete.
Have you already photographed the subject of your next Hamptons painting, or are you still scouting for the right inspiration?
Yes. I’m super excited about my next subject … Stumbled upon a great area out here in the Hamptons, and I have already started some postage stamp size paintings of that. For now, I’ll keep it all quiet.
What’s one artistic goal you’d like to work toward?
My goal is to keep improving and observing. For me, the best painters show a deep level of observation and the skill to bring that observation to life.
Would you like to share any closing thoughts or additional information?
After a summer break “The Howard Stern Show” is back live on Sirius XM. I still have a great fascination and love of taking a blank canvas of empty air and putting something compelling on the radio for all who are trapped in their cars, on the way to work, to enjoy.