Painting the ‘pursuit of excellence’ |

Painting the ‘pursuit of excellence’

Caramie Schnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

There are moments scattered throughout life that make you want to stand up, fist pump and cheer out loud. Those are the very same moments that painter Malcolm Farley is perpetually hunting for. That’s why he’s in town this weekend for Birds of Prey. He’ll unveil a Lindsey Vonn tribute painting today at Paderewski Fine Art in Beaver Creek Village. Saturday he’ll paint some of the World Cup action and Sunday he’ll paint an action skiing image at the gallery.

Farley started painting at the age of eight. Particularly fascinated with the energetic drive and aura of athletes, Farley, an “all-everything athlete” himself, grew up painting baseball, tennis, football and hockey stars. He’s painted live at the U.S. Open, Super Bowls, The World Series, PGA Events, Staley Cups Championships, and World Cup, of course.

He answered a few questions for the Vail Daily.

1. Vail Daily: Why are you attracted to people and/or moments that make people cheer as the subject for your paintings?

Malcolm Farley: I do see life as a performance, however subtle or loud it may be. I have always been driven by the “rush” that one feels when a certain set of chords are played, or a running back breaks through the line into the open field, or in the case of this weekend, that “perfect run” when everyone on slopeside knows they have just witnessed something extraordinary!

2. VD: Do you have any upcoming painting events that you’re looking forward to?

MF: The X Games, and shows in Jamaica (my wife’s homeland) and Curacao this winter.

3. VD: What is your favorite thing to paint?

MF: People in celebration in their native garb is certainly one, but I have to admit that skiing is the main thing at this time. I feel so fortunate to be able to paint man in his pursuit of excellence, testing himself against nature’s best, or just enjoying the the splendor of a day out in God’s Country!

4. Tell me about your beginning as an artist. What prompted you to pick up a paint brush?

MF: I was always fascinated by art. My parents were educators and “crayons, paint, and scratch paper” were always available. Being able to control the developement of an image was a key initially, but now it is the “mistakes” that give me the biggest rush! Color and action have always the things that have driven me. I was an athlete throughout college and they always say “paint what you know best.” Well for me, that was sports and music. Also, my time overseas (in India, China and Africa) as a kid provided me with a memory bank full of imagery.

5. VD: You’ve painted live on stage for the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev and for musicians such as B.B. King, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, David Sanborn, and Carlos Santana. When you think back over the people you’ve painted live, who stands out?

MF: Wow! I have been so blessed in my career to have associated with so many “greats,” but Gorbachev intrigued me the most. Just thinking about what secrets he was privvy to, and the conversations that went on behind closed doors kind blows your mind. He helped create a bridge between two countries that was much needed at the time, only time will tell how important this was in the history of the world. Musically, it would have to be either Stevie Wonder or Carlos Santana, both all time favorites of mine, both musically and spiritually.

6. VD: Painting live sounds like it would have some inherent risks. Have you ever had a painting not turn out like you’d hoped?

MF: The “risk” is what drives me. It is that fine edge between safe and pushing the envelope. I have spilled some interesting things (beverages) on many paintings through out the years, each one leading to a new process of putting down media onto the canvas. A couple of live appearences on stage were done in “the dark,” so the outcome was not seen by me, or the audience, until it was brought out onto the stage. I set my pallete up in the same manner every time, so I know where the colors lie naturally, kind of like a piano player would reach for notes without looking at the keys.

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