I have never experienced the Mississippi Delta as a mortal entity, but I feel I have been granted the incredible journey through the music of the blues. My two biggest passions in life are music and painting, in which both have taken me on an education trip through the history of the blues.

Blues is a feeling, a heartfelt expression of soulful sounds combined with lyrics about everyday life. It is a music that has told me the stories, let me hear the heartbeats from the past, and has revealed a true perspective of living in the south. I interpret the feelings and emotions I experience through the music itself, and paint a story through the instruments I hear. It's a powerful and telling music that reveals more than the lyrics being sung, and bleeds the truth of the times. And with this incredible sound that became the blues, I felt there was a forgotten side that needed to be told.

Only from black & white photography have we shaped our ideas of this era, but they often reflect a distorted and very static perception of what it was really like.

My palette of earthy hues and period characters brings the natural warmth of life back into these nostalgic scenes and restore a more realistic ambiance to these historical places.

  • Black and White photo of The Royal Club
  • Earl Klatzel's painting of The Royal Club

My blues history paintings are created by referencing actual period photography collected from the Library of Congress in Washington. Actual street corners and roadside jukes from the south harmonize with the real people who knew these places. Using multiple vintage photographs enabled me to construct many scenes using the local people, accurate clothing styles, and structural landscapes that stood proud during this period. I felt it was of great importance to introduce the unknown performers that once contributed to the history of the music at these forgotten places, and to revive the mood and the lifestyle from which the music was created.

Earl Klatzel's painting of Robert Johnson

My famous personality portraits give insight to just some of the historic performers that left their legacies over the 20th century. They are the musicians that beat all odds and were fortunate enough to be recorded during turbulent times. Complemented by portraits of the contemporary masters that are now current, reveal the full spectrum to the music of yesterday and today.

My portraits proclaim honor, a tribute to the musicians that have influenced me the most. They are the storytellers of the past, the messengers that made their historical mark, and the inspiration behind my work as an artist.

My main objective with each portrait is to capture the musician's character, their personal style, give life and atmosphere to their presence, and release the sounds they created for their time.

Now after many years of painting the past and present, my work begins to show the story behind the music. From the Mississippi Delta right up to Chicago, the famous and the unknowns share equal importance in the history of the music. My paintings reveal the cotton fields and street corners, the backroad juke houses and the stages, a unique view of the music's history that is finally here to stay.

Thank You.

Earl Klatzel