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Article By: Amelia “Killer” Rose
Originally Published In The May 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
“It’s just what you produce and what people see after your dead” -GTP
George Frizzell, also known as George The Painter, is a man of few words and many stories. Growing up, himself, his father, and his brother were all gifted with natural artistic abilities. That being said, even before proper schooling, George spent most of his time drawing just about anything he could. Naturally, after high school, he went on to pursue a degree in the arts and attended both the Art Institute of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Academy Of The Fine Arts, where the only thing he really learned how to do was drink. So, George painted for a while, then quit and took up drinking professionally until it got to be too much and went back to the only other thing he knew how to do, paint. At one point in time in his younger years, he served in the Navy, during that period, his dad had an old FLH with 2,000 miles and a blown engine that he gave George. Young Frizzell proceeded to tear the bike apart and rebuild it, which is what started the love for motorcycles that he has today.
Having been around motorcycles Article By: Amelia “Killer” Rose since adolescence, it makes sense that he would eventually find a job in the industry, which happened when he started working for The Horse Backstreet Choppers. At first, it was just small illustrations here and there, but after a while, George became one of their writers which was how he got most of his work, through them and the connections made in the industry. He wrote under the name “George the Painter” for the sake of advertising which apparently worked out for him. He no longer works for The Horse and says that he is all the better for it. Since leaving, he has a renewed love of motorcycles again and feels that he can appreciate the culture and history that comes along with being in the motorcycle world. It has also given him the chance to focus more on the art part of his life, as opposed to the “being-a-famous-person thing,” which he really isn’t a fan of.
George has been painting and producing art for over 30 years, though for the first 20 he was still working shit jobs with expiration dates just to make it to the next paycheck. He finds his inspiration in the very culture he lives, something he says is a reflection of his life. Many of his paintings are of “dead guys,” all people that mean a lot to him personally. He’s even done a few charcoals of kids with cancer, who then beat the disease after the pieces were finished, making George a certified miracle worker in his own mind. Even when he paints industry personalities like Billy Lane, none, in particular, stand out more than another, they’re all important to him.
Both with his art and as a traveler, George has had the opportunity to travel around the world twice, visit 50 or so different countries, and boasts that he contracted gonorrhea on three different continents. On a motorcycle, he’s been back and forth across the US roughly 11 times. At one point he took a sabbatical from painting and rode his bike for a few years. It was a hard time in his life and was dealing with a lot of mental disorders, which lead him to believe that he was on the run, which left him paranoid, even though the only thing out to get him was his own head. After about five years and awful riding, he finally stopped running and faced the issues that had been following him for so long. In reality, George’s mental instability is what has driven his entire life, though luckily now he’s able to focus himself and deal with it. George says the only reason he rides a motorcycle and paints is because he was deranged and those were the two things he could do consecutively every day, everything else was useless for him. Motorcycles and painting are ways for him to discipline himself, mentally and physically. His entire existence is set up the way it is because that’s the way he has to do so he can function.
Like many painters, George has his preference in medium, and when it comes to painting, he uses oil paints exclusively, with the exception of the occasional charcoal for drawings. For Frizzell, the use of acrylics is all about longevity. When he paints, he knows that the painting will last 4-500 years, long after he’s gone. People say the same is true for acrylics, but there’s no proof as none of the paintings are old enough yet. When you use oil paints, even though they’re a pain in the ass and take forever to learn, the color that comes out of the tube is the color it stays forever. “As far as painting goes, oils are the standards for fine art; everything is secondary. So, I figure if I ever got discovered, which still has not happened, I will already be doing oils.”
Regarding what he focuses on as the subjects for his paintings, naturally, he gravitated towards motorcycles and has done a lot of portraits of people’s bikes and motors, which is a still life. He says it’s kind of boring if you look at it that way, but he can paint an engine alright and has painted tons of them. After a while, he did get bored, so he decided that he wanted people to be able to look at the paintings and tell the different metals, whether it be chrome, steel, aluminum, etc. So, he challenged himself to learn how to paint those metals. If you laid the two next to each other, you could tell which was which. Next, he started removing detail, and let the mind’s eye fill in the spots that aren’t there. With every painting his goal is to use as few brush strokes as possible to get the image across, which keeps him moving forward with his art, continually honing his skill. George has reached a point in his career that when asked what he is most proud of, his response was the fact that he’s mastered oils. He never has to look at a painting and hope he can do it, he just looks at it and does it. He can paint anything in the world, and you’ll still be able to tell that it’s his.
George’s advice for young artists is to prioritize; the most important thing is having your priorities straight. The reason he has been able to paint for 30 years is because that’s what he does, and anything that gets in the way of doing it doesn’t exist. Hence girlfriends, a wife, kids, house, having anything to do with money; have never been planned and is why he’ll never have them, and that’s just part of the thing.
“Either you stop, or you won’t stop. If you stop you weren’t meant to be doing it, if you don’t stop it means you have something wrong with you and art is an overwhelming passion that you have to fulfill. I can live on a daily basis as long as I can paint once a day. I have to paint everyday cause if I miss a day, I feel guilty. And that’s where you have to be to do it professionally because it’s not the money coming in, it’s not the fame. If you want fame, I don’t know, set your arm on fire and put it on Instagram these days. There is no fame in art. It’s just what you produce and what people see after your dead. So, you have to prioritize to get the art done and just be prepared to die broke. But know it’s worth it.”
George The Painter is taking commissions along with painting whatever strikes his fancy so hit him up on IG at @ georgethepainter or on Facebook at www. facebook.com/GeorgeFrizzellJr