Richard Bledsoe “At the Crossroad” acrylic on canvas 30″ x 40″ 2022
In 2022 the major painting I worked on was a return to a subject explored in an earlier piece. While the story was the same, my approach to it and my experience in creating it were completely new.
I’ve loved blues music since I was a teenager in the 1980s; the first purchase I ever made in the genre was a cassette of the Robert Johnson compilation “King of the Delta Blues Singers.” I’d read about the legend of how Johnson went to a crossroad and sold his soul to the devil in exchange for worldly glory. The tale resonated with my interests in both spirituality and weirdness.
Those same fascinations drive my art.
I’d painted the scene “At the Crossroad” in 2013, shortly after I switched from oil paints to acrylics. The title was a quote from Johnson’s song “Cross Road Blues.”
Richard Bledsoe “At the Crossroad” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 30″ 2013
I did not have the painting in my possession long. It sold the first time I exhibited it, to a nice young couple I’d never met before. I do not know its present whereabouts.
I’m not sure of the exact dates, but in early 2020 I began a new major work, based on another aspect of the Robert Johnson legend and another song lyric: “Hellhound on My Trail.”
This painting took until April 2022 to complete, incorporating long fallow periods when the work went untouched for months, as I focused on other paintings.
Richard Bledsoe “Hellhound On My Trail” acrylic on canvas 30″ x 40″ 2022
It was the biggest painting I worked on during the whole plandemic scare, always hovering incomplete in the background as I cranked through numerous smaller pieces.
When I finally posted the completed version of “Hellhound” on my blog, it also sold shortly after its public debut.
Not only that, but the patron who purchased it had a request for a prequel and a sequel for the image created. He wanted depictions of both the initial crossroad meeting and the ultimate consequences, when the devil comes to collect.
I am an intuitive painter. In my 2018 book, Remodern America: how the Renewal of the Arts Will change the Course of Western Civilization I wrote about where I get my images:
“I have visions. They come at the most random times. I could be washing the dishes, or driving to work, and suddenly the picture is there. It usually arrives now with a title, dimensions and suggestions for technique.”
I was fortunate that I was given a vision to fulfill the patron’s request. My original “Crossroad” painting was for me a depiction of the musician as universal man realizing the power and disaster of the bargain already made. The new version would be that moment where the man had to make that choice, hesitating right on the threshold of destiny and damnation, all taking place as some eerie moonlit blues.
The devil is grinning of course because he already knows how this story ends.
Once I saw the drama of these two figures coming together, I know I could make the piece.
I obtained another 30″ x 40″ canvas so the series of paintings would match in size. I began working on it in early June 2022, and completed it December 10, 2022.
The painting went through many stages of development.
This has been a very hard year in so many ways. Throughout it all working on this painting, finding the beauty in it, was a source of joy to me.
I hope we will proceed with the third one, which I also have a vision for. The title is another Robert Johnson lyric: “I Believe I’m Sinking Down.”
In my reading, I came across Psalms 1, which I feel encapsulates the story told in these three paintings:
1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
“At the Crossroad” is walking into the counsel of the ungodly.
“Hellhound On My Trail” is the restless wanderings of guilt and sin, like the chaff driven by the wind.
“I Believe I’m Sinking Down” is the perishing of the ungodly way.
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Learn more About My Art: Visionary Experience
My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.
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