Collectors Editions Disney Fine Art

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As seen in ART WORLD NEWS Nov-Dec 2011 Issue

by Koleen Kaffan

With splashes of bold colors and precise geometric architecture, the Pop art portraits created by Tennessee Loveless tell a story of not just the subject, but of the artist himself. Each in your-face painting is a dance of color and shape that demands the viewer’s attention, forcing them to take in all of the complexities of the artist’s technique, palette and personality jumping off of the canvas. Shrinking violets need not apply.

In November of last year, Tennessee was signed by Collectors Editions, Canoga Park, CA, to represent his originals and publish his limited edition, mixed media prints that combine giclée with serigraphy to bring out the boldness of the colors. His collection includes images for the company’s Disney Fine Art division, featuring iconic images of classic characters from 1928 to 1945, Disney Villains, and Alice in Wonderland.

Tennessee Loveless

Tennessee is also creating non-Disney artwork for Collectors Editions. These are larger than life personalities—some known internationally like Joan Crawford and Twiggy, some known on the streets of L.A. as local drag and burlesque entertainers.

Tennessee was born with limited achromatopsia colorblindness (almost complete colorblindness), and sees colors as hot and cold. He uses an intricate combination of hue percentages to paint with, and that are listed on the back of each canvas that he creates.

"Birthday Wishes" a giclee on canvas measuring 30 x 30 inches, retailing at $395.

Born in 1977 in Greenville, SC, Tennessee is one of three children raised in a conservative family. His father worked for IBM, and the family moved around a lot to places such as Plano, TX; and Chattanooga, TN, finally settling in Marietta, GA. As a young boy, he was attracted to art, but had a difficult time as his colorblindness was not yet diagnosed. It wasn’t until his kindergarten teacher asked the class to split up into groups and stand on different color rugs, that his secret was revealed. “I had no idea where I was supposed to stand,” he remembers. “At that age, colors were just words to me. I never really understood what they meant.”

The Marietta neighborhood where Tennessee spent his childhood had changed dramatically as he was growing up because Atlanta seemed to have taken over its surrounding towns. “It was as though I was a little kid in rural Georgia and a teenager in a suburban metro area. Atlanta just paved right over us,” he says. This influx of newly found, and more diverse, culture opened his eyes to many things, including Pop art and iconic celebrity figures that would become his inspiration.

“I was always an eccentric kid and I never really identified with my peers as a teenager. I was into Italian films of the late ’60s and loved Twiggy and Peggy Moffitt. I was drawn to the styles, shapes, and bold colors.” While his hometown grew a bit more contemporary, the people did not move as quickly and Tennessee soon found that his colorful personality was met with great resistance. He then attended a private school where he was able to be himself more comfortably. “The teachers encouraged me to express myself through my art. It was so refreshing to have the support.”

From there, Tennessee attended the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) and then the American College in Atlanta where he studied fashion design. “I just really wanted to be a painter,” he says. “It was all I ever really wanted to do for a living. But, during one of my first year classes, a teacher told me that I should stick to drawing because my color choices were ‘eye searing.’ He also said that I wouldn’t achieve any commercial success. I was crushed.”

Crestfallen, Tennessee quit painting and continued his studies with sketching and fashion. Upon graduation, he had a brief stint in marketing and graphic design, creating concert shirts for touring rock bands and moved into fashion merchandising for Amazon. All the while Tennessee was moving around to different cities, from Philadelphia to Seattle to San Francisco, before finally settling today in Los Angeles.

"Mickeymerica" measures
9.5 x 10.5 inches.

In 2003, while still in the Bay Area, a friend who performs in burlesque shows had asked him to paint her portrait. “I mentioned my professor’s critique and the impact that it had on me as an artist, to which she replied ‘so what?’ Her attitude inspired me to paint her portrait and she loved it. Word soon spread. Before I knew it, I had built up a collection.” From then on, he would work a full-time job during the day, paint through the night, and spend his weekends showing his art in street fairs.

After moving to Los Angeles, Tennessee got a job with Disney in their product development department. It was there that his talent as a painter got noticed. He began to show his work in a gallery. Co-workers encouraged him to send a piece he had created with a Disney theme to the head office. Soon after he signed with Collectors Editions, and this March his first collection with Disney Fine Art debuted.

The creation of the limited edition prints is a collaborative effort between Tennessee and Tim Dickson of Eclipse Printing. “Tennessee’s images are so bold and strong, that giclée alone is not enough to match the original painting,” Mr. Dickson says. “It’s a multi-step marriage of the serigraph and giclée process that brings out the colors accurately.” The giclée is first created, then the brightest colors are silkscreened in several steps. Editions are kept small at 95. Retail prices for acrylic on canvas work range from $1,400 to $6,500. Limited editions are $395 each. “I like to create images that people have a relationship with,” says Tennessee. “People want to see what they know. I like to take that relationship and put a new twist on it, making the viewer see the subject in a different light.” Working off photographs whenever possible, he creates a painting by first drawing it out as a grid. He then refers to his color library and puts the hot and cold colors together, mapping it all out on the back of each painting.

When not in his studio, Tennessee deejays a weekly podcast called Beautiful Noise Broadcast that features ambient music and has listeners all over the world, including Norway, Sweden, and Iceland. “I realized as I grew up that I needed to find my place in the world and it couldn’t be based on what others thought I should be. Confidence in my art was something that I needed to learn on my own,” he says. “Being colorblind always made me different and was my biggest handicap growing up. Today, it is my biggest ally.”

Call Collectors Editions at (800) 736-0001 or visit: www.

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