Writing or Painting. Interview with artist Michael Bell by Isabel del Rio

Writing or Painting. Interview with artist Michael Bell by Isabel del Rio

Today, Writing or Painting in the weekly section of American artist Michael Bell on Yareah. MBELLART

I.R.- Hi Michael. How is life? I’ve been really busy this week, several interesting meetings with artists, filmmakers and authors. Precisely, one of these artists gave me the idea for my first question. He would like to write a novel which reflects the narrative of his paintings. He thinks it could be remarkable to exhibit both works at once, an unusual event. Since your paintings are telling thrilling interesting stories, have you thought about writing a book?

M.B.- That’s so synchronistic you say this Isabel because I’ve actually done this already! I have a Registered Screenplay on file with the Writer’s Guild of America that that’s based on my “Ticket to Ride” Painting Series, all inspired by true events. My new Carnevale Italiano series is also a prequel series to my “Ticket to Ride” paintings. All paintings are very narrative, very cinematic and would make for a great television series or full-length feature film. And it definitely would be a remarkable experience to exhibit both at once, which is something that would be incredibly marketable, but I haven’t found the right Producers for my project yet.

Michael Bell. Ticket to Ride

Michael Bell. Ticket to Ride

M.B.- So, for all your readers out there – here’s how that journey looks—

Everything first began after my star-studded Ticket to Ride paintings launch party in New York City back in 2008. Some of my Sopranos clientele kept talking about how cinematic my paintings were, and how I’d be a natural to direct my own film. One actor friend, John Fiore (The Sopranos, Brotherhood, Law & Order), said I painted each scene in every painting as if he could visually read them like storyboards for a movie. This gave me inspiration to write “Ticket to Ride” out as a screenplay. I studied scripts my actor friends would send me, watched the shows while reading the scripts simultaneously, and then I began writing my own. Here’s a video clip chronicling each of my Ticket to Ride paintings in studio just before my launch party in New York City:

M.B.- Once my script was finished, I mailed out query letters to hundreds of agencies. After months of searching and sending I finally acquired a Hollywood literary agent. Since then, I’ve had two solid offers, but neither Producer was right for the project so I passed on both offers. I’ll know it in my gut when the right Producer comes along and really wants to do something EPIC with it. Until then, I still own the rights to “Ticket to Ride” and am actively seeking the “right Producers.” I may write it out as a novel one day, but it’s so autobiographical that some of it is truthfully painful to keep re-living, but we’ll see. Here’s a quote from one of my Sopranos pals that helped urge me to write my first screenplay:

John Fiore

John Fiore

“Michael Bell’s Ticket to Ride series is painting noir at its finest. Out of this monumental achievement, I am particularly intrigued by Room Service. The eaten dessert, the gun lying on the table, the coffee… is it still warm? Having played a detective on Law & Order, I find myself scanning the table looking for clues. Are the occupant(s) just out of table range? Or is there something far more sinister here?” – John Fiore, Actor/Director, The Sopranos, Brotherhood, Law & Order

I.R.- Do you like William Blake? He is one of the few figures in the history, who has managed to succeed in the world of arts and writing.

"The Desert Rain" by Michael Bell, 1992

“The Desert Rain” by Michael Bell, 1992

M.B.- I do like William Blake. He, too, was very intrigued with themes surrounding good vs. evil and what lies beyond our immediate perceptions…ENERGY and such. He also wrote and painted, like me. Looking back, it’s something I’ve always done too. The first real thematic works I ever created, my “Love Series”  were all paintings based on poems I wrote. I’d write a poem, imagine all the imagery in my mind’s eye, and then find ways to also re-create those verbal thoughts as visual language. It’s all a process that helps me feel my way through complex experiences. These early paintings based on poems would first take the form of a collage, which best imitates how the mind works by breaking imagery down into pieces of extracted memories. Perhaps one day I will publish the poems with the paintings. They’re all very passionate poems.  

I.R.- I know you have the project of a TV series. Can you tell us a little about it? Is it inspired by your paintings?

M.B.- The TV series I’m in is called “The Capones” and it’s a docu-series based on the life of one of my best pals, Dominic Capone, who happens to be Al Capone’s Great Nephew. I play “me” in the series and so you’ll see my art and get a behind-the-scenes look “first hand” at what life looks like for me on and off the canvas, and my dealings with the stars I’m friends with and often portray in my thematic series paintings.

Michael Bell with Dominic Capone on set of “The Capone’s” with painting “Blvd. of Broken Queens” from Bell’s “Carnevale Italiano” series that features Capone.

Michael Bell with Dominic Capone on set of “The Capone’s” with painting “Blvd. of Broken Queens” from Bell’s “Carnevale Italiano” series that features Capone.

I.R.- Have a nice week, Michael. Winter is coming!


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is renowned American painter and muralist, famous for his larger-than-life sized narrative series paintings and for his infamous portrait clientele, which includes the late Mob Boss John Gotti, best friend Dominic Capone III (Al Capone’s great nephew) and numerous actors from The Sopranos, Goodfellas, A Bronx Tale and more. Yes, his works are the mirror of a tragic world, but they deepen our human psychology with strong brush strokes and vivid colors, from personal memories and silent echoes, with courage and creativity. Bell was naturally gifted in art and won 1st Place in his first juried art exhibition at age 5. As an emerging artist he spent a lot of his time in and around New York City, studying art with his maternal grandmother, Violet Vallery, a self-taught artist from Lyndhurst, New Jersey. Then, after the still-born death of his sister Amanda and the sudden passing of his Grandfather, a former professional boxer, Bell began to explore life's personal and psychological issues through his paintings. In addition, Bell has written his first screenplay based on the real-life events surrounding his famous "TICKET TO RIDE™" painting series and has won three national awards in 2013. Bell exhibits his large, narrative series paintings in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

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