Justin Sonny Eagles

MEDIUM: Oil painting,

AREA OF INTEREST: Film, Storytelling



There I was, an emptiness inside of me.  Ahole in my stomach, I couldn’t seem to fill.  As a child I never dreamed of expensive cars or mansions, I dreamed of movies.  I daydreamed plots, characters, and stories.  I dreamed of being a director, a filmmaker.  Instead, I was where life had detoured and delivered me.  There I discovered another love in my life-painting.  But still, that hollowness, that unsatisfied thirst to find closure with my first love.  I was searching endlessly, not even sure what it was I was searching for.  After years of study and practice, painting seemed stale and pointless to me.  Until the day I asked myself“If Kubrick created paintings with film, why can’t I create films with painting?”  Why not interpret the stories I wish to, through the brush?  And for the first time, I knew exactly where both myself and my art were going.

Stories are the fire of my painting, real stories.   I learned how to depict stories by simply listening to the cast of characters I have been surrounded by my whole life.  My father, a former gang member from the streets of Brooklyn.  My Uncle, a former wise guy from the Bronx.  I have known friends and family from all walks of life, from different cultures, countries, and viewpoints.  I listened to them, to their stories.  I listened to friends who experienced the horrors of war and humanity at it’s worst.  I listened to family who battled with the unforgiven depths of dealing and addiction to drugs and alcohol.  I listened to their stories of love, of misery, and of struggle, and through listening I learned how to tell my own stories.  I learned how to express myself and the experiences of my own life.  That’s how creating art started for me.

It began as a personal exploration, finding my own voice.  Eventually though it grew into a voice for others, as admirers began to connect to the stories I was painting.  And I have come to realize that is what I do, I am a visual story teller.  I am a director, like I always dreamed of, just not of film.  I direct the dance between the brush and the paint.

Film may hold it’s own advantages such as dialogue and music, but with painting I am presented with an array of diverse opportunities.  With movies there is an invisible veil keeping the audience at a distance.  They are unable to reach into the screen, their eyes are unable to explore the stirring textures and feel the weight of the subject.  The narrative is only a visual echo,  whereas with painting I am privileged to have the audience stand before my fingerprints-my brushwork.  Brushwork gives the paintings their character, their soul.  Through painting I feel given the potential to voice the depth and heart of the portrayal.  As Miles Davis made his trumpet sing in love, in pain, in bliss, the paint itself directly connects the viewer to the composition.  The paint becomes the emotion.

Film is chained by structure.  It needs this so that the audience does not lose the plot.  With painting the story is allowed to be revealed through a poetic perspective and be established in moderately abstract imagery.  This offers more participation of the viewer, as it is essential that the art challenges the audience as much as it challenges the artist.  I feel it is necessary to compose my work with profound mystery, after all art is a reflection of life.  And life is a great unknown, a great question which there is no real answer to, but we search in hope that one day we may find the answer within ourselves.  Perhaps in the end that’s what all art is, a never ending search to find ourselves.