Behind the Art: Super Novocain
To say that my painting “Super Novocain” was inspired by the Covid pandemic and the stress surrounding it is an understatement.
In mid-April 2020 as the virus was ramping up nationally, yours truly was sick as a dog. I woke up in the middle of the night with so much congestion in my chest I felt like I was drowning.
Yes, I’ll admit it, I was quite anxious about it. After all, I reasoned, if the beginning of the virus was this bad, I must be headed for the hospital like hundreds of thousands of others in the US.
I’m happy to report that I did not have Covid, though my lovely wife Tracy and my daughter, Jordan, would later catch it (they are OK, it was a mild case, luckily).
n my case, what I thought was Covid, turned out to be a very severe allergy attack that gave similar symptoms to the infamous virus. I ended up getting prescribed two inhalers, cough medicine, and antibiotics to treat my infected lungs.
So, after a few days of rest and medicine, I felt much better. In fact, I woke up one morning at 6 AM with the inspiration for Super Novocain in my head.
I sketched out the main ideas in a creative frenzy that quickly captured the essence of it all. And I made sure I included my mischievous sense of humor.
You see, the main “character” looks like he or she is in the midst of a major anxiety attack while one of the faces on the far right appears calm, even serene.
I like that juxtaposition because it seems to illustrate something all of us go through at some points in our lives — to the outside world we present a confident image -- but on the inside, our minds are revving at 9,000 RPM.
To give the painting even more humor, I decided to paint a quotation from the seminal 1980 disaster spoof movie “Airplane.” As a plane appears ready for a crash landing, one of the main characters says, “I sure picked a bad week to quit sniffing glue.”
I use that saying all the time as gallows humor when things just seem to be going very badly.
I then imbued Super Novocain with a several other faces to evoke a dream state where subconscious images begin to take on a life of their own and only really make sense in that realm.
We’re talking about an eye, a pair of breasts and sexy lips that have no face and are separated from each other in a jumbled manner; a hand (or foot) sticking out at the sky, not to mention an allusion in one of the characters to the type of hidden female form you might find in a Georgia O’Keefe painting.
The title comes from one of my favorite contemporary hard rock songs, Novocain by the band 10 Years and it can be found on their album “How to Live as Ghosts”. The song repeatedly mentions sleep walking and also talks about “living in a dream,” which I think sums up things nicely.