Published on April 12th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
KISS Frontman Paul Stanley On Painting & His April 28th Appearance At Wentworth Gallery
With over 75 million albums sold worldwide — including 21 million RIAA-certified releases — KISS is one of the best-selling bands of all time. Yet KISS has only been one facet of singer/guitarist Paul Stanley’s professional life. Beyond his solo career and writing for other artists, Stanley did a long-term musical theater run — performing in a Toronto production of Phantom Of The Opera in 1999 — and writing a best-selling memoir. Stanley has also done well as a businessman, and one recent successful venture is the restaurant franchise Rock & Brews, which he co-founded with KISS bandmate Gene Simmons; Rock & Brews is slated to have over 30 restaurants by the end of 2018.
Paul Stanley resumed his painting about a decade ago, and through the Wentworth Gallery in Short Hills, New Jersey he will be presenting a collection of his paintings on April 28, 2018. RSVPs for the Short Hills gallery event are recommended and can be called in to 973-564-9776. I had the pleasure of talking with Stanley — who designed the still-used KISS logo — by phone about painting, music, the KISS Kruise, and other projects of his. Highlights from this April 2018 chat are below.
More on Paul Stanley’s upcoming Wentworth Gallery appearance can be found at www.wentworthgallery.com, while Stanley can be visited directly online at www.paulstanley.com. Meanwhile, more on the almost-sold-out KISS Kruise — which sails on Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Jade ship in November — can be found on the Sixthman website.
I’ve read that you really got back into art about 10 years ago. Was there a specific teacher or person that inspired you to get into painting in the first place?
Paul Stanley: Not really. I have to say I certainly don’t want to set myself up as a role model for anyone. I had no teachers and I felt strongly for me to be at my best creating, the less people involved in the process would give the best result. I much prefer learning by trial and error than guidance. Perhaps if someone can give me a quick tip, fine, but I’m not someone who gets the most out of instruction. For me, art has always been very much like music in the sense that I believe that when I please myself, then I will please the most people because I’m fairly similar to the general population. For me it’s always a matter of staying true to myself and the rest will follow. Whether it was with a band or art, it’s always been done to satisfy a need and a void in myself.
Do you have to be in a certain mood to paint? Or are you able to bring a painting setup when you’re on the road touring with your music?
Paul Stanley: I did that once, interestingly enough, in Australia. I suddenly had the urge to paint. I went and bought a whole second set of supplies, including an easel, and went to work. At this point I’m so immersed in art that it really is a five day a week large part of my day. I’m actually at my studio to work right now.
When you say studio, do you have a space you rent? Or a home setup?
Paul Stanley: I had an art studio in my guest house that I subsequently converted to rehearsal space for Soul Station, my Motown-Philly band. I set up at the KISS warehouse, we have a huge warehouse. Since we’re paying for it anyway, might as well make maximum usage of it. (laughs) I have great space here and it’s really my go-to, literally, every morning. I’m here nine o’clock.
In a way, has painting overtaken music as your main passion?
Paul Stanley: I think there’s room in life to go through periods of focusing on one aspect more than another, and it doesn’t mean it can’t be fluid. Right now, beyond a doubt my focus is art, and yet this summer in the first and second week in July, we’re headlining festivals in Spain and Portugal. I like to focus my attention on whatever I’m doing. I don’t believe in doing things half-assed, I like to do them whole-assed. (laughs)
For someone that follows you on social media, you also seem to be cooking often, so you seem like someone who always wants to be creating something. Is that the case?
Paul Stanley: Very much so. I believe that we can, and I certainly do, define myself by the challenges I take on, how I respond to them, and how it manifests itself. I find new pieces to this puzzle every time I try something new. Whether it’s theater or art or cooking or experiencing being a parent or a husband, whatever it is in life, for me the way that I define myself for myself.
When you finish a painting, are you the sort of person who feels relief? Or do you look at it like “man, I could have done that differently?”
Paul Stanley: If I were to say “man, I could have done that differently,” what I should say is “man, next time I’m going to do it a little differently.” Every step you take gets you to the next step. I don’t want to sound like Yoda, but life is an on-going journey. You can’t get to the second chapter without reading the first, it wouldn’t make sense. I spend a lot of time thinking about the creative process of what I want to do next and how I’m going to do it. But it’s always built on what preceded it, so without step one you can’t do step two. I don’t ruminate or fixate on the negative of anything.
You are widely-known as a positivity-oriented person, so that isn’t surprising. But in terms of your overall collection, do you have any plans to do a book so that the everyday person can take home a collection of prints of various works of yours?
Paul Stanley: Sure. Every piece that’s done is photographed with a book in mind. Honestly the first day I painted I never imagined doing multiple paintings, then I never imagined there never being that many, then I never imagined there being a gallery. I never imagined the amount of collectors who would be acquiring my art. I never imagined the number of people who know nothing about art but don’t need to because when you’re exposed to something, your reaction should either be positive or negative, and if it’s positive, you don’t owe anybody an explanation, it’s purely enough that you do. Opinions for the arts don’t have to be educated, they are only validated because they are yours.
Will your art at all factor into the upcoming KISS Kruise? Will your art be on display or anything to that effect?
Paul Stanley: I’ve done that on past KISS Kruises. Last year we had a gallery set up, and it was received beyond all expectations. It exceeded any of my limited expectations. I did it more to see what would happen and it was phenomenal. So yes, there will be a gallery set up on the ship.
For someone who will be in attendance of one of your upcoming gallery showings, like the one in Short Hills, New Jersey, what should be expected from the event? I assume that you will be in attendance, yes?
Paul Stanley: I am there. It’s virtually-impossible, and not productive for anyone — both for myself and the visitors — for me to be walking around on the floor. That’s more of a distraction. I certainly make sure that I get a chance to say hello, but the size of the crowds, we tend to let people in in groups. If they see something that they want to take home, they will spend time with me. But in terms of one on one time, it’s virtually-impossible, unless somebody is acquiring a piece.