Ronnie McDowell painting "Reflections of the King"
Ronnie McDowell was selling his latest painting during his Elvis tribute show August 17 & 18, 2007, at the Horseshoe in Robinsonville, MS. He was signing the prints. They were selling for only $35. It was a great price for this beautiful painting. He has now donated a copy of this painting to Elvis' birthplace in Tupelo. See article:
Ronnie McDowell has provided the voice of Elvis Presley in 12 movies, 29 commercials and one episode of the "Twilight Zone" television series.
He and a friend co-wrote the hit song "The King is Gone" just days after Presley died in August 1977. The song became the launching point for
McDowell's 30-year career.
But there is another side to McDowell that many people might not be aware of, something that pre-dates his career as a musician.
It's there that McDowell said he's created the piece of work he is most proud of, a painting called "Reflections of a King."
McDowell stopped in Sheffield this past week on his way to Tupelo, Miss., where he and his friend, Donnie Dortch, would present a print of "Reflections of a King" to the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum.
"This is my latest painting," McDowell said. "It about took the breath out of me."
The painting doesn't need any explanation.
"I literally saw this before I painted it," McDowell said. "It came to me like a song."
The painting shows a young Elvis Presley, holding the guitar his mother Gladys bought him, looking into a dresser mirror in the family's home in Tupelo, seeing the reflection of the King of Rock 'n' Roll.
"This painting really touches people," McDowell said. "It says everything that needs to be said about Elvis Presley."
McDowell said the scene depicts the actual layout of that room in the old Presley home, except for a few minor details.
"There was an old Philco radio," McDowell said. "The radio was on the dresser."
Had he kept the shot accurate, the radio would have blocked the reflection of the guitar. Instead, he placed the radio on the fireplace mantle.
A young boy posed with a Stella guitar, but McDowell's 17-year-old son was the model for the young Elvis' hair.
McDowell said he found a photo of the back of Presley's head to accurately reproduce his ears from that angle.
McDowell said the painting took him about five months to complete, partly because he was traveling to and from shows and also because of the detail in the painting. The original painting, done in acrylics, is 38 inches by 46 inches
He painstakingly reproduced the flowered wallpaper design in the home and a lace doily that sat atop the mantle.
In the upper right corner is the famous black-and-white family portrait featuring a baby Elvis in the middle.
The scene created in the painting would have happened shortly after Presley received the guitar as a gift from his mother.
McDowell said Presley wanted a .22-caliber rifle or a bicycle, but he only had enough money to purchase a guitar. The guitar was purchased at the Tupelo Hardware Co., which is still open today and is a hot spot for Presley fans.
"The rest is history," McDowell said.
McDowell said his interest in drawing and painting goes back to 1956 when he drew a "big red fire engine" in the first grade.
In the eighth grade, some friends tried to convince McDowell to enter an art contest. Instead, McDowell drew two different pictures of Presley for his friends who ended up winning blue ribbons.
McDowell began writing songs and performing while serving in the Vietnam War. He served tours in 1968, '69 and 1972.
It would be 1977 when he and Lee Morgan wrote "The King is Gone," by combining two songs they had written shortly after Presley died.
McDowell said he wanted to do something special to mark the 30th anniversary of Presley's passing and the release of "The King is Gone."
For more information about Ronnie McDowell's prints, email Don Dortch at [email protected].