James Dean Cemetery, 2012 Oil on linen 18 × 28 inches
James Dean Cemetery, 2012
Oil on linen 18 × 28 inches

Next to their family farmhouse, and next to my painting of the house, is the cemetery where Dean and his family are buried. He would escape from his window at night to visit the grave of his mother, who died when he was six. He said he would see and talk with her. I thought I felt his presence when I visited his grave, now buried next to his mothers’, and kissed his grave, too. Like a method actor I try to get into the head of the character I’m portraying while painting, doing all my research, and listening to what they listened to and thinking about what they thought about and my relationship to it, in the hopes that something "real" will come out. Dean loved and carried with him everywhere the book of the Little Prince, and as I listened to the audio book while painting, I realized the prince seemed like the angel to the left, the fox appeared in somehow in a shadow or sculpture on the right, and Dean, the ghost-like Prince spoke to me as I was like the Pilot painting the picture. If you look closely, you can see his face in the flower wrap on the right of the tombstone—all of which seemed to also appear in the photo.