David Sockrider creates paintings of concerts at venues around Summit | SummitDaily.com

David Sockrider creates paintings of concerts at venues around Summit

Krista Driscoll / kdriscoll@summitdaily.com
Krista Driscoll / kdriscoll@summitdaily.com |

See it live

Check out David Sockrider’s work as he creates it at one of these upcoming concerts:

• Saturday, Feb. 21 — Roosevelt Collier’s Colorado Get Down, featuring members of The Motet, Dave Watts, Garrett Sayers and Joey Porter, The Barkley Ballroom, Frisco; call (970) 708-7042

• Friday, Feb. 27 — Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, with special guest Roosevelt Collier, The Barkley Ballroom, Frisco; call (970) 708 7042

• Saturday, Feb. 28 — Private Gripweed: A Beatles Tribute, The Barkley Ballroom, Frisco; call (970) 708-7042

• Wednesday, March 4 — Whitewater Ramble plays the music of Paul Simon, Thunder and Rain, The Barkley Ballroom, Frisco; call (970) 708 7042

• Saturday, March 7 — Andy Frasco, Goat Soup & Whiskey Tavern, Keystone; call (970) 513-9344

• Friday, March 13 — Tauk and Yamn, The Barkley Ballroom, Frisco; call (970) 708-7042

To learn more about Sockrider and his work, visit http://www.tourpaintings.com.

He begins each of his pieces with a sketch, starting the first rough lines before the musicians ever step foot onstage. As the evening unfolds, so does his artwork, the frenzy of pen and brush building to a crescendo in tandem with each concert that he paints, the final encore corresponding with his last brush stroke.

Frisco artist David Sockrider captures musical moments at venues around Summit County and the Front Range, his only limitations those of time and how his imagination interprets what his senses can absorb. He starts with watercolor pencils and black marker, creating the basic frame on which to hang the paint.

“I could spend hours and hours on a painting, but I have a limited amount of time to get them done during the show,” Sockrider said. “So a lot of times, I’ll get started early with the architecture, things that aren’t moving. Before the show, I can see things, the crowd isn’t there yet, the lighting is better. I can put in the architecture while I can still see it.

“Then the crowd fills in, and I end up putting the crowd in front of a lot of those things. I try to use my time as wisely as possible to get it done.”

Once he has constructed the bones of his work, Sockrider begins to add the details. His favorite medium is acrylic paint on 300-pound watercolor paper, applying layer after layer after layer to get intense color variations.

“It’s really vivid colors, bright colors, and it dries fast,” he said of the paint. “What I need when I am painting live is that it dries fast so I can paint on top of it, do multiple layers of colors. I like having about four or five layers of color. It kind of vibrates and adds depth to it the more color I can get in there.”


Sockrider tries to capture his perception of a show from wherever he’s situated in the audience, whether it’s a corner of The Barkley Ballroom in Frisco or a scrap of space at the world-renowned Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison. Though he considers himself a realist, and focuses that style on the band and some background elements in his paintings, he combines that realism with a healthy dose of abstract components to show the energy and emotion of the music and the crowd.

“I especially like including my friends that attended, even if it’s just a silhouette or quick rendition,” he said. “The lighting at a show is a special challenge to re-create, due to being dynamic and constantly changing. While creating the lighting, at first, was frustrating and challenging, I’ve grown to enjoy creating the different complex lighting situations.”

Another challenge is dealing with the constant ebb and flow of the crowd, both capturing that movement in his paintings and maintaining focus in a sea of rowdy people, ranging from the intoxicated to fellow artist types who want to show off their own skills on whatever blank piece of paper happens to be sitting out.

“Some guy, the other night, he didn’t want me to paint anymore,” Sockrider said with a laugh. “He was on something, and he almost physically restrained me to stop painting, and they had to kick him out. There’s always people spilling drinks on me, spilling drinks on the painting. They come up and draw on my painting.”

Trying to relate to the crowd and their various enthusiasms while still completing his work in the limited timeframe allowed can be challenging, but Sockrider said it’s no big deal if someone accidentally dumps a cocktail on his work in progress.

“That’s the good thing about watercolor paper; you just dry it off and start painting again,” he said. “People really freak out, and are like, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’”

Despite the distractions, the artist said he gets a kind of tunnel vision when he begins a piece and the show slides by at break-neck speed as he tries to get as much done as he can, as quickly as possible. Three or four hours can pass in what feels like only moments, he said, and then it’s over.


Sockrider is an accomplished artist and illustrator, having worked on projects ranging from military and law enforcement training manuals to teachers’ guides for the beloved PBS children’s franchise “Reading Rainbow.” He’s had drawings win contests and hang in the U.S. Capitol building and the Museum of Nebraska Art, but since his first experience painting live action at the 10,000 Lakes Festival in 2009, he hasn’t ever wanted to go back to the standard of painting from reference photos and sketches.

Now, his work adorns the walls of The Barkley Ballroom in Frisco and was featured on the all-access backstage passes for the 2013 concert season at Red Rocks. In the future, Sockrider hopes to show in a gallery and to focus more on painting live shows, with the dream of being able go on extended road trips with friends, following his favorite bands and traveling from show to show creating paintings along the way.

“This is really a project that started just for fun, not intended to make a lot of money,” said Sockrider, who works as a web developer and computer-based designer by day. “It’s good to get away from the computer and create something by hand. If it ever seems like work, if it doesn’t feel right, if it’s a band I don’t like, I don’t want to go there and paint. I’m doing it for fun and to enjoy the music, and producing a painting is just that much more for me. It’s really a labor of love.”

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