April 08, 2008

By Jeff Hahne

Many people know Paul Stanley the musician. He's the 'Starchild' who's been the frontman of the band KISS for 35 years. Most people aren't aware, however, that he's also a painter. Not only the kind of painter who sits at home and paints as a creative outlet, but the kind of painter who sold roughly $2 million worth of work in 2007.

'Interestingly, the galleries will tell you there are people who come in and are drawn to certain pieces without ever even knowing it's me; that's secondary,' Stanley says from his California home. 'I will also say in the same breath that no doubt my success and my fame gets my foot in the door. But you can still slam the door on my foot. Nobody's going to spend a good sum of money on art because they like it when I sing 'Rock And Roll All Night.' If they do, then they'd be better spending their money elsewhere.'

Stanley, who attended the prestigious Manhattan School for Music and Art, was always focused on music. He says he is one of the few to fail art at the school and didn't even pick up a paint brush until 2000. While going through a divorce, a friend of his suggested that he paint to release emotion. 'I went to an art supply store and bought canvases and paints and palate knives and brushes and all kinds of things that I was clueless to use and went home and started painting,' he says. 'What never crossed my mind was to show any of my work. It was a very solitary and very intimate experience. It was really about trying to purge emotions.'

The first piece he painted wasn't signed because he didn't want anyone to know he painted it. However, when positive reactions flowed in, the idea of showing his work grew. He notes that one of the most interesting aspects of his artwork is that portraits he did of the members of KISS have been the least popular.

His artwork, using acrylic paints, is often comprised of bright colors. The average original is roughly 4 feet by 5 feet, but prints are often smaller. 'I believe art is for everybody, whether you're in a trailer or a villa,' he says. 'Somebody said I was fearless of color. What's there to fear? I've never been bitten by blue, or attacked by red.'

'There's one piece that I have called 'Scream,' which was not done at a very pleasant time in my life,' Stanley says. 'It was kind of tough for me to look at, at that point. I love the painting more today because it's kind of a snapshot of where I was once and how far I've come.'

Stanley, 56, is now remarried and pauses during the interview when his youngest child comes running into the room. He's not the flamboyant front man that you see on stage. He's calm with his answers