Rainbo Club Woodblock Print by Steve Connell


Rainbo Club Woodblock Print by Steve Connell

from 80.00

Says Steve Connell about this piece: Straddling Chicago's Ukrainian Village and Wicker Park neighborhoods, the Rainbo Club has a classic Chicago history. The little, gritty club dates back to the 1930s and was quite the rough and tumble burlesque bar. Nelson Algren hung out here and it is believed that it was the inspiration for the bar in his book "The Man with the Golden Arm," which was later turned into a movie. This was also one of singer Liz Phair's hangouts, and her first album cover was taken in the photo booth inside the club.  It's just the kind of nighttime joint that fits my sensibilities, so of course I had to paint it and add it to this series.

Each painting is mounted and varnished onto an 11x14 inch or 18x24 inch stained wood block that can immediately be hung on the wall without the need for framing. I print my paintings with archival inks on a slightly textured water-color paper. They are rated to last 100 years.

Also comes in two print sizes on the Prints page.

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There is something about nighttime in the jungle of the urban landscape that reaches into the primitive part of the brain. We interpret the night differently. The ordinary is transformed. Our senses are more acute and we see things not noticed by day. Because of the surrounding darkness, light dances and hits our eyes more intensely. Colors are more saturated. If the street is deserted, you can hear the hum of the neon, the echo on the sidewalks.



I create these paintings in a primitive way but my medium is as high tech as it gets. I use the most simple brush – my finger; the canvas – an iPad. The act of finger-painting on an iPad is like painting with light itself. There is a satisfying immediacy to the medium. The subjects I choose to paint shine in the night. Some of them are well known, others just attract me like a moth. The streets of Chicago offer an endless source of possibilities.

I have painted with traditional methods for years – oils, acrylics. I started finger-painting digitally first on an iPhone, then an iPad just a few years ago. I adapted quickly and grew to love the medium, especially with this night series.

I start by taking reference photos, then create a sketch based on them, taking artistic liberties as I go. I move and subtract certain things. I build a painting just like I would with traditional media. I pick a color palette, brush styles, opacity levels, but it's all digital and I use my finger as a brush. I can zoom in to do detail work and zoom out to create broad brushstrokes.

Once finished, I move my files to the computer, and from there, I can print the paintings as small or large archival high-quality prints on paper, mounted woodblocks or large canvas giclees.



I live and work in Chicago as a commercial illustrator. I fell in love with Chicago back when I used to visit as a tourist. The architecture and the unique neighborhoods struck an instinctual chord. I have always been drawn to the visual nature of nighttime in large cities...the streets, the alleys, the lights, the corner diners and bars. I admire and am influenced by Edward Hopper's night paintings.

This Chicago Night series just sort of naturally emerged as I started finger painting on my iPad. 

Painting on an iPad is still novel but is ultimately just another tool in the artist's arsenal. Artists have always been adopting new technology, each of which inspires in its own way.