Up In Smoke: The Revolution of High Art

Ten years ago, discussion of marijuana in America usually occurred in hazy clouds of bong smoke in college apartments, whispered deals in darkened corners, and rebellious declarations of support from artists and musicians. And let's not forget about that guy smelling John LennonJohn Lennonof patchouli at the Dave Matthews concert who won't shut up about how high he is. These days, however, Congressmen are discussing both the dangers and the merits of marijuana legalization in the highest halls of government. Suffice to say, things are changing.

Cliff Maynard, an artist raised on the herb-friendly streets of Pittsburgh, hasn't waited around to make his admiration of marijuana public knowledge. In fact, without weed, his art couldn't even exist. It is made completely out of the roaches from thousands of bud-stuffed joints. For those of you not chiefing on the reg, a roach is the rolled up end of a joint. When smoke passes through the end, it leaves a residue of discoloration, usually in shades ranging from yellow to brown. Typically, when the flame gets too close to end, the joint gets stubbed out, leaving a discolored roll of paper, called a roach.

This chronic artist collects thousands of these burnt out roaches, then carefully cuts, arranges, and glues the fragments onto canvas, creating his unbelievably detailed and engaging portraits and scenes. 

Cheech and ChongCheech and Chong


He doesn't use pen, paint, or pigment of any kind during his process, with the exception of a small pencil plan for the spacing of the image. The rich textural tones, shadowing, and details all come from the unique coloration in the roach, caused by the delicious smoke pulled through it. The skill involved in seeing an image in your mind, then creating it with such an unusual material is a level of draughtsmanship I cannot even imagine. The niche or novelty aspect of this art should not overshadow the fact that Cliff Maynard has some serious artistic talent, not to mention that he probably really loves his job. 


Bob MarleyBob Marley


Jerry GarciaJerry Garcia


Jimi HendrixJimi Hendrix


While much of his work centers on celebrity figures or musicians who have a well-known relationship with marijuana, he has recently tapped into the recent shift in opinions about pot in America, creating some symbolic images and collages that have plenty to say. While there is still violent debate in the country over the legality of the wacky weed, the momentum is definitely swinging towards a more open-minded approach.

The potential health benefits, economically stimulating effects, and harmless nature of the drug are strong arguments in support of nationwide legalization. Herb advocates are quick to remind critics that compared to alcohol and cigarettes, marijuana is a healthy and safe way to blow off steam, think outside the box, and test the long-term durability of your new bean bag chair. Some of Maynard's more recent work shows the historical origins of marijuana in the country and the positive social effects of hemp and weed, as well as the overwhelming "grass" roots support for legalization.



Seattle HempfestSeattle Hempfest


Regardless of what message he is trying to share, Maynard's art is stunning and beautiful, a fact which even the loudest anti-drug preachers can't deny. The skill and time involved in creating these marijuana masterpieces is just as significant and impressive as painters and graphic artists who receive such high praise from the mainstream media and the art world as a whole. Watching the artistic process of this Pot Plant Picasso is an amazing thing to behold. Check out this time-lapse video of Maynard at work on his latest piece, titled Revolution 420.



Revolution 420Revolution 420


Maynard has been a featured artist in both popular magazines and underground publications, including High Times, Dope Magazine, Cannabis Culture, and KUSH. This publicity has definitely gained him a large following, although it is hard to get all his fans to show up at the same time (they can be a bit forgetful).

Plenty of stoners and art lovers alike want to hang some of Maynard's unique portraits on the walls of their smoke dens and galleries, respectively, and the artist is happy to comply. He has created full-size giclee editions of his most popular pieces which you can get from his website. If you're curious about the print edition size, it's 420. He also embeds his images on useful paraphernalia... products, like kiefboxes, to add some art and culture to your laziest and most beloved hobby. 



White WidowWhite Widow


Maybe you wake and bake as religiously as you shower. Perhaps you "tried it once" during your wild years in college. Others might even think that "Reefer Madness" is a documentary and would never touch the stuff. Your opinion about the materials isn't important, but you've got to hand it to this one-of-a-kind Chronic artist, the man knows how to un-roll a joint. He is like the last of some ancient Native American tribe, the Indica Sativans, finding a use for every part of his grass. 

If you decide to collect some of Cliff Maynard's work, you can also be sure of one thing....Snoop Dogg approves.

Snoop DoggSnoop Dogg


To get lifted by all of Maynard's artwork and products, float over to his website.

Not Cashed Yet? Check out more of my highest-rated Art Outside the Lines, and follow me on Twitter and Google+ for all my updates