Painting Film History: Lil Nas X and Calmatic’s Old Town Road

Lil Nas X Old Town Road by Melissa Carmon.jpg

Painting Film History: Lil Nas X and Calmatic’s Old Town Road

This oil painting was based on a composite of several frames from Calmatic’s Official Movie for Old Town Road by Lil Nas X.  

When I saw the official video for Old Town Road, I had already formed a fondness for the ingenuity of Lil Nas X and for his story.  First, the heartwarming parts:  when the song rose to fame, he bought Billy Ray Cyrus a Maserati.   Then, he performed for a school and bought all the kids stuffed animals.  What’s not to love about that? 

Then, the video: the reference to old westerns, the self-aware humor, the typography. I was struck by the level of attention given to the video in the form of the exquisite costuming and excellent editing. In a way that’s fitting for a song that has bridged cultures and bridged worlds, the video portrays the different worlds and brings them together.  Here’s a link to the official movie if you haven’t seen it yet.

I decided to paint Lil Nas X at the point in the video when his character experiences a turnaround moment.  He’s won a bet racing his horse against a car, and steps into a colorful backdrop wearing his new bejeweled outfit.  This moment seemed symbolic of Lil Nas X’s sudden success— there is something about this song that came out of relative obscurity that mirrored the story of the film.

The painting was a lot of fun to create—  I loved the color palette that was chosen for the film and the costuming. Hats off to everyone who worked on the film!

Melissa Carmon