It all started three years ago at a music event. My friends, Melody Watson and Kris Ferris were producing musical events in the area at the time. They would bring guest artists to various venues around the city for a fabulous evening of music.
I was asked to run the green room for a show featuring an up-and-coming artist they were hosting. Of course I'd never done something like that before, and had always wondered what really goes on in a ‘green room’ like I see on CBS news and the like. "Who will the guest artist be?", I asked. “Shana Tucker” Kris said. Of course not knowing many people in the music industry, my next question was: "Who is Shana Tucker?" He told me that she was a fabulous cello player, who also sings jazz and writes many of her own songs. It seems worth mentioning, too, that she plays and sings with the production company Cirque de Soleil's KÀ. Ok... back to that green room thing. What do you do to prepare this green room? You find out what kind of drinks and food they might like, stock the room with those items and in between sets be there to help them with any needs they might have. Sounds like fun and a new experience, so I said yes. I was also asked if I wanted to bring my camera and take photos while Shana was performed that evening. Of course that is also right up my alley so I did.
A lovely affair it was... held at Greensboro College and having a very nice attendance. During the evening I was able to get quite a few good photos as well as meet and spend time with this lovely young lady who is multi-talented and very outgoing. The night turned out wonderfully for me as well as a great evening for Shana whose music captivated all in the audience during the performance and encore.
The next day as I was going through my photos I found one remarkable photo and promptly emailed it to Shana, Melody and Kris. All of us loved the photo and Shana immediately wrote back asking permission to use it in her upcoming promotional material as she was heading to New York City. I was honored and of course said she could use it. In that same email I also told her that one day I was going to paint from that photo. She was very encouraging.
Finally, on October 6, 2015, I drew the composition on the canvas. My goal here was to get a 'loose' outline of the image. You can see that I drew it in white chalk first, made some of the necessary corrections... yes, all of this is free-hand... then I drew it again with charcoal and sprayed it with a fixative to 'set it' and to be sure I didn't lose any of my critical lines. Yes, there would be many more corrections made as I blocked it in and as I painted.
I'm not going to bore you with a description of each of the steps as I moved through the process of painting this image; I'll just show you my photos as I worked toward capturing a real impression of the singer in oil. On March 29, 2016, a mere five months after drawing it, I finally finished it. Just let me say it was tedious work, especially as I labored over the fingers and the cello to get the correct color and mood. My goal was to have the fingers on the cello to be a focus area. A lot of time was spend just focusing on those areas as well as getting her skin color correct. If I've succeeded, you my viewers will find that your eyes move from the hand at the bottom, to the top hand, to the face and back down to the fingers on the strings of the cello. That was my intention as I cropped the photo and painted.
Here's the finished painting!! It's 20 x 30 on linen canvas with black sides.
Last month I enter the painting in a juried show called Celebration of Women. I was surprised and grateful to win second place. And just Friday when I went to pick up the painting I was informed that I had also won The People's Choice Award!!! Yep... doing a happy dance on that one.
I do own this painting... I'm not sure I will ever paint her again... so I want to keep it in my personal collection. But I did make a giclee (jee-klay) print, which is a digital print made with an ink jet printer on canvas to give the effect of the original painting, for one of my collectors. She is very pleased with it, and has shared all the comments she is hearing as guests come to her home and see it for the first time. In the future, I may do a couple more giclees of it for people who are showing great interest in have a copy in their collections as well.
I hope you've enjoyed reading about how a painting like this one is conceived, labored over, and finally has a life of its own. Your thoughts are appreciated, as always.