Last Dance

If you have read very many of my posts you’ve probably picked up on the trend that I listen to a lot of music especially, when I am creating. Music keeps me from being overly analytical while I create and lets me just be in the moment. Often I am dancing and singing around my studio as I work on colorful watercolor painting and large pastel pieces. Its similar to how Cate Blanchett looked in this scene from the movie Bandits. When I am working on tight realistic pieces I often listen calmer music because it allows me to focus on the detail of the painting.

Well a few months ago I had this idea that came to me. I thought it would be cool to create a series paintings of some of the most influential musicians of my life. I started creating a list and looking for reference photos. This included artists like David Bowie, Tom Petty, Janis Joplin, Dave Matthews, and Bob Dylan. I was really excited to work on this project. Then life and commissions kept me too busy to get a chance to make any more headway on it.

Then with the passing of Tom Petty last week I knew I had at least completed my painting of him. I talked about my love and appreciation of his work in a previous post. In that post also shared a charcoal portrait I drew of him. The charcoal piece is more of calm thoughtful piece. For this painting I wanted it to have a feeling of movement and lighting – like he was in the middle of putting on a concert. I painted it to have an impressionistic edge to it so it didn’t get bogged down by details.

 

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Last Dance – Watercolor painting of Tom Petty

In the past I have painted many animals in this colorful style but this is the first person I have painted while using this style. I learned a lot from the process and am excited by how it turned out.

More pieces will be added to the musicians Series over the upcoming months.

-Lauren

 

Southern Accents – Tom Petty

Tom Petty - Charcoal
Southern Accents – Charcoal Portrait of Tom Petty

Tom Petty is the most influential musician and lyricist of my life. I was eight or nine when I really became aware of his music (late 90’s). My love of his music became borderline obsessive. I woke up to the greatest hits album every day for three years. To this day I feel like I’m waking up when I hear the opening notes to American girl. While my peers gushed about boy bands like The Backstreet boys and N’sync. I was following Tom Petty’s nasally voice down the rabbit hole of Rock Music. My love of his music led to my introduction to The Traveling Wilburys. Which in turn caused me to develop a great love of Bob Dylan.

My love of Tom Petty was something that helped me find common ground with my new step dad. I cant tell you how many times we watched Concert For George DVD together in which Tom Petty played. When I was 12 my mom took me to a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert for their Last DJ tour. Later, When Ipod’s came out songs like “Running down a Dream” and his cover of “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” were staples on my running playlist while I ran miles for cross country practice. When I was 19 and working at a fruit stand I listened to his Wildflowers album approximately 500 times because it was one of two CDs the owner had in a building that didn’t get radio reception. I would listen to his music as painted. When I rocked my babies to sleep at night I would often sing to them:

Goodnight baby, sleep tight my love

May God watch over you from above

Tomorrow I’m workin’ what would I do

I’d be lost and lonely if not for you

So close your eyes

We’re alright for now

I’ve spent my life travelin’

Spent my life free

I could not repay all you’ve done for me

So sleep tight baby

Unfurrow your brow

And know I love you

We’re alright for now

We’re alright for now

-Tom Petty, Alright For Now

In short he has been the soundtrack to my life.

When I found about his passing I went down to my studio to watch his biography, shed some tears, and put my feelings on paper. When I was done I entitled the portrait “Southern Accents” after one of my favorite songs he wrote.

Tom, Thank you for 40 years of music and poetry.