Last year, I was in my studio pottering about when I heard music coming from up the street. I went out to see what was happening and there were a group of folk musicians walking about playing , singing and dancing. When they saw me looking they headed in my direction.
Then outside my studio door I had an impromptu concert. I had my camera and took lots of photos as it was such a lovely and unusual event. To have a performance all to myself was just one of these things that happens in Pisticci.
I kept the photos and always thought sometime I must paint this, but there was always something else to do first and I forgot.
Then at the beginning of the year when I always think of new year resolutions (and then forget them) a friend suggested I think of three words that would describe what I want to do/achieve this year. With barely a moments hesitation I came up with , LOVE, SING and DANCE. And then I remembered the folk group.
At this time I was also having a month in my studio on my own and was completely fed up of painting “scenes” . I have always been more interested in painting people but other than portraits I have mainly painted street scenes as they sell.
So It all seemed to fit together. I would paint people singing and dancing and I would love it. (spurious reasoning maybe but I got enthusiastic.) And found the photos. I also studied lots of figurative artists on the internet. Catriona Campbell, a scottish artist being my long time favourite.
Then I really wanted to paint both musicians and dancers but after looking at the photos and considering how to put them together, I found one of two of the musicians walking down the street towards me that I thought had potential. I pretty much enjoyed painting it, though when I realised I was going to have to paint an accordion and hands playing it I thought I might have taken on too much. However I was painting this for myself so I kept going and going and over and over until I was reasonably satisfied.
It was an interesting composition and I thought I had made a reasonable job of it. I also did a bit of singing and dancing along with painting when I discovered all my old cds. (Carole King, Tapestry, in particular .)
So as usual I put it on facebook.
Then I bravely decided I had done that so now I would attempt to do the one I originally wanted to do. I would use three or four photos and pick the liveliest poses from each and put them together in my street. Easy said!
What a nightmare/challenge for a mathematically challenged person. I had to get all the people to fit together on the street, and make them look as they had all been in the one scene. They were all different sizes and I had never done anything so complicated before. It took me a week and three redrawings of the accordion player to them to look like they went together before I even started painting. The whole painting was a big challenge. I very much wanted then all to look like they were moving, I wanted reasonable resemblances, and I didn’t know how I was going to paint the girls’ dresses. Oh and the street angle had to be changed countless times before it looked fairly realistic. The biggest problem was shadows. There were none in the photos, however hard I looked and I just could not work out where they might be. I was on the internet searching for answers to that problem several times. I ended up doing what I felt looked ok.
I can’t really say I enjoyed painting the group but I think I learned such a lot, and I was proud of myself for pushing on through and making it how I wanted. I most certainly enjoy it now. I know how much effort went into it and I am pleased with how far I succeeded in my aims.
Meanwhile the first painting on facebook , much to my surprise was attracting a lot of attention as the two musicians appeared to be quite well known. I hadn’t known that. And after about a week I got a phone call from one of their parents and sold it.
I still have the other one in my studio, but am now friends (at least on facebook) with three out of the four people, and as a result have extended my social life greatly, got some great advertising and am on the right track in LOVING, SINGING and DANCING.