off the coast
a splash quite unnoticed
But this sketchbook could do more. I imagined using music as the inspiration for us to create art. Where the painting inspired the writing before, now the writing inspires the painting, or in the case of my first sketch, oil pastels.
One of my favorite memories with Michael is of a small concert in Baltimore I attended just before moving to Singapore. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's film Once (a musical movie) was one of my favorites, and the two were on stage in my own hometown. I wanted to freeze that moment in time, seeing them in person and hearing their heartfelt music -- soon enough, we found out the concert had been professionally recorded, and we raced to buy it on iTunes. I often find myself going back to one song they performed that night (and that Glen had performed years earlier with his band, The Frames.
"Star Star" centers me. There's a point in the song where he surprises you. It fills me with the wonder of a child and is my go-to song when I'm having a tough day as a grown-up.
Quite simply, it's my song.
But I was stuck with how I'd make it into art. I wrote the lyrics down. I made lists to generate images, like the verbs he used, the repeated images (sorry, I'm an RLA teacher)...and then I threw my pencil down, thinking, I don't want to do Starry Night like Van Gogh. I'm teaching my students how to avoid cliche, for goodness sake!
So I went into Barbara's art studio, played the song for a few of her students, and told her the story. She guided me to the oil pastels. We talked about paper and color; the rules of thirds and negative space; freedom to screw up.
Freedom to get my fingers dirty as I smudge everything. Freedom to not fill the whole thing in. Freedom to make movement visible and messy. Freedom to press hard on the oil pastel. Yes, I need to be told to let go, on occasion.
Which was the point of the song, oddly enough. Funny how art can bring us back to the images in the music that inspired us in the first place. Barbara "taught me how to shine, shine." Thank you, Barbara. And thank you, Glen.