After I finished my last painting, The Kiss, I immediately stretched a canvas and went right in to “let’s do that again!” mode. And produced this:

A Total Mess
A Total Mess

Well, that’s not exactly correct. I didn’t “paint” that. What I painted was crap so I just took a rag to the canvas. Then I didn’t do anything for a couple of days. I think maybe I needed a time to get out of the last one and clear my mind for something new.

On second go round, I decided to refer back to something I did back in the early 1990’s. I recently found a folder of chalk pastel on paper work that I did from that time and I was really pleased at what I saw. I’d forgotten about much of it. One that intrigued me was this.

Untitled Chalk on paper 16×20″ © JayB

I had posted a few of these old works on Twitter and a couple of people confirmed my thoughts that this one had a musical quality to it. We’d also been watching the documentary “Jazz” by Ken Burns on Netflix, so I thought music would be a good theme for my new painting.

After 3 hours work, I managed to get these thoughts on canvas in a basic form.

Work In Progress
Work In Progress

I didn’t really follow much but the basic form of the original work, but that’s Jazz right? While I had the idea that I wanted it to be generally reflective of music, I didn’t want to be too literal so I kept the shapes abstract. Over time, these abstract shapes began to resolve into something more resembling actual notes. Still, they were not too literal. Fast forward a couple of weeks and something quite strange happened.

People showed up.

Work in progress
Work in progress

I guess it’s probably not that strange. Firstly, I had to do something with the “hotdog in a bun” I’d unintentionally created on the right side of the canvas. But also, more to the theme, music is nothing without people to listen. I didn’t really plan on them being there, but as I found out with The Kiss, when people want to show up in the paint, they’ll just do it.

I also began to add some detail to the background to help give a sense of depth but also to reflect an idea of the smoky jazz bar. Not like that’s something you can find any more. Even before I mentioned the inspiration, Debra from Twitter said “Makes me think of figures listening to music notes passing by… And leaning towards them. As one does.“. Which is exactly right.

The final result? A homage to “Jazz”.

"Jazz" 26x32in oil on canvas.  © 2014 JayB
“Jazz” 26x32in oil on canvas. © 2014 JayB

Once more, a strange odyssey and something very different from anything else I’ve done but I’m thrilled to discover this.

2 thoughts on “Learning Jazz

  1. Wes Montgomery was playing while I was reading this and looking at the painting. It felt like I was looking at an album cover and reading the liner notes. Now I need to find the cover of this album and see if there’s a spooky resemblance. I’m happy that the hot dog in a bun made an appearance too though.

  2. Really enjoyed following this painting develop through your Twitter posts. When the people appeared I immediately thought of jazz. What a delight to find out the title of the painting and this blog post about its development. I love both jazz and the homage to in this new work of art.

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