Saturday, April 30, 2022

Walkin Blues part 1

Time to start working on the next block.  For now that looks like the Robert Johnson project that Tom called me about a couple of months ago.  As he requested, I selected some song lyrics that I thought I could work with, then I did some sketches.  For now, I chose 4 songs, after listening to a bunch of his work on YouTube.  (my own CD's are still in storage)  Of the ideas, two sketches in my sketchbook are further along, and one of those is a vertical composition, which matches the wood I prepared yesterday.  (Next piece of wood I buy, I'll do some horizontal blocks, for the other idea that's further on.)  Since the open studio thing was today and I needed something to work on, this will be it.

As for the title, there is some disagreement as to exactly what it is.  The original Robert Johnson record I had listed the track as "Walkin Blues", while the 2 CD set of complete recordings calls it "Walking Blues".  Which is right?  Both are found all over the internet.  Since what he says in more like walkin, and the record came out a few decades before he disc set, I'll go with that here.

This is a case where I do wish I had my camera, but it's still in storage.  I have an alternative for showing Tom the results, but I hope to solve this dilemma before then.  It's not like I haven't looked, but it seems all the low price cameras are listed as unavailable, and I'd prefer not to go 4 figures for this thing.  So for now you get my descriptions, and someday I'll have photos to share.

The lyrics I chose for this case were, "she breaks in on a dollar 'most anywhere she goes."  What does this mean? Cant find any agreement on that either.  When it comes to blues, my belief is that if the metaphor is not easily understood, it's probably a sexual reference.  In this case, the one explanation I found the most on the web was that it refers to a woman who very easily makes friends with all the men in a room, almost as soon as she arrives.  I took this to mean an attractive woman who gets all the attention.  Sounds like Robert Johnson all right.  So my sketch is what appears to be a bar room, and a somewhat statuesque woman walking toward the viewer, not paying attention to anything going on.  Seated next to her at a table is a couple, the man with his head turned to check out the woman walking past him, while the woman at the table seems unhappy with the effect she has on him.  In the background are 4 figures, male and female, of similar states as the couple.  View is from slightly low and looking slightly upward as a result, so we see more ceiling than we would looking straight out.  

My first step was to look at this in the mirror, to decide which way I wanted the composition in the final piece. I had decided I liked the way it looked in the paper sketch, so I decided to draw it backwards on the block.  Used a mirror to start this process, working from my paper sketch for the overall composition, and for the striding woman.  I had done a sketch of the couple at the table, but for the block I wanted something different, so I looked at sketchbook drawings I had done of men and women at the little cafe tables we made at Belmar Arts.  Since I took all those photos, I don't feel bad about using them as a source.  And in three hours, that is as far as I got.  So right now I have three figures roughed in in the foreground, and four very rough figures in the background.  I left it up there to continue the drawing next time I'm in the Studio.

Unfortunately, I can't listen to Robert Johnson or his contemporaries in the Studio, and I left my book of jazz and blues CD's at home (so many things going on today, something had to be left at home), so I was just left with the few things I keep there.  So as I drew, I listened to acoustic Neil Young (described here back in September of 2021), Toshi Reagon's The Righteous Ones album (see August, 2021), and then a more electric Neil Young with Crazy Horse, details of which I don't have now, though I remember it was a Fillmore show.   


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