Sunday, June 08, 2008

There is an exhibition coming up in an art gallery in London with drawings of Bob Dylan. The singer-songwriter of visual poetry, appears to be a fine artis himself. The singer of When I paint my Masterpiece started exploring fine arts when he was living in Woodstock and invited to the studio of his neighbour. He also followed painting classes by Norman Raeben (the son of Sholom Aleichem. He went to the Metropolitan Museum: 'The first exhibition I saw there was of Gauguin paintings and I found I could stand in front of any one of them for as long as I'd sit at the movies, yet not get tired on my feet. I'd lose all sense of time."

"I have done sketching all my life. In notebooks. on napkins, on rough paper, on cardboard plates and coffee pots. basically when there is something to look at. "
"I've done sketching most of my life. In notebooks, on napkins, on rough paper or cardboard, plates and coffee pots … basically when there's something to look at –
"I've done sketching most of my life. In notebooks, on napkins, on rough paper or cardboard, plates and coffee pots … basically when there's something to look at –
"I've done sketching most of my life. In notebooks, on napkins, on rough paper or cardboard, plates and coffee pots … basically when there's something to look at –
"I've done sketching most of my life. In notebooks, on napkins, on rough paper or cardboard, plates and coffee pots … basically when there's something to look at –
Read more at his autobiography Chronicles, vol 1, Dylan writes: "What would I draw? Well, I guess I would start with whatever was at hand. I sat at the table, took out a pencil and paper and drew the typewriter, a crucifix, a rose, pencils, knives and pins, empty cigarette boxes'd lose track of time completely Not that I thought I was any great drawer, but I did feel like I was putting an orderliness to the chaos around."Rows of houses, orchard acres, lines of tree trunks, could be anything. I can take a bowl of fruit and turn it into a life and death drama.
Dylan has decorated the covers of his albums Self Portrait and Planet Waves and Music of Big Pink by The Band, all in an expressionist style. "I did this portrait for the cover. I mean, there was no title for that album. I knew somebody who had some paints and a square canvas, and I did the cover up in about five minutes. And I said, 'Well, I'm gonna call this album Self Portrait" For the Bootleg series he drew Another Self portrait in pastel . Twelve of his  imaginary pastel portraits are currently exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery under the title "FaceValue'

. A sketchbook of him is published 'Drawn blank' (1994) with pen and charcoal sketches made during three years during his concert tours "mainly to relax and refocus a restless mind. Mostly when I was on a train or in a café, just to make sense of what was in my immediate world. I found it relaxed me." Sometimes he also working with models. In the Biograph booklet one can see photographs of him drawing the view from a hotel window
For the exhibition he reworked these sketches. The drawings were digitally transferred to bigger sheets of paper. and he added bright colours of watercolour or gouache. These fauvist reworkings are not always good, but on the Trains Tracks (image above) it really works. The orange sky it a good addition to the black & white graphics. This drawing is a personal memory of his youth "I’d seen trains from my earliest childhood days. The sound of trains off in the distance more or less made me feel at home".

His portraits show strong shapes and strong contrasts as can be seen on the studio photograph below. During the recording of Oh Mercy he has made a charcoal portrait of his producer Daniel Lanois. He borrowed a sketch pad from a session musician, said: Daniel, do you mind if I sketch your picture? He made a charcoal portrait of him with his bandana and long Indian style hair

During an interview in his touring bus he is sketching the face of the journalist. (see ). In the song Highlands, a 17- minute 'talking blues' song, he is describing a scene in a restaurant where he is making a portrait sketch of the waitress:

I'm in Boston town, in some restaurant. I got no idea what I want. Well, maybe I do but I'm just really not sure. Waitress comes over. Nobody in the place but me and her.

It must be a holiday, there's nobody around. She studies me closely as I sit down. She got a pretty face and long white shiny legs. She says, "What'll it be?"I say, "I don't know, you got any soft boiled eggs?".

She looks at me, Says "I'd bring you somebut we're out of 'm, you picked the wrong time to come "Then she says, "I know you're an artist, draw a picture of me! "I say, "I would if I could, but, I don't do sketches from memory."

"Well", she says, "I'm right here in front of you, or haven't you looked?". I say," all right, I know, but I don't have my drawing book! "She gives me a napkin, she says, "you can do it on that". I say, "yes I could but, I don't know where my pencil is at!

"She pulls one out from behind her ear. She says "all right now, go ahead, draw me, I'm standing right here "I make a few lines, and I show it for her to see. Well she takes a napkin and throws it back. And says "that don't look a thing like me!"I said, "Oh, kind miss, it most certainly does", She says, "you must be jokin.'" I say, "I wish I was!"

Friday, June 06, 2008

I just listened to a recording of Nina Simone, 'Feelings' at Montreux Jazz festival 1976. I never have heard somebody singing a song so emotionally and I never have seen such sad black eyes .
You can see it at YouTube
She requests the audience to join her singing the chorus : Come on, you know this song. But the people are so flabbergasted by all the grief coming from stage, that there is a total silence in the hall. Nobody felt the need to sing or clap with the soft vulnerable vocals of with emotional outburst. In fact Nina's singing was equal to crying. And without any support she looks even more lonely. Her singing has virtuoso piano intermezzo, showing her background as a classical educated pianist.

What happened to Nina Simone that she was in this mood? In 1966 broke up with her husband and manager and ended the cooperation with her record company RCA. Her last record with this label was named "It is finished". She intended to quit her career. Nina left to Africa and only gave concerts was she was short of money. In 1976 financial problems made her return to Europe. Nina begged the manager of Montreux Jazz Festival to fit her in the already fully booked schedule. There was only 20 minutes available for her (and she was paid accordingly). In the end the planned twenty minutes concert turned into a full hour performance.

Monday, June 02, 2008

I wrote this poem for a friend whose loudspeakers of his hifi set broke down and who is forced to listen to the sound of the finch. He is an translator/editor by profession but now he cannot concentrate on his job, as the bird is occupying his mind. the bird is free, but the man feels caged.


Mijn luidsprekers hebben t begeven
en naast me zingt een vink vol leven
Zijn vreugde wordt geuit
in een eindeloos geluid
Hij blijft zich herhalen
en verstoort mijn talen
Zonder dit dominante beest

had mijn geest vrij geweest.
Al zit ik een getto gevangen
het doet met niet verlangen
naar naar de vrije natuur
met zo'n irritante buur

I drew for this finch (vink) voor the family Vinckenburg who wanted an illustration for a birth card of their child, their 'little finch'' . They found the pencil drawing of this bird with soft feathers cute, but did not realize that it can produce such a annoying sound.

It can be great to be in the middle of nature. but it can also be a relief to be outside of nature. For instance by cycling today through the fields with everything in blossom i got hay fever and i am happy to back to in the centre of the city retreating in my concrete apartment. I just saw the Sean Penn movie Into the Wild about a boy turning his back to civilization and trying to survive in the wilderness of Alaska. I don't know if he is my role model. I like nature, but i think I prefer culture. It also reminds me of the song of David Byrne (Talking Heads) "Nothing but flowers':
Once there were parking lots
Now it's a peaceful oasis
You got it, you got it
This was a Pizza Hut
Now it's all covered with daisies
You got it, you got it
I miss the honky tonks
Dairy Queens, and 7-Elevens
You got it, you got it
And as things fell apart
Nobody paid much attention
You got it, you got it
I dream of cherry pies
Candy bars, and chocolate chip cookies
You got it, you got it
We used to microwave
Now we just eat nuts and berries
You got it, you got it
This was a discount store
Now it's turned into a cornfield
You got it, you got it
Don't leave me stranded here
I can't get used to this lifestyle