What was I thinking?

I was very young with very little money when I had this big idea of making a coffee table book of artwork done by six musicians. While Joni Mitchell was the first person I thought of, she was the fifth artist to participate in my first book, Starart. It took me a whole year, calling Joni's manager every other week before I finally got a meeting with her. I showed her mock-ups of the first four artists and she immediately said "yes". She wanted to do something with her art and liked the idea of being in a book with other artist/musicians so she wouldn't have to carry all the pressure. Her quick decision (after me waiting a year) was a huge relief and reinforced my belief to 'never give up'.

The process of putting the book began with me taking snapshots (slide film) of all the artists works, doing their portraits, interviewing them for their story and getting captions for the art pieces. I had the film developed and arranged the slides chronologically, picking what I felt was relevant to their artistic journey. Once I knew how the pages for each artist would lay out, I'd size the slides for prints and write/type their biography and the captions, then paste all of the art and text onto paper.

I was fascinated and impressed by her artistic journey, from simplistic small ink drawings during her early folk days to the huge detailed canvases influenced by her complex jazz music. I studied every piece of art Joni created, to the point when it came time to make prints from her slides and was a bit short on funds, I decided to hand draw every piece in her 36 pages.

What was I thinking? Plagiarizing over 50 pieces of Joni Mitchell's art. Knowing that I would have to show her this mock-up and she could decide not to be in the book. Stupid move. I agonized over every piece trying to capture the details and the overall feel. I spent a lot of time on it. I think I was possessed, trying to channel her genius. After all, we were born a hundred apart in Alberta, Canada and both in November (her's on the 7th, mine on the 10th). Seriously, what was I thinking?

I couldn't have been more nervous showing up at her manager's office to meet with her. She had already seen the mock-ups I did on the other artists. You know, the ones with the photo prints of their work. I slowly pulled her mock-up out of my bag, then out of the big envelope and blurted out how, do to unexpected circumstances, I had to draw all of her work. I saw a very brief OMG tinge in her eyes and then an optimistic "wow" out of her mouth. As she leafed through her pages she couldn't believe it. She loved what I had done and said I should print my drawings of her art instead.

I knew she didn't mean that but her thoughtfulness reinforced my purpose to make the most beautiful coffee book I could to showcase their art to the world. To this day I can't believe they trusted me; this very young girl with no track record, no cred -- just an idea in my head and a fear of not following through. To this day, I am beyond grateful to Commander Cody, Klaus Voormann, John Mayall, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell and Ronnie Wood. With the loss of so many musicians last year, I am so thankful that these six are still with us. 

Here's a spread of Joni's mock-up:

If you're new to my site, check out the STARART section for photos, art and video of these amazing artist/musicians. And don't forget, you can excel in more than one discipline if your willing to put in the extra work.

HB Ron Wood!

Celebrating Ron Wood's birthday today! How old are you, Ronnie?

RON WOOD

I shot this never-before-seen photograph of Ron Wood while he was signing the Starart Limited Edition books. Which reminds me there is one brand new, still boxed, copy available at a discount for the next couple of days. Grab it while you can.

Cool video of Stay With Me...


HB Klaus Voormann

When the huge outpouring for Prince took over the internet I thought it was a shame that how we feel about the musicians we love is massively put out there after the person dies. I think we should celebrate our icons while they're still here and can feel the love.

This is why I am celebrating the birthdays of musicians I've had the privilege to photograph, and in this case, also publish his artwork in Starart for the world to see.

Today Klaus Voormann turned 78. And it is my hope that he stays around for a long, long time. Check out the video below...it's perfect for today as he's recording and mucking around in the studio with his pal, P. McCartney.

 
 

KLAUS VOORMANN

From Klaus's A Sideman's Journey released in 2009, this video is like a birthday party. Enjoy...

 
 

Pick up your new copy of the trade edition of my first book, Starart.

 
 

Or better yet, the Limited Edition Starart book, signed by the artists.

 
 

And a print of his painting, Tushe, numbered and signed or a straight print.

 
 

Yusuf/Cat Stevens

Happy Birthday, Yusuf!

When I started working on Starart, Yusuf was Cat Stevens. We met several times in Los Angeles, gathered all his artwork, did an interview for the text which included his thoughts on each piece of art. Several months later I went to London to pick up and shoot some of Klaus Voormann's works and to show Steven (as he was called) the mock-up for his section and make the final revisions before we went to print. When I got to his London office, he was dressed completely in white and was sitting on a window sill studying the Koran. He told me he was now Yusuf Islam but he would honor his agreement to be in the book but he didn't want the text I had written from the interviews we did. Instead he wanted to use lyrics with each word that represented a color had to be printed in that color. I did finally convince him to leave in some of his quotes about the pieces of art.

I appreciated that he took his transition to becoming a Muslim very seriously. And respected him for not backing out of the project - his art works were amazing and fit well with the other five artists. I was disappointed that I didn't get to shoot his portrait for the book as I did with the others as he was no longer Cat Stevens...so I had to use this one which he provided.

This is one of many pieces of art in Cat Stevens's section of Starart.

Tried to find are more current live video as he's back to playing but those ones are all full concerts, but I love this song and his intro to it.

 
 

Another Saturday Night

It's Saturday which immediately reminded me of this song, written by Sam Cooke (1963) and covered by Cat Stevens (1974). The song was a top 10 hit for both of them.

 
 

I worked with Cat Stevens a couple of years after this concert, when he agreed to participate in my first book, Starart. When I was working with him in Los Angeles, he was Cat Stevens and when I went to work with him in London he was in the process of becoming Yusuf Islam. He was conflicted on continuing his participation in the book - which also includes Joni Mitchell, John Mayall, Klaus Voormann, Ron Wood and Commander Cody - since he was 'no longer' Cat Stevens. 

He chose to stay in the book because he had made the commitment, however, he did tell out the opening text (written from an interview I did with him) to his section of the book and most of the comments he had made about his art. I digitized the interview and may post it some tim e in the future. Thinking I should also find the original text that was going to be in the book and publish that at some point.

This is one of his pieces from the book. It is Untitled. Definitely inspired by his exploration of Buddhism. 

CatStevensPrint.jpg

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!