Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Crafting a CD Album Cover

Recording with me and my 5-string electric Cherry cello
Life is funny. I am on a journey that I would have never even imagined or purposefully created if I had even thought to try. I am going to tell the full story here so pull up a chair and a good cup of tea, or beverage of choice, and read on. 
When I was almost nine years old, I wanted to play the banjo. I was entranced by Roy Clark's mastery of the instrument. He was a fantastic musician, in spite of the goofing around on TV. My wonderful, supportive parents did their best to locate a banjo and lessons for me. The local guitar making shop told them I should learn the guitar first (ha!) and sold them a small classical guitar. I got that guitar and lessons for my birthday. I accepted that I had to learn to play the guitar first. As an adult, I suspect the shop wanted to sell my folks a guitar. So I learned to play the classical guitar. I will admit, my heart was never in it. I never did learn to play the banjo and I played a final performance with my guitar in a community musical at the age of 24 and then hung it up for good.

My wonderful mate, Bob, plays the trumpet and cornet (which looks a lot like a trumpet) and has played since he was nine years old. He is quite good now since he has never stopped playing. In my late thirties, I got the itch to play music again. Maybe it was all the concerts I attended to watch my mate play. This time, I got to pick my own instrument to learn. I fell in love with the cello and with the support of my husband, got a rental and lessons.
The cello is not the easiest instrument to learn to play, let alone play, specially as an adult. My love of the instrument kept me going even though I wasn't sure exactly how and where I wanted to go with it.
Life shifted, as it has a way of doing, and I had to put the cello down for a few years. We made a major life change, sold our house, moved to Oregon, went to art school, and ended up here in this wonderful coastal community entirely unexpectedly.
The winters here are long, dark, and stormy. After the tourist season, this artistic community gets busy. There are always concerts, music, readings, writings, and volunteer opportunities to be had and there is plenty of time to practice an instrument. I decided to pull my cello out again and we started going to a local jam session. There we met Sedona and Michael in their musical capacity, then working as Sedona Fire. They are both very accomplished musicians and songwriters. They liked Bob's playing and asked him to join up with them as they were expanding their band. Now, I am going to be honest here, I had just picked up the cello again and was more or less back to beginning level. In spite of that, out of politeness or kindness, they included me in the invitation. I know they had no idea how I was going to fit in and neither did I but I was willing to work hard to find out!

Gradually, and ever so painfully, my cello skills have improved ( I still have along way to go). I have Bob to thank for that as I am doing this all on my own and lessons are a luxury that I can't afford at this time. It isn't always easy working with a spouse who doesn't play the same instrument or even one in the same family. My mate knows his music though and is a published composer himself. He and his skills have been a tremendous help and inspiration.

To wrap this all up, and get to the art stuff, two years later I suddenly find myself participating in the recording of a new CD for our band AND painting the CD cover as well as designing the whole package! Like I said, I would have never even envisioned this let alone expect this to happen. Life can be good that way. I should also mention that I will soon be 52. I have to say life after 50 is grand and one should never believe they are too old to start something new!

So, here is the brief evolution of creating the CD cover. As I have mentioned many times, I paint from life, plein air studies, and visual memory. This project required some imagination too. First I sketched out a few designs and did a bit of research on album covers. My first design was way too complex so I changed and simplified it. Once the design was decided I set up what amounts to a still life for part of it. The final painting incorporates symbols that represent several of the songs. Here is what the set-up looks like:
Pages of the Mind album set up.
Although I thought I documented the steps of the painting, apparently I didn't do it as well as I would have liked. I was under a deadline on top of spending many late nights recording or rehearsing. So here is the almost final painting:
© 2014, R.L. Delight, Pages of the Mind, 12"x12", oil on gessobord
I got to this point and now need to let it dry before putting a few subtle finishing touches. The CD artwork could not wait though and it finished enough for the cover. Here is what the final cover art looks like:
© 2014 R.L. Delight, The Sedona Fire Band, CD cover art.
It has been an incredible learning experience and I am excited, and tired! We had a final listen to the finished mock up of the cd. The music sounds fantastic. We are all excited and pleased. The music is original with the exception of the final song which is an old traditional one. No worries, I will be announcing when it comes out and where it could be sampled and purchased it one is so inclined. The release is due out in April, knock on wood. It has been a long and tiring process for us all.
Phew! That is all for now. If you have read this whole thing, thank you! I hope everyone realizes that it is almost never too late in life to start a new journey. I will never reach the level of Yo Yo Ma in my cello playing but I will get good enough to have a lot of fun playing music with my band mates. That is worth it.
So, get out those hidden dreams and go for it!


Cindie said...

Very nice CD cover and congrats on the new CD you're playing on.

R. Delight said...

Thank you Cindie!

Dana said...

Wow! What a lot you have on your plate! I didn't know you were mastering two artistic forms at once. Its so satisfying to combine them like you do on the lovely album cover. Congratulations and nice work.

R. Delight said...

Thank you Dana! I am a long way from mastery and might not ever get there but I do my best to enjoy the journey!

Theresa said...

Life is never a straight road, nor should it be. I like to think of it as a deer trail, full of twists and turns, a fair amount of ducking and some breath taking vistas.
Congrats for the success in both art forms. You are amazing! :)

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