The Bus-y-ness of Art

“I’m busy.” There, I said it. You are probably busy too. What kind of busy is  a better question. Too busy busy? Too tired busy? You may not even know what year it is busy or pretending it is still last weekend busy.

busy tired
whatyear past

Wherever you are on the busy scale, there is still time…

I have been busy lately. Busy at work and with house chores, with organization and family relationships, busy with pet maintenance and meal planning, busy with fixing all of the many broken things in my house and car and life! I am also busy with my art and music projects amidst the busyness. What’s that you say? I am actually working on art and music projects while being “life busy” busy?! Yes I am! The deal is, that I just keep the art and music projects on my giant to-do list. And I do mean GIANT – it’s like never ending in my mind…

The bus-y-ness or business of art is that it just keeps going. You keep making it, keep generating ideas and writing them down, keep on keeping on – whether calm or not.

keep calm can't keep calm

My friend S recently said he can only paint when he feels secure. He hasn’t painted in almost 7 years. My advice was to just pull out a sketch book and draw something. Not a finished masterpiece something, just his foot or something. It’s never going to be the perfect time to make a painting or write a song. Even retired people don’t get to really retire anymore. So there is never going to be time. Add it to your to-do list, and I guarantee sketching your foot is going to look a lot better than scrubbing the bathtub on a Saturday afternoon. So, I must show that I practice what I preach, so you won’t roll your eyes while hating me.

I will share with you projects I am working on this week – these projects come after work, carpooling, dinner, and daily chores.

Romania paintings

romaniapaintingprogress paintingromania romaniapaintingssketches
romaniapaintingsketch2 romaniapainting
romaniapaintingsketch romaniapaintingscollection

I have been working in my art studio on the Romania painting series for Livada orphan sponsorship. This one has been difficult to get through – emotionally. Though it feels amazing to be able to be what I think could be called an artist missionary, there has also been a lot of internal pressure on myself to make these paintings excellent. Also, I don’t know how much money they will raise for child sponsorship, and that makes me feel like “will this make a difference for the Livada orphans?” I am most likely over thinking it and psyching myself out – just need to paint!

The Last Baby Angel set design

lastbabyangel

Then there is the set design for the Last Baby Angel play based on the novel “The Last Baby Angel” by Sam Brown. It’s the first time I have ever done set design, and am still working on the research phase. I was able to call someone in the social work field this week and they were helpful and described some details of what an addicts home looks like.

Banjo Practice

practicebanjo

Playing music is just something I have to keep doing. if you don’t use it, you lose it. I try to practice my banjo rolls and songs every day – whether for 15 minutes or an hour. I take one banjo lesson per week with the amazing Bill Nesbitt (who currently plays with the Clark Family Trio).

KUAR Arts & Letters

playingpiano recording2 recording

M and I are working on recording songs for the KUAR Arts & Letters Arkansas Authors show to be recorded in early October. We are also in the process of writing a Valentines Day song for the KUAR Arts & Letters Valentines Day show (The Damsels in Distress interview) to be aired in February. The cool thing about this is that I have someone to work with (motivation) to complete the projects!

So, I know you are “life busy” too, but what can you add to your giant to-do list to make space to continue functioning as a creative person?

 

 

 

Listening Party Experience

This is a “selfie” on one of the happiest days.

LKHappy2

I went to a fancy listening party downtown in the 300 Third Tower. The listening party was in the party room and the view of downtown Little Rock was really nice.

300Building downtown view

The listening party was for the KUAR Arts & Letters, “Searching for Latini” episode. UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson came to the event and even gave a short speech of his support for this project.

So, what does any of this have to do with me, and why do I look so happy in the selfie?

In December last year, The Damsels in Distress were hired to create music for a new program on KUAR called Arts & Letters. We wrote the opening theme music – also used for the radio spots – based from “Corey’s Song.”

kuar

The first show, “Ethics Bowl” aired in January. It was about what “ethics” are and played a sample Ethics Bowl.

From left: Marla Cole, Angela Johnson and Dr. Allison Merrick hold a trophy after competing at the Texas Regional Ethics Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. Credit ualr.edu

From left: Marla Cole, Angela Johnson and Dr. Allison Merrick hold a trophy after competing at the Texas Regional Ethics Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.
Credit ualr.edu

On one hand, we wanted the music to emphasize the experience of a game show -poppy, fast, bright, upbeat, but also with an edge (for the feel of competitiveness). We also wanted to put a serious tone for the idea and debate of “ethics.”

Here’s how it works.

As composers, we get a phone call. In the call, there is a title and description of the coming show. The discussion extends to what sort of music that specific show needs in terms of how many songs, length of songs, the general “feel” or “mood” of the show. This call is followed up with an email of the script. We (The Damsels in Distress) each read through the script and then together, we brainstorm general ideas – kind of like story boarding, but with music.  We grab our instruments and go to separate rooms and write.


  

We come back together and do a rough recording of what we wrote. We write off of each others initial song, and create a “sketch” – which is a more detailed recording with many different parts we can mute/unmute. Once we get the detailed sketch we like, we record on our more professional gear.

 

This does not all happen in one day! This process takes weeks. Once we have recorded and are satisfied, we email the files. From here, we may need to rewrite or rerecord songs based on what the producer wants. The show airs, and we get a check in the mail.

So, back to the Listening Party.

At the Listening Party everyone that worked on the show ate delicious Thai food catered by Chang’s and listened to “Searching for Latini” live. It was super exciting – much like an actor’s cast party when the production is completed. It was also the first time a lot of us got to meet each other because so much of the show is done through phone conversation, email, and separate recording sessions.

“Searching for Latini”  is about Brunetto Latini, the teacher of Dante and the first translator of Aristotle and Cicero into a vernacular language. We wanted the music to sound Italian/Italian Renaissance for this show.

Listen to Searching for Latini here!

Credit Parlor Press

Credit Parlor Press

Listen to the songs we wrote for “Searching for Latini” here.

SongsforKUARDisc