I was painting this painting of Nina Simone during a live painting session at Spressa Coffee Bar. This woman came up and said “I like that painting just the way it is.” Live painting is great. I did work on the fingers.
The first time I heard the music of Nina Simone, I was working at the Clarion Cafe. A small cafe at Mission and the Clarion Alley. We played vinyls which we called albums. Nina Simone became my favorite musician.
I started smoking cigarettes at this cafe. Tobacco and caffeine became my badge of coolness. The owners were German and I began to think I was cool. Me the kid from Kansas, via Santa Barbara cool, was cool.
I lived at 24th and Valencia, and would walk home after work. I was so tough and cool, or at least I had the costume. One late night I got stoped by the cops, who just wanted to see if I was okay. Of course being cool, I told them the only people hassling me was them.
So while I paint all kinds of musicians, Nina is a musician that actually had a profound affect on my life. The reason I paint musicians is that I like the idea of being in a moment of creation. As a painter I am often grappling with trusting my instincts instead of plotting and digging. I admire the necessity of being in the moment of musicians. Of trusting blindly as they put themselves out there.
I did it with this painting, I captured the raw essence of this women in a moment of complete abandonment. I plan to get there more often but moments of complete blind trust is an elusive adventure. Just like a good musician like Nina Simone!