The Breath before plunging into the BlackStar
The Last Stop Before Completing a Tribute Painting created listening to David Bowie
David Bowie died and it hit me hard. Something in my reality shifted. And shifted further because of Blackstar.
At first, I did not want his music. It was too familiar. I wanted his words and I listened to interviews over the decades, long and short. The idea for the painting as a concept was already in my mind, Bowie was the last piece and I sketched it within days.
I still have not seen Labyrinth. It is not on netflix & I don’t have it, though it is the David bow that I know best. The one I watched over and over and both wanted to be and wanted to submit to.
I started listening to his songs while I painted. First the spiral background in acrylic, then the lines of ink, finally filling in the spaces in oil. I worked on it in long stretches with days and weeks between.
Last time I worked on it, I listened to the film Basquiat. I had never seen it before and it was the only Bowie film on Netflix and I like learning about new artists. And Bowie played Andy Warhol. The film comes to it’s head when Dennis Hopper’s character runs into the young artist Basquiat on the streets of Manhattan with the news
“Andy is dead.”
It begins the denouement.
I haven’t worked on it since. I ordered Blackstar.
I never contacted Bowie, but I did shout out his name to the internet when I first experimented with music influenced painting. When I gave myself over to physically expressing his songs on matte board.
I cut it mostly into pieces, added a magnet to the back and gave them and sold them away. I still have a corner. I wish I had sent him one, not as a child or student seeking gratification, but as one artist to another, connecting the dots of inspiration.
Blackstar was Bowie’s intentional denouement.
I have not listened to any of the tributes, even by artists who I know and love and trust like Amanda Palmer and the Ukulele Teacher. I am not ready to hear the familiar tunes and words filtered through other artists yet. I haven’t learned a Bowie song on ukulele. I have to delve into the Blackstar first.
The art is amazing, like a puzzle. I think it will make more sense once I listen. Put it on at full volume alone in the studio and let it fill in the last piece, of the painting, of him, of me. Perhaps that is a lot to ask of seven songs and that is why I hesitate on the ledge. Perhaps it just hasn’t been the right moment yet.
I feel if I do this — wait for the moment and come to it open and let the moment and the music and the painting be part of me and me part of it — that I will be the artist I want to be. That David Bowie will always be a part of that.
AmarA is a painter, theatrical designer, and writer. She lives in upstate in the Triangle near the Twilight Zone. She designs sets and costumes with her belovedest & collaborator, jk, in Ithaca NY, Binghamton NY, & Chicago IL. Her paintings have been sold around the world. They share their best stuff each week with their Patrons on Patreon.