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my palette. [k.s. friday]

her palette - the piano

yesterday david wrote these words about his palette.  as i read his words, i realized he was conveying many of my own sentiments.  with his permission, i have only slightly modified his words this morning to express my own artist palette – my piano.  the re-posting of this, and even using the same verbiage, reminds me of the intertwining of all soulful expression.  bear with me as i experiment, my words in red, an exploration of two artistic planes running parallel.

true confessions: i never rarely clean my palette the music stand on top of my piano. i like the messy build up of color. color is found in many forms but mostly notebooks and pa-pads, scraps of paper, snippets of tracks recorded on an iriver or an iphone. i like the chunky texture pile. it serves as a gunky history of my work, a genealogy of paintings compositions past and future. and then, over time, it becomes a tactile work of art in its own right. unfettered by any of the mental gymnastics or over-ponderous considerations that plague my “real” work, it is the closest to child-mind that i will achieve. it is accidental. it is free.  it is idea, melodic gesture, poetry waiting for notes, phrase waiting for the rest of the lyrics.  ready.  waiting.  free.

this might be a stretch but it is, for me, nevertheless true. i love my palette because it is the place of alchemy in my artist process. it is the true liminal space.   long before the space spanning the route taken from introduction to coda.  i begin with pure color. i begin with the rest, silence inbetween the notes, the place for breath so you can hear the vibrations of sound.  i smash the pure color together with another color and transform it into a third color, the hue i intend. note upon note i build a melody, smashing note upon note i build a small unaccompanied orchestra of harmony, the hue i intend.  on a palette, color becomes intention. sound becomes intention.  and then, once transformed, with a brush or knife i lift the color-intention from my palette and in an action that is often more responsive than creative, i place it onto a canvas. i play, i listen, i play again.  i lift it from the keys of my palette and place it onto the canvas of paper, attempting to capture the fleeting moment it has created and etch it into a piece of music that can be repeated, played again.  it transforms yet again relative to all the color it touches. it transforms yet again relative to the air in the room, the echo of an intention, the listening ear it touches.  an image emerges. more color is called for. it emerges, this composition of music, and more color is called for.

and, somewhere in this call and response of color, i become like the palette. the pass-through of alchemy, the door that color passes through en route to something beautiful. and somewhere in this call and response of color, i become like the palette.  the pass-through of alchemy, the door that color passes through en route to something beautiful.  this!  can there be a more pure statement of artistry? and, in the process, perhaps i, too, in my messy build up of life/color, grow closer to that child mind. unfettered. accidentally interesting. free.  and in the process, perhaps i, too, in my messy build up of life/color, grow closer to that child mind.  unfettered.  accidentally interesting.  free.  the rest between the notes.  the breath of music on the air. 

“You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough” ~ William Blake  i paint.  i write.  i compose.  i don’t know what is enough until i know what is more than enough.  truth. 

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

iTunes: kerri sherwood

their palettes website box

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his palette. [d.r. thursday]

palette copy

we really never know what it takes to do someone else’s job.  we don’t know all the tools used, the research done, how training and experience play into it, how someone perceives their own work.  we can only guess and, often, fall desperately and even arrogantly off the mark.

walking into d’s studio my eye is drawn to the easel standing in the far corner.  closer to me, though, is an old cart with an old wooden box holding paints and brushes.  there is another cart and on that is this palette – layers upon layers of color and texture, clay pots of water standing next to this widely-understood symbol of “artist”, often associated with the beginning of the process of painting.

now, i’ve painted a few paintings in my life.  i bought very large prepared canvases and dug around in the basement for leftover acrylic house paint to use on my creations.  without a palette, i brushed and re-brushed and threw paint until i knew each painting was done.  and then i hung them on the walls.  in one case, i painted right on the wall and put a clearance frame around the section of wall that i painted – a nod to a painting without the cost of canvas.

all of this, however, does not make me capable of really understanding how d paints.  for i do not know all the tools, i do not know the process of mixing color or the technique of stretching canvas he uses, i do not know the tricks of the trade he has accumulated over decades of honing his expertise.  nor do i know the knowledge base he brings about other artists, other painters and paintings, the use of light and dark space, the way the viewer’s eye sees, the very technical details and the very heart-based intuitions he has learned through many, many years of study and practice.  i can’t understand or even try to predict the amount of time it takes or doesn’t take for him to conceptualize, to explore, to create, to review, to assess, to adjust, to re-create.  i can respond to his work but i cannot define it, nor would it be meritorious for me to even try to do so.  out of respect for his work, something that is one of the very things that defines him, i know that i really have no idea.  what i can do is appreciate his talent and every last thing that he has done to bring him to this place where he paints beautiful paintings and it seems to take no effort whatsoever.

with regard to anyone and the work that they do, i would hope we could each remember – with humble respect – that we really have no idea.  we can just be grateful that we are each a spoke in the wheel on this good earth.  our palettes, the places from which we begin, are different.  and we can’t do it alone.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

drc website header copy 2

roadtrip reading website box


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playing the same stuff. [merely a thought monday]

string bass with frame

just last saturday evening, out on cape cod, we lingered over seafood and glasses of wine with jonathan, our bass player.  we were sitting around his table, chatting about music.

he told us about a group of musicians he rehearses with on an irregular basis.  they play a wide variety of instruments and they all just gather casually together and jam on some “good music”.  “…and once in a while we play the same stuff…” he stated.  his voice trailed off as he thought about what he had just said and we all laughed.  we can picture a whole group of jonathans in the room – all exuberant and, each, lovers of all music, all pick-ready, mouthpiece-ready, reed-ready, hands-poised-over-the-keys-ready.  that kind of enthusiasm shouldn’t be curbed or restrained.  the sheer joy of playing – now that’s the reason to be all together.  it’s not about playing all the notes on the page, playing them all perfectly at the same time, playing them with no mistakes.  it’s about heart.  it’s about the breaths and the rests of silence, the flip-flop your heartbeat makes when soaring notes come together in a sweeping harmony, the tears you get in your eyes when something you just played or heard is sublimely sweet, dynamically touching, deeply resonant, the belly laugh with the ridiculously dissonant moment.

the ukulele sip ‘n strums are about just that.  if we can choose to teach anything at those sip ‘n strums, i would choose to teach just these things.  the things of joy.  music is all about individual hearts…coming together with the immense gift of twelve notes at our literal fingertips.  no matter what we play, we are playing the same stuff.

ukulele laughter

what playing music looks like.

christmas sing dec 7 sip n strum copy

rackcards for sip n strumtake 2.PRINT copy (deleted b'87d4bf65abee4940dca3fe6ba53c1bc6') copy

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

at jonathans with bear website box

UKULELE SIP ‘N STRUM ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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319,954. first quarter 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 5.12.43 PMbmi, one of the major music royalty companies, sent me a statement and a check which i opened today. happy to be a bmi artist, i was grateful to receive the check; i read it first, a natural human reaction. then i pulled up the statement.

my original music had 319,954 plays in the first quarter of 2015. that is: between radio, tv, internet, music program companies, my music has been spun over 319,000 times. in one quarter of a year. now…that sounds like a lot, doesn’t it. one of my big questions these days about my music is – is it relevant? well, apparently, it must be. and so this is reassuring.

now, you would think that would equate to a decent royalty check, the ability for an independent artist to make a living. this is what i made per spin (an average…i am a bit of a math geek)….are you ready? i made a whopping $00.00079 per play. that isn’t even NEAR a PENNY. so let’s see. that means that the total of 319,954 plays has NOT netted me enough to:

1. buy a decent basket of groceries
2. even pay half of my private health insurance premium
3. pay for my dog to have 3 months of heartworm preventative medication and flea and tick preventative medication
4. pay my one-month cell phone bill
5. contribute to half of the mortgage payment
6. pay the minimum payment on my master card bill
7. pay the amount of my monthly parent plus loans for my son’s college fees
8. pay an hour of an entertainment attorney’s time
etc etc etc

it would just cover the electric/gas bill.
it would pay for life insurance.
it would cover a month of car insurance.
it would cover the cat food.
it would cover the water bill.

but. it will not cover any combination of these bills. and, as i pointed out above, there are many it won’t cover at all.

and that brings me to value.

what is the value of music? and, if it is relevant, why is so little value placed on it? how many places have you been, events have you attended (weddings, funerals, dance parties…what would those be without music?), commercials you watched on tv, movies that inspired you, moved you, disturbed you – how would those be without a soundtrack? how many moments have you cherished that would have changed dramatically withOUT the music in that space of time? what does it do to your heart? and how can we place so little value on that?

there were a reported (mind you, this is what is reported, not what is the real total) 19,974 plays on the internet of my original music. this netted me (wait for it) a grand total of $3.61. yes, you read that right. $3.61. i could not even treat you and me to a starbucks for that. i couldn’t even get a happy meal for that. and yet, 19,974 people/entities listened to the music i conceived, wrote, recorded, paid for a recording engineer, mastering engineer, piano technician, miscellaneous equipment, yamaha had a piano delivered to the studio, purchased upc codes and copyrights, had a graphic designer design a cd format, ordered and paid for replicated cds and print art (jackets, tray cards), paid ups to ship boxes upon boxes to the office, paid for marketing materials, paid employees to market and distribute, drove thousands of miles and carried hundreds of pounds of boxes of cds to play concerts, perform at wholesale, retail shows and stores and do radio and tv interviews, uploaded over 200 tracks from 15 albums to itunes, and see that pieces have found their way onto the internet in ways i can’t put my finger on…..i needn’t go on….i’m sure you get the point…. in the days of physical cds and brick and mortar buildings, and even in the days of just itunes downloads that paid artists, there was a chance at treating you to BOTH a happy meal AND a starbucks. but now…..

and so. the music. it’s relevant. and it has value. but who is missing out in this equation??

a few weekends ago i performed for an important event. as with all work, it took preparation and commitment, practice and heart to make sure that my performance supported the event. after it was over, many people commented on how touched they were by this music. one gentleman asked me, “when you aren’t playing music, what do you really do?” really???

i am 56. there is a lot of music left in me to write, record, perform. how do i justify continuing to make this music when each piece that reaches the ears of another living soul pays me less than a penny? do i hope for sheer luck? for an overnight itunes download sensation? or a youtube that goes viral, heaping advertisers at my doorstep?

these are potent questions. what are the answers?

how can i (afford to) live and keep making music? how can i (afford to) live and not keep making music?raw-1

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood