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Paintings inspired by popular songs

Posted on March 11, 2014 by Shaunavon Standard

The Grand Coteau Centre art gallery welcomed a new and unique exhibition of paintings over the weekend.


The show, entitled Portraits of Song, was created by Weyburn area artist Marilyn Nelson. The exhibit features more than a dozen works that were painted by Nelson as interpretations of popular songs. “What began as an exploratory process to determine if, through color, texture, and gesture, I could visually capture the emotion that songwriters and musicians were portraying in their music, has turned into an enormously gratifying experience,” Nelson said in an artist’s statement. Each of Nelson’s paintings depict a particular song. The project includes a series inspired by Beatle songs, a series dedicated to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and cover versions of the song, as well as a new series inspired by Michael Jackson. Some of the titles include “Lucy In the Sky,” “Come Together”, “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Man in the Mirror,” “Beat It,” “Black or White” and “This is It.” “They are all special pieces of music that mean something to me,” explained Nelson, who grew up near Piapot and went to school in Gull Lake. “I just think that Michael Jackson songs have so much to say and I really enjoy his music – and the Beatles have a lot to say, too,” she added. One of the paintings inspired by Paul McCartney, and the Michael Jackson pieces, were only recently completed and have never been exhibited before coming to Shaunavon. Nelson says that she typically starts with acrylic paint for each piece of art to build up colour and texture, before finishing things off with oils for a luxurious sheen. “I use all types of mediums and tools to create different effects,” she stated. “Each painting is an experience and an experiment.” Nelson also said that she has an initial plan for each painting based on her perceived emotion of the song, then works spontaneously and intuitively to enhance what is developing on the canvas. The final result is usually very different from the initial plan. “Once I get started, things just sort of get going on their own direction and you just sort of follow,” smiled Nelson. “I always have a plan when I start out, but I can’t stick to a plan.” Most of the paintings are large pieces, measuring 3.5 feet by five feet in size. “That’s the biggest size that would fit in my car,” she laughed.


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