Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Heart of Soul

Beth Orton
10.5" x 8"
oil on wood. 2010

Heart of Soul is the second Beth Orton song to enter the list of 100. It's the other song, besides Heartlandtruckstop (see the July post with that title), from the CD Comfort of Strangers in the list to start with the word 'heart'. Thus it is also the second painting of Beth Orton, and I have to say they make a nice pair. The two paintings are the same size, the ratio background/portrait is similar, and are each other's opposite in terms of light: dark figure on light (yellow) background vs. light figure on purple ground. They also look opposite ways: when placed next to each other they 'look' at each other. None of the above was planned out. The painting, from a black and white photograph, looks like it's done rather quickly. This is an illusion. I worked all week on it. Little by little the nuances on the photograph made themselves known, each important to the way they were rendered. The black form on the left made itself known to me to be a bird, once I figured that out I had to change the blob in the painting into a bird-like form, it also altered the dynamics of the pose. Most nuances were within the figure though: I found out (very late in the process) that she was pregnant, and that she had a tattoo. Which lines belonged to her hair, to her back, or to the tattoo, was instrumental for successfully painting her shoulders and back. Unlike the photograph in which every line is taken equally, and for granted, the painting chooses the importance of certain lines and shapes above others, and omits ones not essential or confusing. Heart of Soul is more upbeat than the rest of Comfort of Strangers and has this sing-a-long hit quality to it. I started to sing-a-long the first time I heard it, so much so that I thought I've heard it before. But it's not the Yardbirds' Heart Full of Soul, and not Stevie Ray Vaughan's Heart and Soul. It is not, although I thought it was for little while, Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Jackie deShannon. It's nothing but a great Beth Orton song.

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