Diminished Scale

I’m still somewhat in a daze after the death of my mother.  The veil between life on earth and the afterlife still seems thin.  It’s a time of growth, contemplation and reconnection.  So much love is available to me through my friends and family that I am unable to write clearly about it.  I spent a week in Memphis where I’m from and where my mom spent her entire life.  Everything flowed together like a golden river — grief, affirmation, and growth. 

I got back home to Portland, Or,  the day before Valentine’s day, which is my wedding anniversary — 3 years and still on our honeymoon.  My husband was so great — he had vacuumed and cleaned the apartment, bought flowers and made himself available to my every need.  We had a subdued celebration of our love with moments spent honoring my mother.

 It happens that the Portland Jazz Festival occurs in February, so we went to see an interview/masterclass with pianist Barry Harris last night.  I sketched while he talked and realized it’d been almost 2 weeks since I’d done any drawings from life.

I decided to post this sketch of Mr Harris for Paint Party Friday as my work in progress — my sketchbook, which will never be more than a work in progress.

Mr. Harris is 84 now, slightly stooped from age, but exudes an ephemeral strength.  He’s a kind and forthright teacher, with a great love of  jazz.  He said it hurts him when he goes to other countries and sees musicians that sound better than Americans — “Jazz is our music.”  We should always be the best — this was his way of urging students to practice, practice and learn the standards.  He was very clear that musicians, even if they weren’t accompanying a singer, should know the lyrics so they know more meanings of the songs. 

I usually don’t post my quick sketches of people because I worry that I don’t capture them accurately.  But this week I am not so much concerned with accuracy as I am with energy, and in this pencil sketch, I like the energy.  Barry Harris has such elegant hands but they look rough in this sketch because he moved them all the time, as if he was plucking music and meaning out of the air.  I hope I captured that energy.

I didn’t get my favorite quote on this sketch:

“The diminished scale is the world.”

In the diminished scale the music is more alive — that was such a good thing to hear when my life seems diminished by a loss and yet more lyrical for having honored that loss.

Let me know what you think.

Barry Harris – The diminished scale IS the world

Go to Paint Party Friday for links to a whole world of art created in the past week.

20 thoughts on “Diminished Scale

  1. I think its WONDERFUL. You captured movement in it for sure. We are our own worst critics..we need to share to get out of that self put down. 🙂 So sorry about the loss of your Mom. I lost mine going on 19 years ago and its easier now but still something is missing. and congrats on three years. Kind of bitter sweet I know. Thanks for sharing.

  2. So sorry about the loss of your Mom. I think you captured his spirit in this piece and that's because your soul went into it. Very well done. ::sending you peace and healing thoughts::

  3. The wisdom and love of his art comes through clearly in his facial and and hand expressions, so I believe you captured the spirit perfectly. I also love the depth of all the quotes you recorded. May the peace of the Lord be with you as you morn the passing of your mother, and may she find eternal peace in Him.

  4. So sorry to hear about the loss of your Mom. My sincere condolences. I hope your thoughts and memories help.

    Your sketch is fabulous!

  5. Extremely sorry for your loss. I do pray and hope for you, Joy.
    Your sketch is full of life, I must say.Loved the energy. I also loved reading your lines…your writing is wonderful; I could really connect with it.

  6. Your post made me cry…I am so close to my daughter and know she would be devastated to lose me… Sorry for your painful loss. So happy you have love around you! It was my daughters 5th anniversary on valentines day and they too are still honeymooners… Her hubby sounds much like yours.

    You captured the energy of this musician perfectly. I love the movement! So glad you posted it!!
    Beautiful work!

    Thanks for sharing your intimate self!

    Hugs Giggles

  7. Joy, I am very sorry to hear about your Mom.

    I think Mr. Harris would be so excited to see your sketch. Your sketch and the words that accompany it are perfect.

    I particulary liked:
    You gotta swing for yourself.
    You can't let nobody swing for you.

  8. i love that… “jazz is our music”… the sketch is wonderful. I agree about the energy being more important than the accuracy. There is lots of expression in this sketch. So sorry for the loss of your mother. I recently lost my mom too (3 months ago already). My thoughts are with you. xox

  9. Welcome back Joy. For what it's worth I love how you render people, be it a quick figure sketch or a portrait. Even if it's not spot-on technical realism, you capture the essence of a person in a way that very few can, and that is the likeness that matters.

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