In November of 2022, I was in the midst of launching the Haunted Cowboy Sounds album, along with its companion EP, The Wanderer, when I wrote a blog post about how my friend Dawn’s painting had played a part in inspiring me to create the song Candace.
Based in the UK, Dawn is an absolutely fantastic artist, and I am very enamoured with her work. She has a tremendous eye for colours and she creates a wonderful depth in her creations. She shares a lot of her creative journey on her Instagram and Facebook pages - you should really give her a follow!
(And, if you go back and read that previous blog post, you can read about how we probably have a shared Rodger connection from a few hundred years ago…)
So, as I was saying, I had just launched two new albums, but you know me; I was already thinking about the next one - lol! That’s when Dawn shared one particular painting on Instagram… I sent her a direct message saying, “You know Dawn, that would make one heck of an album cover.”
I guess I was asking without being brave enough to ask…
Much to my delight, she replied that I could certainly use her painting as an album cover, and the name of this piece was “The Alchemy of Clouds”. Upon hearing that name, I went from excited to super-excited!!
I recently asked Dawn via email, to share her insights into creating The Alchemy of Clouds painting. People often ask me how I wrote a particular song, and I never know how to answer, so I really appreciate that Dawn was able to tell us about her process with this painting.
“Some paintings begin with the kernel of an idea; some paintings are formed out of the interaction between the colours and the canvas. The Alchemy of Clouds was one of the latter,” she explained.
“Over several weeks, using numerous layers and glazes, an abstracted landscape emerged and became a contemplation on the ephemeral and mercurial qualities of atmosphere. It developed into a treatise on the hinterland between Earth and sky.”
“The title was coined by an old friend whom I go to when I’m stuck for words - a friend who often has insights into my artworks that I don’t notice until they’re pointed out,” Dawn said.
“With gold leaf in the painted sky, the layers of pigment sometimes glow in the right light, so The Alchemy of Clouds seemed the perfect choice.”
Unfortunately, right around the time that Dawn graciously said I could use her work as my next album cover, I also started dealing with the effects of long Covid, so it took a while to get started on the album. And when I did try writing songs that felt like they belonged to The Alchemy of Clouds album, something just wasn’t clicking… What I was creating just didn’t live up to the beauty and wonder of Dawn’s work.
And then I met Emily Austin at the end of April (2023) at an event hosted by White Pine Books, my local bookstore. I’m not sure if I was able to explain it at the time, or if she even believed me, but I told Emily on the day that we met that I heard music when I held her book in my hands for the first time. (More on that in an upcoming blog post!)
While I was reading her novel, Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead, I began to write notes and ideas for songs, and I very quickly realized that I was finally writing The Alchemy of Clouds album.
Thank you Dawn for sharing your talents with the world, and for sharing your talents with me. I can only hope that what I have created holds as much magic as your creation.
You can support Dawn and see more of her incredible work by following this link.
The Alchemy of Clouds arrives on Bandcamp on September 19th, 2023