“P is for Piaf”
When you reach the top, you should remember to send the elevator back down for the others.
— Édith Piaf
Édith Piaf (12/19/1915-10/10/1963) was, and still is, a well-celebrated French singer-songwriter, cabaret performer, & film star. If you’re unfamiliar with her body of work, I urge you to research.
This is digital illustration – hand-drawn – using the #procreateapp with an Apple Pencil. See the video clip below to watch my drawing process and hear a portion of her song, “Les trois cloches.”
Piaf had a successful hit with the song in 1946. In 1959 the country & folk music trio, The Browns popularized an English language version called, “The Three Bells,” of which you may be more familiar. The song chronicles the life of “little Jimmy Brown” from his birth, to marriage, to death.
Telling a Story
I chose a muted palette and a pose very evocative of the 1930s-40s era for Édith Piaf’s portrait. Deep purples and smoky light blues give a smooth and soulful vibe, highlights of pink jump off of a golden ecru background.
Some portrait artists choose to harshly caricaturize her features but I personally love her glamorous high cheekbones and expressive drawn-on eyebrows, and didn’t feel that an exaggerated style would bring forward what I wanted to portray. What I want is when you look at her eyes in the portrait that you have some idea how she sounds, even if you haven’t heard her before.
Her voice grips the listener, demanding full attention but it is never harsh. No, it rolls along smoothly with the impossible trills accenting the jaunty cabaret orchestra. It’s truly music that paints a color. It can feel bold and vibrant, it can feel lustful and longing. It’s the soundtrack of a particular time and place, full of every sound one might associate with Paris.
Sight and Sound
Recently I thought I’d share something I started to do: Make soundtracks, or little “mix-tapes” that either directly relate to my piece of art, or, that came to me while painting the piece.
While I work I sing – loudly. I dance too, on occasion. You can think of it as an eruption of emotion into the art. It’s cool actually, pretty cathartic.
Music comes to me. Sometimes it leads me in a way that I know a direction or ‘genre’ I want to head toward. Sometimes it’s a total surprise and comes together at the end. Additionally, by way of Spotify I have discovered so much music, the ways in which one can leap-frog from one musical lily pad to another in this modern era is actually very astounding.
While painting my mind is traveling and sometimes a piece of music will get me to researching, & sometimes it serves as a conduit to learn/find something new. It’s in this sort of spider web-like way that the playlists I make are woven together.
I thought that since I get these sort of, ‘visions of music’, (I don’t know how else to call it) that I ought to create some organized fashion to keep my musical thoughts in order.
These are eclectic collections, and I do intentionally sort the order of the songs, and also tend to insert instrumental pieces for levity.
My Spotify handle is “Deanna, Dammit”
Art playlists will be title “Drawing ____”
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ABOUT THE ARTIST
Hello, I’m Deanna. Creating little worlds is all I want to do.
I spend my days in my illustration studio, surrounded by herbs and antique curiosities, in rural Pennsylvania. I enjoy many interesting adventures with my husband, daughter, and Shmoop, the “Office Cat.”
Since I was a young child, I’ve been creating. Some of my earliest memories are of drawing historic clothing, making fairy tale paper dolls, and designing my own “book covers.”
The work I make is influenced heavily by my affinity for historic eras: Color palettes, patterns, textures, architecture, typography – the list goes on. From Medieval to Mid-Century, I love it all.
My preferred method of working is to begin with a traditional sketch in pencil on paper, and then to colorize the image digitally. It’s a two-step process that allows for flexibility and speed, without sacrificing quality. I’m also quite adept at drawing and painting in miniature.
If you don’t want to miss anything, follow IG: #deannameyer for illustration and vintage musings. I’m an artist, herbalist, and mother with Multiple Sclerosis & Endometriosis.
I’m also an official artist of the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project.