It  has become a habit of mine to pester the illustrious musician and composer Sally DeFord for songs to illustrate because I love to see how a painting and music can amplify each other. And it gives my art a greater purpose.

Of course, you would think that a project aimed at glorifying Deity would be a charmed endeavor, carried on angels’ wings, cleared of any roadblocks.

If only.
Like many projects, there were numerous frustrations.

I had failed Sally previously on a project where I just couldn’t find inspiration. Dare I say it was the will of the Lord? I learned later that another artist had the perfect painting, just begging for a song, while Sally’s song was waiting for the painting that made it sing. It was kismet. And frankly, my feeble painting skills were not ready for the task.

I have come a long way since then.

The first step was to begin to paint daily. I had been begging myself for years to join the ranks of the daily painters. I could never do it. I’m barely able to be consistent two days in a row. I finally figured out that a permanent setup (thank you garage sales) helps.

In His Image

Usually, when I begin working on one of Sally’s songs, it starts with the words. Beautiful expressive words painting a vivid picture all on their own. Then I have to somehow find the one image that captures it all. This is no easy task, but there are always a few ideas rolling around in my head.

From Head to Paper

I can’t paint from my imagination, but I longingly admired those can. While I can massage the details a little, I can never invent them completely from my head. I must first start with a model and this means setting up a photo shoot.

Turns out, the positioning I had envisioned for this song would not work no matter how I tried to contort my model’s body. (Another reason I can’t paint from imagination.)

Still, I sketched several promising poses from the photos. And I still sent them for approval. Not that Sally would disapprove – she’s always very encouraging, but I knew it wasn’t working.

test1 test2 test3

Finally, I finagled another photo shoot (in a string of many) from my very reluctant model/daughter.

Again, every pose I directed just looked wrong. Note: I said every pose I directed. I accidentally caught an unguarded moment in-between poses while I was fiddling with the settings on my camera. And there it was – the perfect shot. It captured this contemplative moment that was fitting for the song.


I painted it, filmed it, and it was good!

Of course, I thought that once it was painted, filmed, and sent off, my part was finished.

But it was not good.

Sally returned the compilation (words, music, video) for me to review . . .

. . . and I was disappointed. I couldn’t put it into words, but something was off. It was my husband who found the right expression: it’s was boring.

In contemplating how to fix it, I had the crazy idea that I could paint and film it better. I was learning about different filming apps, different angles, jump-cuts, and close-ups. Everything to make it more exciting.

Things I Tried to Make it Better

I painted it with more vibrant colors. Ghastly.

I painted it zoomed in. Fail.

I tried again. Junk.

And again. Ugh.

Each new rendition looked labored or failed to harmonize.

(Weirdly, everything I was painting at this time was a string of failures. I was beginning to think I had lost my ability to paint.)

The truth of the matter is that every time I went back to the original footage I saw how perfectly suited it was. There was no matching it. But with nine minutes of total footage, there was too much to pare down (try as Sally might) and it was exhausting to watch.

The Solution Was There All Along

The words became the solution to my conundrum.

Created in His image! Hands like His to freely give!

I realized that we needed to use the footage that only focused on the face and hands.

I re-purposed the original video and sent if off with a few notes to Sally.

And beat I myself up a little (actually tormented myself) because it took so long to get right back to the beginning – I wasted so much effort just to end up where I started.

The Moral of the Story

I guess the moral of the story is that Sally is a saint for putting up with me. Really she is. I highly recommend a visit to her site Sally DeFord Music and her blog.

➡ Special thanks to my daughter, Sonja, for being my model and putting up with me.