Portfolio > Oil Paintings/Charcoal Drawings_Old Time Songs & Stories

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The Only Song that I Can Sing
The Only Song that I Can Sing
Oil on Canvas
60" x 72"

I titled this painting after a line from the first song/tune I learned on the banjo "Boil Them Cabbage Down."

This painting features my late felines Hodge, who plays with a ribbon in the lower left corner under the table, and Sophie, who demurely peers out from under the banjoist's chair. Often our feline friends are more aware of their surroundings than we humans. Sophie is the only one who notices the viewer.

I used myself as the banjoist. For compositional balance, I made myself a left handed player. The other characters in the painting are the same model although I tried to disguise this fact. Velasquez used the same model for multiple characters within the same painting, see his "Vulcan's Forge" and "Joseph's Tunic."

Each character wears a different hat, not only because I wanted to disguise the fact that I used the same model for each character, but also because I wanted to suggest that this music brings people together from different walks of life. However, I did make some mistakes in this regard and should have included Women and Black people. Recent scholarship has paid special attention to the significant influence of these two groups on Old Time music.

There are a couple other ideas in this painting. On the table, I allude to the international influence of Old Time music: instead of corn whiskey or moonshine, I put a bottle of classy Scotch on the table. Besides international enthusiasts, Old Time music attracts an urban crowd from all over our country, people who probably imbibe Scotch more than moonshine.

I put five fancy, scotch "nosing" glass on the table, but there are only four players. This was my way to invite the viewer to join in and participate! Participation and inclusiveness are supposed to be part of this music's cultural heritage although I'd like to see more Blacks, Women, Hispanics, and Asians involved.