There have been a few people whose influences profoundly shaped my life to this day. Lila Freeman is one of those people.
She’s also an extraordinary artist. Check out her website: http://www.lilafreeman.com/#
Our friendship grew slowly over the course of our first semester together at Pratt. I got to know her through repeated chance encounters in the hall in the residence hall where I would be visiting another friend named Theresa. On more than one occasion, Lila dragged me from whatever cinematic activity Theresa had planned and plopped me down in her room to listen to whatever music she was most excited about that day.
I distinctly remember one of the first of these sessions when the topic was Paul Weller. The music is less clear in the memory, but her passion for it is fresh. Aside from her steadfast friendship spanning many states and many years, her main legacy is in the music she opened me up to.
By the late 1990s, I had inherited a disdain for all eighties music, reserving particular ire for anything synthy or cheesy. Lila broke down some barrier, and gave a whole decade of music to me. Early breakthroughs were The Cure, R.E.M. and U2. Soon to follow were the Smiths, Depeche Mode, New Order, Psychedelic Furs and so many more. There were also bands of more recent vintage for whom she advocated successfully like Belle and Sebastian, Wilco, and Flaming Lips – all of whom remain favorites.
As was habit at the time, I repaid this gift with words. I never liked to call my writings poems, and eventually took to calling them lyrics, though they had not found a musical pairing. There were more than a couple that were inspired by Lila, and it seemed pertinent that at least one explicitly used the ideas of lyrics and music as a main theme.
It had been written after one afternoon we spent chatting and eventually dosing off on a blanket on a campus lawn. Thus the picture I drew to accompany it.
After settling on an angle, the line drawing itself came together fairly smoothly, though over the course of a few sessions. The guy with the unkempt hair is supposed to be me. Lila is listening more attentively than I deserve. I like the way the two of us interact in the picture, and the casual postures. The figures also seem to have real weight, if not especially convincing volume.
The coloring, as usual, was trickier. It took a few trails just to settle on the basic colors for things like the blanket and the clothes. The shadows were done on another layer, and overlaid onto the base colors beneath. There was quite a bit adjusting and readjusting to get the values satisfactory.
Once all that was done, however, the picture was too bright and glossy-feeling, in that way that digital images can be. This was addressed by decreasing the saturation of colors, with makes them a bit less vibrant, and by overlaying a mostly transparent layer of some random texture. This seemed to do the trick, giving the whole piece a more ‘lived-in’ look and feel.
I’m happy with it, and Lila was too. So that’s really all that matters.