Recently I was approached by Blues guitarist Aynsley Lister and his wife Steph to look at creating artwork for his new album 'Eyes Wide Open' which will be released on October 7th, 2016.
The idea was to capture the observations and moods of the songs he'd written and try to visualise it in a way that reflected the feel. The initial idea I had was the vision of Aynsley opening curtains of a window and absorb the moments of the day. The songs had an Amercian vibe to them, so I immediately thought of New York City as the backdrop for the front cover.
I set to work by creating pencil and ink sketches to get a general idea of how it was going to look and sent them to Aynsley to see if that was the right path to go down.
I have seen Aynsley Lister in concert a few times in the past and the one thing that sticks out at me is the expressive tone in his guitar work. You can really feel it in his live performances and it's that same emotion I wanted to capture in the paintings.
Apart from the songs that he writes, one of the standout cover songs he performs is Prince's 'Purple Rain' For me It is a perfect example of his delicate handling of the guitar and later I found out that one of his favourite colours is purple! This was one of the main colours I wanted to include in the paintings. (Funnily the meaning for purple in the aura has magical, sensitive and creative powers.)
So I set to work on three paintings chosen from the visuals I created. Steph took some photos of Aynsley in various poses based off the ideas as a reference for the paintings. The painting of him on the front is of him looking out of the patio window while he was at a guitar weekend he tutors for budding blues guitarists.
Once I formed the main part of the composition I then painted in the New York background. The second painting I wanted to create the same feel but more of Aynsley in a contemplative mode, taking in the thoughts of his visions.
Overall they chose the two paintings for the album and Steph set to work on laying out the text and graphics to complement the paintings. As I said earlier, there was a third painting which never went on the finished album, which quite rightly doesn't sit with the other two. Overlall I am very happy with the finished result and I hope it reflects what really is a great album!