Jazz and Draw: Jacques Brel

Jacques Brel by Jardley Jean-Louis for Jazz and Draw

For Philippe Debongnie’s site Jazz And Draw.

Recently, I was invited by Philippe Debongnie of Jazz and Draw to create a piece for his site that shares illustrations and music about jazz musicians. This was my first interaction with Philippe though I previously knew about his work and how he started out from reading an interview he did for zero2illo, which I definitely recommend reading. I say a major reason why his interview stuck out to me was how relatable and honest it was about starting out and how he got to the other side. To me, it’s a great interview for illustratiors and artist who have so many questions about gaining an art presence and who doubt themselves. He simply tried to push through to get to where he wanted. So when I got the email from him, I was surprised and glad that our paths crossed.

Since I make a note to post updates and progress pieces on the blog, I wish I had taken pictures of this piece in progress instead of just showing you only the final, that’s the only drawback.

Anyhow, while I’m not much of a jazz enthusiast, I still wanted to contribute and thought of either French singer Edith Piaf or Belgian French-speaking singer Jacques Brel to draw since they felt similiar to jazz in my mind. I kept googling to find out if either were even considered in the jazz circle and while it seems they weren’t, they, especially Jacques Brel, has influenced other jazz musicians. Some of whom have sung his songs like Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles. I also thought to draw Sade who is in the jazz realm but felt more of a pull to the other two.

During the weekend that I was brainstorming ideas, I kept going back and forth between Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel and finally settled on Jacques. I did have some struggles though even upon that decision. I wanted to show how he gets sweaty on the stage, the way he animates a song through his facial expressions and hand gestures and to not let his smoking habit be the focal point in the piece. It took a while to get a clear image in my mind of what to create, but with the help of hard to find full profile images and a sense of his movements in the song “Rosa”, I was able to make it work.

Here is the song “Rosa” where his performance best fit what I was going for:

And the great news is when I sent it in, I found a fellow Jacques Brel fan in Philippe.

Happy Thursday.

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