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The Story of the Song and Painting: “Written in Our Clothes”/ “Go with Me”

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Here’s the Story behind Betony’s painting “Go With Me” and its companion song I wrote called “Written in Our Clothes”:

It was several months ago and Betony had printed out this vintage picture of a bicycle and was using it for the main subject of her painting. As she was working on it I came into the studio with my guitar and began asking her where she was going with the piece.

She told me the main idea was that it was about the journey, not the destination. She felt like that old maxim held a lot of truth, even though it’s overused, especially for us and our life as a family.

This piece would definitely find home in our Almanac series.

I began strumming out an idea on the guitar as we talked and the song had it’s start.


Clothes Patterns

Betony put various textiles into the spaces of the tire spokes, all with striking differences of pattern to represent just how chaotic and unpredictable life and this journey can be. Things don’t often line up and match as you’d hope or expect.

And as I began writing lyrics to my song I titled it “Written in Our Clothes”. Because when our first daughter was born, Lucy,  in one of her one-sies she had hidden this little phrase that said, “this is the beginning of something beautiful”.

That simple phrase has moved me years since and what better thing to reference in a song about journey?


Better Together

As the chorus of the song came together I shared it with Betony. The lines were
“I don’t know where we are going
But I’d like to go with you darling
When we get there I suppose we’ll know it
Let’s go, Let’s go”

Betony loved the lyrics and wrote them into the piece underneath the bike with collaged map images and little icons hidden in representing milestones. She’s noted to me about the map part of the piece that although all the destinations aren’t known in life, it’s always better that we go together… That’s really what being in love is: it’s just better together.

While my song is called “Written in Our Clothes” she titled her painting:

“Go with Me”.

Many thanks to the Van Manen family who purchased Betony’s piece. May you be blessed in the journey!

Hear the song HERE.

“Written in Our Clothes” lyrics
Giants & Pilgrims

This is what you’ve wanted for so long
I will wake you early for the road, right before dawn
You can sleep with feet against the glow
Coming from the sun still sitting low

You may keep those things from me you stole
You know me I cashed out long ago
Without a penny for control
Careful with the highlight reels we post
Half of it’s the truth and half we’ve
Sold the truth we’ve halfway told

I don’t know where we are going
But I’d like to go with you darling
When we get there I suppose we’ll know it
Let’s go

There are matters shattering our hearts
If we can’t outrun them we should go
Let’s depart

We will find new words to aim the throws
We will write them hidden in our clothes
They’ll shape and take control

I don’t know where we are going
But I’d like to go with you darling
When we get there I suppose we’ll know it
Let’s go

Film Score for New Francis Chan Video

Download the short film score for FREE HERE.

(Tim Coons of Giants & Pilgrims speaking here)

I had the opportunity to write the music for this short film about the Chans (my music starts at 2 minutes in)

Francis Chan is a New York Times best selling author (Crazy Love) and his latest project is a book he’s co-written with his wife, Lisa. A series of shorts are being released to supplement the book and this film is one of them.

The film, produced by Pilar Timpane, showcases how the Chans approach family and how they live out their marriage in light of eternity. It reveals an inspiring life of intentionality, service, mission, and centering in God’s love. Producer Timpane did an incredible job capturing and presenting this.

I wrote the song in response to the film’s themes: marriage, mission, giving, etc. So the score has 4 short distinctive movements:

“You & Me Forever” Short Film Score Movements
A. Love and Marriage
B. Difficult Fields
C. Sacrifice and Pouring Out
D. Love and Marriage (reprise)

If you’d like to hear the film’s song on it’s own and download it for FREE come to this site:
https://timcoons.bandcamp.com/

Film Score Credits

Released 28 August 2014

Written and Recorded by Tim Coons
Mixed by Dave Farrell and Tim Coons
Mastered by Dave Farrell

For more about the book “You and Me Forever”:
www.youandmeforever.org

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Branches of Influence

Who are some of the people who have inspired your work most in your life? (this could be in business or art or music or teaching, etc)

Write down three of them.

Now do some research. Who were three people who heavily inspired their work?

Go one step further and find out who inspired them…

What you end up with is a great network of exploration that will help lead you to more inspiration.

(This exercise was taken from “Steal Like an Artist”, a great book by Austin Kleon, www.austinkleon.com)

 

I, Tim Coons of Giants & Pilgrims, have gone ahead and done this above exercise for myself and hope to make a playlist from the musicians I’ve found soon. Let me branch this out.

Three artists who have greatly influenced my song-writing:

Bon Iver  is an American indie folk band founded in 2007 by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. Vernon released Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago independently in July 2007. The majority of that album was recorded while Vernon spent three months in a cabin in northwestern Wisconsin.

When I heard Vernon’s first well-known album, I was so excited that he had recorded so much of it himself. The layered voices and instruments gave me a sense of permission to create the basement recording of “Frailty”. That album of mine is found here.


Sufjan Stevens
is 
an American singer-songwriter and musician born in Detroit, Michigan. Stevens first began releasing his music on Asthmatic Kitty, a label co-founded with his stepfather, beginning with the 1999 release, A Sun Came. He is best known for his 2005 album, Illinois, which hit number one in the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart, and for the song “Chicago”.

The beauty and strangeness of Sufjan has also been  permission-giving towards my creativity and how I write. His use of antiquated items and children’s instruments remind me of the kind of things I found in my grandmother’s house- organs and bells and noise-makers that would entertain me for hours. The use of those instruments are instantly nostalgic for me. I thank Sufjan for inspiring their use.


Jeff Buckley
– an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. After a decade as a session guitarist in Los Angeles, Buckley amassed a following in the early 1990s by playing cover songs at venues in Manhattan’s East Village, such as Sin-é, gradually focusing more on his own material. After rebuffing much interest from record labels and his father’s manager Herb Cohen, he signed with Columbia, recruited a band, and recorded what would be his only studio album, Grace, in 1994. Rolling Stone considered him one of the greatest singers of all time.

If there is one source that has inspired how I try to sing, it’s Jeff Buckley. I remember falling in love with the album Grace and heralding the song “Hallelujah” as my favorite of all-time (pre-Shrek explosion of the song’s usage). 

 

So who are artists who inspired Bon Iver?
Steve Reich
Naked City
Richard Buckner
John Prine
Bruce Hornsby
Charlie Mingus

Who are artists who inspired Sufjan Stevens?
Phillip Glass
Daniel Son
Prince
Peter Cetera
Cyndi Lauper
Tiffanny
Dvorak
Stravinksy
Shoenberg.
Baroque
Glen Gould

Who are artists who inspired Jeff Buckley?
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Edith Piaf
Judy Garland
Nina Simone
MC5
Miles Davis
Duke Ellington
Led Zeppelin
Rush
Genesis
Sebadoh
Stevie Wonder

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Four Generations of Artists and an Apple Tree Sketch

Betony Coons, of Giants & Pilgrims, comes from an artistic background and we thought it would be interesting, beautiful, and true to our theme “branches” to see this experiment:

Betony, her grandmother (82), mother (57), sister (33), and finally, daughter Lucy (5), have all drawn sketches of an apple tree. The art here comes not only from the drawing but from the idea of a legacy and heredity of a family given over to being creative. Enjoy.

Below Pictures in order: Lucy (Betony’s daughter, age 5)/ Betony Coons (30)/ Elaine Williamson (Mother, 57)/ Katie Flindall (sister, 33)/ Chris Snyder (grandmother, 82)

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Branches Online Art Show: Feature #1

We are so excited to share with you the first set of artwork from our open online art show “Branches.” Photography, drawing, painting and writing are represented here.

We’d love to hear/see your interpretation of the theme “Branches” and will be accepting submissions through the end of August and be posting new pieces. Perhaps your piece could be/ will be in Feature #2.

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Bill Youmans. He says of the above piece, “notice how the branch from the upper left becomes 3 branches, and then following the stem of the leaf as it spreads into the leaf structure, the 1 into 3 pattern repeats itself over and over, smaller and smaller.”

 

Elaine Furister_The Velvet Tree

Elaine Furister – See more of her work on Facebook

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 Kelly Cook – To see more of her artwork and purchase this piece

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Brittany Schmidt

 

Essay by David Shelley:

Grieving Lost Branches

As I write this, two younger, more vigorous men are cleaning up the mess in our backyard. A heavy, wet snow came through one night. It brought much-needed moisture for our trees. But it arrived at the end of October, before the trees had shed their leaves. The heavy snow collected on the leaves, and branches as thick as my waist snapped like fortune cookies. Nature’s pruning took away locust, aspen and maple branches, and half of our old willow. A lot that once looked forested now looks as though a tornado had passed through. One young locust had the pliability to bend all the way, its top touching the ground, before I broomed off the snow, allowing it to spring back. But it straightened only halfway. It now leans like an old man with his walker.

A tire swing once hung from one of those willow branches. My father loved to swing his grandchildren when they were small. He, like that once-mighty branch, is gone now, and his grandchildren have grown and left the house. This was expected, but I dwell on it with mixed feelings, not unlike the mixed feelings I have had when saying good-bye to too many departed friends.

It is natural and good to get snow in October, and natural for mature trees to shed major branches at times. There is a time to break down, and a time to build up, Solomon noticed. But we do not merely notice such seasonal changes. We mourn them. I will miss the massive beauty of the willow, and the welcome shade it brought. It is now in a season for starting new branches–not because it is spring, but because most of the old branches are gone.

The willow itself does not seem melancholy. It will prove hardy. Years from now, it will have great branches again. I am the one who mourns the loss of those branches, because I enjoyed watching that tree spread its green canopy, its shady glory, over our home. I enjoyed watching my father play with his grandchildren. It is the past tense that lingers like a dark cloud.

A friend of mine said that when his father died, he felt as if his covering had been removed and he was exposed to something–I’m not sure what. Looming mortality, perhaps. I think of him as I look at our willow, now looking as ragged as a family name after a scandal. I feel the incongruity of that welcome water, feeding the tree it broke, renewing the process of beautifying and beneficial growth. Will we ever see unlimited growth without pruning, I wonder, or will we gain an eternal appreciation for the necessity of breaking off branches to reinvigorate new growth? Will I someday experience heavenly pruning and exult in it? Or will I never be pruned again? I long for a pure faith in the Vinedresser, a faith that trustingly welcomes either option, because I am tired of grieving the loss of old, familiar branches. – November 2012

 

To hear more from David find him over at Facebook

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Why I Let My Kids Paint on My Artwork

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I’ve been letting my kids paint on my artwork.

Honestly, sometimes it makes a giant mess. Elements I spent hours working on can quickly get covered with pink flowers and drawings of little girls or giant scribbles. I try to leave much of what they add and incorporate it into my final design. My “Ships Passing in the Night” painting (below) has Lucy’s (5 y/o) versions of sea creatures at the bottom, “Ferocious” is covered with Harriet’s (2 y/o) scribbles.

So why do I let my kids paint on my artwork? It is something I have been very purposeful about and is a meaningful element in our story. Here are some of the reasons behind my process:

1. Letting go of control. I love how by letting my children add to my pieces it adds an element of chaos. It forces me to be open to directions that I had not planned. When I intend for a piece to be a certain way and then my daughter adds a giant splotch of pink in the corner, I have to learn to be flexible. It forces me to think creatively about where the piece I am painting is meant to go.

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2. Balancing motherhood and being a working artist is hard.
Finding time to paint (or for that matter do a load of laundry) is difficult to say the least. It has been a priority of mine to find ways to keep fostering my own creative voice and growing as an artist. One of the ways I found to make that happen is to let my kids paint along side me when I paint – whether on their own projects or on mine. (This does lead to lots of messes, which sometimes doesn’t feel worth it, but I figure in 10 years I won’t remember the mess)

3. I genuinely love what they add. Whether it is tiny doodles drawn on the backside of the canvases, or drawings they have done that I collage in, there is something beautifully refreshing about the way kids draw. Their sense of line is so free. Kids draw the way they live life – free from inhibition. I think it’s a fun little surprise that when you buy one of my originals you will often find a sweet little drawing on the backside as well.
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4. Getting unstuck. When I can’t figure out what to do next, or why something is not working, letting two little hands come in and shake things up can be amazingly freeing. Whether it helps me realize which elements were most important or introduces fresh ideas, when my kids add to my canvases, change and movement is inevitable.

5Because it is true. This crazy whirlwind that I live in right now with a five-year-old, an almost 3-year-old, and the new baby on the way, is part of the story I am creating art about. For me making art is a process of sharing what’s true and what moves you. Hopefully, within that there are some universal truths to be found that others connect with and are moved by as well. I let my kids into my artistic process because it is a true representation of my story right now. I believe in including them into my art rather than separating them from what I do.

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If you’d like to see the finished pieces from Almanac No. 1, they’re all here.

For more artistic inspiration, here is a link to another mother-daughter collaboration that I think is awesome!

-Betony Coons

 

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August “Branches” Activity: Leaf Collecting

Take a walk in your favorite park and gather some leaves from the trees. Find a guide online and see if you can identify the trees from the leaf shapes.

You can keep the leaves to do a “pressed” collection, turn them into a  stamps activity or create leaf skeletons.

Pressing Leaves:

Find a heavy book like an encyclopedia or dictionary. Place leaves between 2 sheets of paper to protect the pages of the book. Leave at least 1/8″ of pages between pressings, weigh the book down and wait a couple of weeks.

Alternatively, you can put the leaves and paper in between two ceramic tiles, rubberbanded together, in the microwave and zap in short bursts, 30 seconds to a minute at a time Let cool between zaps, opening your press to let moisture/steam escape while cooling. Don’t over do it; avoid burning your flowers. Repeat until almost done, then put in a different book or flower press to finish drying.
Making Leaf Skeletons

  1. Press leaves between old book pages. They should remain inside the books or heavy objects in a dry, undisturbed place for several weeks.
  2. Make a solution of washing soda. Carefully lay the pressed leaves into the solution.
  3. When the flesh becomes pulpy, take the leaves out of the washing solution.Rinse them carefully in cold water.
  4. Gently brush away the pulp with a toothbrush. They’re now ready for use as a craft or art item.


 

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A History of Jazz Playlist

This month’s playlist follows the idea of branches.

We did a map with this run of songs depicting the beginning of jazz to present day flavors, starting with songs that would have influenced the genre on to it’s current state.

The Entertainer • Scott Joplin  • 1902
Livery Stable Blues  • Original Dixieland Jazz Band   • 1917
St. Louis Blues • Bessie Smith/Louis Armstrong   • 1925
Taxi War Dance • Count Basie   • 1939
All of Me • Billie Holiday    • 1939
Scrapple from the Apple • Charlie Parker/Miles Davis   • 1947
Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue • Duke Ellington    • 1956
Mack the Knife • Ella Fitzgerald    • 1960
Resolution • John Coltrane   • 1964
Bird Land • Weather Report   • 1977
Confessions to my Unborn Daughter • Ambrose Akinmusire    • 2011

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August is a Good Month for a Picnic

Gather the picnic basket (or whatever you have), pretend it’s the 1950’s (for wholesomeness’ sake) and find a park worth going to! This month’s recipe is a few ideas to pack for a meal out on the blanket among the grass and trees. Enjoy the picnic.


Cake Batter Cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 (18.25 oz.) yellow box cake mix

1 tsp. baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix and baking powder. Add eggs and oil, then mix until well blended.

Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Below: Curry Chicken Salad Sandwiches

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Curry Chicken Salad Sandwiches

INGREDIENTS

Salad:
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise (more if it seems dry)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 cups diced cooked chicken (from 2ish lb boneless skinless chicken theighs or breasts – I usually chop and trim the chicken, salt and pepper, and then cook in a skillet until done)

1/2 cup diced apple (gala works nice)

Handful of dried cherries or cranberries

1 cup seedless red grapes, halved

3 tablespoons toasted chopped walnuts
Sliced bread/or large tortillas, for wraps

Romaine lettuce

Balsalmic vinigarette dressing

Sliced provolone cheese

 

PREPARATION

Mix all salad ingredients in a bowl. Let sit for 20 minutes or so in the fridge for flavors to blend. Serve between two pieces of wheat bread with romaine lettuce, a drizzle of balsalmic dressing, and a slice of provolone cheese. Note: This recipe is very flexible, feel free to modify to what you have around – add onions, celery, sub yogurt for the mayonaisse, etc.

 

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“Branches” Online Art Show

CREATE ART!

So, with the theme of “branches” and this exploration of how so many different things emulate the shape, how about we have an
online art show? (The writing I did that talks about why we’re doing the theme branches is here)

 

We will be taking submissions until the end of August. Betony and I will curate the pieces that are turned in under the theme of “BRANCHES” and will showcase the art online!

Would you like to submit a photograph? A painting? A mixed-media piece or even a sketched idea? If not you, do you know someone who’d love this idea? Invite them to get involved.

Post artwork submissions to the Giants & Pilgrims’ Facebook page or email directly to timthreshingfloor@hotmail.com.

Spread the word and look for the show online
(giantsandpilgrims.com) come the end of August.