Fine and Mellow words and music by Billie Holiday. This performance on live TV in 1957 was all I needed to convince me to paint this music. In this video Billie Holiday sings Fine and Mellow accompanied by Ben Webster, Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins, all on tenor saxophone, Vic Dickenson on trombone, Gerry Mulligan playing the baritone saxophone, Roy Eldridge and Doc Cheatham both on trumpet, Danny Barker on guitar, Milt Hinton plays double bass, while Mal Waldron is on piano and Osie Johnson plays the drums. These are a lot of great jazz musicians all backing up Billie Holiday.
This early image of Fine and Mellow shows the original medium magenta stripping, after the first re-taping where I reduced the strip size by a half, to try to tone down its impact on the background. This thinning of the line helped, but the strip was simply not dark enough to fit the mood of the video. In a change from many of my earlier works I decided to paint both the top and bottom white strip in shades of dark purple. Seeing how the purple appeared to work out, I once again re-taped the magenta strips and painted over them with a purple wash, which finally resulted in the background the mood I was looking for.
Up next is the music. For the music my original thoughts where to use brighter colors to contrast with the background. Now, I am thinking differently. This is a rare black and white video of Billie Holiday singing a blues song, so to keep with the atmosphere of that music I have decided against any sharp separation of the music from the background. Instead, I am going to try to create the effect of the music moving back-en-forth into the background, and then swinging back out to the forefront of the artwork.
Scott Von Holzen