I heard that the remaining members of the The Grateful Dead are doing a "Farewell" concert this summer and my inner teenager got super psyched and I sketched something like this piece out. During the time I reminisced at how big of an influence The Dead had on me growing up and studying art. It was a time of transformation as I grew from pencils to paints, my art took on a more surreal and psychedelic approach. "...It was all just a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago..."
Gosh, I loved so many of their songs... but Box of Rain was always on the top of my list. First released on the album American Beauty (1970), it opened the record as track one, and ironically was the last song they played live in 95. By then the song evolved into more of a colorful hazy dream then the melancholy grey from American Beauty, and that is what I truly love about this track. They kept enhancing it, and improving it, and I've listened to several different versions but ultimately the rendition they played Live at East Troy, WI, 1989, is my absolutely favorite. You can find this track on the album Fallout From The Phil Zone: www.youtube.com/watch?v=f82KuJ…"...a box of rain will ease the pain and love will see you through..."
Around the time I was sketching this design out, I was reading a book on crystal gazing. Written in 1905, the book was incredibly fascinating and went into a scientific study of the use of crystal balls for scrying. It also went into various methods of scrying in cultures around the world. Some mystics used ink, others used dark mirrors, and some even just used their fingernail. One of the methods used in the orient was a black box that the seer would gaze into. In some ways I was inspired by this method to make the interior of the box black, and then later decided to add in the stars and colorful haze. The song itself had nothing to do with scrying, but I couldn't help blending these too ideas together. Phil Lesh, the main creator of the song, stated that "Box of Rain" was originally supposed to be "Ball of Rain" symbolizing the Earth. He liked the sound of box rather than ball and went with that. "...it's just a box of rain. I don't know who put it there. Believe it if you need it or leave it if you dare..."
As a teen, I remember picturing the box as being wooden with carvings around the sides. Opening the box would produce a light and silly spirits would come out and make the world a brighter place, while the rain from the box would aid in the growth of life, and simply water is refreshing. Seeing how the song evolved from it's original version to a more colorful later version, it has helped me to grow and evolve as an artist, my art went from being dark and angsty to being colorful and silly, and refreshing compared to the dark art of my peers (so I was told).
Though the farewell show is happening this summer for 3 days only, you won't find me there. I'm not good with permanent good byes. I have the songs that I love hidden in my heart and they will never be forgotten. "...such a long long time to be gone and a short time to be there."
Adobe Illustrator CC