The Story of a Portrait

Steve Bell – Fighting For The Song

I began to teach myself to play the guitar at the age of ten and this lifelong passion ended up providing me with a career in the musical instrument business. I discovered the music of Steve Bell at the onset of his public career and I have been a fan ever since. Our personal friendship goes back about 14 years as a result of a new guitar purchase he had come to make. The instrument that he had acquired happened to be from my company called Stonebridge Guitars. Needless to say I was honoured and delighted to learn of this news. We were able to meet shortly thereafter.

This past December my wife and I attended Steve’s Christmas concert in Brantford Ontario. It was as always, a wonderful performance. For some time I had been considering the idea of creating a portrait of Steve and had already mentioned this to him in conversation. The inspiration for the piece that has now been completed came to me that evening.  It was after hearing the introduction he gave before performing his newly written song about his dad.  He told us the story of how he had laboured well into the night crafting a song that was deeply personal and emotionally challenging. Shortly after putting down the final touches, to his horror, he realized that he had somehow accidentally deleted the entire text on his electronic tablet. It was all permanently lost! He related how he stayed up through the night and into the early hours of the morning working to retrieve his words, “fighting for the song”. That phrase struck me and provided me with the basic narrative and theme I chose to develop. My completed portrait, however, of Steve Bell is not just based on this one event. It is dedicated to his life of devotion, his journey and growth as a songwriter and storyteller. As I am both a musician and visual artist, I have learned that as a person continuously works at their craft, the deeper understandings and sharper skills that are acquired only bring on more complex battles. I know that this is a beautiful truth! Steve Bell is a person who spends a good amount of time in quiet and honest reflection. He knows that while his songs should be beautiful and poetic, they equally should have words that can make a positive difference in people’s lives. 2020 has been hard for all nations. For many there has been unbearable loss and suffering. There is no doubt in my mind that the many formidable challenges facing the world at this time played a role in the somewhat serious mood of the selected pose. We both believe it is honest and real. More than ever we all need to dig in and continue to fight for our songs.