Noe Venable

Cascadia Artist Spotlight: An Interview with painter Liz Gill Neilson

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014

I’m writing to you here at the halfway point in our Kickstarter campaign, and to share the happy news– today, thanks to you, we broke the $14,000 mark!  WOW!  If you’ve already backed the project, thank you so much!   I’m grateful for your belief in this project, and I’m so looking forward to sharing the finished album with you! Meanwhile, I want to share with you another behind-the-scenes look at Cascadia’s creation.  If you’ve looked at the banner of this website, you’re already familiar with“The Garden at Night,” the beautiful painting that will be on Cascadia’s cover.  Today, I want to introduce you to the painting’s creator: Liz Gill Neilson. I sat down for virtual tea with Liz to ask her about her artistic process and inspiration.  Here’s what she said.  Enjoy! NV—  Liz, after many years of loving your work, it’s a pleasure to have your beautiful painting, “The Garden As Night” become Cascadia’s album cover.  In our Kickstarter campaign video, I’ve shared the story behind the music.  Now I’d love for people to hear the story behind the painting.  Can you tell us what inspired this work, and what your process was in creating it?   LGN—  Actually, the concept for this painting started brewing around the same time we began hearing some of the songs you were writing for the album. I started thinking about two concepts in the same light. The first was how, in David Lynch’s audio book of Catching the Big Fish, he talks about some of his early experiments in painting, one of which was of “a garden at night”. For some reason that got stuck in my head, and for a while I was going out in the middle of the night to sit in our garden and draw and paint, to try and get this feeling he was talking about. I loved the sense of things semi-illuminated, and the suggestive shadows…also, the way that forms can be mis-interpreted in darkness, and become something totally different than what they really are.  The second idea came from the idea of “one river, many wells,” which is a concept often used in comparative religion, and it may have been a conversation with you that got me thinking about this! Well, I thought an even better way of thinking it was “one well, many rivers,” in that all the good ideas are coming from the same source, somewhere at the center of things, and flowing out to different parts of the world. So, “The Garden at...

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First Foray

Posted by on Oct 5, 2013

First Foray

Dear listeners, dear readers, It has been some time now since I maintained any kind of web presence beyond occasional updates on Facebook.  So much has happened during that time…  I went back to school.  I started a teaching career.  This past year, miracle of miracles, I had a baby. Given all these happenings in my life, I haven’t played shows in a while.  But it’s more than that…  Withdrawing from playing shows has  been one aspect of a broader pulling back from a lot of things I once cleaved to.   So many ideas I once held dear I have now departed from.  So many sureties abandoned in light of the discovery of necessary new uncertainties.  So many places where my priorities have rearranged themselves to accommodate new life and new possibilities. Amongst these changes has been a big shift in my relationship to technology.  Whereas once I delighted in new gadgets (primarily musical ones!), and shaped music accordingly, I now seem most drawn to things un-electric.  Hand hewn or God hewn.  Candlelight.  My acoustic guitar, unaffected, the way it sounds in my home recording space.  A wooden recorder; when my little son, Ember, gets into something on his own, I can pick it up and cheer us both with a tune.  The way the sunlight looks, filtering through branches in the park. Over the last years, books such as The Shallows have bolstered my determination to limit media usage in my life.  My worklife as a Waldorf teacher has been an conducive environment in which to do so. While some teachers face pressure to respond to e-mail multiple times during their work day, I happily purchased a granny phone to free me from the potential perpetual distraction of texting.  I removed all screens from the living areas of our home. It wasn’t just communicative media I began to release from my life.  I also stopped listening to much in the way of recorded music (though I never lost interest in recording it myself!)  Instead I joined a chorus, and even led a few.  I fell in love with what it feels like to sing with people in a room, how alive it is, a song just breathing in the air between you all, raising you up with its beauty. When I reflect on how my life has changed in the years since I pulled back from performing,...

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Meeting the marimba

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013

Meeting the marimba

Before I met Payton MacDonald, I was mostly familiar with marimbas from the music of Tom Waits.  I thought of them as a clomping along instrument, one that spoke in staccato.  If music were a sentence, the marimba would be the punctuation, while violins and voices sang the thought. Then I heard Payton play, and that was when I really met the Marimba.  In his virtuosic hands, mallets somehow produced swirls and swooping gestures and delicate textures.  I recruited him for my last album, The Summer Storm Journals, and the marimba is the instrument that you hear in Army of Nows, and others.  (To me what he plays in the intro of that song sounds like a cloud of butterflies.) I collaborated with him again on my new album, Cascadia.  On this album, I wanted to integrate even more pitched percussion, and to have that element run through the entire record, rather than just a few songs.  Payton’s playing was a big part of my inspiration to do that. Here’s a still from our video footage, showing Payton at work in the studio.  Foortage was shot by Eric Daniel Metzgar....

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