Showing soul...

Here is an illustration I just finished of and for Joseph Wooten,  the Hands of Soul;  keyboardist, writer, arranger, producer, educator, motivational speaker, 3-time Grammy nominated artist and keyboardist for The Steve Miller Band.  A busy guy, to say the least!  Although I was pleased to do the project and excited for the challenge,  I really wasn't sure how I was going to pull it off.  But I love a challenge and after many sketches and lots of research here is the final image.

Joseph Wooten, the Hands of Soul.
Transparent Watercolor

Phase One: Research/Sketching

The big question when I started this project was, 'How do you show soul?'  The problem I had to solve was taking everything you feel with Rhythm and Blues and transform it into an image; the beat, rhythm, and soul as well as Joseph's unique and compassionate personality.  I had to somehow illustrate the soul Joseph's music creates.

I learned long time ago that an image is only as good as the concept behind it.  It took many sketches and a ton of research to arrive at the concept of keyboard coming alive when everything came together.  Here are just a few pages from my sketch book.

The Keyboard flying off the piano
with 'fan' Hands of Soul.
Just Joe....

The Brother's Wooten.
Joe looking into the crowd,
 'His' crowd was a thought as well.

Phase Two:  Composition

Once I knew what to create, it had to be executed with a successful composition. I'm still not ready to paint.

Early Marker Comp.
Not enough movement.
Added keyboard idea from earlier sketch.

Final composition.

Finally, I have the image sketched out and it's time to transfer the image.

Phase Three:  Transfer image to watercolor paper.

I use tracing paper and a makeshift carbon
paper from graphite sticks. 

Phase Four:  Finally, time to paint!

First glazes set the framework.

More detail, pulling images together.
Building more layers, almost done.

I hope that those who see this feel Joe's Hands of Soul and that they are compelled to take time to learn a little more about not only his music but his message, that we all matter.  Learn more at I Matter, You Matter and listen to his song by the same name.


  1. What a fascinating process. I am not an artist but have always wondered how artists transfer sketches to paper for painting. The final result is beautiful! It really shows the energy of the performer. (Nice meeting you the other night :)


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