How Tony Bennett Inspires Me To Paint Better

A few years back, on a chilly October evening, my 19 year-old son Michael and I made our way to the Honeywell Center in Wabash, Indiana to see Tony Bennett perform. Tony was 90 years old, impeccably dressed and in perfect form. We were mesmerized. It seemed two hours passed in minutes.

On the drive home, we couldn’t stop talking about the songs and how they transported us. But what stood out most of all was the love we felt radiating from Tony.

Tony sincerely loved the music, it was obvious.  Every phrase of every tune. The audience responded with seven standing ovations.

In the film The Zen of Bennett, Tony says, “Everything you do should be done with love. And the people understand that.” 

When I paint, I'm often listening to jazz greats like Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, and others.

During painting sessions, color notes flow from my brush as their brilliant music fills the air. A call and response ensues, between color, line, and sound. When all goes well, I get completely caught up in it, like some kind of color zombie. And that’s when the magic happens, when things flow and time disappears.

I often think back to that concert in northern Indiana, and the way Tony exuded love.  My goal each time is to care like Tony cares. To love every mark and smudge and stroke--

To love every painting into existence, every square inch, every time.


I want to thank all of you who responded to my recent post about my parents moving in during Dad's time in hospice care. Your comments were so kind and encouraging to me and Bonnie.  Now that the needs have increased, Mom and Dad have moved in to an assisted living facility about 12 minutes from us, where Dad is receiving excellent care. Thank you for all your expressions of care and support.

If you missed the original post, it's here.


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