Baby Blue, 2018
acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 in
While she was painting this portrait of a young Bob Dylan, Joan had his music on in the background, inspiring her to call the piece “Baby Blue,” after “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” a song from Dylan’s 1965 album “Bringing It All Back Home.”
She was working from a photograph of Dylan taken at the time when they were the king and queen of folk music, one of the glamour couples of the decade.
“That’s the Bob I met,” Joan says one afternoon in a poolside art studio on the grounds of her rustic but elegant home in Northern California . “That’s the only time I’d seen him pose for a photo. It’s pure Bob.”
The song was written just before her painful split from Dylan during a British tour in the spring of 1965, and there has been much speculation that she is the “Baby Blue” he is saying goodbye to in the song.
One thing for certain, their breakup had long been a bitter memory for Joan, especially since she was responsible for introducing him to the public, launching his career.
But as she worked on the portrait and listened to his extraordinary repertoire of sings, both old and new, something shifted emotionally. It’s as if the whisper of blue in the painting became a theme, a color of healing and forgiveness, and all the hurt and resentment she’d felt over the callous way their relationship ended slowly washed away.
“As I painted his portrait and listened to his music, whatever resentments had lingered all these years quietly evaporated,” she says. “I felt enormously grateful to have been around at that moment in history, honored to have been his friend, and damn lucky I could sing.”