My guitar strap. This is what got me into leather work. My dad had an old leather bass strap that I really, really wanted to copy (which is to this day the template for all my 3.25" straps). My stepfather had all the tools and the know how. And my Grandfather inspired the art.
(photo credit: Soula Pefkaros | www.soulapefkaros.com)
I have always painted as an outlet alongside music, although music had always been my main focus. When I was really little I wanted to be on Star Search and later on I would sing nearly every single evening on my karaoke machine from about age 10 when I got my first karaoke straight on through high school (Babs and Whitney all the time. Every day. With an "I. Will. Hit. That. Note!" determination). And my mom would be on the bed behind me listening, saying "You've got it, Lin!" when she would see me struggling with Streisand's belter end note. (I'd be facing the wall, not the bed. Too shy.) Then I went to college for Musical Theater and eventually to NYC and Europe to perform and study Opera. Later to Nashville. And then to San Francisco. I was all about the music. But drawing and painting and above all, my family, stay constant for me while music tends to flow in and out, strong at times and nearly silent at others.
My strap is a painting of me as a baby in my Grandfather's arms. I painted it from an old picture I had found. My Grandfather taught everyone in his family (and I'm sure many others, too) what it means to truly love yourself. He is my reminder that we're all together on this ride and not one of us is above the other (but dammit, you're a good one, he would tell you. You're special. You better believe it, baby. You're special.) And that is the power he put in every person he loved. All of us were individually yet equally so immensely special. That is a gift all of us can give to the people we love. I think it's good to remember this when you put yourself in a vulnerable position where you're about to open your mouth and make super loud noises. All of those who are reading this who sing know that the second you start doubting what's going to come out is the second you start sounding like you're making turkey calls. Especially since the brain always kicks in right before that big note. Right when you really, really need it to take a snooze. So having my Pop on my strap reminding me to "go out there and get 'em" (as he would so often say) helped me through some scary notes.
I think visual art adds a whole other means of expression for the musician. My strap is very comforting to me when I'm on stage and it is something I will have forever. It portrays what I love: Family. Smiles. Affection. Comfort. Flowers. Happiness. Togetherness. Peace.