The Artwork: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (Self-Portrait)

From Lyrics to Artwork

A self-portrait, and my tribute to Dolly Parton.

Music has always found me and guided me back to myself. In this piece, I explored a self-portrait around the song "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues."

First, let me say how much I admire Dolly Parton, both as a musical artist and as a human being. She has given so much of herself and her fortune toward promoting childhood literacy, education, health, research and advocacy. She has given out over one hundred million books to children, funded hospitals and scholarships, donated a million dollars to fund research for COVID-19 vaccines and more.

I've long wanted to paint from one of her songs, and everything came together in this self-portrait...

Keep reading to learn about the musical inspiration for this piece and the art process from concept to finished artwork below... Or, if you are ready to add this to your collection, purchase a print of this artwork here (full color) or here (golden light).

"Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" ~ Self-portrait © Nikki Smith

From Concept to Painting

Musical Inspiration

The concept for this piece sprang from a Dolly Parton, Emmy Lou Harris and Linda Ronstadt song, "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" (listen below.)

"Even cowgirls get the blues sometimes
Bound together, what to do sometimes
Get this feelin' like the restless wind
The only way she's ever been"

Song writer: Sonny Curtis

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas...

I painted this piece about nine times before I was satisfied. I painted her in a field of flowers; against a black backdrop; full body vs. close crop; with and without a hat; in several colors; etc.

I really wanted to play with the color palette and bringing more color into my skintones, as well as integrating the foreground and background. Thus, the paint strokes that overlap, pushing the figure back in places. It's also fun and freeing to be so playful with color and techniques. I love how it turned out!

Love this art?
Order prints and merch here:

A Study of Light

My favorite alternate painting was a light study, exploring the fall of golden light through darkness. I typically offer a black and white piece of each new painting for those who prefer a simple color palette (and am happy to do so - just ask me!) This time I chose a more golden sepia tone as this really spoke to me. I loved adding all of the little dust motes!

Fine art prints and merchandise of "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" are available HERE (in color) and in Golden Light.
Thank you for supporting living artists!

What song should I use as inspiration next? Let me know!