We met Joel Pritchard on a warm Sunday evening in Feb, 2012. Actually it was my birthday, but after hitting forty, I had lost the appetite for big celebrations. We were performing that evening in the court-yard of a big suburban church in Phoenix, AZ and Joel was there because he was the young, hip art director at the church and friends with the opening band. After the show, we went back to the bus, which was parked in the lot adjacent to the court-yard, and planned on heading to bed. As we were winding down, a knock came to our door and Joel and a friend asked Craig if he wanted to go out for a drink. Always up for a party, Craig said, “sure.” I was a little miffed because it was my birthday, but honestly, I was tired and happy to have some alone time. They left, the kids went to bed and I relaxed with my glass of red wine and a book. I was lulling to sleep when the phone rang. It was Craig. He asked if I was still up. I said, yes, but just about to sleep. Inconspicuously, he asked me to stay up. I questioned but said, OK.
About 15 minutes later the fella’s arrived at the bus with gas station ice cream bars and big smiles on their faces. “Happy Birthday!” they exclaimed. I started to giggle and blush at their spontaneity and thoughtfulness. We ended up staying up sharing life for another two hours.
We kept in touch with Joel over the course of the year. When we visited again this January, Joel asked if we would lead a workshop at an art event he was hosting. We were delighted to be included. We had just finished laying down the base tracks for our CD and beginning to work on ideas for the CD artwork. I had a concept but am no visual artist. We had been keeping an eye out for an artist to partner with and Joel came on our radar after we saw his work at the art event. We were really inspired by it and by him. He was prayerful, had technical knowledge and most importantly he was a friend. So we asked if he would be willing to work on our project. He said, yes. We didn’t have any audio files to send him yet but he was happy to work off of the premise of the album and the lyrics. It was exciting waiting to see what inspiration he would have from our thoughtful words.
His first draft of an idea arrived and I have to admit, it wasn’t exactly the direction I was anticipating but I did like certain aspects. I shared my feelings gently and He assured us it was only a starting point and that he was going to spend more time contemplating ideas. I trusted him.
Fast forward, we were three days before the artwork had to go to print and Joel sent me a sketch that diverted from his original work and mentioned a caricature drawing of our family riding a turtle. Parts of the sketch resonated with me, I let Joel know I really liked the eye with the house but was struggling to find connection with the rest. And, the turtle idea was a bit cheesy sounding but I was happy to take a look. Over all, I was feeling a little panicked and unsure of how the piece was going to come together. However, I continued to wait, pray and trust.
Meanwhile, we were parked in Lafayette, LA with the Campbell’s aka the”gift givers.” We were connected with them through our friend Chaz, who is mentored by them while attending school in Lafayette. Their home was buzzing with students coming and going during the three days that we neighbored with them. It was life-giving to be around so many young minds, all longing to grow and express themselves as spiritual beings.
At one point, Kari Campbell spontaneously pulled out a few art supplies and five or six hands began to craft a piece of artwork. Chaz, a gifted artist, took the piece and added the final touches to create a colorfully, dynamic hot air balloon.
At first glance I knew it was meant to be included in the CD artwork. However, I hadn’t heard from Joel and didn’t want to undermine the hard work that he was doing. So, I called him just to see how he was coming along and he responded that he was really stumped and hadn’t been able to move forward. I told him about the inspired piece and asked if it was possible to include it or at least the concept in the CD artwork? He was keen to give it a go.
Thirty two hours later Joel sent me the draft for the final product. It was perfect! Everything about it was amazingly perfect.
We have the original balloon piece displayed in our bus as well as the most thought-provoking artwork on our CD, including the turtle drawing which we have fallen in love with, and a phenomenal sound track that encompasses everything our family has encountered on this journey. Whatever may come, Over Land and Leas will be a treasure that will be passed down from generation to generation. It is a deep refection of community and connection, beauty and trust. It is a gift to have met so many precious souls along our way. It is a gift to have had the opportunity to create in community. It is a gift.