Joni Mitchell

[…] Leonard and his friend, Rosengarten, the artist, we were in New York and I was doing all that Aubrey Beardsley kind of naïve drawing at that time. I was contemplating fantasy, all these cartoony birds, you know, it was the end of childhood. And I said to Rosengarten, ‘‘I don’t like my work.’’

He said, ‘‘What don’t you like about it?’’

I said, ‘‘It’s too naïve and it’s too ornate. ’’

He said, ‘‘Okay’’

We went to Washington Square and he said, ‘‘Draw me and don’t look at the paper. ’’

It was a very liberating exercise. It enabled me to make a transition to a different style of drawing, which was more realistic and more immediate and more modern. And once that aesthetic shift took place in the visual, it seemed to shift internally in the music as well – more rhythmic, less classical, more rocky jazz, because the chords were wider than rock chords. They were more polyphonic, but rhythmically they were four on the floor basically, Chuck Berryish. That was a big kind of breakthrough, heading towards Court and Spark. […]

SOURCE : Malka Marom, Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words. Toronto, ECW Press, 2014.

[…] In turn, Mitchell’s time with Cohen inspired many acts of creation. She says she abandoned her box of paints when she got into music, but after being with Cohen and spending time in Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, she was inspired to paint a portrait of Montreal’s brooding poet. And it was Cohen’s friend Mort Rosenthal [sic], a noted sculptor, who gave her one of the most valuable lessons she ever received in art practice. Mitchell says that Rosenthal [sic] “gave me a very simple exercise which freed my drawing – [and] gave it boldness and energy. He gave me my originality.”

SOURCE : Katherine Monk, Joni : The Creative Odyssey of Joni Mitchell, Greystone Books, 2012.

[…] In my early twenties I met two men who were best friends from childhood - one a sculptor - one a poet. My association with them was catalytic in opening my gifts in two areas. The sculptor, Mort Rosenthal [sic], gave me a very simple exercise which freed my drawing - gave it boldness and energy. He gave me my originality. The poet Leonard Cohen was a mirror to my work and with no verbal instructions he showed me how to plumb the depths of my own experience. It's funny the way information falls in for me, you know. […]

SOURCE : Stewart Brand, ‘‘The Education of Joni Mitchell’’ in Co-Evolution Quarterly, June 1976.