Three watercolors, three music genres, and the awe of creation
I was in southern California walking the beach, writing, doing research for my next novel, visiting family and friends, and, I must confess, escaping the Midwestern dreary winter. As many of you know, I love to paint and make art. It’s as much a compulsion, a passion, a way I breathe as my writing, part of whom I have been since childhood. So, if you check out the gallery on my website, you will see metal sculptures, jewelry, altered books, watercolors, and acrylic paintings. When I travel, I solve my need to make things by carrying watercolor paper and paints and then I listen to music, usually classical.
While I was in there, I visited an aquarium and captured images with my smart phone. Sitting by the sea, listening to the sounds of Yo Yo Ma accompany its lapping, I painted a picture of a kelp forest. One bright orange fish stuck among grey and silver fish, and dusty green of the fronds. I never before noticed the expressions on the faces of the fish. Some look like grumpy old men. Some look like sleek sirens. The bright orange one was good news in the midst of a recession. If you write, if you do art, if you run, if you dance, if you are one of the lucky ones you know the experience of awe that transports. If I’m lucky, I induce it through creation.
While there , I read Keith Richard’s Life fascinated by his lifelong musical passion, and creating as a collaboration—rare in visual art or writing. He and Jagger actually invented together, spontaneously, experiencing that moment of awe simultaneously. I did something different. I painted a coral reef to Jumping Jack Flash, Love in Vain, Little Red Rooster, Brown Sugar. I have a lot of Rolling Stones on my ipod and just let it roll, enveloped by the bright colors of the fish, and the coral, the music.
Then, there was L.A.’s Chinatown: red lanterns throwing an orange glow, neon lights highlighting ornate gingerbread. Perfect for rap. So I put in the earphones and painted to old school Tupac, I ain’t Mad at Cha, Dear Mama, Life Goes On and Lil Wayne’s President Carter.
Each time — classical, rock, rap –I was lost in the music, the colors, the visions that flowed from my head, to my hand, to the paper. Did the music impact my painting? The music helped evoke the images. Music and colors are tied—they remind me of each other. They’re both about rhythm and sounds and they impacted the tempo of my movements, my brush dancing with its treasure of color onto the paper. Each time, the awe of creation filled me. The feeling of invention is always more impressive, more pervasive than the finished product because the final image, the next day, surprises since it, like sex, looks different than it feels.
So I wanted to share this experience with you…the great diversity of the music we have created, the great diversity and visions that surround us. And the pulse which threads through all of it.