“Lend your ears to music, open your eyes to painting, and stop thinking!"
Wassily Kandinsky is famously known as the artist who painted music. Sounds inspired abstract shapes and colour combinations, all in an effort to express what he was seeing and feeling. You can see it in his work - the music that is. Music, or at least the idea of it, appears in each brush stroke. The movement, the rhythm, it’s all there. While I was doing a art teaching placement for school, I designed an activity where students would just listen to instrumental music and simply draw (using pencil crayons) what they were feeling. It's not as simple as it sounds. Listen to music and draw? A monkey could do that, right? But I like to think there is a little more skill applied to it because it's not just the movement and the rhythm we're trying to abstractly get down on paper, it's the feeling behind it. Feel it!
I'm constantly updating my playlist (thanks to one of my very musically inclined friends - I made her do all of the heavy lifting in putting together an assortment of songs for me). My favourite songs are the ones that pull me in with the first few notes, the ones that take me on a journey in the way they cling to my heartstrings. When I feel it in my chest and see it in my mind, the inspiration flows smoothly.
This week was inspired by a handful of songs by one artist:
These raw beats and honest lyrics worked their way into my paintbrush in new ways and I’m not mad about it! I read an article interviewing the band and the lead singer, Kelly Zutrau, openly discussed how she gets terrible stage fright and to prevent her anxiety from getting the best of her, she needs to keep as many things the same as possible, mainly her low key dressing. There is this fear for her (and many others I know, myself personally) of not dressing in a way that would appeal to more people. She'll try hyping herself up to be more 'feminine' on stage by wearing a pattern, but then she’ll fall back on an old familiar black t-shirt at the last minute. Comfort is sometimes the key to creating your own unique brand and aesthetically there is no value in representing a distorted version of ourselves if we don't feel good about it.
Anxiety sometimes leads to revealing our most authentic selves and this fear of being someone we’re not isn’t a bad thing. In fact, we should all embrace it. I carried this mentality into my painting this week because I often feel like I’m just not good enough, that I didn’t go to art school so I have no business trying to paint for a living. I wake up feeling like a fraud, or as Holden Caulfield would say, a phony. Why? Because we live in an age where we constantly compare ourselves to others and getting caught up in the work of other individuals tends to make us feel inferior by comparison. I guess the message I’m getting at is that we are all our own imperfect idiosyncratic selves, so don't waste a second thinking that someone else has it better. The second I stopped comparing my work to others, I felt like I flourished, because the comparison is futile. Liberate yourself from this incessant need to liken yourself to someone else and you’ll find you’re a whole lot better than you think.