alizarin crimson, art, artist, BBC, brush strokes, canvas, Christian artist, Classical music, create, energetic, Evensong, inspiration, love, music soothes the savage beast, oil painting, paint, painter, painting, portrait, Radio, sleeping, Wagner
In 1697 William Congreve wrote that “Music has charms to sooth a savage breast” (The Mourning Bride). It’s often misquoted as “music soothes the savage beast” and to be honest, I prefer the misquote. But does it?
I don’t know about you, but I usually listen to music while I paint and for me, that music has to be classical. I’ve tried everything else, rock, pop, worship music, 80s, punk, whatever, but somehow anything other than classical gets kind of memorized into the painting. It kind of writes its self into the painting as an indelible memory and there is some music on the radio that I definitely wouldn’t want to associate with my work when I look at it! Yes I know, that’s probably a little odd, but most of us need a set of custom settings for our work environment.
It’s probably not that odd, as different music is usually chosen for different settings. You know the kind of thing, classical for brides entering a church (usually), perhaps a bit of indy or soft jazz for dinners or a BBQ, something with a driving beat for a workout (if you do that sort of thing) and maybe even a bit of Shania Twain for decorating… trust me, she can be very motivational if you have a roller in your hand and a bucket of paint!
However for painting (the art kind) my custom set up requires a radio quietly on in the background tuned to BBC Radio 3. I used to think that Radio 3 was ultra boring and listened to mainly by very old, very dull or probably, dead people. My opinion was that low, but then I used to hate current affairs programmes and Radio 4 too, both of which I now enjoy… proof that we eventually turn into our parents!
However as classical is my weapon of choice, it was either that or Classic FM which is a stream of endless bits of classical interspersed with adverts for cruises or cars for the older motorist. BBC Radio 3 it turned out, has complete pieces and, better still, no adds for hemorrhoid cream or dental implants.
This evening however the broadcast rounded off with Evensong followed by Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
Now at this point in the post, you’ll either be thinking “wow, that’s a contrast in musical styles”, or… “sounds like a lot of totally boring classical rubbish to me”. Sorry if it’s the latter, but if it’s the former then you might not be surprised to learn that Wagner is pretty stirring stuff. If it’s the latter then you might be interested to know that Wagner was the music played from helicopters in the Vietnam movie “Apocalypse Now”.
Well it didn’t make me want to rush out and join the marines and destroy defenseless villages from helicopters, but it did effect the way I was working! Evensong gave me a period of quiet focus, but Wagner spurred on the energetic background work.
Has this post got a point? Probably, that if something you do as an artist is affirming and helps you work, then use it. Don’t worry that it might be a different way of working to other, perhaps famous, artists. They’re not you! You are unique, a work of infinite creative wonder, a masterpiece in your own right and your work should be unique too! Don’t copy someone else, do your own thing, make your own marks, discover your own style, be… yourself.
Anyway, here’s the new project I’m working on. I’m including an earlier shot where the skin tones were… well, pretty awful. It’s seems it’s quite a challenge to make someone, who is asleep, not look dead! Getting that ‘not permanently sleeping’ look is a challenge, but I think I’m getting there. Which is a great relief because Phoebe is a gorgeous little girl that is just brimming with life, when she’s not snoozing on our couch.
The flash has washed out the skin tones on this last shot, but it gives and idea of the background and subject in position on the canvas. Lots more detail and work to do yet, but coming along ok so far.