5. See The Music

Dear Sade,

As written earlier I make art by the seat of my pants. I paint fast to the accompaniment of music and it would be true to say that without my 'backing music' the quality of my work falters and eventually deteriorates. When I paint to sound I hear rhythms deep down that somehow work their way into my art and are translated visually into strong colours. Music gives my brush a life of its own and simply makes my painting technique more proactive. Painting to music brings life, vitality and spark to my 'Painting Parties' and I am not talking Mozart or Vivaldi - this is 'Good Golly Miss Molly' wake-the-neighbours stuff courtesy of the likes of Chris Rea, Bob Seger, Status Quo and John Fogerty.' Chris Rea's 'Auberge' has seen the birth of more paintings than any other song on my 'Painting Music' tapes. When painting under the influence of music I experience a rhythm in my movements and my brush hand literally 'dances' over the painting surface. The very act of painting becomes playful and animated and it makes me feel great as I work. This is not the stuff of urban angst an introspection from the School of Pessimism - it is an expression of the spirit of joy which is evident in the work created. For a long time my goal in art was to purge myself of sophistication, intellectualism and perfection in my paintings and working to the beat of lively music has helped me to do this. I am not for a moment suggesting that anyone can pick up a brush, play some lively music and instantly paint in a free-flowing, loose, buoyant style, however it is a valuable aid in enhancing your painting technique. The following was taken from: Portrait of An Artist - A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe by Laurie Lisle: 'One day at Teacher's College, Georgia passed a classroom where Bement was teaching and heard music coming from a Victrola. The pupils were making rapid charcoal sketches to the sound of a low tone, somber rhythmic record, and then to one with higher, faster notes. Fascinated, Georgia sat down and began to draw too...Music was her second love and this seemed a way to integrate it with art. Later she was to carry this fusion further and paint fantastical abstractions based on her rhapsodic feelings about music.' Sade, I challenge you to paint to music - be it rock, classical, gospel, country, jazz or ballads - it will help you to put a little magic into your work. You won't remember what George. M. Cohan said to Spencer Tracy, so I'll tell you: "Whatever you do kid, always serve it with a little dressing."

Love Gramps
November 1998