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Getting in the Groove

Updated: Jan 23


You may have heard that many artists listen to music while painting. You may be one yourself. Lest you think I view music and musicians as "background" or "white" noise and the creators thereof, I usually find music to be essential in my creative process. In fact, I have frequently been amazed and sometimes envious of what musicians can do with sounds and poetry. It is deeply spiritual and powerfully moving. History has proven how mighty it can be. The harp of David frequently calmed the inner turmoil of King Saul. I'm sure you can think of other examples. Music is an irreplaceable medium of expression.


Visual art not only shares the creative process with music, but is also spiritual. I often see the two as partners. In fact, musician Phil Keaggy seems to recognize this in his series of albums called Music to Paint By. In fact, it boggles my mind that such an accomplished and creative musician has a high view of visual art. I find his music really helps me to get in and move in "the zone" or "the groove" of painting. Conversely there is plenty of visual art that celebrates music and specific musicians. In fact, music and visual art often come together beautifully in films and live productions, and provide a synergy like no other.


It's not that I never do art without listening to music. Sometimes silence is golden, when the only sounds around are the breeze or birds or cattle in the distance. Sometimes I find I prefer certain types or genres of music to others. However, if you listened in on my studio time, you'd probably find that the majority of the time I am listening to instrumental rock, jazz, fusion, blues, etc. It's not that I am completely against lyrics. In fact there are times I seriously need them. It's just that with my personality and wiring, the seemingly unending chatter of the world can get on my last nerve, and I need sounds and rhythms that calm and open up my soul to a creative world. Occasionally I also enjoy some good classical, bluegrass, or country, but as a general rule for me the more ethereal with steady rhythm the better. Believe it or not, there are also times in painting where it is just plain work. It is not continuous pleasure every moment. Just like any discipline in life, in order to accomplish good, one has to push through at times and have endurance. The kind of music I listen to helps me to do that. It is like a tonic for me. Not only does it put a finite limit on the studio time, but it also helps me to focus, endure and not quit too soon.


Some other musicians I enjoy are Fernando Ortega, Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke, Jean-Luc Ponty, Johann Sebastian Bach, Salvador, Alison Krauss, Andres Segovia and Kronos Quartet to name a few. I'm sure you'd agree that we are all wired differently, and the variety of music one can listen to seems limitless. Each person's tastes are as unique as the individual and can also change over time and can serve a variety of purposes. What other types of music do you enjoy and helps you in the creative process? Pop? Gospel? R&B? Folk? Opera? Alternative? Reggae? Dubstep? Hip Hop? Rap? Metal? Grime? There are also more varieties outside the western world that are quite fascinating to listen to and are unique sources of inspiration. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.


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