Monday, October 19, 2009

The Transformative Nature of Music

medium: watercolor
size: 16x21 inches

This is the first personal painting I've had the opportunity to work on in over two months. While I do pick commissioned projects that interest me artistically, I still need to periodically make time to work on the concepts that are floating around in my own head, without the fingers of an art director plucking the strings. In a way though, the commissions give me breathing time to develop my own ideas, and conversely because getting my personal work out onto the blank page can be oddly more mentally draining, painting other peoples images lets me relax a bit. In the space of that relaxation the need for personal paintings starts to build up again. It's a cycle, and a nice balance.

On a technical note, yes the color scheme I used in this piece is very similar to Gemini. I enjoyed the colors and the approach to the butterflies in that piece. Enough that I wanted to use it again in this one, and perhaps push it even further.

Likewise, the piano/tree was something I had explored a little bit in the Nine of Pentacles from my tarot series years ago. However, I wanted to go further with the organic aspect of it. In that older painting the combination is more simplistic. It is more like a tree that just happens to grow through the instrument, while in this newer piece I wanted them to be inextricably entwined. One is an extension of the other. As if the tree somehow grew into this form, and its living sap flows with music.

In a way, this piece is the other bookend to a painting I did earlier this year, Potential. Their compositions and visual elements echo each other. While Potential is about celebration of the first stirrings of new life, and the unlimited possibilities encapsulated within a seed, within a child; The Transformative Nature of Music is a celebration of a different sort: of a life that has been lived, and the spirit that passes on. Not so much "death", as what I try to suggest with the title, with the impossibly melded tree/piano, and with the sheaf of music that flutters from the stand and metamorphoses to take flight in the form of the strange bird - Transformation.

The day that I started this piece, I saw two ravens winging through the skies above my house. It's not a sight I've born witness to here before; far more usual are crows. But there was no mistaking these regal twin black shadows that glided through the sky with crows. Their cries echoed down the hillside, and the other birds fell temporarily silent.

In the spaces between the notes
you can hear the breath of her name
A song of mourning
A song of memory
A song of celebration
Fingers trail in arpeggios
up and down the keys
Playing in the spaces between the notes
with the breath of her name


  1. This painting is really beautiful... I love the butterflies and the idea is amazing !

  2. Steph, your paintings are just blowing me away. All of your recent work, in which there are so many, are ALL breathtaking. I can tell that the inspiration is flowing. Wow! I'm so inspired.....I can not wait to get back in the studio, thanks to you my dear friend.

  3. Things are probably gonna slow down for a couple months here now james. I'm 4 weeks away from the date. It's creeping up quickly!