Music and Art: The Perfect Companions

I often paint whilst listening to music and am very aware that it can influence my painting.  This is especially true when painting larger pieces (60cm+). The physical gestures become about your whole body rather than hands and wrists.  The rhythm of the music starts to show through in the mark making. And the mood of the piece can be altered significantly.

I am aware that artists who have synesthesia can experience sounds as colours. This must be an amazing experience.  But for me, music simply brings in a different dimension.  It can evoke memories, energise or put me into a zoned out state.  And sometimes at the start of a painting, I will capture song lyrics directly onto the board.  Obscuring them with later layers of paint. So only I know they are there, beneath the surface.

A Marriage Made in Heaven

Music and art are good bedfellows in other ways too. 

Artist Turned Pop Star

Many famous musicians started out as art students.  You can see the influence in David Bowie’s work from album covers to stage image.  Freddie Mercury, John Lennon, David Byrne, Eric Clapton to name just a few.  Maybe it is down to the ‘non conventional’ nature of the types of individuals attracted to these careers. Or maybe it is another avenue for creative souls.  But it has struck me recently how connected the two art forms are.  If you want to read a bit more about the connection there is a good article by Steve Valvano that’s worth a read.

Showcasing Art

It is perhaps no surprise then that there have been so many amazing album covers over the years.  Covers that showcase great, fine art and bring it to the attention of a mass market.  I’m no expert but from googling it seemed to start with the Jazz musicians. Many of whomhad some stunning artwork for albums and posters.

Then of course you have the work of the extremely talented pop artists himself, Peter Blake.

Andy Warhol’s cover for the Velvet Underground. An iconic image.

Another by Blur – Banksy’s painting for Think Tank

And my personal favourite from one of my favourite artists. Jenny Saville’s cover for Manic Street Preachers. 

If you fancy disappearing down a rabbit hole with this subject this article is a great place to start!

Putting On a Show

The prompt that got me thinking about this was a gig I attended last weekend.  My husband and I have had a couple of weeks packed with live entertainment.  It kicked off with Sam Fender at St. James’ Park. A concert that united the North East and got the entire city buzzing.  The following day we saw Steve Earle – a very different vibe.  Then on Friday it was Springsteen. The ultimate live performer as always.  However, last Saturday’s gig, I wasn’t so excited about. 

I bought my husband tickets to Peter Gabriel as a Christmas present.  As I don’t know his music so well, I didn’t have high expectations.  But I was completely blown away.  The event was a true marriage of music and art! 

Even before the musicians came on stage we were visually entertained. An enormous clock with a figure drawing and then erasing the clock hands to countdown to the performance.

The curation of music and art was so amazing it felt more like a theatre performance than it did a gig.  I rarely buy programmes when I go to concerts.  But I did for this one! It feels more like an art catalogue and manifesto.  In the programme he details the various artists involved which was a real journey of eclectic styles. 

If like me you like discovering new artists. Or finding out about artists you may have heard of but want to know more, below are the names (and links) to those involved.  WARNING– this can lead to a very long rabbit hole of googling!

And what really surprised me was just how gracious Peter Gabriel was.  He named checked everyone. You expect him to do those on stage, but the promotion and thanks he gave to each of the artists was something I have never seen before.   If you get the chance to go to one of his gigs I’d thoroughly recommend it!

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