At age 70, nothing that I drew was worthy of notice.
When I reach 80, I hope to make increasing progress.
At 90 I hope to see into the underlying principles of things so that
At 100 I will have achieved something in my art.
At 110, every dot and line will be as though alive.
by Hokusai at age 70 (100 Views of Mt.Fuji)
On December 16, 2019, I received my Night Journal in the mail and started Night 1 entry. By Night 2, I was hooked. It is so well done; the format, content, delivery and Joshua’s music – perfect. By the last night, I had already worked out a plan of how I could continue the journey.
At the same time, I was looking for a big next step for my, now 6-year, project to draw music. Then an odd combination of events presented themselves. The first event was the Night journal which stretched my imagination in very practical and compelling ways. The second was the Sci-Fi books I was reading. These all seemed to talk about how language and thinking can be created and perceived on different levels and layers. And the capper was the December 21st CBC-Day 6 interview with Johannes Debus, music director for the Canadian Opera Company, who spoke of his love the John Williams's music in the Star Wars movies. As he spoke about some of the practices used, I realized how different and richly he experiences music.
"The music is, from the start, kind of heraldic and grand and victorious," said Debus. That's in part because of the fanfares from the trumpets and brass instruments that start off the piece. But Debus says it's also because of the interval spectrum. The notes jump up and down, and there's a wide range, "so that we have the feeling of freedom, of hope, of optimism that drives us," said Debus.
From these three events, I wondered what it would be like to see the different levels and layers of music, so I used this question, and I took a second pass through the Night Journal. With each new night, I explored this question through the lens of the guided Night journaling and Joshua’s music.
Drawing Music - Mind Map
I looked at the elements of; visual design, of sound-music, and of the 5 senses. I also brainstormed what kind of music I most like, what artists, poets I like, and aspects of making art that I most enjoy.
In the second pass of my Night Journaling, I explored what I thought a next step music piece would look like. From my mind map I extracted descriptions like; the universe and the atom (big and small together), lots of places for the eyes to wonder, not over worked, how to draw the lines to better hear the tone and flow of the music.
That journaling night, I drew the guiding music that Joshua played. (Ambient music has become one of my favorite kinds of music.) When I finished the piece, I took a look and I discovered that slow paced, quiet music looks like fast moving lines that are tightly curled, while fast paced, louder music are drawn in larger more loosely looped lines, and notes are knotted tight circles. It seemed like there was a language emerging.
With this new found language in mind, I ‘consulted’ a few of my favorite artists; Miro, for his playful, child-like paintings, Hokusai for his drawings and Monet whose ‘haystack’ and Big Ben series always intrigued me. In Hokusai’s 100 Views of Mt. Fuji, I rediscovered his quote above.
I have many yet-to-finish pieces from concerts and musical experiences over the last couple of years, so I will use these works in large numbered series, 100 is my goal. I started with a more recent live sound concert from my friend Jenny which included voice and temple gongs and percussion instruments. Her music embodies a number of elements that I have discovered in my drawing-music quest; spontaneity, abstractness, flow, and surprise.
Drawing Music 2020
So far I have completed 20 drawings. These are the first four. Already I am discovering a freshness and renewed energy for the project. It feels like opening the door to a new path. I also know that where I start is not where I’ll end. There’ll be many big and subtle discoveries along the way.
- They had discovered that a language they had made up, is now a reality. Maybe human beings had always possessed this language. It constructs a world that gives it meaning. (from ‘Dark Forest’ by Cixin Liu)