Painting and Music

Tips for Painting with Musical Inspiration

"To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."~Pablo Picasso

Art and music have always nicely complimented each other, but it is usually when viewing art when music is more often associated with it. And music is beneficial to the experience of viewing art. It has been said that music inspires a creative outpouring without interfering with the process and has been shown to help writers and students studying. But could it be beneficial to painting as well?

Modern painters have listed quite the variety of musical genres that get them into the painting groove. And so far, according to studies, no particular genre of music or artist has been proven to predominantly inspire creativity, but instead it's whatever the particular artist likes. Just like an athlete needs his or her own choice in music to get pumped up and excited, or any person listening to their favorite music while performing their favorite activities, artists choose what they like to listen to in order to paint what they like to paint.

However, classical music may be better suited for evoking the imagination than contemporary songs. For instance, there are no lyrics to guide you, and no music video to demonstrate what the song is about. Apart from the chance you've linked the music to a play or ballet, there is no alternate media putting forth the meaning of the music. You are free to paint the scene the music shows you in your own mind, then put it down on the canvas or paper.

In any case, its worth giving it a try. Here are some steps to getting introduced to classical music while you paint.

  • Start by setting aside a chunk of time when you can work without interruption, say 3 to 4 hours.
  • Gather your canvas, your favorite paints and brushes and set up your workspace.
  • Explore the internet for classical music. It's best to pick something you haven't heard before. Art classes in the past have used Ravel's Bolero or Four Seasons by Vivaldi or a Nocturne from Chopin. Do some research and it may take a little time to find something that will pique your interest, and when it does; just go with it.
  • Turn off the cell phone and computer-the only bit of technology you may need is an iPod and some speakers.
  • The rest is up to you. From your own experiments, let the music guide you and your paintbrush to create your own unique interpretation of the notes. Make it as realistic or as abstract as you want. 

This is a great activity because the possibilities are endless. You can try listening to classical and painting, then switch up the music to something more modern. Compare the art you make with different music in the background. I bet you'll find out something interesting. You can also involve family and friends-see if they can have different interpretations of paintings made with the same sounds, processed through different minds. Its also a great activity to do with kids, since they have the best imaginations in the world!


Tips for Drawing Self-Portraits


5 Tips to sketch yourself better!

Drawing self-portraits can be a great way to practice sketching techniques as-let's face-it-there is no shortage of material when you draw yourself! Sketching or drawing yourself can be a great way to learn a lot about sketching, shading and proportions. And, when you sketch, your pictures can be kinda funny-they don't always represent a subject the same way. But, making a sketch of yourself, whether you use a picture or look in a mirror, can teach you a lot about art and yourself. So here are some tips on how to draw your own self-portrait:

1. Start with a light sketch.

Start with a light outline. Everyone thinks they know the proportions of a face, but when you really study the human face, its easy to realize that the eyes are not near the top of the head, they are more about half-way between the crown of the head and your chin. Get the major features first, lightly, to create a foundation so you can add in your details later. This way, if you make a mistake, you can easily erase it and it wont affect the minute details you will spend more time creating later on.  

2. Add shadows and smudge them.

To make your sketch look professionally done, add shadows. You will want to go lightly here as well. To create realistic shadow effects, use a smudging tool or your finger to draw out the shadows. This will blend the medium you use whether it is graphite, charcoal, or pastel and your shadows will end up lighter and easier to clean up in case you make a mistake. Lighting is important in finding shadows and one of the best ways to properly "light" yourself is use top-lighting or lighting from above. This is something to take into consideration when you take the photo you will use to do your self-portrait, during your set-up if you plan to use a mirror.

3. Do your hairline after you outline.

Start with the head and work out the proper length. Fill in with thick lines, then add shadowing and highlights as you go along.

4. Fine details come last.

After you have the outline and some of the shading done, its time for the fine details. Take some time filling in places in the eyes and lips, and also add some more shadowing to the neck so that your face doesn't have the appearance of floating in thin air. The finer details are the ones which really lend to the realistic quality of a self-portrait. And, a little extra tip, (4.5) if you've used pencil, you can add some color at this point with colored pencils or even watercolors.

5.  Choose a good frame.

If you like your portrait, choose a great frame for it. A nice frame can complement your art nicely and highlight your sketching skills. A simple black frame is nice when using charcoal, or something made of light wood goes best with soft colors. 

And if you ever get tired of drawing your own image, you can always get together with a friend and practice drawing portraits of each other. Or, do a portrait of yourself and have your friend do one of you as well. Don't look while they are in progress, but afterwards, compare and contrast. Our perspectives can vary much from individual to individual. Give it a try!



An Inspirational Journey


Reflections from Ira Goldstein, President of Jerry's Artarama


I love to travel and one of my favorite places to visit is New York City. This past weekend I made a pilgrimage to New York that included a stop at the Museum of Modern Art along with a visit to Soho both for artistic fuel for my soul and inspiration for my ongoing photography project. 

As I travel I love to collect. I collect small toys, interesting doodads, artwork and lots of photographic images whenever and wherever I travel, and this trip was no exception. I picked up a small metal toy bird that sits on a pile of blocks, a laser printed skull and some great handmade masks.

In addition I got to see and take some pictures  of the recently closed "Rain Room" at the MOMA as well as making a pilgrimage to some of my favorites from the museum's permanent collection including Van Gogh's "Starry NIght."

  Starry Night


The Rain Room, MOMA


Also along the the streets of Soho I found great street art, urban decay and a deep blue construction wall that originally had "POST NO BILLS"  painted every couple of feet on it, the original "Post No Bills" messages were transformed by someone or some group to express somewhat different messages.




Along the way I always ask myself what is art?. Is the "Rain Room" art? Are the altered messages on the blue construction wall I came by art? For me, both of these endeavors are definitely art and both were inspirational. My photography feeds on inspiration and for this I am very grateful to be a part of the art world which continues to amaze, surprise, and constantly inspire me to continue to move on. I like to think of myself as an artist as well as a photographer with an artist's sensibility. 

The images here shot both with my iPhone and my D-SLR are not actually a completed part of any of my photographic projects but are as I saw them along the road I traveled this past weekend. Do they represent art and inspiration for you? Only you can answer for yourself. Would you have picked them out as I had from the millions of impressions and objects I saw this past weekend? One of the things I take pride in about being an artist, is that I am also part of a creative community that shares their ideas and views. And that's just a wonderful part of being me!


-Ira Goldstein

Jerry's Artarama President, Photographer







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