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Music Hits A Nerve

Originally published on October 14, 2012

My mother was never one for television but loved her records.  As a result we listened to a lot of music growing up.  At any given time we could be listening to ElvisNeil DiamondPeter, Paul, and Mary, and various show-tunes from musicals.  Then, in an attempt to raise us as good Catholics, there was lots of kid’s christian music that got drilled in our heads by Carey Landrey and Kid’s Praise albums. (featuring Psalty the Singing Songbook!)  These were filled with whiney kids singing catchy tunes- many of which I still remember to this day.  (So Mom, it worked!)

Later, as I became a young adult, I began finding my own favorites: REMGrateful DeadPink Floyd, and Peter Gabriel.  Then Grunge began in my college years and it hit that nerve within me, as it did for so many others of my generation.

I find that I am now listening to an eclectic mix of music- rock, R&B, jazz, latin american, soul..  I’ll often just shuffle my husband’s and my music collection on the iPod while I’m working so that there is a continuous flow.

It’s only natural then that music creeps into my artwork.  Sometimes I’ll find myself painting to the rhythm of the music or using a song’s beat to create a repetition or pattern in my work.  Sometimes I’ll even directly paint something based on a song that I’m listening to.

As I’ve been working in my 365 project (on it’s 8th month now!), music has been the subject of more then a dozen drawings or paintings either in the title of the piece or using words based on a song.

Here are a few of these recent drawings and paintings in my 365 sketchbook and the songs that have influenced them:

Paved Paradise– From my 365 Sketchbook

Joni Mitchell- Big Yellow Taxi

 Palette Knife Painting While Listening to Miles– From 365 Sketchbook

Miles Davis- All Blues

Just Waiten ’til the Shine Wears Off– From 365 Sketchbook


Coldplay- Lost

Music has a way of reaching the innermost parts of my soul like nothing else can.  It reminds me of a line from one of my favorite movies, Love Actually.  The character Karen (Emma Thompson) who is a housewife and sister of the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant), is talking to her husband (Alan Rickman) about, ironically, Joni Mitchell:

Harry: What is this we’re listening to?
Karen: Joni Mitchell.
Harry: I can’t believe you still listen to Joni Mitchell.
Karen: I love her. And true love lasts a lifetime. Joni Mitchell is the woman who taught your cold English wife how to feel.
Harry: Did she? Oh well that’s good. I must write to her some time and say thanks. 

But then again, art can do the same thing.  Perhaps someday my work will hit a nerve to someone in just the same way.

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