Artists pull from their surroundings to inspire creativity, whether it’s from what they see around themselves or their emotions. In fact, there are even artists who associate or see sounds or smells as shapes and colors! When the brain processes information as multiple senses, it’s called Synesthesia. And the amazing thing is it doesn’t manifest in just one way, every synesthete has a unique experience of this neurological effect.
While we might not all have Synesthesia, we can still experiment with using our various senses to inspire our artistic approaches. In the newsletter you will find a playlist of music that you would hear around UC Davis in the early 60s when the Art Department was founded. In this week’s activity, we will use this musical collection to guide our creative experience.
Things you will need:
- A way to listen to music (I’m using my phone and earbuds)
- Blank paper
- Drawing materials
1. To start your musically inspired drawings you’ll first need to choose some music to work from! You can use the playlist created by the museum and channel the funky spirit of our first-generation artists or you can use your own tunes. Maybe choose a couple of songs that you aren’t familiar with.
At this point you should also set up your drawings station with whatever tools you chose to work with. Drawing from music may feel strange at first but try to think about approaching it abstractly to give yourself some creative freedom. Think about different gestures and shapes you can use as well as different types of mark-making such as shading, cross-hatching, and scumbling just to mention a few.
2. There isn’t one correct way to make your musical drawings, only different ways you can approach the marks you’re making! Maybe you are focusing on the words in the song to inspire your drawing, but you can also make gestures inspired by the musical rhythm and different instruments you hear.
Maybe you’re also thinking about the mood the musician was in when writing this song, or what emotions they are trying to evoke with this song.
Or you can take a carefree approach and just let your drawing materials dance across the paper!
3. Before I call my drawing finished, I like to play through the song a couple of times until I can see the music reflected in my artwork, which can look different depending on the song! Here are three different drawings I made to three different songs!
Questions to experiment with:
- Do you have certain drawing materials that go with certain music? Like a grainy crayon for rock music or watercolors for flowing soft tunes?
- What types of shapes and textures do you notice yourself using for different genres?
- Do this activity with a friend and see if you can guess each other’s musical inspiration!
You can also tag us at #manettishremmuseum.