Listening to Miles or Kind of Blue

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‘Listening to Miles’    6. 12. 2013       64″ x 46″    Atelier Interactive Acrylic on canvas

‘Listening to Miles’    Day #5

Ouch !  I need a professional photographer, John Janca,  to record my paintings. I have lots of parallax distortion, here.  The color and focus definitely could be better. Cadmium red and cadmium orange are used here. My hands are taking a beating from using the computer too much. Leaving the computer at home, I’m heading to Oregon to paint with a group of artists for a week. By settling myself in the middle of the woods I plan to take chances, paint what is unfamiliar to me, try new colors, new shapes, new whatever – just throw away the familiar for awhile and see what happens. If you keep doing the same thing, you are going to stay in the same place. Right? We will see if I can do it.

This painting came very fast – 5 days.  I was listening to Miles Davis in the studio. My idea was to paint about the sound of his  music.

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Day #1 – What a fun day this was!  The painting stayed very loose, strong and lots of color.

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Day #2 – At some time the painting takes over and I let the painting take me in a new direction. Fantasy animal-like shapes started to appear, a couple of  figures popped up, a strange shape with blue lines punctuated the painting.

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Day 3# – Detail showing brush strokes.  I changed the Stripe to green.

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Day #4  Today I took out the stripes. They were distracting. My eye went to them first and that wasn’t what I wanted to emphasize. Adding black on the lower left hand corner seemed to be right. I strengthened my shapes. Now I see a four legged animal in there.

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Definitely some guy is tapping his foot over there on the left.  I was listening to a lot of his music when I painted this. Interesting, there are no cool blues  in this painting.

A few months ago I did go see a small exhibit of artwork by Miles Davis in Napa Valley. His trumpet was displayed. So was one of his jackets and a wonderfully soft leather bag. It was a thrill to be so close to part of him. He was an extraordinary jazz musician.

Painting the Sound of Jazz – Brad Mehldau – San Francisco

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Painting the sounds created by Brad Mehldau April 25 2013

Last night I went to a solo concert by Brad Mehldau, a young pianist in jazz. I decided to leave my crazy mind, my business mind and my mind that is crammed with issues from ‘the other world’ and go back to my world – art. I had planned to bring a small moleskine notebook and a tiny box of watercolors. But Mehldau is big, bigger than a little moleskine notebook so I bought a larger book, one that could still fit into my purse. I bought some neocolor watercolors, soluble caron d’ache crayons. (I could draw now, later add water to them if I wanted.)  I had an aisle seat at the SFJAZZ Center. I wouldn’t distract anyone if I sketched during the performance.

How was going to paint sound? The concert started  – I listened – tentatively, I started to sketch what I was hearing. Interpreting the concert in a whole new way, I made one drawing after another listening to the notes build and fall, soften and sprinkle. It was like being on drugs. I was full of music. One time I came out of that world and looked at Mehldau sitting there, playing the piano, my mind drawing what I saw. How different. How much richer my experience of drawing and listening had become.

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Sketch made at Yoshi’s in 2011

At the beginning of the concert I was just using crayons, but some drinking water was by my feet. Rubbing a little of water on my paper in the dark, I put crayon to paper.. Oh how nice!  What neat effects! Needless to say I kept going, pouring more water on the paper, hunting for a tissue to mop up my drawing and my lap!

Before going to bed I couldn’t wait. I looked at my drawings and worked on them a little knowing his music was still fresh in my head. Waking up this morning thinking about the sketches I started planning a big abstract painting about sound. I remember Ralph DuCasse, my mentor, saying, when you are into your painting the first thought in your head when you wake up is about your painting. You want to go see what you did the night before. Leigh Hyams would have said the same thing. She was there on my shoulder when I was drawing. I think the following painting was made while I listened to ‘Holland.’  Do any of the sketches remind you of a particular piece  Mehldau plays? Click on images to see details of the drawings.

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Sketching in the Dark while Listening to Branford Marsalis – Grace Cathedral

I felt like I was in Westminster Abbey in London when I was looking around the small apse of the cathedral where we were sitting. The dark wood carved walls were the backdrop for the men and women I was drawing. The Cathedral was full. Branford Marsalis,  walked out,  said a few words in that wonderful voice of his and the lights dimmed. Except for applause the audience was absolutely still and quiet while they listened to the sounds of his saxophone fill the space around them.

Grace Cathedral is the third largest Gothic cathedral in the country.  Besides magnificent stained glass windows, there are copies of the  famous Ghiberti Gates of Paradise, priceless icons and frescoe-style murals depicting California’s colorful history. There are two Labyrinths, one inside and one outside.  Keith Haring AIDS Chapel altarpiece is to the right after you enter the Cathedral. Click on images to  enlarge.