Sunday, November 14, 2010

Listening Ear

Inspiration for art or design doesn't have to come to you through visual elements only. Have you ever been inspired by something you heard, but didn't know how to translate that into something visual? For me, it all comes to me in my dreams. When I was in high school, I heard about a study that said listening to Mozart would increase your I.Q. So, I bought a set of "Mozart's Greatest Hits" and began listening to them faithfully every night while drifting off to sleep. The music came alive to me in my mind's eye and I would visualize each note; its color, texture, rhythm.

Later, in college, there was a period of time where I listened to the Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg, almost every night. To one particular song, The Death of Aase (from the Peer Gynt Suite) I was transported to a mystical and dark world, and I saw very clearly what the music looked like. When it came time to actually pick up a brush, I knew exactly what to paint. I'd seen it many times. Above is that very painting, aptly entitled, The Death of Aase.

Having taught art and interior design at the Art Institute of Salt Lake City and Weber State University, I turned this idea into a school project, with wonderful results. Unable to use anything visual for inspiration, the students' imaginations really made an impression. And that is what it is all about anyway; imagination. What music looks like is up to you. Next time you are stuck and feel like your creativity has gone the way of the dodo, turn on your favorite tunes and let your mind begin dreaming!

What do you see when you listen to The Death of Aase?

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