Friday, February 22, 2013

The Right Note

Sitting through (I mean enjoying) a piano recital last night, I couldn't help but think about the correlations between music and art.  Everyone starts as an amateur.  There are as many different ways to learn to play an instrument as there are to learn to paint.  The beginning students played one finger melodies while the more advanced and not necessarily older students played more complex pieces using both hands and more than one note at a time.  It was interesting to hear the interpretations of Fur Elise and Ode to Joy and a couple of Rachmaninoff classics.  

But what truly was the difference in the playing?  The beginning student searched for the "right" note, sometimes after hitting a sour one and would nearly always pause while playing to find that particular note leaving the tempo of the song only to start up again with passages he or she seemed to know better.  It was that "break" which intrigued me.  What does that have to do with painting?  Well, I can only say that beginning painters are very self conscious about mixing that right color or making that right shape.  They Know what the color should look like and where it should go, they just have to pause and try to mix it on their palette.  Then they panic if they can't get it or put something on the canvas that isn't what they wanted.  What happens to the rhythm of the painting?  After that one hang-up do they now speed through with ease on the rest?  Probably not.  They become consumed with fear that they won't be able to match the other colors.  OMG, people might be able to tell that they haven't painted for 30 years or studied at an academy!  The painting loses its freshness and becomes formulatic in placing color notes.  

If you listen to the more advanced students playing, you will become aware that they carry the melody and tempo of the music all the way through.  They play softly where it is needed, they increase volume or speed where it is needed.  The song sounds like a song.  It is not a broken ping, ping, ping,  It flows like the composer intended.  Do they hit any wrong notes?  Maybe.  Do you hear them?  Not so much.  You are listening to the music as it floats through the air.  You're not holding your breath hoping they don't  hit another wrong note.  It is the same with painting.  Do the real masters ever see something to improve in their work?  Absolutely.  They revise and paint over and start over.  But the results are the paintings hold together.  They show a style, tell a story, and make us believe we can see something three-dimensional on that flat canvas.  Sure, painters hit wrong notes once in a while.  But the true painters paint with passion and that's what makes us want to look at the paintings over and over, much like listening to a favorite song.

Spring is coming- I have lots going on with paintouts and shows.  I hope to see you there!