Monday, January 9, 2017

Music, Rhythm & "The Zone"

Wearing my Beats (which are now falling apart) while painting. Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Music is a top priority for me when painting. Unless I'm in the midst of a demonstration, I never paint with out it. I know this is true of a lot of my fellow painters, although our taste in music is as varied as our painting styles. The reasons I rely on music so much - rhythm and "the zone."

Music puts me in a rhythm and sets the pace of a painting. The pace is all a matter of personal preference. While many prefer a calm and soothing melody, I listen to a more intense soundtrack with a driving beat. I want intensity and energetic brushstrokes. Faster, louder music keeps me moving quickly and keeps my energy up during the painting process.

More importantly, music puts me in "the zone." When you really get into a painting groove, and everything seems to be going right, that's "the zone." It's that point where you are so focused on painting that all distractions fall away. Painting becomes instinctual. I find myself reacting directly to the values, shapes and colors before me rather than thinking about the "thing" that I may be painting. The zone keeps me from overthinking, overpainting and overworking. It's a kind of dance (and sometimes that literally happens). I find my brush moves more fluidly and I instinctively handle decisions regarding what to do next in the painting.

I tend to think too much, and music brings my focus into the moment. It blocks out all distractions. When I was younger, I would crank up the stereo and take a nap. For a couple of decades, I played in punk rock bands and the music was a way of blocking out everything else. That feeling remains while listening to music and painting. Music helps me relax so much, that I don't worry about the final painting and focus on the experience. That's "the zone," and one of the main reasons I paint.

Sporting the 70's Goldtop (and a full head of hair)
before realizing I was better suited for painting.

I get a lot of questions about what I'm listening to every time Kimberly posts a photo of me painting with headphones, so below are my latest top 15 bands by number of plays. I'm not recommending these - to each their own, but it works for me.

Torche
Hum
Traindodge
Arctic Sleep
Iron Chic
No Trigger
Red Fang
Peaches
Dibiase
RVIVR
Hjortene
Death From Above 1979
Deftones
California X
Cloudkicker