One day I had the bright idea of combining my two loves – music and art. A number of famous artists have expressed musical themes in art, Kandinsky for example; however his “visual music” leaves me puzzled. At one time I tried to translate the musical scales and chords into related colors. And that didn’t add up either. I’m not one for seeing colors in music although there are those who report having that gift.
Then I realized that my favorite song titles could suggest paintings. So consider using song, movie or book titles as springboards for visual images. This opens up possibilities of imagination and abstraction which may not arise when copying a photograph or reproducing an actual subject. Given my love of jazz and swing, I made a list of my favorite tunes. Some of them suggested specific images, others more abstract. For example, “Seven Steps to Heaven” may suggest a bright light with a stairway or perhaps a series of colors resolving in pure white, or even a mountain scene. “Song for My Father” suggested farms, pickups and tractors. Using this method you can go totally from imagination or borrow from reference photos. My painting of “Moonlight Serenade” is attached below.
Many songs tell a story, e.g. “Butterfly Kisses”. So you can approach this like a stage designer who builds a visual scene around the story. As you recall, the past masters often illustrated biblical, historical or mythological stories. And it’s an exciting challenge to our creativity to recreate a known event in art. Think of David’s “Marat” or Goya’s “May Third”.
How often do you find yourself scratching around for a catchy title for a piece. Well, that’s because a bowl of fruit may be just that. I’m suggesting you start with the title and let your imagination take a trip from there. Voila! Clever title ready made! Do you need some help? For fun, let’s expand the idea to any title in music, film, theater, or books — like artistic charades. Here are some provocative titles. See what images come to mind — “Gone with the Wind”, “Les Miserables”, “Autumn in New York”, “My Favorite Things,” The Glass Menagerie”, “A Foggy Day”, “Music of the Night”, “Casablanca”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, “The National Anthem”..
As John Lenon said, “Imagine.” Something may come “Out of Nowhere”.