Friday, January 31, 2014

Symphony Sketch: Music To My Eyes (Part II)

Had a thoroughly transcendent experience earlier in the semester on one of the numerous sorties the Beginning Drawing class takes around campus for field sketching opportunities. Usually we'll drop in the UAF Davis Concert Hall as a grand summation of the linear perspective portion of the course: this also serving as a sort of a drop-kick into the deep end of the pool to see how folks handle an intimidating and overwhelming environment. Learning to see is a crucial aspect of learning to draw, and to instinctively begin to strip away extraneous detail and train the eye (and brain) to observe and analyze the basic, simple underlying structures is a reflexive perception, and a skill that develops quicker and stronger over time and with practice.

For me personally, music is quite often hand-in-glove with any artistic endeavor. Whether as a creative partner like with a client (see here and here), or providing creative juices, as an accompaniment in the studio, music usually plays an integral part of the work process.

In addition, there is an analogy I always point out between musicians and visual artists insofar as cultivating discipline, and lo and behold, upon the stage before us for this sketching session was the entire Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra in recital. What a glorious, inspirational soundtrack to work to, and a splendid case-in-point as to an example of how the principles of composition apply... and practice, practice, practice. Marshaling all of the requisite factors of the craft and unifying them into a coherent piece whether it's a string, woodwind and percussion section, or perspective, line, value and texture on paper.

As all of the students in the drawing class are required to produce several thumbnail roughs in their sketchbooks prior to every critique and before each assigned piece of work, so does each individual musician practice their particular passage at home alone before joining with the rest of the orchestra in recital. Rhythm, balance, unity, harmony, pacing and more all come into play whether on paper or stage, regardless of the instrument... be it tuba or Sharpie.

And lastly, I am convinced by the astonishing, demonstrable improvement of in-class studies that there is definitely something to be said about blasting Bach (the Brandenburg Concertos in particular) while in a recent session working with models in the studio. Across the board everybody's work kicked into gear: sometimes the fuel is the fire.


  1. Not to mention now it's understood why I conduct drawings while waving around a pencil.
    "Bravissimo!... now do it again!"