Intuiting the Musical Subtext

Jeremy Harrison, the artist

Painting Figuratively

Although this is the fourth color painting done with watercolor on plastic Yupo paper, it is my first attempt at painting figuratively to Peter’s music. Here the main challenge for me is to complete a (somewhat) recognizable image in the two-minute, 31-second timespan of the musical piece.

Dark Blues Landscape start of paintingI came up with an idea for a simple composition beforehand. Creating and then scrapping one attempt after another, I finally settle on this version. One of the reasons I am using this plastic paper is because I can wipe parts of the image back to white. As I experimented with this composition I decided to end the painting with white streaks crisscrossing the surface of the lake using a dampened empty brush. I was thinking specifically about the paintings of Lake Keitele by Finnish painter, Akseli Gallen-Kallela.


Peter Saltzman, headshot

Connecting Painting and Sound

Jeremy and I discussed the idea of doing something representational—everything up to this point had been abstract. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) It does beg the question, however, what does the painting have to do with the music? Or vice versa?Dark Blues Landscape mid part of painting

Sometimes it just the title. After I improvised this, “Dark Blue Landscape” suggested itself to me. It was no doubt the bluesy feel to the melody. Jeremy, of course, picked up on this but I think he picked up on something else: it’s not just a generic bluesy feel; it’s specifically a kind of country-blues vibe, somewhat akin to some of Keith Jarrett’s work.

A lazy lake in the country.


About the Artists

Jeremy Harrison, the artistJeremy Harrison recently retired from teaching art at The Rivers School in Weston, Massachusetts where he was on the faculty since 1988.  His teaching included drawing, painting, printmaking, and digital photography.  He earned a BA from Kenyon College in 1982 double majoring in studio art and religion. He earned his MFA from the University of Iowa in 1985 majoring in printmaking and minoring in drawing. Inspiration for his landscape images comes from his experiences in the wildernesses of Canada, the Adirondacks, and Maine. An experienced canoeist, he helped lead a six-man, 800-mile canoe journey across the Canadian tundra to the Arctic Ocean. He continues to canoe and hike in Maine, Massachusetts, and the Adirondacks while making paintings, prints, drawings, and photographs as often as possible.

Peter Saltzman, headshotWith a deep jazz-and-blues core, Peter Saltzman has produced a broad career in the music industry as composer, pianist, singer-songwriter, and author. Various ensembles have performed and recorded his work globally—the Czech National Symphony Orchestra recorded his orchestral dance suite “Walls” (1996), and the Dallas Black Dance Theatre performed “Walls” during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The Dallas Morning News reviewed Saltzman’s music as “powerful stuff.” His second album, Kabbalah Blues/Quantum Funk (2000), earned critical acclaim for its jazz/classical/pop fusion, hailed as “ambitious, richly layered, wonderfully accessible.” Saltzman studied jazz at Indiana University (Bloomington) and composition at Eastman School of Music. He was an adjunct professor of music at Columbia College Chicago, where he taught music technology and piano. His concert works are published by Oxford University Press; his film and television works are published by Wild Whirled Music. Saltzman’s music has been licensed for television shows, jingles, and industrials, including My Name is Earl (NBC, 2006).

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