The Afterlife of a Paint Stroke
After what I considered a failure to work with color on traditional watercolor paper (the process is slow), I remembered that tucked away in a drawer in my studio was a pad of plastic Yupo paper. This turns out to work very well for several reasons. If I am unsatisfied with a painting attempt, I can simply remove all of the paint with a sponge and start over. I am also able to wipe parts of the painting back to white if needed. Since the “paper” is plastic, the paint isn’t absorbed into it, creating some startling effects. While applying a stroke of one color over the top of a different color, the brush seems to move much of the first color out of the way so there isn’t too much mixing at first. A quick bold stroke is fairly pure. There is also a kind of afterlife to each stroke as it continues to morph and expand making it perfect for video.
Part of what makes this project so exciting for me is learning about the painting techniques Jeremy employs, not to mention the creative methods he comes up with to adapt to the music. The Yupo paper is the latest example. The fact that the paint isn’t absorbed into the paper, the morphing over time, etc. All of this makes me think of music for some reason. A chord can be held while other stuff goes on around it, even if it doesn’t relate to that other stuff. But eventually, that chord is morphed by the presence of all that other stuff—whether it wants to be or not.
I am excited that using this paper I can work quickly and keep up with the music. There is one segment when the tempo of Peter’s composition picks up and I am using a small brush to create a nervous line. Because none of the paint is dry, I am able to continue drawing this line through the composition without ever picking up the brush to reload it. The brush begins to pick up color from areas it is passing through pushing it along into the next area.
Painting with Musical Strokes
The question I have in reading about Jeremy’s nervous line: does having to paint in time with the music force you to think of painting in new ways, to paint, in essence, with musical strokes?
About the Artists
Jeremy 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.
With 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).