Category Archives: Music

Art – No Longer Drumming

There is a saying in one of my favorite films. It is an incomplete sentence, yet when you understand it, it is more than complete:

“when the drum is no longer a drum, and drumming is no longer drumming”

For most of my art days I’ve had to defend how I do what I do – using the technology that I do – is it art? Thankfully, in more recent days the art has begun to speak for itself. Real art rises above the means of creating it . . . the drum is no longer a drum. It also rises above the artist . . . drumming is no longer drumming.

That’s the true joy of it, the “selfless part”. It is the best oasis along the journey, and it can be visited in so many ways, not just art. How so? By letting ago I suppose . . . those rare moments where all awareness of self disappears. But it seems to be more than that. Perhaps it is allowing something of the heart in, letting one’s self be a vessel for something beautiful.

In that zone there are no labels . . . no negativity. Things are seen & felt for what they are, not what they called or how that are categorized.

Whatever that is, it is truly amazing how it can persevere and be communicated to another viewer, like music for the listener. I know that’s happened with some of my fans, ones who have the art in their homes. They feel it, we both know it, and if I can, I try not to talk about it too much.

As in drumming, sometimes words may only get in the way.

I’m going to leave it at that for now. Ironically I had prepared a 1,000 word post to touch on the same topic but somehow missed the point. I promised a few people that my next post (this post) would touch on one my latest paintings. It’s called “Pencils No. 9 and 13b”.

Thankfully there really are only a few words necessary. It was a playful project, and its parent image includes a pair of legs . . . but that section kind of looked like pencil crayons. I chuckled, sharpened my on-screen pencil and played a little. It’s all play you know, the selfless aspect. So if you must see them as legs, then see them as legs. If you want to see them as pencils, then see them as pencils.

All I can say is that in creation there is never a dull moment! So here it is, and clicking the image will take you to it’s page on my art site.

Pencils No. 9 and 13b - now on Fine Art America

Pencils No. 9 and 13b – now on Fine Art America

Have a wonderful day, and if you would like to see the Zen drummers that are the basis of that movie, you can watch them in concert as well, or perhaps I should say that you can watch them disappear? I can, and I hope you do.

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A digital painting called "I Want To Take You There"

I Want to Take You There

This post is about today’s release of a new painting, called “I Want to Take You There”.

It’s the feature image here. The bright, playful and curvy figures in the center took awhile to complete – a few days of touching up something that had been at rest for several years now. By Friday night the only thing left was to add some sort of background – at that point I really had no idea what that would be.

For my backgrounds I often browse through several older creations, picked one or part of one, and then play with it using different effects. If you’re familiar with layering that essentially what I did for this background. Sometimes It can be a very simple process, other times not so easy. No matter what, inevitably there is some tweaking involved . . . altering shapes, redrawing, cropping, colors, contrast and so.

If it starts to be a struggle then I’ll stop and reconsider whether I’m on the right path. Over the years that happens often, and that’s when I’ll leave one painting and go on to another. That’s one reason why I have so many unfinished projects. However, more often than not, when I revisit a piece, what was once a struggle can suddenly became an easy labor of love . . . and that’s when something happens . . . I like to call it a little magic.

Friday night had its magic moments.

When it was finished I posted this painting on Twitter, as I like to do to get some feedback, to get a discussion going. It was a really nice reaction, and especially the exchange I had with a fellow artist who loves my work. She judges a lot of art in various shows, and she commented on how she finds my work hard to respond to, though she loves the “gorgeous complexity”.

I told her how I’ve found that my favorite compliment is basically, “I like it but I don’t know why!” I told her that to me it seems pretty simple, but then if I have to explain it . . . “Oye!”

We also talked a bit about those hard-to-explain moments when something special happens in the process, that little magic . . . the “wow” moments. I look for those moments, but mostly wait for them, and definitely cherish them. She understood exactly what I meant.

Finally, often there’s something ephemeral about a piece, something I really want to convey, to somehow pass on to you as a viewer. It is kind of spiritual. We talked a bit about that too, and for some reason it got me thinking about Madonna’s old hit, “Just Like a Prayer”. That link takes to a video of a live performance of her song, and through the course of this viewing, a few minutes before midnight, came the title, “I Want To Take You There”.

Sharing Dreams

Putting some music to my art has been a dream of sorts for awhile now.

I’ve been thinking  of asking one of my daughters to help me with this, as she recently finished a media course in university and loves it. She’s got some skills that I don’t have and it would be a wonderful kind of collaboration . . . another dream.

No, I’m not going to go into my rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream”, though Les Miserables is my favorite musical by far. Oddly enough – perhaps by serendipity – I made a new online acquaintance yesterday. Her name is Tamra Hayden, who is a Broadway performer, including playing the role of Cosette in Les Mis.

Aside from her beautiful singing, she has also been involved in an amazing new app that allows  person to develop their own music to go with their pictures. She has graciously offered to help me with this app . . . how nice is that?

The poor dear though . . . helping me with any new app can be like tutoring Jethro Bodine in playing Mozart . . . more of a nightmare than a dream, to be sure!

Here are some links to Tamra’s singing and to MusicalMe Images. So without further adieu, here’s a glimpse of both . . . and Tamra, if you are reading this, a great big bouquet to you!

Here’s a demo of MusicalMe:

Now here is a little background on how Tamra’s dream became reality:

Finally, it would be a shame not include some of her exquisite singing . . . I’ve always been fascinated by the magic of the theater, and especially the amazing vocal talents . . . enjoy! This original song of hers is called “The Great Unknown”:

Finally, in many ways this song reminds me so much of the plight of my main heroine from Dawn at Last. Her name is Donna Belauche. This picture is for her, in fact it is called “For Donna” and if you have read the book, I think you will understand.

abstract art called For Donna

 

Some Blues, and Black & White Too

It’s Monday. I found out on Saturday that it’s a long weekend Monday – I knew it was coming but I thought it was next weekend – so it came early this year!

It’s raining, but I’m in a good mood so I’ll spare you a link to some rendition of “Moody Manitoba Morning”. Instead, here’s a link to my favorite performance of “Rainy Days and Mondays”.

Somehow this song never really gets me down. The same goes for doing art, such as my long weekend enjoyment shown below. I’m calling it Black & White, and I suppose there’s some inner humor in there, as no matter how hard I try, my view on anything never really comes out that way!

Have a great week and enjoy the music. By the way, when it comes to art, I never want to quit. 🙂

Black & White - abstract art

“Black & White” by Lawrence Grodecki

 

 

75 times 365 gets closer to 24/7

I read a blog today that touched on the issue of security cameras, and in this case in the workplace. It reminded of a bit of information a year or so ago. Do you know that In major metro areas a person is on camera an average of 75 times a day – this was back in 2007!

There are also many studies all over the world talking about the current and future crisis of youth unemployment. A university education is certainly not a solution to this problem, nor is getting a trade. As I see it, the crisis is due largely to a lack of new industries, such as automotive, the telephone, and so many more that were launched in the last century. That kind of explosion can’t be sustained today, not by people nor by the planet.

The other issue is increased automation. Machines can lower production costs, increase efficiency, and create some jobs. However, the net effect may be less jobs overall.

I’ve had these discussions in the slow periods with a few of the workers at my 7-eleven down the street, especially with the young guy who’s been working there a few years now . . . the one with the honor’s degree in chemistry. We talk late at night while he’s whipping up tomorrow’s hoagies.

If you don’t believe me, it’s all on tape. We can actually watch each other live on the overhead monitor. One of these days I’ve got to remember to shine up the back of my head, maybe even use some of that glow-in-the-dark glitter glue?

Some guys will do anything for a halo effect!

On the serious side, it seems there are some simple solutions to all this mayhem. First, if I (we) no longer have any legal right to privacy, then dammit I (we) should have the right to at least look good on camera. After all, the president and so many others have their make-up crew nearby all the time, so wherever there is a camera there should be someone available to powder my nose, trim those nostrils, shine my head and so on. Voila, unemployment no longer exists.

I’ll leave it for you to add your own touch to these opportunities – feel free to add your own!

It seems appropriate to once again include that beautiful video, Diana Ross singing “Do You Know?” Aside from being gorgeous in both audio and video, it has this haunting cultural message to it. By the way, her image appears less than 75 times.

Finally, when you think about, almost everything in this Diana Ross video touches on the messages that are in Dawn at Last, right down to a little mahogany and especially the butterfly. You have to think about it though, and please do.

Chickens, bravery and bagpipes . . . not the Scottish ones

I had no idea there are so many kinds of bagpipes . . . pretty much one for every European nation, and even a Chinese version . . . the ones in the music of this video are Romanian.

I picked this video for a few reasons. One is that the pictures remind very much of some of the pictures of some of my now-deceased family – my grandparents – they really worked the land. Their stories are heartwarming, funny, inspiring, sometimes so very sad, and sometimes maddening.

They were not gypsies, except perhaps on the occasional Saturday night! I don’t know if the people in this picture were gypsies either – when is a group of gypsies no longer gypsies?

The other reason I chose this clip is because it also reminds me of a brief mention of a wonderfully humorous gypsy folk tale. I mention it in my novel, and no matter how I classify it, the story is about love – both mine and the gypsy tale!

I’ll only mention how the tale begins. Apparently there was a young man who was completely smitten by a certain gypsy girl, but she taunted him terribly. The story is all about his laughable quests to gain her favor, and the first of these is to fetch her a chicken, but not just any chicken!

And so it goes . . . I really can’t tell you more than that here . . . the games we play for love!

I’m kind of surprised that even today there are those who are wary of gypsies, though I apologize here because the term has as many variations as the bagpipes – probably many more!

All I can say is where would Cirque du Soleil be without them first? And even in this video, there must be something of love? I hope so . . . .

Thank you for risking so much!

Two Strings Attached

Of all the arts, music is regarded as the most universal in its appeal and acceptance. This universality,however, does not mean that music is without individual character. Each country has its own kind of music that embodies the total experience, the collective consciousness of its people. Music, therefore, is the collective expression of the musical genius of a particular people.

Such is the case of Philippine music which today is regarded as a unique blending of two great musical traditions – the East and the West. Being innately musical, the Filipinos, from the earliest to contemporary times, have imbibed these traditions and have woven their musical creations along these mainstreams of musical thought. Through time, Philippine society has witnessed the evolution of music expressed in different forms and stylistic nuances.

A people gifted with a strong sense of musicality, the Filipinos turn to music to express their innermost feelings. Hence, every song they sing, every instrument they play, every music they make is a direct, almost spontaneous reflection of their hopes and longings, frustrations and fulfillment, failures and triumphs.

The above quote come from Antonio C. Hila, found in a wonderful article on the musical instruments of the Filipinos.

My little musical journey continues, and it is starting to feel like the missing element of a troika . . . the art, some writing, and now the music . . . there will certainly be some dancing along the way.

I’d have to agree with Hilda’s first sentence (above), and It does seem like less there’s less arguing and such when it comes to music. I’m tired of getting involved in so many trite ones – yeah, one happened today in an online discussion – in the end though, it seems that I did help the art student with one of my observations. It was his discussion. He took my comment back to his teacher, who was caught off-guard by it.

There’s a strange mentality in some of the art world revolving around the issue of integrity when an artist sells their art, and how that is somehow “less than noble”. In the context of this discussion, the issue was about fine art ‘versus’ commercial art (advertising). One or more artists/ participants seemed to be offended when I said, “If you do a painting and have it hung in a gallery for sale, it is also a form of advertising.”

It got pretty quiet when I asked whether the picture of a can of soup is fine art. When you think about it, the can is actually covered. The picture is mostly a picture of the label of a can of soup, and believe me, packaging is all about advertising. Funny how no one knows who did the graphic arts on the original label . . . I wonder if Andy had the talent to do that?

As you can see, these kinds of discussions are pretty non-nonsensical – though I’m glad the student and his teacher saw the humor in the truth of it. I really don’t like any discussions on the issue of “what is art” . . . it gets wearisome and only leads to frustration, and this can literally throw me off for hours, if not the whole day or evening.

I don’t care to rank them either, but still there is the music . . . perhaps the common thread in all of it is the heart? That certainly helps makes a good book – the words –  special, it draws one in to a painting, makes the music charming and exciting, and when you add some dancing in there it can be down right exhilarating. There’s no need to judge it, much more need to enjoy and celebrate it. Hopefully as time goes on that message will come through in this blog – hopefully another way of sharing pleasant surprises.

Some words, a little music, lots of light and some dancing – get the picture? 🙂