This image of the music box, Martha my Dear, shows the 6 foot by 20 inches canvas and the first step in my process of painting this canvas. Below the canvas are the two stretched 12x16inch speaker box canvases. This background image turned out to be all wrong for this project. I applied a different technique for the background. That was an awful choice.
The background colors exist to appear only when I scrap away the top layer. Any specific design of the background colors is unnecessary. When I scratch, what I want to see is a diverse mixed of colors that add interest and contrast to the top layer of paint. A third rate abstraction style is all that is required to make that happen. But I choose fancy instead of practical, and this project fell off the easel.
This did not become blatantly obvious until after the music was applied. I did not apply the top layer of titanium white heavy enough, which allowed the background and the blacks to show through. Then I made things worse when I used a darker gray color for the words. I realized I needed to lighten and reduce the contrast of the canvas. What I had left to finish was the scratching of the top layer of paint. That went as expected, and the contrast of the art was softened but fell short of expectations. I sensed failure. I was looking at a canvas that needed to look like the Beatles album cover that contained the song, Martha My Dear, disc one, side two, first song. It did not.
The Beatles’ White Album is entirely white except for their name in a light gray. That is the template I originally wanted for this canvas. Here is my seventies copy of the White Album (lighten up to better represent its original look). Sadly, as a cash poor college student, I sold my original release album once I copied it to my reel-to-reel tape recorder.
Out of desperation I repainted over the existing words with layers of titanium white. I then repainted the words using a lighter gray. That improved the look, but the original background still existed under all this paint. That meant I could not re-scratch this top layer. Instead, I gazed over the canvas with light applications of white gesso. That was the softening technique that worked. The scratching still shows, but it is now white and white now dominates this canvas. When I placed samples of my music up against the canvas, that was the moment I knew I could now move on. So it goes.
This first image of Martha my Dear is of pile of music that I carefully built. Laid end-to-end the music is, oh! That measurement came to twelve feet, seen in the image below. Hum? From the start of this project the plan was to control the amount of music and therefore its length, knowing that the canvas was only 72 inches. Hum?
Warning! All the next stuff is kinda geeky. The main purpose of this blog is to document this art. Any entertaining value is strictly accidental. Besides, I would never want this art, these blog entries, or my videos to-go “viral,” This is out of fear of becoming a one-hit-wonder and/or bad timing for my eventual 15 minutes of fame option.
Anyway, what I have to work with is a roll of heavy primed canvas the length of six feet and my choice to cut the canvas at twenty inches in width. Luckily, I have two options, with one being building two connected six-foot canvases frames. Seems like a lot of work. Or, what I will do, which is to reduce the length of an artwork by meshing the music together.
Here then are three basic sketch ideas. Each of these resulted in a project length of around 102 inches. That is easily workable with the addition of the two speaker boxes attached on both ends of the canvas frame. These boxes will also be out front of the canvas, with music attached allowing the music on the canvas to slide under, reducing overall length. An example of this would be the left side of the last image of the Chopin Prelude music box.
This next image is my about time to move-on-lets-work-on-the-canvas-next.
But first here is my final “sketch” for this next music box. To add documentation, I rarely have done any drawing of any preliminary sketches for my music projects. I have several sketchbooks I used when I first started out as a portrait painter back in the 1970s. Since then, I have simply preferred photography over the pencil.
This last preliminary image shows I can attach all the music to a measured six feet by twenty-inch canvas, along with the added speaker boxes.
I am posting early to document this process. The image below is part of the sheet music I put together. I am using the notation software Notion that is a part of StudioOne, the DAW used for the final soundtrack. This worksheet is dated November 20th. By putting in the hours needed I found to my surprise that the draft of this music was done after a bit of tweaking today. This sheet music will then be my template to create the visual part of the artwork. The circled parts of the image below show the music that I will build. The choice of notes was made the same as it has always been: I look for an interesting part of the arrangement that has a good start and finish that will fit the artwork. Today’s projects, I no longer am concerned about the fitting the music to the artwork. That is because I don’t want the artwork to fit anymore. Moving the music outside the canvas makes for an open and improvisational look. This is art without borders.
The sheet music is what the artwork samples. To explain, I create and when required; I pay for the right to create a cover for the music. From that cover I then choose a sample and that is what the viewer sees. I then import the sheet music notation from Notion into StudioOne. With a few days of work the music will be finished. Notion works great to produce a musical draft. StudioOne then takes that Notion file to a professional level. Its only limitation is the skill of this artist.
I am not trying to overestimate the quality of this shorten by a minute cover of this great Beatles song from their White Album. The same White Album that I stood in line on a November day at the record store on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin, the day of its release. Nor am I trying to denigrate this fabulous piece of music by chopping it up into smaller pieces visually and in the performance. No, this project and the others like it, which I now refer to as musicBox instead of Interactive Constructive sculpture, are challenged by the typical viewer’s attention span.
A lengthy piece of music can lose a viewer’s interest waiting for the song to end. They can simply walk away, not comprehending what they are looking at or what is being heard. There will be many viewers, especially younger ones, and listeners who have never heard of this music, or do not connect to the music. Shortening helps, but the music, no matter the quality or the length, means more to me than another cover song. No, this music exists as a voice of an artist extending a finger forward. I am a bright shiny object. If you ever get the chance Push the button. I do.