The Drawing workshop run by knitting and textile artist Celia Pym inspired me to discover the relationship between music and painting.
During the workshop, first, we did some warming up activities, like drawing while eyes closed, drawing with opposite hand, two hands drawing together, or someone drew an animal on your back with figures and you need to feel the touch and drew the same on the paper.
Then, she asked everyone to close eyes again and drew like sewing, cross-stitch, and french knitting.
Without looking but focus on feeling how I pressed the pen to paper made me notice something new. When I drew the short lines like sewing thread, the faster or shorter speed gave reminded me of rhythm, when I drew like cross stitch, the high and low pressure reminded of me top notes or bass notes, when I drew like french knit, the circles and casting off reminded me the melody.
When I drew these lines, dots, circles with different pressure and speed, it’s like my fingers playing Allegro or Adagio on paper.
So I spent some time listening to different music and made these drawings, I named each of the drawing the music I was listening to.
Melody in my Mind
I used to play a Chinese instrument for several years and love collecting instruments, I used to think how to use painting to describe the music but couldn’t find a way, now I felt it!
Compared to the final outcome, I enjoy the process of creating more, my hand was following the music, trying to catch the rhythm and melody, I need to be very concentrated, it’s like I’m playing the music with the musician at the same time, but in different instruments.
I only used one hand to draw these drawings, but I should also try to use two hands, even all figures, and record the process. It reminded me of the abstract expressionism artist Jackson Pollock‘s action paintings, and also abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky’s work on the combination of music and colors. I also need to study their artworks and philosophy.
In the afternoon, we started to use the weaving technique to create works based on the morning drawings.
I choose one Cello and Piano music drawing, and one Chinese instrument drawing. I didn’t want to make a neat and prescriptive pattern, so I made it a bit of chaos. I also liked the back of these two weaving works, it’s cleaner and showed orders.
I named them Melody.
For the last piece, I cut papers into waving strings, when I weaved, it’s like a symphony of Cello, Piano, Violin and Guzheng, the Westen and Eastern culture sonata.
It also reminded of cross-culture, I was studying globalization, cosmopolitanism and cross culture and looking for ways to present, now the knitting and weaving could be a technique to achieve, I could even draw different culture, cut them into strings than weave them into one piece of artwork “a symphony of cross culture”, need to think more ideas how to present the symphony.
At the end of the workshop, we presented all our works on the table, then walking around to have a look. It’s interesting to see how each of us made different work even with the same technique and follow the same process. Just like what Celio told us to be conscious of your marks, like your handwriting, every mark represents you, people will recognize your drawing marks. So think about your characters.
What’s more, I really love the way how Celio ran the workshop, she is very energetic and patient, she explained well why we do what we do, reminded us the key learning points, after knowing why and what’s the learning, I would trust her and follow the process. She didn’t control or push everyone, for example, when I was inspired of melody and wore my earphone listening to music to draw, or I was keeping drawing when others started to weave, she said it’s okay just follow my own pace. Sometimes she came to me and told me what I have done is nice, or what else I could do, which I didn’t notice or realize before.
I think it’s important to have a tutor who respects your personality and style, better to understand you too, I hope to have more conversations with tutors like this in the future, or I need to find someone like this to be my personal mentor after school.
Royal College of Art, London