As a person who lived with serious chronic pain for many years, and one who has had a very busy home and work life, I’ve found that drawing to music was one way I could get much needed “breathing room” for my mind, body, and spirit. It helped me relax, express my thoughts and inner feelings, and sometimes work through problems. I’m writing this blog to encourage you to give it a try. If it’s something you already do, we’d like you to share your experiences and examples of your work.
My Drawing to Music Story
Growing up, I loved making art and listening to all kinds of music. And, very often, I did these two things together. In high school, I majored in art and remember the exquisite feeling of painting and listening to the classical music or jazz my art teacher would play. Although I didn’t major in art in college, I continued enjoying painting and drawing, almost always accompanied by music, as a means of expression and a way to relax. Then came the busyness of marriage, kids, and full-time work coupled with a serious chronic pain condition. With that, my personal art/music life came to a halt.
By the early 1990s: my pain condition was mostly resolved, except for intermittent bouts; I had two “interesting” sons in high school and one in elementary school and I had my own consulting business. Although I was fortunate to have a husband who shared parenting (and still does to this day), I often felt overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted. That is until something serendipitous happened.
A client, who was unable to pay me, gave me a mother lode of art supplies (colored pencils, paper, inks, paint, etc.) in lieu of cash. These materials remained untouched for a couple of months. Then, one evening as I was getting ready to take one of my boys to a local ski area, I decided to grab some drawing paper and colored pencils to amuse myself during my long wait at the lodge. And, lo and behold, I started drawing again. And it felt really good. The night flew by and I made three drawings I liked. The next night, after the kids went to bed, I put on some John Coltrane (“Love Supreme,” to be exact) and made more drawings. The experience was heavenly.
Night after night, I continued doing this, often staying up to the wee hours of the morning. It never got boring because each night’s work was different. The music and art would be determined by factors such as: how I was feeling in body and spirit; what issues I was dealing with; and, the overall mood I was in. Through this practice, I discovered a way to express myself; calm or enliven my mind (depending on what was needed); work through problems; address my fears (some of my drawings are pretty scary); and, sometimes, even play. Within a couple of years, I had produced hundreds of small drawings (some were even featured in gallery exhibitions), and I started painting again.
Fast forward to the late 90s. At the age of 49, I started a new career in the field of pain management; first working as the communications director (and interim director for a year) for the newly formed American Pain Foundation, and later as executive director of the American Academy of Pain Management. These were all-absorbing jobs that required a lot of time and travel. Making art, on a large scale, was just not possible, but I could, and did, carry a sketchbook and colored pencils in my purse or carry-on bag at all times. On almost every flight, unless I had a great seatmate or work that needed to be done, I put on my iPod, pulled out my sketchbook, and escaped into “Lennieland.”
I’ve recently retired and haven’t made many new drawings lately. What I’m doing now, is photographing my little drawings, which in my mind I could see as very large and having them blown up (most often to a 24 X 36 format) on matte paper. Then, I turn on my music and draw and/or write on them.
What About You?
We would love to hear about your experiences combining music and drawing (or any other type of art making/crafting you may do) as well as the benefits of doing this. We’d also love to see your work.
If you have never done this, but would like to give it a try, here are some tips:
- You can start by looking for drawing materials you may already have in the house (paper, pencils, pens, crayons, markers—whatever). If you want to get some new materials, I would suggest getting a sketchbook or drawing pad, colored pencils (Prismacolor colored pencils are my favorite), a pencil sharpener, and an eraser.
- Read this inspirational/motivational Huffington Post article: “9 Things That Happen When You Carry A Sketchbook With You Nonstop.”
- Don’t worry about your skill level. It will develop along with your ability to use and get the most out of your materials.
- Know that there are no limits to what you can draw. You can practice drawing from life, create abstract images, or a combination of both. You can also include words: thoughts, feelings, and poems.
- Draw to express yourself, not to please an invisible audience.
- Save your drawings so you can look at them as a series later on. It’s a very interesting way to see changes in your emotional, physical, and spiritual self over time.
- Colored Pencil Drawing Techniques
- Write design Online: Drawing to Music
- Drawing to Music (YouTube): Art Instruction for kids, but worth watching
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- These 12 Childhood Art Techniques Can Help Adults Relieve Stress
- Intuitive Creativity
- Drawing and Music. An Experience on Art Teaching