Like That - Choreographing a watercolor

A painting is usually a single moment in time, the image that glows behind your eyelids mid blink. The movement and time that go into creating it are frozen forever as static brush strokes and inked lines. The finished work is both the moment it depicts and the time that went into its creation crystalized - set like an insect in amber.

So how do you combine a static painting with the very much time-based medium of music?

The obvious answer is animation, but I don’t know how to do that. At some point the thought occurred to me to paint in rhythm with the music so that the painting not only captured the scene the lyric described, but the shape of the music. My watercolor time lapses scratch some sort of visual itch I can’t quite name for me, but I imagined this project as touching on the same part of the brain that responds to the beat of a drum or the thump of a good bass line.

The next step was taking this concept from the artsy-fartsy, esoteric BS you read above to an actionable plan. I needed a sketch and some choreography.

After completing a simple sketch, I had to decide how to complete the painting. My fastest, smallest paintings normally take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete, but painting in time to a song would give me just under 4 minutes to finish the piece. I decided to limit my palette to three colors, pre mix them, and use only one brush per color that I preloaded prior to painting. Before I loaded the brushes, I practiced making the most important brush strokes in time to the song. I knew there were a few beats I wanted to catch and that I wanted the sunlight part of the painting to happen in time with the line “Let go as the day breaks”.

All this prep work aside, when it came time to actually record 4 minutes is not a lot of time to finish a painting. Everything took slightly longer than I expected. I don’t think it translates in the video, but I was panicking at a couple points trying to get it all done in time.

But I think it worked out. And it made me consider planning my artwork more thoroughly more often. Tell me what you think below!