Then and now, I understand what that teacher was getting at. There is music inside my heart and soul that is an invaluable guide to the work. It shouldn't be blocked by an external source of music. Nonetheless, I have found it helpful at particular times in the painting studio to have others' music available for listening. I like to start off a work session with some favorite music, and then, within minutes, I no longer hear what my iPhone is playing. Once the painting gets going, I go off somewhere where there is only that internal music. When I stop painting to take a break or call it a day, I return to ordinary consciousness and what my iPhone is playing.
What I want to write about is the music I choose to play in this listening/no listening way. Below are some of the composers, artists, and radio stations on Pandora from which I am selecting my daily fare, these days. Without an upgrade, I unfortunately cannot share audio files. I am forced to resort here to You Tube clips. I hope you can hear snippets from them without being bombarded by too many ads.
Best is to start off every day of painting with Johann Sebastian Bach. The composer's combination of order and surprise is always inspiring and launches me quickly into the deep parts of the work.
By the middle of the morning session, I am taking a break and needing to hear a little piano music, usually something composed by Chopin and played by Maurizio Pollini or Jeremy Denk. The break involves sitting or standing and just looking at what I have been painting -- I look at it straight on, I turn it upside down or on its side, I bring it to the natural light by the window, I look at it reversed in a mirror. The beauty of Chopin guides me into this reviewing process but then, before I know it, I don't hear Chopin anymore, brush is back in hand, and I am painting again.
It is getting dark outside. It is hard to put down the brushes and usually takes at least four attempts. Finally, I stop. Now, this is when the music really rocks in the studio. The music is for listening and even dancing. It is not going to usher me back into the work. All is has to do is keep me company as I clean my brushes, scrape my palette, and do a general tidying up. As the sun starts to set, French popular music like Yves Montand, Latin-inspired cocktail music like Pink Martini or Tito Paris, wonderful rock and roll from Nick Lowe or Lou Reed help me call it a day.