The current body of work in which I'm immersed relies heavily on time spent in the hypnagogic state—that lovely place in between sleep and wakefulness. Inspired by Max Richter's composition "Sleep," and the music of Son Lux, these synesthetic paintings depict deeply subconscious, highly abstract imagery. Spending so much time in this space has been unsettling and uncomfortable, but highly rewarding. The novelty and beauty of the images I'm seeing is unmatched. Keep reading for more about this evolving body of work called “SLEEP/WAKE.”
SLEEP / WAKE
current works in progress
I'm often asked about my process as a synesthetic artist. It usually begins with a particular song that has captured my attention. As a synesthete, everything I hear has color and shape, but not everything is worth painting. When a song is visually stunning, I'll play it on loop in the studio, and I paint what I see, working until what is on the canvas matches what I hear and the piece comes to life. There is, however, one very special part of the process I don't tell many people about.
If I'm not seeing a song as clearly as I'd like (perhaps other sounds were competing when I first heard it, or it's just a little out of focus), I'll bring it into my hypnagogic state. I'll get ready for bed, and then lay down in the dark with my headphones on. I'll loop the song and watch as the synesthetic imagery becomes sharper, deeper, and more vivid. Because all other sensory distractions are gone, and my busy mind is turned "off" in the hypnogogic state the synesthetic photisms become beautifully clear.
Details from works in progress.
The “Sleep” pieces were birthed during a season of hibernation. During the Christmas holidays, when the sacchrine joy-agenda dredged up past loss and all of it was just too loud and painful, I purposefully made my world small and quiet and still. In this hibernation, the only music I was able to listen to was Max Richter’s hypnotic "Sleep." The therapeutic effect of this composition was two-fold. As I listened and slipped into the hypnogogic state, the hypnotic, sedative rhythms coaxed awake my soundly-sleeping grief so I could compassionately acknowledge it, and then its gentle beauty provided a balm and comfort for that pain. Hibernating feels almost like death. So quiet, so dark, so still. But the heartbeat is evidence of life. The work I'm creating in this "Sleep/Wake" collection is that life, the most heart(beat)felt poured onto canvas.
The Sleep Study pieces are small, synesthetic sketch paintings that depict the subconscious, abstract landscapes I’ve been exploring while listening to Max Richer’s composition “Sleep,” (listen here) in the hypnogogic state.
The WAKE pieces are a counterpart to all that is embodied in SLEEP. Referencing synesthetic images induced by the music of Son Lux, these works are a wakening voice; wild and dancing with life. It is resurrection to the sleep-death, redemption for the grief and loss, spring to the winter.
More thoughts and images from the unfolding body of SLEEP/WAKE can be found on my instagram feed.