By: Konner Scott
A few weeks ago, I wandered into an art store and picked up a Bristol pad and a set of colored pencils. It happened on a whim; I just felt compelled to expand my artistic horizons. I’ve been fortunate enough to make music my life and livelihood over the past couple years, and while I now have the opportunity to pursue my passion as a career, I’ve also found that with the sheet number of hours I devote to my craft, I consistently run the risk of burnout.
My solution to this issue was to find non-musical artistic outlets as a means of blowing off steam- hence, the colored pencils. I wanted to try something where I wouldn’t put pressure on myself to succeed (or, at least not much pressure), and since many members of my family are very skilled visual artists, I figured I could more easily keep my expectations low and just draw as a form of therapy. I recalled the hours I spent in peaceful bliss as a youth, sketching cartoon characters while lost in an artistic daze, and hoped that I could find a way to rediscover my long-lost passion.
The first few drawings were taxing, frustrating, and ended up looking fairly rough. I questioned my decision to step outside of my comfort zone and chastised myself for wasting money. I don’t know what prompted me to stick with it, however, but I did- and after about a week, I began to settle into a groove. I read parts of books, watched tutorials online, and tried my hand at a number of miscellaneous drawing prompts. More recently, I’ve done a few portraits, and the process of creating them has completely pulled me in. Once again, I find myself able to disappear into the drawing for hours while the world fades into the background (and I don’t really have hours to lose, so I have to be careful!).
Drawing has become a successful stress-free artistic outlet for me, but it’s actually done much more. The first couple days I really hit my stride, I found that it was reshaping my brain. I would close my eyes and see shapes, colors, and shades. I started to notice color palettes and contrast in the world around me that I never paid attention to before. Perhaps most importantly, when I listened to music, I found that I was thinking about that music in terms of visual art- it almost bordered kinesthesia. I would see colors and patterns as the music laid itself out before me.
Recently, I’ve realized that I’m unconsciously extracting the patterns from visual art that make it appealing, and applying them to music. Instead of focusing on the specific choices of instrumentation, melody, chord progression, etc, I’m noticing things like contrast between different sounds, blending of different tones/frequencies, vibrancy and energy of certain sections, and more. I’m actually shocked that it took me until now to recognize how universal those qualities are across all artistic endeavors!
The beautiful thing about having that realization is the ways in which I can apply it to my own music. It’s allowed me to see the big picture more clearly when I’m writing and producing my own material. Even though I haven’t been drawing for very long, I already feel as though I have a stronger grasp of those universal artistic qualities, and it’s given me a much more clear vision of how to approach my own writing and composition. I haven’t been this excited to create in a long time!