Drawing the Music

A couple of weeks ago I was back at the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in Half Moon Bay for their closing gig of the season: The Ari Hoenig Trio. It’s always a bit tricky for me to talk about music, because I’m tone deaf, can’t sing, don’t play an instrument and don’t know any musical terminology.

But here is what I do know: to successfully draw a live performance, you don’t just draw the musicians, you draw the music. You can see from these sketches, that some were more successful than others at catching the spirit of the sound.

Here’s sketch #1, on tinted grey paper with  pencil, pen and white gouache. A pretty basic and compact kit, since I use a waterbrush for the gouache and pull it straight out of a tube. jazz_bach_halfmoon1.jpg

Sketch #2. I abandoned this one pretty quickly, mostly because I thought that I wasn’t doing anything different from #1 with it. Looking back, I think the music translated better into the line quality than in #1.

Sketch #3 is all about the drummer’s energy. He makes those drums speak.

Finally, I pulled out my watercolors for Sketch #4. A bit of a juggling act when you’re sitting in the first row in a pretty intimate performance space.

I love drawing on location and I love drawing action. But the best part of drawing live music is that I have a better feel for the music when I’m translating it to marks and color on paper.

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
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15 Responses to Drawing the Music

  1. Susan Wilaon says:

    Is there a way to send these to the musicians? I’m sure they would love them. You’ve got rhythm girl, and a whole lot more in these sketches. Beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Judith M Plummer says:

    You are a prolific sketcher. What do you do with all your books? Do you toss out pages that really, really didn’t work?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Mair Morgan says:

    Lovely lines and marks,they seem to dance on the page!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love your concert sketches. They have as much rhythm as the music.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Nice drawings, I really like the second and third ones from the top, they are so stylized.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Bernadette says:

    Really enjoy your quick sketches. They capture much of the feelings of energy and rhythm. I am sure the performers would enjoy seeing your interpretation of their music without sound. They are great!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. ekfmef says:

    Amazing sketches! For me, it works the same when sketching dancers, sort of moving along to the music really helps bring out a different quality in the line. You really translated the music into the line, and I really love the watercolor sketch as well. It’s so cool that you were able to paint while watching the performance. I always feel a bit too self-conscious to do that…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I feel self conscious too. Before I start drawing. But 30 seconds into drawing everything falls away and it’s just me and what I’m drawing. Try it, it works.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ekfmef says:

        Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂 I actually sat through a whole performance with my sketchbook and pens clutched tightly in my hands – and every time I convinced myself to open my sketchbook, someone would lean over to see what I was doing so I chickened out. Very awkward. Strangely enough it was less scary to sketch while sitting behind my harp while the orchestra was rehearsing a piece in which I didn’t have a part- I guess everyone was really caught up in the playing and no one was looking… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. julia says:

    Lovely lively line in these sketches!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. lorraineanne says:

    hi this is beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. BART says:

    I liked what you said and did here. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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