The Sound of Drawing

As a regular BBC Radio 3 listener, I’ve enjoyed segments where listeners send-in audio clips from their lives, sounds of nature, etc, which are then montaged with music selected by the production team, into wordless sound-poems. 

One of the things I loved about life drawing classes was the quiet that crackled with intense concentration and urgency. It’s a special thing to be in a group, working without talking, focusing on the same subject, the same task, but each person completely rapt in their own thoughts and perceptions.

Now that I teach life drawing, that ‘quiet’ is often broken by the sound of my own voice as I help or encourage students, but there are times when I can stand back, watch the works in-progress and listen to the rhythmic sound of pencil, graphite-stick or charcoal being applied to paper, sometimes vigorously and noisily, sometimes delicately, from different parts of the room. 

Partly with this in mind, I conceived the idea of recording the sound of students drawing in February 2020 and sent it to the BBC a few days before the start of the Covid19 lockdown. You can click on the link above to listen to my segment from the Breakfast show on 18 April 2020, presented by Elizabeth Alker. The music accompanying my clip are 2 pieces from Music for Egon Schiele by Rachel Grimes which she composed for Stephan Mazurek’s theatrical production based on the life of Schiele.

One of the great benefits, and, for me one of the main purposes, of observational drawing and painting is to increase our awareness, to immerse ourselves in our perceptions, for me this awareness doesn’t stop with the visual but extends to the other senses; taste, smell, touch, and sound.

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