And here we go again with one of my never-popular List-o-fives.
This is one that I was thinking about when doing my most recent painting. Yet again I had promised myself that this time I would definately do the painting in oils, and then did it in acrylics - mainly because the joy of acrylics is that you don't have to wait two weeks for everything to dry, or else end up with a muddy mess.
As such my impatience won again and acrylics were the weapon of choice. Don't get me wrong - acrylics produce a nice effect, but I do think that there is a certain something about the texture and look of oil paints that has never been matched by any other medium (not even Mystic Meg)
But a major factor in painting is chosing the right music as a backdrop to help you achieve the right mood: ie slightly unaware of the passing of time around you. Sometimes this can be dependent on what you are trying to achieve - for instance if you are painting a storm scene it might not be a good idea to listen to Barry Manilow and equally if you are painting a nice summers day then Megadeath may be a no-no. Recently I did a painting of Jimi Hendrix, for which I mostly listened to the man himself for inspiration - but this is not always a good idea - so here is my list of any-occasion music to paint by in receding order of preference.
#1: The Blues
You can never really go wrong listening to the blues - it's the music that I always come back to and can always be relied on. Recently I had a whole spate of listening to blues whilst painting and can thoroughly recommend:
BB King - my compilation of BB is never far away
Muddy Waters - recently discovered MW and not entirely sure how I survived this far in life without knowing about him
Eric Clapton - his "recorded as live" "From The Cradle" cd is a masterpiece
Robert Cray - i need more RC in my collection
Big band - it never quite goes away, does it? Sunday mornings, listening to Sinatra...well, ok so he was a less than perfect individual, but if you stopped listening to every singer who had a few personality issues....well, you'd have no one left, would you?
#3: World music
This tends to mean "anything sung in a different language". For a while back in the 80s and 90s it looked like WM was going to be the next big thing, but it has remained something of a sideline. However, that is not to say that it is not enjoyable - you can hear sounds and invention that you just don't hear in the pop charts and the world of Simon Cowell and his ilk. Some top listens:
Ladysmith Black Mambazo - who first came to fame through their involvement in Paul Simon's classic "Graceland" album
Staff Benda Bilili - congolese street musicians
And, oddly, Bollywood soundtracks - my "Best of Bollywood" often gets an airing when I'm painting. There's just something about Bhangra...
And of course, the Wedding Present's infamous Ukranian Folk Songs album - which only I seem to realise is a work of genius.
#4: Easy Listening
Some years ago when our local newspaper wrote a review of Phil Collins calling his music "easy listening" he wrote an angry letter back about all the hard work and effort that went into creating songs that people enjoyed. Personally I don't see the problem with being referred to as easy listening or middle of the road - you have to have a middle so you can know where the edges are, and besides - as a listener i don't want my ears to be phonically challenged all the time. I want something i can sing along to. So Phil, I'm sorry if you're reading this and object to being referred to as Easy Listening - but your CD and many others of its ilk are favourites when i want some background music that will softly draw me in.
#5: Hip Hop
OK -so this one is a bit of an outsider, and I really have to be in the mood - and even so we're talking Old Skool bands like De La Soul and Beastie Boys, not this modern RnB rubbish, or Gangsta Bling. I think it works for the same reason as Bhangra - that quite stylised beat and tempo - but its not a regular choice
And of course, a few that really don't work - particularly:
#6: Iron Maiden
I recently tried listening to Meat Loaf whilst painting and it really didn't work - it was far too distracting. I can't imagine Van Gough trying to paint his sunflowers whilst enjoying "Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter" - although quite possibly he would at least have been able to hear it - even with just the one ear.