Kahn Holly on musicality

Musical marks in painting

Working with music in paintings for a week with Kahn Holly was the most thought provoking time spent in the course so far.  The project was drawing straight charcoal lines, in one sense simple enough.  The process forced an intense focus on perfection of the marks and the image created.  Somehow that intensity, the debate, digging deep, comes through on paper: it makes art.


Kahn is intensely focused on the language and application of music in art.  Each line a note, rests, rhythm, loudness, passages, voices, made with the whole arm in one committed motion.  The energy in the field, spaces, tangibility and planes interlocking, active and passive, hot or cold, loud and soft. Each side of the line can be hot or cold.  Each area is of the same importance, the object and its surroundings, never dead.  Each line steady/waiving, long short, 2/3 lines as chords, broken, loud and soft.  Think of areas of tone in the same way.  Sides of lines are hot or cold.


(Top tip: Your eyes go up and down and side to side to measure proportion, if one eye is dominant then the brain gets the drawing wrong.  One solution is to see sight sized, another to measure furiously.)


The first exercise was a sight sized drawing of a piece of paper on the wall.   Measuring where dots are, lines of energy running through them vertically, horizontally, between them, creating areas of force.  In turn the task was to create rhythm and music across the image.  Drawing free hand straight lines, feeling them to be musical notes.


The second exercise was to work from an old masterpiece, drawing the energy and music contained in the picture, using freehand lines.


(Top tip: There is great skill of drawing lines freehand, as you want them, curves and 3Dness.  Using a rubber to draw and mould, through and with the lines.  Its worth the effort to learn the skill.)