What Piano Taught Me About Painting

Cloud Study, ©Beth Cole, 8 x 10, Oil on Panel

Cloud Study, ©Beth Cole, 8 x 10, Oil on Panel

I am a music nerd. To the core. Piano lessons were the highlight of my seven year old life, and yes, I am often reminded by my piano-lesson-taking-sisters that I did hog the piano. 

The piano has been my friend, my disciplinarian, my therapist and my voice for many years. No matter how much time passes, I can still sit down with her and we have a beautiful exchange as all best friends do.

She taught me about the similarities between music and art.....

  • composition (drawing)
  • melody (focal point)
  • harmony (values/colors)
  • syncopation (variety)
  • rhythm (repeating patterns)

When I play a piece, there is an element of technical execution but there is also the interpretation of what is written on the page. The touch, how loudly or softly I play, the speed, etc….all contribute to the voice of the music, how it sounds, how it flows, how it connects, how it speaks. That’s what music does, you know. It speaks a universal language.

Same goes for painting. There is a technical aspect to every painting in the rendering and composition….what goes where and the perspective of the drawing. And there is the interpretation, the emotion of the piece, the story, the symbolic, the unsaid. 

It is only recently that I realized how much my musical background influences my art. Every time I step up to the canvas I am hoping to bring out the melody with a the focal point, to support the melody with interesting harmony in color and value, to make the whole piece sing with syncopation and rhythm.

Light Beyond ©Beth Cole, Oil on Canvas, 18 x 18

Light Beyond ©Beth Cole, Oil on Canvas, 18 x 18

Take "Light Beyond," for example. I wanted the light beyond the trees to be the focal point, it is the melody of the piece. I tried to create rhythm and syncopation, do you see any? The palette is simple using only shades of the blue and yellow family. Hopefully this gives the piece a sense of harmony and peace.

So, are you a musician and a painter as well? Do you know of others? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Take good care, my friend.