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Drawing Blind to Sound

Lesson 3 from: Abstract Drawing: Getting Started with 7 Abstract Art Ideas

Amy Wynne

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Lesson Info

3. Drawing Blind to Sound

Loosen your ambition and discuss why choosing your media based on the types of sound is so important. Also, discover why working larger can be so beneficial.

Lesson Info

Drawing Blind to Sound

I'd like to introduce you to the possibility of being inspired by using the senses to actually use one of your senses, to inspire a feeling, to inspire maybe new ways to make marks. And the marks you're gonna make are not gonna be up to you which is very liberating, very freeing. What I'd like to explore is the sense of sound and it can be fun to play different kinds of music and draw to the music. And depending on whether it's punk rock, or rock and roll or classical or ambient music, that's gonna affect your mood it's gonna affect the types of marks you might make. Sometimes I throw music on in the studio to elevate my mood if I'm gonna do something peppier or whatever it might be. Sometimes I'll listen to music just with my earbuds in but today I have a little speaker that I have connected to my phone where I've recorded some sounds actually. So instead of playing music, we're actually gonna listen to some sounds that I personally recorded on location. Some of them are natural sound...

s. Some of them are more sort of industrial sounds and I'm going to draw to each sound. And when I hear the sounds starting, what I'm going to do is I have five different sounds and I have five different materials. I have a blue colored pencil which makes a particular kind of mark. I have a brush pen, which makes a particular kind of mark. I have a piece of vine charcoal which also makes a very different kind of mark. I have a purple crayon, which has its own feeling. And I also have just a regular ballpoint pen. You could even hear it, speaking of sound, that has its own sort of character. And the reason I have five different materials laid out here is because depending on the attitude or the feeling or the inspiration, you might wanna choose something in particular to make marks with. So each time I play a new sound I'm gonna take a moment to consider what material, not overthinking it, but like what am I inspired to reach for in terms of making marks to that sound? And the way that the marks are gonna be made is that when the sound starts and I choose the material, I'm gonna put the tip of that material down on the paper and then I'm gonna close my eyes and I'm gonna close my eyes so I'm not caught up in how it looks. I'm gonna close my eyes so I can really work with the flow and the feeling of the sound. Because when you look at drawings that are generated with feeling, it's a type of communication that the artist is making with the viewer that they're not bored. They're not just like making any old mark. They're actually using the senses, maybe sound, in this case to elevate their drawing experience to be connected with the experience. And then through that, when you look at the outcome of the drawing, often you feel that. So we're gonna experiment with that. We're gonna get into some blind sound drawing, very experimental. The results are gonna be quite abstract as you'll see and we'll really get to touch into developing a variety of mark making. And that will serve you really well in the future when you choose materials or you choose the way you wanna put marks down. All right, so I'm gonna clear these off to the side a little bit. I'm just working on news print paper, very inexpensive news print paper that helps me just sort of not really care about what the outcome's gonna be like. And I'm gonna put these drawing tools just on the side here so that they're within reach. I can reach for them when I need them and I'm gonna make choices at the beginning of each sound. All right and I'm not gonna tell you what the sounds are. You're gonna have to guess 'em, I'll tell you at the end. Okay, so I'm gonna go ahead and play the first sound. And when I press play, I'm gonna just take a moment to listen and then I'm gonna reach for something, close my eyes and make marks until that sound ends. Each one's about 25 to 30 seconds. All right, here we go. I love this, it's really fun to do. (cocktail shaker creaking) All right, I'm gonna look down. And I had no idea that that would be the outcome and I kind of love it. I went for the ballpoint pen. That sound was the sound of a cocktail shaker being shaken with ice in it. So there was something kind of icy and crisp about this particular drawing tool and I just went for it. And that is the attitude that that sound inspired. All right, let's try another one. And I pretty much guarantee you that once we lay these all out in the end, they're all gonna have their own character. So I'm gonna put this drawing tool this side since I've already used it. So I wanna make sure there's some variety here but I have four left to choose from. All right, let's try the next sound. So again, I'm gonna play it, pause for a moment. Just feel taking a pause, making a gap in between the ambition or, oh, what does she want me to do now? Like taking a moment just to feel what the sound feels like and then entering the drawing with that sensibility. Again, eyes closed once you start. (footsteps thudding) All right, pretty different. I chose this fine charcoal and the footsteps in that case really inspired me to make very like short very kind of stout little marks which echoed the rhythm that I was hearing. So again, enlivening, the sense of sound and letting that influence the marks you make and check it out. Like the difference between the first one, the cocktail shaker and the steps, very different feeling. All right, let's try another one. All right. Here we go. (pinkletinks squeaking) All right, that was a recording I made in the woods of what we call out here, pinkletinks, which not everybody knows what they are but there are these little baby frogs in the spring that live in these Vernal pools and they make this like wonderful little like squeaky noise. So this sort of line, again, very different kind of meandering and a few little crescendos to that line but definitely a softer sound definitely something not as staccato as the steps and not as severe as the cocktail shaker, but again the blue pencil, just there's something about hearing something out in nature, hearing something with a softer sound that made me pull this particular material to try. All right, let's try. We're gonna do two more. Let's try two more. All right and notice I just took a breath 'cause we need to center to connect with the senses, right? So just taking a moment to feel all right. Let's see what comes next. (water flowing) Wow, so purple crayon. That was the sound I recorded again, hiking in the woods of this like early spring stream as the snow is melting, rushing past me. And that's the feeling I got. So the feeling of that, and actually a bit of the memory of that informed the flow of the drawing. All right, one last one. And this is something you can do. You can like use your phone and go out and record things and play them back and see if that might be something that might be a catalyst for you to make experimental marks. All right, last one. This is from a long time ago. All right, almost nine years ago, I recorded this one. (bells chiming) Oh, alright. So the last thing that was left although I really loved using this was this sort of brush pen. That a recording I made in Venice of on New Year's Eve, many many moons ago of the bells just ringing through the streets of Venice and this sort of dance of sound. I think that that definitely is how I felt. And I look at the marks and I can feel that. So all of these different mediums, pen, crayon, colored pencil, charcoal, and maybe even a ballpoint pen, these are all possibilities in terms of experimenting with abstract mark making, marks that aren't up to you, have the bravery to close your eyes and just center and feel and channel the sound, let the sound come through and like out of your fingertips choose what you want to use and just work free form. It's a really great way to warm up. It's a really great way to loosen up and explore a new vocabulary of mark making which will really refresh any drawing practice. So give it a try.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Joan Mitchell Quote
Abstract Drawing Materials
Abstract Drawing Surfaces

Ratings and Reviews


I recently became interested in abstract drawing and painting. This is a great course for beginners. I filled my art journal with several new creative and thought provoking techniques. The “drawing to music” with eyes closed was just the first of several cool ideas. The course will jumpstart your own creativity! Thank you for your experience and knowledge, Amy.

Rachel Franklin

Yes- relaxes your creative efforts! Love her

Student Work