Before I start a painting, I explore a lot of music—pieces that have interesting rhythms, melodies and harmonies. Compositions that stir me emotionally are what move my brush into a meaningful experience for the observer. My most recent painting, titled Contemplative Rhythm (Oil on canvas 24x8 inches), was inspired by Sunu, performed by Rising Appalachia.
I experienced this group’s performance live at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall a couple of years ago. I fell in love with their music, led by multi-instrumentalist sisters Leah and Chloe Smith. As activists, their goal is to bring back the cultural music of the Southern Appalachia mountain people. This idea of “saving music from being lost forever” is a noteworthy quest.
Often I wonder how many traditions or even skills have ceased to be handed down from generation to generation. Just as concerning, entire species of plants, animals and birds are being lost from the planet everyday. Many living things are becoming extinct faster than any time in our history.
As I worked to Sunu, I noticed many of the same rhythms contained in African music. Perhaps that’s why Contemplative Rhythm echoes Rhapsody (Oil on canvas 60x36 inches), inspired by African drumming music. Pushing and pulling oils over the canvas with my palette knife, I listened to the rhythm of the drums. I could hear future generations calling.
Questions arose in my mind while I worked. How can I join with Rising Appalachia to prevent the loss of things that are important? What skills can I hand down to the next generation? What changes can I make to protect the environment I live in?
I invite you to join me in addressing these complicated issues. Please enjoy my newest painting while listening to Sunu. (click on this link)