De Waal sees similarities between art and music, describing both as a ‘performative’ acts. In this exercise I have been asked to translate the notion of the ‘performative’ art quite literally.

I was asked by the brief to set up a still-life in a room in my house where I could listen to music. I limited my still-life to three everyday objects (similar to Giorgio Morandi’s still lifes).

I started drawing my still-life with some charcoal and inks, using  what I had available. I haven’t painted a still-life in years so I was very rusty. I had to paint standing up just to be able to see my still-life from this angle, it made the task harder.


I changed my position and drew the still-life from a different angle, I enjoy the brightness of the porcelain on this painting, which almost captures the sun reflecting on the porcelain. I don’t like the angle as it is hard to see what the objects are.

I decided to posicion myself in front of my still; I could see the shadow clearly as the sun had risen and was now shining directly on it. This composition made more sense. I chose it to pin on my wall so I could remove my original still-life and work from my sketch alone. I then was asked to produce another three A3 sketches, but this time each version or ‘performance’ was to be inspired by my choise of music: Three different pieces of music.

I needed to allow my choice to influence my drawing.

For my first one  I played Carmen ‘L’amour est in oiseau Rebelle’ (Habanera) sung by Maria Callas. The music piece is dramatic, passionate and theatrical. I also feel that the mood is heavy.

I chose to paint with oils, my first time ever! It was really fun to do. As the music played on repeat I found myself immersing myself and letting go. I used red’s and oranges to convey the passion and theatre, with contrasting yellows, blues and purples to give the painting the drama that the music expresses. It is a very textured, very heavy painting, but fun. I shall explore more with oil’s in the future!

My second piece of music was ‘Misty blue’ by Dorothy Moore.

It is another of my favourite pieces of music. I used the words of the music ‘turns my whole world misty blue’ as my choice of colour. It is a slower and more stable than the opera one above, making this picture more  predictable.  predictable as it may be, I still think it works!

My last one was a complete contrast. I used ‘paid in full’ -seven minutes of madness- Eric B & Rakim’.

Wow! This one really has suprised me! I completely let myself go and I let the music take my brush. I used different colour inks taking a risk and representing different samples in the music. I used the scratching of the dj to guide some of my markings, making this a very joyous and fun piece. I am suprised to say as I’m not usually an abstract kind of girl.  I think this is my favourite – just because it has taken me out of my confort zone and it has certainly amazed me!

This exercise and the poetry, prose and lyrics are my favourite so far. It goes to show, I was very nervous and I was dreading this exercise as I wasn’t sure how it would be possible to let the music guide my painting and be influenced by it, but now I understand what De Waal is saying in his interview.  Making  is like composing and composing is like making – they cross over. And as De Wall says, it’s natural, it totally makes sense! You make music and you make art. De Waal says in his interview  ‘For me, threre’s also the thing that my installations are a bit like scores- they have pulses and rhythms and repetitions and gaps. So it is frozen music for me’.

I enjoy the fact that my drawings are frozen music, I will always look at them and hear that music.

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