Artists Questioned? What are you listening to as you work?

Phillip J. Mellen, "as yellow as certain days" 12" x 12" acrylic and house paint on canvas 2014.

Phillip J. Mellen, “as yellow as certain days” 12″ x 12″ acrylic and house paint on canvas 2014.

All artists have questions they seek answers to. Sometimes they ask themselves the same questions over and over again, and sometimes they seek out friends and mentors who provide answers to their questions. If you ask the same question to several people you will most likely get several different answers, and then it is up to you to select the answer that is best for you. So the question is…What are you listening to as you work?

Ruth Marsh: “Lately I’ve been listening to Head Hunters – Herbie Hancock, and Brian Eno & David Byrne My Life in the Bush of GhostsAnd also the CBC, as always! Q and Ideas! Oh, and of course As it Happens. Sometimes it’s necessary to have silence. I find if I don’t have any outside distraction I can handle silence; the radio and music are great for focussing attention away from multiple sources onto one thing.”RM

Phillip J. Mellen:  “I have recently made a music mix, titled: Songs for Rockwell Kent. Maybe it’s the romance in it all? Some of these songs span over a decade. While listening, I am reminded of the prettier side of the painting struggle. Some of these songs are timeless. I am doing something timeless, no? Painting.

I often change the lyrics in my head. Sometimes I sing along. Some of this music makes me show my teeth as I sing. No so much anymore. These new/old songs are prettier. More smiles and more, well, more prettiness. It’s a poetic experience listening to this music. It enhances my experience while painting. It makes it’s way in. My mind and my paintings. The surrounding environment is important to me as I paint. The mind is important and is just as much an environment. The studio is a mess, but not inside myself. It helps me clear things and preps me for painting.

I’m after the same things in my paintings. It pushes me, and also can slow me down. Making music is a creative process, too. It’s all about process. For me, music is a big part of it. I conduct my work. This may be a collaboration.

Some of the musical artists on the mix are: Joanna Newsom, Dirty Three, Anni Rossi (early), MW Ensemble, Zoe Keating, Rachel’s, and Mountain Man.  Thank you!” PJM

The previous question was, and the next question is…

If you have a question you’d like answered please let me know. If it is interesting maybe I’ll use it.



The Soundtrack Of My Day.

I used to listen to music all the time when I painted, but now that I have kids I find I listen to music less. It might have something to do with my enjoying moments of silence more than I used to. Of course silence is now rare and therefore more precious to me.

This week I’m going to try and get back to listening to music while I work and I’d like you to help me pick an album to listen to tomorrow. Please vote for the album of your choice.

My top twenty albums to paint to.

If I had to pick twenty albums to paint to I’d probably go with this very random assortment of music. All of these albums have been in heavy rotation as I’ve painted over the years. What music do you like to listen to as you paint?

Arcade Fire Neon Bible.

Louis Armstrong plays W.C.Handy

The Beatles Abbey Road.

Cowboy Junkies The Trinity Sessions.

Elvis Costello King of America.

Miles Davis Kind of Blue.

Miles Davis ‘Round About Midnight.

The Clash London Calling.

Billy Bragg Talking with the tax man about poetry.

Leonard Cohen Live in London.

Jenn Grant Echoes

Nick Lowe The Convincer

Bruce Springsteen Nebraska.

Squeeze Singles 45’s and under.

Stan Rogers Home in Halifax.

The Royal Tenenbaums

The White Stripes Icky Thump

Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine

U2 All That You Can’t Leave Behind

Feist Let It Die