Art in Silence and Sound

June 9th, 2009

intuitiveart eucspine

This is the latest piece I did for the intuitive painting class I took. It was a bit more time consuming than the others because before painting, I collaged the 15"x20" surface with collage. I then stenciled in the eucalyptus shape I've been working with and started exploring it's similarities to a spine shape again. I'm loving the layered look.

As it is the month of sound, I've been more aware of what the sounds that surround me each day and the things I listen to as I create. I said in this post that I'd share some of what I listen to, so I'll do that here.

In the case of the piece above, I had a Harry Potter movie on while I did the collaging part. I like to work intuitively as I collage, and having movies on will distract my talky-talky-mind enough that I can move in a different space while I work. (A new to me movie might have distracted me too much, but this one worked well.) The following day, I started working on the painting and realized in the middle of it, that I wasn't listening to anything. I usually cue up some music or a podcast to paint to, but in this case I guess I wanted silence. I put some final touches on it the next day while listening to a Craftcast podcast.

What I choose to listen to when creating, depends a great deal on what I'm working on and my mood in the moment, but if you're one who loves to have something to listen to while you work, here are some of my favorite things to work to:

Podcasts: I love me some podcasts!! Great fun, informative, often inspiring, sometimes funny. I love a good story and podcasts are a great way to hear the stories of many different people. Here's a sampling of the podcasts I've been listening to lately:

  • -NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me: Super funny and smart news/quiz show
  • -Craftcast, Crafty Pod, and Craft Sanity: Interviews with creative people in all different mediums.
  • -TED talks: Incredibly inspirational talks on a wide variety of topics (I usually have to sit down to watch these as there's a visual element to most of them.)
  • -An Illustrated Life with Danny Gregory: Interviews with illustrators whose work is in his latest book. Lots of great discussion on process.
  • -Tranquility du Jour: Interviews from yoga teacher and author, Kimberly Wilson. Check out her fabulous interviews with Goddess Leonie and Jennifer Lee.
  • (and so many more.)

Music: A wide range. I love my iTunes dj function which mixes up my music to provide such nutty combinations as: George Michael, Ani Difranco, Pearl Jam, a lesson in Greek, and Weird Al. I just looked to see what was coming up in the rotation: Counting Crows, Radiohead, Indigo Girls, and Yo-Yo Ma. Hehe.

But seriously, if you haven't checked out Pandora yet, get your butt over there now and try it. You simply type in a song or artist you enjoy listening to and it creates playlists of similar music for you. You can tell it what you like and don't like and you may find some new music there. I enjoy writing to their new age/ambient music station.

Audiobooks: A new love of mine. I'm a tad obsessed with Jim Dale's readings of the Harry Potter series. I listen to it all the time. I didn't think I'd like listening to audiobooks, as I'm not too good with audio learning, but I gave the first HP audiobook a try because my friend Jim recommended it to me (thanks, Jim!) and I got completely hooked! Maybe it helped that I'd already read the series, I'm not sure. But since then I've listened to a few more audiobooks, and enjoyed them. Martha Beck's reading of her book Steering by Starlight is particularly fantastic. 

T.V.: When I asked the question, "What do you listen to when you create?" on Twitter, a few people mentioned mindless t.v. and most seemed ashamed of it. I say, whatever works! I haven't done much creating in front of the tv lately, but there are times when I enjoy having mindless television shows on in the background. Like I mentioned before, mindless t.v. can often distract that monkey mind part of your brain, so that you can create from a more intuitive place.

Television itself isn't evil. It's all about moderation and consciously choosing what you watch. Sometimes, shows will inspire me to create. I absolutely love Project Runway for example and often draw while I watch it (it starts up again in August!) and I'm totally enjoying So You Think You Can Dance at the moment.

Silence: Sometimes, I get overloaded with sound and I need a break from it all. Even in silence there is some sound: Cars passing outside, rain tapping the windows, my cat snoring in the corner, the buzz of the fridge, the sound of a paintbrush moving across the canvas.

When I take a bath, I often bring things with me: books, sketchbook, pen, etc, but I rarely dip into them. By the time in get in the bath, all I want to do is sit in silence and soak. And that is more than enough.

If you didn't pipe in on the post where I asked about what you listen to while you create, I'd love to hear about your favorite podcasts, music, audiobooks, and shows to create to!

25 Responses

If I’m writing, I like it quiet. I love classical, jazz, blues when I’m creating. Cuban music is great for getting in a pumped up mood.

Great topic!


I love LOVE this painting! I just sat and got lost in it for about 5 minutes. Wow.

I’ve been listening to Ani DiFranco today – it’s just the right mixture of angry bitchiness, lightheared humour, and ethereal beauty for a day like today when I’m stressed out about work, found out a friend died, and am trying to be creative and hopeful.

Can’t listen to Jim Dale when creating – the Harry Potter books are my bed time story ! ;)

This painting is so beautiful Leah…a different piece of you and so rich…

oh my goodness… i’m completely in LOVE with your new painting hon!

Leah ~ WOW…This is a knock-your-socks-off piece ~ one that I would really like to see in person. The layers of collage and color are beautiful – Yeah, I can see an art critic going crazy describing her. Any name yet?

Harry Potter, Jim Dale and Leah Piken Kolidas rock.
This is a GREAT post! I marvel at your endless ability to share and inspire.

Fred AND George.

I love this topic! It’s so revealing of our characters, what we listen to while we work. When I have helpers come to work in the studio, I always invite them to bring along their favourite art/work music. Some things work for me and some really don’t! When I’m doing purely creative work I like to get into a real interior flow zone, so I like something smooth and familiar, Miles Davis is my ultimate music to create to. Also Jack Johnson & Vivaldi :)
When I’m doing production work, which requires focus but not as much creative flow, I like podcasts (tranquility du jour is a fav!), CBC radio (especially “Q”), (awesome new orleans radio), audio dharma talks, blues, and punk. All depending on the mood! Thanks for the suggestions, I’m going to check out TED and Pandora.

oh this piece is amazing!
what an inspiring post!
i always love visiting your blog!

Thank you for sharing this beautiful painting that’s made by you friend.=) This made my day complete, love collages too..=)

A Writers Den
The Brown Mestizo

Thanks guys! I’m excited by this topic too. Lots of fun. And thanks for the sweet words about the art piece. I’m unsure about the name. If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know. I’ll be thinking on it some more. The names of pieces usually just come to me without effort, so we’ll see if that happens with this one too.

And Jim, thanks! I totally meant to link to your blog in the post and somehow missed it, but it’s up there now!

INCREDIBLE piece! I honestly thought… Braque, Kandinsky?

What a great painting! Love the colours and all the layers and depth it has…

By the way…always wanted to let you know that I am really enjoying your calendar that I have hanging in my studio!

Mostly I work in silence…I like to totally escape into whatever I am working on and quite often having any music or talking would hold a piece of me back in reality…then, sometimes (only if I am home alone – my hubby works at home, so I can’t crank the tunes if he is working!) I will put on a cd and crank it and get lost in the music and let it direct my process…

Did you know that CBC Radio 2 on the Net has a Concerts on Demand?…they podcast concerts! Right now I have the latest Bruce Cockburn one on…

Oh! This painting is really awesome! I agree with you when you say TV itself isnt an evil thing. It’s all have to do with *moderation*- and the quality of what you see.

Ah! And great links and tips! Thanks for the inspiration, hun!


lovely painting; speaks of root chakra I think?

Love the painting! I have a name for it… “Big Trouble”

THis whole theme of “sound” is so challenging for me. I am not a sound person. My sister was the singer and music lover. I was the artist and writer. It was kind of a noncompetition thing in childhood I think, that has never really let go. I like music, I jsut don’t DO music.

Plus, with the kids around all the time, I am more likely to go for silence than music. And when I try to listen to podcasts around them, my bloodpressure shoots through the roof. Reading is easier for me.

But I do paint with the tv. The more mindless the better, and an engrossing movie I haven’t seen before isn’t very good to paint with. Too interesting.

And in closing…. I would just like to say, “So You Think You Can

Sadie! That’s your nickname! But thanks for the suggestions. meow meow.

all hail Pandora (unless I want silence)…you really have to give it to a station named “Evanescence” that plays Loreena McKinnett and then Slayer as related. =] (that was just yesterday).

Stunning piece! Really awesome.

And I love “mindless” t.v. The only thing better than chillin’ on the couch with the boob tube is… creating ART!!!!
And besides, “So You Think You Can Dance” is one of the most inspirational television shows EVVEEEERR!!!


Love your new piece Lia, the curve of your collage really creates a peaceful movement for the viewers eye :)

I haven’t really gotten into a grove where I have to listen to anything in particular….normally I have to succumb to kids cartoons and other children’s shows but when I have a choice, I love listening to an acoustic station on my satellite tv music channel. It just seems to relax me and open me up to further creativity :)

Mostly I love quiet when I am in my studio. However, when the mind chatter starts taking over, I listen to some tranquil cd’s like Enya or a New Age collection. I have recently discovered Pandora also! I also just found where speakers like Wayne Dyer, Sonia Choquette, Denise Linn, Abraham / Esther Hicks, etc. have a regular weekly show. I get so involved in listening to these shows, though, that I have to be doing something that doesn’t take a lot of thought or they distract me too much.

I do watch “mindless” tv in the evenings, after dinner which keeps my mind from being overactive so much that I have trouble falling asleep. Sometimes I can sketch while I am, or post on a blog or forum.

I love your new painting too, Leah. I like that it is very different from a lot of your other work (though that is amazing too). I wish I could find an intuitive painting class in my city – that would be awesome.

Hey Twitter friend.. WOW!! What a great find! I LOVE your blog!! ~Kathy

This piece is inspirational and brilliant. Thanks for sharing it.

Usually I listen to whatever cds I have in the studio. I tend to put them on repeat and try to get into the groove. Last year I listened to a lot of the new Foo Fighters, Led Zeppelin III, and my 90s classics such as Live and Toad the Wet Sprocket. This Spring I’ve been listening to Puddle of Mudd and the Doors, but I figured out how to hook my ipod up to my mini boombox and then I just hit shuffle and zone out.

This is just stunning!

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