a Dream

My latest work got its inspiration from my dream. A woman was swimming in a lake, at the backround I could see an amusement  park and lots of high buildings.  Later, I only saw high grass by the lake.  Finally woman stood up and I could see that she was wearing a cape which was full of small diamonds inside and they were shimmering with sun.



Technique:Watercolor, gesso and pen on 300g/m2 aquarelle paper, size 68×98 cm


Essay: How do Illustrations Work like a Piece of Music or Sound? 2/3


This Essay is part of my MA Art and Design (Illustration) research on Illustrating music. It discusses the relations between musical aspects and artworks. By artwork I am referring to visual presentations such as drawings, illustrations or paintings. The thread of this paper is to explore territories of illustration and music in ways to deepen the understanding of how visual mark making corresponds to aspects of music. On the second part I take a look on Paul Klee’s composition Alter Klang (1925) which is a good example on how artists reflect musical structures in their work.


Paul Klee’s was one of the most remarkable; I would say a pioneer in his area of research of using musical structures and combining expressiveness in his paintings. His work Alter Klang (1925) is famous for its colour composition elements. The structure of the music is one of the main aspects of which Klee used as a base method for creating the colour composition as the Alter Klang is. Having mentioned that, Klee is not the only one who came up with the idea of exploring nonreferential picture space. In fact, Klee’s works from that period can be recognized to be part of the movement when artist such as Mondrian and Moholy-Nagy worked on rectangle compositions as well. (Kagan1983)

Regarding Kagan (1983: 67), Klee’s work shows how paintings have an absolute structure as in music and at the same time it doesn’t deny expression. After first sight one may notice that surface of the painting is a square, which consists of colored rectangles. It might be obvious how rhythm is shown in this composition; repeated rectangles create a grid, which gives the idea of rhythm. On the other level repeated color tones and hues lead the audience to explore paths of the painting, which also creates rhythm and relations between colours. Indeed, the main aspects in his paintings were concepts of colour harmony, value and chiaroscuro. He was influenced by structure of polyphonic music, which prevailed in music between the 14th and the 19th centuries. (Kagan 1983:69)

It is said that Klee translated music quite directly, using its structure as starting point. One might think that different colours represent different tones of music, and as well as the colour tones indicate the changing of musical harmony. It can be speculated what these methods meant for Klee. However, the interesting detail of the Alter Klang is that he wanted to use the idea of music structure and explore artwork from Leonardo Da Vinci. He translated painting to his own language, to colour block compositions, using the same colour values as in Leonardo’s work. It is notable that the edges of the Alter Klang are darker and colors become lighter towards the middle of the painting as it is in Leonardo’s work. Indeed, it can be seen that he explored the pictorial light and light that was ‘created by movement of colour’. That is he wanted to point out the expressiveness of old paintings but at the same time follow the strict structure of music. He called the method cool romanticism. (Kagan 1983)

Paul Klee has said; make visible rather that reproduce visible. (Thompson 2006:12). The way I understand this is he wanted to express the complex relationship between music and painting. Could it be that he suggests the purity of music can only be found from the structure? I find structure is something that reveals the composer’s intensions. Having said that I’m referring the fact that when you listen to a repertoire of music from the same composer you tend to recognize the typical melodies, harmony developments and rhythms. And finally, the way the composition is performed is an outcome of the communication between performer and structure. Regarding Kagan (1983:68), Klee disengaged the pictorial space from the physical world by creating non-figurative works. So in that sense, I can see Klee had a mission to bring together the expressiveness and structure using the dynamical colour variation on flat grid. When the painting is constructed of the non-figurative elements, structure unites the painting to the music world. In that sense, make visible might suggest to create abstract -non-figurative paintings.


Please see below some picture of my rectangle composition work in progress…




…and finalised work with a zoomed in picture. Media: Watercolor and pigment ink on 300g paper, 60×50 cm


Essay: How do Illustrations Work like a Piece of Music or Sound? 1/3


This Essay is part of MA Art and Design (Illustration) research on Illustrating music. It discusses the relations between musical aspects and artworks. By artwork I am referring to visual presentations such as drawings, illustrations or paintings. The thread of this paper is to explore territories of illustration and music in ways to deepen the understanding of how visual mark making corresponds to aspects of music.

The main focus point of this essay is painting, where music is an important inspiration and source of methods used in the art works. I introduce the topic through three visual presentations from different decades of the 20th century as follows: A painting from Paul Klee (1879-1940); Alter Klang (1925), a visual music score from Earle Brown (1926-2002); December 1952 (1952) and a visual listening score (1970) of György Ligeti’s (1923-2006) composition Artikulation (1958) from Rainer Wehinger.

Concerning any arts, general challenge is in defining relations between them. Indeed, together music and visual arts have been under observation and discourse for centuries. In fact, painters such as Klee, Delaunay, Kandinsky, and composers such as Debussy, Schönberg and Stravinsky, were alternately under the influence of each other, and took the inspiration and explored the concepts of art mediums to seek and identify structures and forms in their own practices in 19th and 20th century. However, one might ask, why or how should we find the relations between different arts, as it might be obvious music and painting are different? Yes, they are different in sense that the content that music expresses alone differs from painting; music’s sensory content is sound whereas the contents of painting are colour and forms for traditional thought. (Morton & Schmunk 2000; Dennis 1966)

Thinking about the fundamental characters of music, there are other aspects we should point out. Music is something invisible, which operates through our sense of hearing; basically it is sound waves, which are repeated clutters of air particles; our eardrum response them and translate them into electronic signals and then send to the brain for decoding (Vella 2000: 38). We can also consider music as temporal art where it has it’s realm or existence in time territory. Having mentioned that, it is relevant to note that it has an appearance outside of time as well, for instance, in the form of notation. (Adorno & Gillespie 1996)

One of my experiment where the notation is taking out of context. Watercolor and Fiber-tip pen on 200g Paper, A5

Going forward and describing fundamentals of visual arts, unlike music, a painting works using two-dimensional space, which can be characterised as a spatial art. A painting is a static simultaneous object, which consists of elements that exist next to each other in surface space. It is a reworking of a space, and the creation process is carried out in time. In order to create lines of drawing one will create movements of points. Indeed, in ways how lines are organised, form elements on surface. (Rawson 1987; 15) (Adorno & Gillespie
1996; 66-69)

What explains relations between music and painting? We relate to things through the different senses, and we create the reality combining the information we receive through them. We don’t distinguish between senses of the world such as taste or touch, they are working together. Music and painting works through different senses, hearing and sight, but at the same time they share something, that is feeling. (Henry 2009) In other words, both the visual and audible perception evokes feelings. As Halliday describe, arts echoes our own subjective life. It reflects our feelings (Halliday 2013, 22).


      An experiment; light vs. shadow: reflection. Acrylic paint on acrylic sheet.

But the true connection between music and visual arts is not feeling, rather it is the outcome. The connection can be found profoundly with their language. It’s not the language in the sense of linguistic terms. As it may be obvious music and visual arts share a lot of vocabulary together, for instance, tones of music and colour, or rhythm in music and paintings. (Dennis 1966). Even though these disciplines share the same words; it does not exactly mean the same aspects. The both have their own characteristic way to convey messages.

Music and painting speak the language of how they are constructed. That is, the connection, the fundamental, is how the space, temporal or spatial, is planned, organized and used. However the methods used in music differ from those used in painting; when music deals with different pitches, melodies, harmonies, which are carried out in different rhythms and with different instruments, paintings use different colours, strokes, shapes with different materials and surface sizes. (Adorno & Gillespiel 1996:71) In other words, music and paintings have their own methods. Indeed, Adorno and Gillespie (1996:68) and Rawson (1987:195-197) suggest that operating with individual colour qualities means the same thing that composers operate with individual tones. And these methods are the base for the language that has arisen and the feelings that are evoked from artworks.

Tracking musical structures. Watercolor and pen on 300g paper, A1



My cute little Orchid gave me inspiration for the below piece, which I finalised recently.  I was wondering how she looked so good since weeks had passed and I had forgotten to water her. I checked the vase and I could see little water at the bottom, but as the vase was too narrow, pot didn’t reach the bottom, and normally plant would have not survived. For my surprise, my persistent Orchid had grown a root through the small whole and now drank the leftover water. It really impressed me a lot.

With the illustration I want to cherish how amazingly nature finds its way to reach water and and sun.

Technique: Watercolor and India Ink on 300g/m2 aquarelle paper, size 50×65 cm

Painting Music

It is funny how you can struggle with your thoughts and works, and then you realise that the answer is in front of you. Something like this happened to me lately. Even I am interested in fashion and clothing I began to feel I tried too much, and I felt my approach to the topic was too obvious. Instead of hitting my head against the wall I started to think over my interests and change direction.

Then it hit me, music, it was so obvious! Why haven’t I thought of it before? Music has always been a big part of my life as I have played the piano and hand bells for many years. I also love listening to music.

I pictured myself playing the piano and thought how the music flows in the space. I think it is amazing how we can read the music from 2D music sheets and translate it to sound waves, that is, I think, something invisible, layered and three dimensional; It evokes feelings and emotions and can resonate in your body. Below are some of my first interpretation on music.



Media: Fiber-tip pen and pigment ink on 200g paper, A4

Media: Watercolor, finer-tip pen and pigment ink on 150g paper, A3



About Abstract Art

Regarding abstract art, and especially the theme about painting music, I have discovered that there are two common names in fine arts; Vasily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Speaking of Kandinsky I found a very interesting article Ways of mind-walking: reading, writing, painting by Tim Ingold, a Professor of Social Anthropology and Head of the School of Social Science at the University of Aberdeen. In the article Ingold offers an insight into how the terrain of imagination and real life can be understood in visual and non-visual practices. I was especially interested in the part of the article where he approaches modern abstract art using its pioneer, Vasily Kandinsky, as an example.

Ingold mentioned about Kandinsky’s concept of external and internal. I found that Kandinsky’s theory is quite complex, and I need to find more sources in order to understand it better. However, Ingold illustrates Kandinsky’s idea that paintings were no longer meant to be understood in a way that one can say a painting is a picture of something. In other words, a painting should be more non-figurative. Figurative paintings bind objects in the visible world, and sometimes they lack content. In abstract art, paintings drill down to the viewer’s soul and evoke feelings. But what exactly did Kandinsky mean by abstract contents? How I see this is that; paintings of objects are too obvious and they can’t convey meanings in a way that abstract art does. Abstract contents of paintings give an opportunity to be part of the experience. Could it be, in this case, that abstract contents describe what the artist (Kandinsky) felt while painting music?


Above painting is one of my very first reflection on music. Media: Ink and Watercolor on 180g/m2, A4.




Ingold, T. (2010) ‘Ways of mind-walking: reading, writing, painting’. Visual Studies. 25(1 )April. pp. 16-23.

The Story of the Jumper


Lately I have been reading sources about visual culture, fashion and communication. I find it very interesting, as clothing is part of our everyday life. It’s connected to everyone, and it pretty much tells something about us; maybe something about our lifestyles, values, cultures, or interests. In up coming paragraphs I would like to share my own experience on how a garment evokes meanings and stories, or finally do they?

This picture of me is taken two months ago. I was just about to start my MA studies at the University of Hertfordshire. Everything was new to me, and I was exited but at the same time little bit confused about everything –No wonder why, it takes some time to adapt to a new environment; moving abroad and starting studies in the new university takes a lot of energy. That is, I needed to make feel myself as comfortable as I could.

However, I have this white and red coloured jumper, which I tended to wear these days quite often. There are several reasons why I chose to pack it within my luggage, for instance, as autumn- and wintertime can be quite chilly and dark, so I wanted to take something warm and colourful with me. I also like patterning and shapes very much. Nevertheless, I think the most important reason is that the jumper was my mothers, and was knitted by my grandma in the early 60’s.

I think this jumper is more than a jumper to me. It carries meanings, that is, it connects me to my roots and practise. I’ve been described how my grandma used to spin wool thread and send them out to be dyed. Then she knitted them by copying models from magazines. Usually every family member got something warm and colourful for Christmas. This tradition has continued in my family as my mom does a lot of knitting today too. I feel that I get much energy when thinking about all this.

Back to the jumper. Two months back I felt that this pullover reminded me who I am, and it gave me confidence. But why was it like that? Do clothes tell stories or share meanings, or am I creating them all by myself?  Regarding Finkelstein (2007), people are producing their reality through their identity, which is shaped by social forces in our culture. He explains that visual culture is full of cultural codes, which can be considered intangible, and are perceived through goods. Likewise Malcolm Bernard (2010) presents an idea of cultured bodies, where the body is a base of cultural phenomenon, yet different cultural bodies share the meanings through fashion. He further illustrates his approach of the meaning of clothing and culture as follows: When a garment is linked to culture it will construct meanings, and these meanings are shared and understood by the members of the same cultural or social groups. He also stresses that a garment itself can’t create meanings, it has to be connected with culture.

Refer to Finkelstein and Barnard’s ideas; the jumper itself doesn’t create meanings. The jumper represents something from the past. If I’m thinking back to the time when my mother got the jumper I’m sure she might think differently about it than I do now. Obviously I can’t tell how she felt when she wore it. Perhaps the jumper connects me to my family, culture and handcraft tradition, or maybe I perceive some values or ideals through it. Maybe the jumper is one way to strengthen my identity. I think is important to point out that at the same time when I have decided to include this pullover as part of my visual appearance, I have also excluded something else.

Apparently I could analyse this for many pages, as there are so many layers that can be contemplated. However, I’m considering this post to be a start of my research of visuality, and later its connection to my practice as an illustrator.


Finkelstein, J. (2007) The Art of Self Invention. IB Tauris & Co Ltd

Barnard, M. (2010) Fashion statements: Communication and Culture. In Barnard Scap, R. & Seitz, B. (2010) (ed.) Fashion Statement on Style, Appearance, and Reality. Palgrave Macmillan.

Bringing Background Music in Front

Couple of days ago I randomly went trough some magazines I had kept in my drawer for quite some time. I found this little recommendation ad about Sunday lunch restaurants in London. As I’m working on the music theme I started to think what kind of music do I usually hear in restaurants. What is the typical background music like? Of course it depends on the restaurant but in general I think it is most likely some light, melodic music; something you don’t pay much attention to but it is nice that you can listen to it. Sometimes people’s talk can mix with the music and perhaps, after all, it can considered to be more sound pollution than pleasant voices.

So, I came up with this idea to illustrate the background music; bringing the music in front. I used the ad as a surface for my painting. I listened to some jazz music pieces, looked for some music sheets, and using the light box I copied ties, staves and notes to the surface. I choose the piece below as I think it well represents a music genre that I would hear while having lunch or brunch at an idyllick restaurant.

You can listen to the piece here.

I painted over the ad with silver acrylic paint to bring out “the invisible” in front. I left it to be little bit transparent as I wanted the food plates and cups to be recognizable. I wanted to illustrate how music, and on the other hand human voices, would interact in the space. It can be quite a mess when you try to distinguish music from the other voices in a busy restaurant.


Overall, I found it was fun to paint and play around with this idea. Besides, this is a new media for me as I haven’t really done any experiments with a collage style before. I like how acrylic paint performs on the magazine. Depends on which angle you choose to view the work, the picture of the magazine appears more or less visible, and the texture of the acrylic paint shows differently.

Media: Silver acrylic paint, a golden pen and black fiber tip pen on magazine page.

23 / 12 / 14 


Zooming Music

I found this interesting video, again from the Slow Mo Guys. In the video Gavin Free and Dan Gruchy record a slow motion film of a speaker, which is covered with paint. They literally paint the music. As music plays paint drops vibrate and jump along with the music. They are using a high speed camera, which shows the world hundereds of times slower than normal eye can see. It looks amazing how rhythms shape the colourful paint drops.

I think, this is very inspiring, as it gives me totally different insight into ways of painting music. Could I illustrate music in slow motion, and how? Maybe I could concentrate on fine structures of sounds and try to bring alive the present; investigate the ‘nowness’ of music.








27 / 12 / 14


“Color is the keyboard. The Eye is the hammer. The Soul is the piano with its many strings. The artist is the hand that purposefully sets the soul vibrating by means of this or that key”.

The sentence above was written by Kandinsky. It’s from Tim Ingold’s article (Ways of mind-walking: reading, writing, painting), which I mentioned in the former post. Concerning painting music Ingold mentions that Kandisky had characterised how music and painting music  “…open the mind to inner thruths…“. Ingold described how Kandinsky took inspiration from the composer Modest Mussorgsky’s piano composition Pictures at an Exhibition (1874). Kandisky used the same name for his own exhibition in 1928. In turn Mussorgsky had taken inspiration for the composition from his friend Viktor Hartmann, the Russian artist and architect. I think it’s fascinating how Hartmann’s works have transformed to music, and later to abstract art pieces.

To illustrate the transformation I searched for one of  `the exhibition´ works. The below image (picture 1) presents the painting called The Great Gate of Kiev, by Hartmann. Originally Hartmann’s work was for the competition, where he was commissioned to design the great gate in memory of the 4th of April in 1866, when Tsar Alexander II survived an assassination attempt, and escaped to Kiev  (Stmoroky 2000). However, the project was cancelled and Hartmann wasn’t recognised for this work in his lifetime. After he had passed away Mussorgsky composed the piano suite mentioned above, and he named the pieces after Hartmann’s works. (Ingold 2010) The last `picture’ of the exhibition suite was named after this event. Later Kandinsky painted his own version of the same theme (picture 2).

You can listen to Mussorgsky’s piano piece The Great Gate of Kiev here.


1. Hartmann; The Great Gate of Kiev (Stmoroky 2000)



2. Kandinsky; The Great Gate of Kiev (Wikiart 2014)



Ingold, T. (2010) ‘Ways of mind-walking: reading, writing, painting’. Visual Studies. 25(1 )April. pp. 16-23.

Stmoroky (2000). http://www.stmoroky.com/reviews/gallery/pictures/hartmann.htm

Wikiart 2014. Kandinsky. Visual Art Encyclopedia. http://www.wikiart.org/en/wassily-kandinsky/picture-xvi-the-great-gate-of-kiev-stage-set-for-mussorgsky-s-pictures-at-an-exhibition-in-1928

28 / 12 / 14