February 2016 Meeting Report:

Gail Speckmann: “Creating a Landscape Painting using Musical Elements”


DSCN2565AGail Speckmann portrait 300 dpilthough Gail Speckmann is well known as a visual artist, music has always been part of her life. Gail began her demonstration asserting, “I have sung in choirs and enjoyed music since childhood. I have never connected with the mathematics of music but I am always inspired by its spirit and energy. That is what informs my painting. Music flows through me.”

With that, she picked up her brush and continued to show the connections, for her, between music and painting. “I love the contrast between big, bold tones interrupted by staccato.”

In painting she wants to allow “all of the instruments in the orchestra.” She paints in terms of “notes and beats, majors and minors.” As she placed two values of green on her paper she was reminded of the distance between “octaves.” She often thinks of “counterpoint” in painting when “two melodies wash together.” DSCN2567DSCN2568

Gail painted on Fabriano Artistico hot press paper for her demo, but she uses a variety of papers including Arches and a print making paper, BFK Rives. She uses a double palette – one for cool tones and one for warm. Gail began her landscape by drawing the subject with tinted colors. Then she moved around the painting, wet into wet, with more saturated color.

“I am more engaged when I have created a crisis,” she admitted. “I treat blooms as gifts. If the the painting gets stuck I tip and splatter. If something accidental happen I just wash with it!” DSCN2569

When she was satisfied with the major shapes, Gail added darks with black ink and Stabilo pencils. “Take your painting to the limit,” she advised. “If you haven’t overworked it, you haven’t gone far enough.” This is comforting advice for an audience of struggling artists. Gail Speckmann has been an active member of NorthStar from the early years. Her art and her philosophy continue to inspire us.