Arts

Am I “an artist”?  Many people have told me I am, but all I know is that I am without any doubt imaginative and creative.  I prefer to call myself “artist-like” because I am still a work in progress.  I hold a master’s degree of fine arts in creative writing, and for me, language can conjure interior visions.  And music even more so.

I do have some prints available on TurningArt, which is a sort of Netflix for visual arts.  Because I am a bit of an introvert and make art not as a financial enterprise, but rather because I love the process, my styles and subject matter are ever evolving.  Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill (Washington, D.C.) referred to “painter David Michael Conner’s stunning renderings of city streets and psychedelic dwellings,” which I think fairly well captures my interest in color.  Artwise, I consider myself an expressionist, really, regardless of my subject, and color is almost always primary.

What’s with the “companion songs” on this website?

As I blabber on at length below, in my world, I seem to have some mental wires crossed when it comes to hearing and vision–songs often conjure images in my mind, or sometimes just colors and textures.  Words can do the same.  I can’t say that any of my paintings or drawings (except “Distant Music”) are based on other works of art; however, either stylistically or in an essential sense I can’t fully articulate, I can directly correlate at least one piece of music to almost all of my art work.  I didn’t necessarily have these in mind while I was painting/drawing, but looking at them afterward calls to mind specific songs or compositions.  And so while making this site, I decided to link directly to those songs as imaginative companions of sort.  Because Tori Amos is my favorite artist (in large part because her music and voice do conjure visions), a majority of the song companions are Tori Amos songs.

Favorites and Influences

My favorite artist of any medium is the musician Tori Amos, whose music is tremendously influenced by visual arts–her album “Unrepentant Geraldines” is mostly inspired by visual art, including Paul Cezanne (“16 Shades of Blue,” “Weatherman“), Diane Arbus (“America“), Dante Gabriel Rosetti (“Maids of Elfen-Mere“) and Daniel Maclise (“Unrepentant Geraldines“).  What I didn’t know for the longest time is that Amos also has been inspired by my favorite painter, Marc Chagall; her song “Garlands” is itself a garland of lyrics made up almost entirely of titles of various Chagall prints.  Much of Amos’s work conjures interior visuals for me–for example, “Caught a Lite Sneeze” is red and raw, weathered wood, and “Concertina” is a morphing cloud of pinks, whites, and touches of pale blue.  I have no explanation for this phenomenon, but certain music (particularly piano and violins) create mental pictures, textures, etc., that make the experience of music entirely visual.

Distant-Music-DMConner

Distant Music

Words can do likewise, although the written word usually calls to my mind still images.  For example, a passage from James Joyce’s story “The Dead” haunted me until I effectively exorcised it from my mind with the painting “Distant Music.”  And after my short time studying Milton’s Paradise Lost abroad at Cambridge University, I delved into spiritual philosophy and became fascinated by Gnosticism…and in the doing, I was compelled to paint “Sophia.”  My work that is inspired by other artists’ creations is largely abstract.

Sophia

Sophia

42nd-street-challenge

42nd Street Challenge

I also paint or draw representational works, but not usually in a realistic manner.  While I appreciate the great technique behind realism, I feel that photographs are capable enough of capturing still images as we see them.  I am more interested in capturing still images as I feel them.  Examples of this include “The Sea,” a painting of one of the statuary figures situated in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle, or “42nd Street Challenge,” a fairly straightforward rendering of New York’s 42nd Street on a rainy night–but what I want to capture with this is the staccato, almost Stravinsky-like feeling of being there, rather than a painting that necessarily imitates life.

the-sea

The Sea

I love and I am tremendously inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, and hold Edvard Munch, George Grosz, Gustav Klimt, Francis Bacon, and many other artists in the greatest esteem.  Many of Van Gogh’s paintings communicate to me in a way that I could never hope to imitate.  Other stylists and symbolists can do so, as well.  But for me, great art is art that not only transcends genres but bridges them–paintings that engender interior music, music that generates visions.  This to me is one of the great wonders of living, and so art is essential to my life.  The common thread, I think, is color.

Visual arts that convey music:

Music that paints:

farmhouse-with-birch-trees-1903

This is “Farmhouse with Birch Trees” by Gustav Klimt. The colors, textures, and literal subjects of this painting correspond directly for me to the music of “Battle of Trees,” above, by Tori Amos. I have posted the Sin Palabras instrumental version above because, despite lacking Amos’s lyrics, which relate directly the names of various trees used in the Celtic Ogham tree alphabet, the music paints a mental image for me that this painting accurately translates. The percussive, blunted piano notes translate in my mind as Klimt’s striated vertical birch trees; the color of the strings is a dark, rich amber. The lighter piano notes dapple light through the music, as Klimt does with the leaf litter on his forest floor.  The original composition on which Amos based her song “Battle of Trees” is “Gnosiessienne No. 1” by Erik Satie.