Improvisation, Performing, and Art

First, an update on my altered magazine art journal pages. As of tonight:

And before:

Some detail shots of work lying around on my kitchen table right now:

And two sketches made while I watched a couple of singer-songwriters perform before us yesterday:

IMG_4082 IMG_4083I am still enjoying some of the rippling after-effects of watching Bobby McFerrin in concert Friday night at Davies Symphony Hall. He conducted the San Francisco Symphony, improvised along with a new orchestration of Rhapsody in Blue, and then did a set with his “band” consisting of piano, bass, and the most amazing drummer ever.

What I love about Bobby is that he is completely relaxed, completely present, and completely human onstage. He turned the page too early during the performance, and had no idea what he was supposed to be singing, so he sang that as the lyrics in that moment, while the entire symphony sat there waiting for him to solo.

I had three performances of my own in the two days following Bobby’s concert. I noticed that I was freer, more daring, more in love with the creating of sound, and I attribute that to the inspiration of seeing Bobby have the audacity to make mistakes, be himself, and remain completely relaxed, on one of the great concert hall stages of the world.

In the program was this quote, which perfectly described his “performance” on Friday:

“I try not to ‘perform’ onstage. I try to sing like I sing when I’m in my kitchen. I want audiences to leave the theater and sing in their own kitchens the next morning. I want to invite people into the incredible feeling of joy and freedom I get when I sing.”

I feel like this is what I try to do when I make art. I try not to “be an artist” but rather just play and wonder and make discoveries through every action. There is no audience, no customer, no teacher looking over my shoulder to judge my work. Only Me seeing more and more of Me as it appears in front of me. When I share that revelation with others, the viewers are invited into that excitement of discovery, joy, and freedom that I was experiencing as I made the piece. This is the only kind of art I wish to make and share in the world.



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