I’m a synesthete.

As one who experiences synesthesia, I see music in color and form. There are many types of synesthesia involving s “cross-over” between 2 of the senses and mine is the most common type. I discovered this in my late teens and felt very “weird” with no one to talk to about it, so after grad school I just buried it.

Last week I listened to a piece I played when I was in college, the Piano Concerto by Aaron Copland

(Video here (but not me playing!)) .

As the music played I  drew what I saw with pencil. Normally I’m totally intimidated by a blank piece of paper. I don’t sketch or draw regularly so this isn’t a common exercise for me. However, once that music began my pencil started flying! I had to let go of any sense of control and just go with the music and what my mind’s eye saw.

Synesthesia drawing in pencil

Then I listened to it again and used colored pencils to capture the colors and shapes.

I did NOT study the first drawing—in fact I didn’t really look at it much. I was more eager to work with the colors. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up but I felt satisfied with what I got done.

Synesthesia drawing in color
The concerto movement is bright and jazzy and to me, this is conveyed by the images.

After I was finished with the second drawing I began to compare the pictures.

I was amazed at the similarities! The overall composition is the same and many of the elements are very similar. Just for fun I used a photo editing program to overlay the drawings.

Combined synesthesia drawings

Now the similarities really show up. the long arcs, the center shape, the dots, the elongated diamond shapes show up in both, in about the same areas.

I also reversed the colors which makes some parts easier to see. (And the black looks pretty cool!)

Synesthesia drawing reversed colors

I belong to the Professional Art Quilters Alliance. PAQA

They currently have a challenge to produce an 18″ square art quilt on the theme “Exploration.” This exercise was certainly an exploration of my own creative process! So I am working on creating an art quilt of my combined drawings. I love the bright complimentary colors and abstract design is something I have never even attempted before. I am trying to stay true to my drawing and not try to change or improve it—just accept it for the exploration it is. What is interesting to me design-wise is that I can quilt/stitch many of the lines that appeared on my pencil drawing. This is where I am today, still laying down the colored element. Stitching will be next. Piece is due at my Jan. 13 meeting.

Synesthesia quilt beginning

The drawing again for comparison. Synesthesia drawing in color