Since 2020, my work has been primarily focused as a response to sound and music. I've collaborated with several musicians and utilized commercially available recordings. To prepare for the act of painting from sound, I first develop a palette of at least 6 carefully mixed colors in containers and assemble a similar color selection of soft pastels both in stick and pan form. Mixing colors takes time, and the more I prepare the faster I can execute my decisions in the moment of painting. The addition of pastels and charcoal brings the immediacy of drawing and adds textural elements. This helps me keep up with my thoughts and reactions to the music as I interpret the space, rhythms, and textures I hear in color relationships and gestural marks.
At least once a month I paint live as a performance and the audience can experience the process with me as I discover the painting. When I paint with musicians, who also work within the space of time, it is an intimacy not found elsewhere- a nonverbal communication in the language of our respective art forms. The sound accompanies and informs the creation of the painting as we build a multimedia and multisensory 4 dimensional sculpture that can’t be fully captured because of the intertwining elements of space and time. The sound influences my color and gestural decisions, and the audience can hear the music and see those visual decisions as they happen. But after the sound fades and the act of painting stops, the canvas remains as a memory or shadow of the 4 dimensional collaboration.
Melanie P. Brown (b. 1972) is an exhibiting painter and teaching artist living and working in Chicago, IL. by way of Colrain, Mass. and Tulsa, OK. Melanie has performed live painting during collaborations with Ryan Ingebritsen, Jeff Yang, Eric Mahle, and the Ursa Ensemble. She also performs live painting regularly during concerts at Fulton Street Collective. A long time teacher and former program director at Lillstreet Art Center, Melanie has been painting and teaching for 19 years in Chicago alongside children and adults of all ages. Melanie holds a BA from Knox College in Galesburg, IL and an MFA in Painting from The American University in Washington, DC.