Mark Elliott Smith: Painting Music

When I look at Mark Elliott Smith's paintings, I see music: the rhythm; energy; balance; discordance; harmony; lyricism; and movement, so much movement.

So I asked Mark how music influences his work and this was his enlightening and engaging response:


'I enjoy listening to a broad range of musical genres while I work on my paintings, particularly

electronic music, ranging from the chaotic orchestrations of Aphex Twin to the more ambient works

of Royksopp, Boards of Canada and the collaborative works of Brian Eno and David Byrne, just to

name a few.


Something that stuck with me as a child was Walt Disney’s Fantasia and Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds, a striking, visual representation of music and art. More recently I’ve been listening to Medieval festive dance music while taking inspiration from illuminated manuscripts with their colour and organic shapes and movement, depictions of Medieval jousting tournaments, coats of arms and playing cards, evoking an abstract effect of spectacle and chivalry which is noticeable in my work.


There is a figurative, dance like aspect in my work, each painting in effect, forms a composition, a

dance in motion, intertwining with shapes and swirling forms making patterns in space, such as in the styles of flamenco, Georgian and folk ceremonial dance with their costumes and flying colours.


They say music gives form to silence. Similarly, in my paintings, the painted, often pure white

background creates a space for the imagery to arise from. There is a rhythm and symmetry tied in

with the apparent chaotic nature in the work, organized in such a way a moment of perfect balance and harmony within the explosive noise is formed. The careful and specific arrangement of colour and shape creates a synesthesia - like impression. You can hear the counterpoint, timbre and melody while viewing the paintings, in the contrasts of colour hue and tone. This is something I enjoy most about my work, because it’s an experience to be seen and heard, but interpreted in its own way, like music, by the listener.'

So now I look at Mark's work again; even more entranced and fascinated by the knowledge of how Mark paints music.