Me, my co-worker Sawyer, & “The Stable Song,”
a painting inspired by
the music of
Gregory Alan Isakov &
The Colorado Symphony
completed and sold in 2018
48x48” acrylic on canvas
SARAH CAPPS is an artist and designer from Charlottesville, Virginia. Inspired by the gift of sound-to-color synesthesia she shares her visual experience of music through paintings. In addition to music, Sarah is inspired by the rhythms and patterns found in nature and finds solace in painting landscapes and scenery.
In 2018, Sarah has shown her works at The Brick Lane Gallery in London, the Earth, Fire, & Spirit Gallery in Lexington, Virginia, The Local in Charlottesville, Virginia and also participated in Prague Art Cocktail II, a one month exhibition featuring 30 artists from around the world in the Czech Republic. In 2019, Sarah is excited to be one of 40 exhibitors in the world to share her artwork at Shibuya Station in Tokyo, Japan during the Tokyo Art Fair in early March.
How do I create paintings based on music? Good question. I have Synesthesia, or a crossing of two or more senses, and it allows me to have a unique visual experience of colors, shapes and various textures while listening to music. My goal is to capture the song and its feeling by sharing my experience of particular instruments, the singer’s voice, and/or a collage that serves as an imprint of the entire song. It’s like trying to hit a moving target. I attempt to convey that movement by using many layers of paint to express the forms I see within the song, which also allows for greater texture and vibrancy in the final product.
My process is unique for each painting that I create. I typically paint abstracts or landscapes, but all of my work is inspired by music and the local landscape. I love painting with acrylic, oil, and watercolor in particular. Other mediums I play with are charcoal, pencil, pen, ink and colored pencil.
When I begin a painting, depending on whether it’s a commission or a song that I’ve chosen, I listen to the song a number of times, usually at least 20, and select a meaningful portion of the song related to the requester (or myself if I’ve chosen it). Then I attempt to capture the emotion and meaning of that song with a number of layers revealing the movement of the visuals I experience while listening to the music. I frequently receive commission requests for weddings, anniversaries, proposals, birthdays, and just because!
Click to read more about — synesthesia
SERIES IN MOTION, 2018-2019
I’m currently working on 4 series simultaneously as of December 2018.
Musicians At War. You know those songs that are so amazing that multiple musicians just have to cover them? That’s where I’m going. This will be a series of diptychs or even triptychs that compare songs covered by more than one artist. The title of the series isn’t to suggest that the musicians are competing or “at war” with one another, but rather with the song itself. I’ve completed one set in this series to date, and it can be viewed under the “2018” tab. It is a comparison of two versions of the song “Nothing Compares 2 U,” one by Sinead O’Connor and the other by Chris Cornell.
Cotton Candy: Eye Heart Strings. This series was inspired by the colors I associate with songs by Fleetwood Mac. I’ve always loved their sound and the visuals it creates for me. Ironically, the cotton candy tones I see in some of their songs are similar to the feelings I experienced as a child when I’d go to the carnival and get cotton candy. It was a treat that so rarely happened! The paintings that inspired this series were part of the group that attended Prague Art Cocktail II at Prague Castle in the Czech Republic. The painting is titled “Everywhere” and can be viewed under the “2018” tab. The rest of the series title refers to my preference of painting violins and guitars. I’ve been recently focusing on singling those instruments out and attempting to share a more accurate view of my synesthetic experience.
Peep Show. In a nutshell, these are sexy songs inspired by a variety of musicians with wildly different sounds. A few musicians in this set will be The Roots, Nikki Minaj, and…stay tuned :) I regularly post progress and completed paintings on my Instagram account, @shepaints.music
Forest Walk. This is a series of paintings inspired by walks through the forest in Charlottesville. The color schemes are inspired by my visual experience of various songs from a variety of musicians.
All images and artworks are Copyright © 2019 Sarah Capps Ashmun. All Rights Reserved.