When pressure waves emanate through a material, we commonly refer to this phenomenon as Sound. This material composition is what makes up our world, and without these waves of pressure we would have no songs, no musical instruments, no vocal communication, no laughter, no background noise, nothing. Just silence. But there is noise in this world, and for that, let us give praise to the Soundeity.
Let me start by saying this composition was originally going to be a Sugar Skull. It was going to be a nice Day of the Dead tribute, with a very colorful pallet and some 60’s era flowers thrown in for good measure. What this transformed into though was something I did not expect, but am actually very pleased with. It all starts with my original drawing of a skull, color shifted so you can see my faint pencil lines.
After I drew this I originally was just going to start going to town, but I began to think about the different things I could have occurring on the skull face vs the background. I was thinking of leaving the skull as white, but some how the patterns bleed over when they transition into the background of the drawing. At this point I stumbled across a repetitive overlapping circle pattern, which reminded me of my days back in physics class learning about constructive and destructive wave interference (link). I really liked the overlapping pattern those waves produced, so I threw them down onto a small sketch shown below.
After doing the initial sketch of the waves emanating from both sides of the skull (kind of like where the ears would be), I had two distinct realizations.
- The waves perfectly lined up with the eye sockets, allowing for a ‘flowing in’ effect to take place in to the eyes and out through the mouth.
- If I erased the top of the skull, I could use the waves that eventually overlapped to replace it with sort of a ‘crown’. At that same time, the waves by the lower jaw could form a beard.
These two things churned in my head, and I realized that this ‘King’ who was forming with a crown also represented a ‘peasant’ with a beard. That same ruler wants to live forever, but is always conquered in death, and ideally his thoughts, ideas, and actions ebb into the society he was ruling over. Taking that one step further, an eternal God can possess all of these things and more, in which the third eye represents an all knowing and all powerful being that knows no bounds. His rule over these waves transcends from the heavens to the materials in which they flow through.
Transitioning this idea from my initial sketch to the main drawing did not take long, below is a picture right after I finished the pencil lines and begin outlining everything in black.
As with any really large piece, I try to do a ‘practice’ run in pencil before I lay anything down in marker. I only get one shot to get things right, and with black there literally is no going back and trying to correct it. The completed outline of the skull and the waves are show below.
Once this part was done, I was still up in the air as to what was then going to fill these individual squares (are they now in the background or the foreground?), but I knew that I wanted to retain that sugar skull/tribal feel for the part of the skull that was not in the waves, so I went ahead and completed that phase while I thought about the external pieces.
Above is the pencil outline of the skull pattern, and below is the finished black outline of those same lines. Even at this point, I had already decided on the theme that I wanted to use around the skull, which is why you see distinct curved and straight shapes. There is an overlap of those themes even within the same shape, which is an abstraction of the background pattern conveyed also in the picture below.
As I was staring at that blank background, with all of those individual curved ‘squares’, I realized that each side of the skull could give off a different style of sound. On one side, a very rigid and straight style of sound; the other, a very soft, round, and curved sound. They clash at the center, which is why the single line of shapes going up and down the middle consist of both sounds. What I really like about this is that each individual sound wave helps create the other waves’ squares, creating a dependency within the system yet they still remain separate and distinct.
At this point, it was time to begin coloring. I had laid down everything I was planning on creating and now it was time to get down to the real permanent work. I started with the figurative skull, crown, and beard combo shown below.
I colored the crown different shades of yellow and gold, and sprinkled sapphires, rubies, and emeralds onto the crown itself. Any other lesser shapes were made up of different colored gems to reflect the royal nature of this entity. As for the beard, it is a traditional brown with a three color pattern applied to it. I gave the skull a binary black or white style of pattern to help it stand out against the multicolored background I was going to apply next.
No drawing would be complete without using every possible color I have available! That’s why I chose to do a double foreground and background color fade. If you trace from the top to bottom on the outer shapes, or bottom to top on the inner shapes, you get the same color fade. Where the green meets in the middle I alternated colors to ideally give a pulsating outward effect from the sound center point. At this point the drawing is complete, and I think in the end it gives a nice variety of colors to the whole thing.
Hopefully at this point you can see why I named this piece, “Soundeity.” If not, well I need to work on some things then. One interesting thing that happened while I was turning this into a reproducible piece of art was the lighting effect that occurred while taking the final shots. The picture below on the left shows yellow light from my dining room, and overcast natural light through a glass door in my apartment on the right.
On one side clearly a yellow tint is applied, on the other there is some kind of blue tint going on. I soon realized I couldn’t win here, and I ended up photoshopping up the set of pictures taken in natural light, since I felt like it washed the colors out less (especially the yellows). In the end I ended up having to clean up all the colors in order to get them to match what the drawing looks like in real life (white = white, black = black, blue = blue, etc), and below is the final product!
It accurately retains all of the real life colors used, and should look really good on any media it finds itself on. I still may have one more thing in store for this drawing, but that will have to wait for another day…