Sometimes small things put out powerful vibes – think gem stones, two year olds… and ukuleles.
We perceive a ukulele as playful, innocent, unpretentious and almost temporary in stature - waiting to become something more substantial one day.
But I love how the size of a ukulele belies its possible impact. A ukulele in good hands can broadcast a big vibe. It can be funky - and spirited and stirring.
We might expect ‘funky’, but we don’t expect ‘spirited and stirring’ from a ukulele.
These four short strings can really pluck at our own heart strings.
I’ve been to two ukulele performances recently and each of them powered out some ‘spirited and stirring’.
So it was too, when I painted The Ukulele Muse.
I have two ukuleles - my first small red one and a second bigger-bodied mellow wooden one.
I was aware of the surrounding field forming around it, and that this field had a bird-like form.
I intended for the field to be subtle and supporting. Some sort of sound-scape.
But it grew.
The intensity of it grew. The fluidity of it grew. The bird-ness of it grew. And the authority of it grew.
There was nothing subtle about this bird!
She had a surety bordering on fierce, and the largesse of a well-connected guardian.
But there was also a sense of nurture in her embrace of the ukulele…and just a hint of humour.
What I imagined was to be a sculpted sound-scape radiating from the ukulele, seemed now to be more like a link to the muse behind the music.
She is playing the ukulele and the ukulele is playing her.
The singer/song writer Loreena McKennitt describes the creative process on one of her early CDs The Visit.
“I have long considered the creative impulse to be a visit – a thing of grace, not commanded or owned so much as awaited, prepared for. A thing also of mystery. Who is this, and what is here?”
And the Ukulele Muse feels like just that. A visit. A mystery.
She may sneak through here…and there…and over there too…
Watch for her hovering around a ukulele near you.
She’s in the space between the sound and the silence.