Back-to-School Blog: Extra-Curricular Musings on Music and Art

The Violinist - by Kimberly Bourgeois

Based on a musical performance I saw in a Montreal bar, this painting dates back many years.


My art teacher at the time had parallel artistic pursuits as the singer of a band that shared her passion for improvisation. One night, she invited her students to attend a show. She encouraged us to bring along our sketchbooks, as she had a particular exercise in mind. There were only a couple of us who showed up for this extra-curricular activity, so I was glad for the semi-private instruction. I sat near the stage, and accepted her assignment: Remaining true to the experimental spirit of the band’s performance, I was to draw what I saw/heard/experienced without ever looking down at the pages of my book.


I remember how my teacher’s vocals chirped and fluttered playfully like birds in a bath. Flaunting their freedom, they flew off in previously undreamed directions, weaving their way through colourful guitar and violin expressions. Suddenly the stage was a windfall of bright plumage rubbing up against rainbows of sound.


The results of that drawing session were unexpectedly fun, and opened me up to a new way of working. I held on to a sketch of the band’s violinist, later incorporating it in a painting that now hangs in my parents’ home.


In retrospect, I think those sketches were my favourites made within the context of that course. Interestingly, they were among the few born outside the studio-classroom. I love that this series took root in a gritty bar on the Plateau Mont-Royal, thanks to the visceral immediacy of live music.


At that time, I didn’t know yet that I’d one day be crafting my own melodies, sharing them on stages much like the one my teacher’s band lit up. I was still taking notes—my future songs like sketches in my heart. Something was taking shape, but I had yet to look down at the page.

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