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  • Writer's picturehilimartin


After sharing this one, I was asked if I am a synesthete. My response would have to be, "Maybe?" In any regard, answering that question requires more than a quick sentence to explain things adequately.

Honestly, I thought all shared the experience I have when listening to music. It often blurs the line between innate emotional response to a more distinct perceptual experience. Perhaps it is best to explain that synesthesia can manifest in individuals in a multitude of ways—all equally fascinating. For me, it is difficult to explain, and it is not as simple as hearing something and seeing/interpreting it as color. In fact, it's often more of a movement I mentally envision that is accompanied by color. The movement of a perceived line is typically more intense than the saturation of the perceived color—the color is a subdued afterthought. The quality of that line varies as well, and the more focused I am on the music, the more intense the experience is. Interestingly, some music does nothing for me. Some people need things to be organized in a particular way before they can paint or create. I need to listen to music through quality headphones or to be engulfed by it. Certain tones and sounds are far more evocative, which is why I tend to be drawn to classical music and musicians that utilize an ample amount of looping masterfully. Alternatively, loud (all-encompassing) and intricate musicianship also fits the bill. It's the layering in musical composition that I believe I perceive as a movement, whereas the intensity influences the saturation and presence of color. Similarly, particular chords, distinct pitches, and the timbre of a voice impact the shading of perceived colors. So, where do my creations fall into play with this phenomenon? Did I see an octopus while listening to music? Not exactly, although that would be fun.... or terrifying, I'm not certain. I don't see anything distinct. I certainly don't see anything that is fully developed. I saw the curves of the lines that you see created within the tentacles, but I did not see tentacles. I perceive the depth of the indentations in a person's clavicle, without seeing the neck as a whole, as the layers within the music develop. It is only after the first washes of color and initial lines are placed that I can then step back and take the lead and embellish with more detailed penwork—my own layering. Fun fact: I have playlists for all of my pieces.

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I figured I should probably add to this website. After doing some festivals and shows, these are some of the most common questions that I've been asked. Feel free to ask anymore. FAQ: Where did you

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