Twilight Strokes

Made by Kaalen Kirrene

The goal of this project was to study the style of the painter Norman Lewis through one of his paintings. Then with the idea of style in my head recreate the feeling of style in his painting through my own medium.

Created: September 28th, 2015



The first thing I did was research Norman Lewis. I found out he was a painter popular during the Harlem Renaissance and early in his career helped Jackson Pollock with his wartime paintings. Being a music lover I was particularly interested in his paintings that tried to capture the sounds of the budding jazz movement. I finally settled on his painting twilight noises because it spoke to me the most in terms of sound. I went in to this project with the idea that I would have the final product be entirely sounds based. My ultimate goal was to replicate the sounds that Norman Lewis encoded into his painting. 



 My idea for replicating the paining became centered around trying to replicate the feeling of looking at the painting from left to right. Due to the time constraint I did not think I would be able to reverse it all as if you did another sweep from right to left. How I went about replicating the feeling was copying the notion of the long straight lines present in the painting. I figured I would do so by representing the long black lines with the notes C and E making the standard C major third chord. I used the standard chord because I felt it best captured the simplicity of the black line. The red lines I executed with a G chord rounding out the C major chord. I figured the red was more of an accent to the standard black line giving more flavor just as the G gave the major third more flavor. I decided to represent the splashes of color with other notes that sounded good within the C chord. In keeping with the idea of jazz I included some notes such as D and a B to as those notes gave the chords a more jazzy flavor. 


Best listened to with eyes closed after starring at the painting for about ten seconds.

Twilight Strokes by Kaalen Kirrene
Kaalen Kirrene -


Upon actually spending time on the project. I found it most difficult to space all of the sounds in such a way that they really evoked the essence of the painting. The part that I spent the most time on with this project was studying the painting and figuring out which sound would work best where. Unfortunately I had to actually generate the sound first meaning I was working into my hour. It ended up being only about thirty seconds which is largely due to the time constraint. If I had a bit more time and more experience with audacity I wanted to try and emulate looking back from left to right which I would have done by simply flipping all the audio. 

Another struggle that I had was really replicating the idea of abstract-ism. When painting once you put something on the canvas it is there for good unless you trash the entire project. With digital media you can take your time and make sure everything is placed just perfectly. However I felt like doing so would ultimately detract from the abstract nature. So I walked the thin line of abstract sounds and random noises. 

 One thing that I am afraid of is that I maybe just enhanced a viewing of the painting rather than really capturing the feeling. I really tried to capture by sticking with more basic sounds. Lewis uses a entirely simple colors with his paining sticking to the primary colors of red, blue and yellow, and throwing in some basic black and white as well. I used the C chord because it is the most basic of all of the chords requiring no sharps or flats to make the chords. I tried to replicate his random splashes of color with random splashes of sound. 

I think the biggest drawback to working with music is that often people think of music more horizontally as music is entirely based on time while Lewis' painting is mostly vertically oriented. As well with music is is mush harder to rewind or listen to it a different way as each time it plays it is the same sound. However with an abstract painting you may see it differently each time you look at it. 

All in all though I am pleased with how it turned out.

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The goal of this project was to study the style of the painter Norman Lewis through one of his paintings. Then with the idea of style in my head recreate the feeling of style in his painting through my own medium.