An abstract artist from Bethany, Oklahoma paints to her own beat — lately Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto in B flat minor. Radio reporter, Molly Evans, spoke with MtnWoman Silver about the music and emotions that inspire her unique artistic process and her current exhibition titled, “Sounds of Self.”
Silver sets the microwave timer for 15 minutes. She cues disc 2 of The Best of Tchaikovsky from the black boom box that provides the perpetual soundtrack to her bold, vibrant and unapologetic works of art. She squeezes tubes of acrylic in hues of red, orange, yellow and their sky blue and indigo complements. The canvas is clean but not for long.
Silver is ready to paint.
Silver: I’ve always liked to sing, but I never liked to sit down and listen. And a lot of the time classical music would put me to sleep.
But two years ago, Silver changed her tune. She had been out of the studio for a while caring for her husband after he had suffered a heart attack.
SilverAnd I got back in the studio and just wanted to get going and for some reason my husband gave me two Tchaikovsky CDs and for some reason I turned them on. I cannot listen to any kind of music in the studio that makes me think of words because the words come from the left side of my brain. I don’t want to be there. I want to be in the right side of my brain, and if I’m thinking of the words to a song I can’t do that, and so I turned on this Tchaikovsky, and wow, an hour later I kind of came up for air.
From a distance, Silver’s painting looks as colorful and wild as her muse of the Southwest. Later she will approach the canvas and will etch intricate ink pen designs into the wide brushstrokes as a part of her two-part artistic process. And it will join more than 20 works in her exhibit that all share this free-spirited aesthetic.
Silver: When I’ve settled down and finished with the painting part of it and pick up my pens, it’s like when I take control of it.
Silver’s been painting abstracts with the aid of music for two years and in the comfort of her own home studio in Bethany, Oklahoma. She lives in a duplex, with one unit serving as her creative space, complete with a kitchen that’s never been used for cooking and numerous portraits and landscape paintings of a 44-year career lining the floors and walls.
Silver: But I did not like doing landscapes, it was always so confining for me to keep doing what was out there because I wanted to do what was in here. So in 1983, I did a lot of these closet paintings. In 1987, I met my husband. After a few months of dating I showed him my work, my closet work, and it was all these abstract doodles that had turned into paintings, and he was very moved by them, and the first thing he said after he had seen them was, “How can I help you?” Oh, I fell in love immediately.
With the support of her husband, Silver has been a full-time artist for years, but her marriage to painting has had its rough patches.
Silver: I have tried to divorce it, believe me. Sometimes I think it’s a curse instead of a blessing to feel driven to do something. I’ve tried to think of something to go back to school and get another degree in and do something else. And I can’t think of anything else I want to do, and that’s been going on for my whole life.
Still it’s difficult to imagine Silver doing anything else, and that was obvious in just 15 minutes of jovial painting with the help of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor orchestrating her brushstrokes.
For Assignment Radio, I’m Molly Evans.
Visitors can view Silver’s finished painting titled “First Snow in Autumn” with 20 or more works in “Sounds of Self” through March 29 at In Your Eye Gallery in Oklahoma City’s Paseo District.