Home › ThinkSpace › Week 8: Tuning in to Your Body with Arts-Based Techniques › Activity: Relate Sensory Experiences
April 28, 2016 at 12:00 am
For today’s art activity we will taste a food item with a distinctive flavor, and use a pen or pencil with paint to relate the sensations as line, shape, and color. I’ve created this “Taste Painting” experience as a fun way for you to gain additional insights about your body.
There are people in the world – perhaps you are one of them – who sense things differently. They might experience tastes and smells as shapes, or see music or numbers as colors. This trait is called synesthesia, and people who have it are called synesthetes. Synesthesia is a crossing of the senses where stimulation or activation of one sense causes a simultaneous sensation in another sense. Synesthesia is more common in artists and creative people, and some synesthetes whose names you might recognize are artist Vassily Kandinsky, writer Vladimir Nabokov, and singer-songwriter Lady Gaga.
Richard E. Cytowic, MD, has been a pioneering cognitive neuroscientific researcher for more than 20 years. He maintains that we’re all synesthetes because “sight, sound, and movement already map to one another so closely”. Dr. Cytowic has prepared a very easy-to-understand, short animation about synesthesia and how it works in the brain for a TED-ed lesson called What Color is Tuesday? You can watch the 3:56 video here:
You can simulate the synesthesia experience by doing today’s activity with any of your senses – but I’ve chosen “Taste Paintings” because they are unusual, and fun to make. Feel free to make a touch painting, smell painting, or sound painting – whatever strikes a chord with you.
Today’s playlist features two musical artists who are also synesthetes. I have selected some of their more subdued songs for you to play in the background while you eat and doodle.
Overview of the Taste Painting Process
Savor, and Get Your Impressions Down on Paper First
What you will put on the paper is your impression of the flavors, textures, and mouth-feel of your chosen item. Eat or drink slowly, deliberately, and exercise mindfulness by staying in the moment and being consciously aware of what is happening in your mouth and body. With your pen or pencil, you can make marks on the paper to relate the literal mouth sensations – for example: blooming, sharp, smooth, spherical, flat, bumpy. As an alternative, you can relate the experience metaphorically. Or you can just put your pen on the paper and mark spontaneously anything that comes to you – with this method it might feel like the pen is making the marks, or your hand is moving autonomously. You might start out consciously choosing a certain method and then intuitively move in a different direction. Any way you choose is fine, and all ways are correct. There is no wrong way to do this.
Fill in with Color Next
After you’ve finished tasting and your drawing feels complete, prepare to fill it in with color. Don’t forget you can mix new colors if you have the primary colors red, yellow, and blue. (See the example of how to do this in Monday’s activity.) I have included examples below from tasting two different items. The first one, Under-ripe Cantaloupe, I did not fill in with color. The second one, Carrot-Apple-Ginger Juice, I did fill in. To get the look I have shown in the colored example you will need to dilute your paint with water. Start by adding only a small amount of water, and check the transparency. Add water until you reach the level of transparency that you like.
Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this. You can fill in all of the white spaces, most of them, or a few. I won’t even be mad at you if you decide to leave them white. Don’t think about what color goes where, just start laying down a color and when you feel like it’s done, intuitively pick another color and work with it in the same way. Repeat this until you feel like your Taste Painting is complete.
Hang your Taste Painting where you can see it. If you have done all of this week’s art activities, at this point you will have nine (9) unique, expressive works of art! Group the week’s artwork to make your very own mini-gallery. When shown together, an artist’s paintings make a statement. Your mini-gallery will be your statement. If you let it, your artwork will inform you of what is going on under the surface. Be still in its presence, and listen.
#synesthesia #synesthete #whatcoloristuesday #tastepainting #mouthfeel #mini-gallery
April 28, 2016 at 12:38 am
Not finished with this painting experience yet, and I am using Q-tips instead of a brush. This activity is much more about the process than it is about the finished product, so I didn’t need the precision of a paintbrush.
The drink I tasted was my own apple-lemon-ginger juice. I’ll share the recipe.
4 lbs. Fuji apples, quartered
8 oz. ginger, julienned or chopped
Juice from 1 lb. of lemons (without the rind), set aside
Process the apples and the ginger through your juicer (I use a Kuvings slow juicer). Add the
juice from the lemons and stir thoroughly to combine. Strain if desired. Makes about 57-64 ounces depending on your produce and your juicer. This is tasty and VERY ginger-y. It smells good, too.
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