Painting the Music Recap

We were treated to a magnificent and innovative performance from Jeremy Sutton. He showed his unique style and process he engages in order to produce his original paintings.


When Jeremy Sutton asked us to make sure there was a bit of space up at the front for him to dance during his presentation, I wondered what we were in for. It turns out we were in for a powerful look at the intersection of art, technology, music, and improv, with a bit of swing dance thrown in for good measure.

Jeremy Sutton is a physicist turned artist who uses a combination of digital tools and traditional painting techniques to create his artwork. We’ve all experienced the magic of listening to someone create music. Or watching someone perform dance. It’s much more rare that we get to see art in the creation stage. Jeremy took it one step further, and did his best to draw us into the creative process, from the beginning stages of percolating ideas, to the loose throwing of paint onto a digital blank canvas, to the final steps of reigning in the wild brushstrokes to make something that really captures the subject.

In this case, the subject of the painting was SVII’s director, Howard Lieberman. Howard was also an active participant in the creative process, offering improvised piano music that helped influence the rhythm of the brushstrokes.¬† Piano pairs very well with art.

At our August event, our topic was improv. We talked a lot about how improv relates to business. It opens up our thinking and lets us accept what is, rather than what we’d like things to look like according to our careful plans. Jeremy’s presentation touched on many of the same things. He mentioned that he never uses the “undo” button, although you’d think that would be one of the blessings of being a digital painter. He doesn’t use undo, because he sees every brushstroke as a gift, as a step towards something bigger. Mistakes are worked into the creative process, not “undone”.

As innovators, this mentality should feel familiar. People who keep trying to undo errors to manage their creative process won’t allow themselves the freedom required to make breakthroughs. It’s beyond a simple willingness to fail. It’s a knowledge that what we’re trying to reach is about ten steps past failure, and that failure was necessary and helpful part of the process.

If you’re interested in seeing more of Jeremy’s work, check out his websites: and You can also stop by his studio this weekend (Oct 8-10) for his Fall Open Studios event. Or check out his live performance as Vincent Van Gogh at the de Young on October 15th or October 22nd.

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