Monday, September 5, 2011

Auditory Inspiration

Freaks Alive - On the Inside - from the Carnival Collection by Mab Graves

Detail of The Cabinet of Curiosities - from the Carnival Collection by Mab Graves

Freaks - from the Carnival Collection by Mab Graves

Detail of the Albino Girl on Freaks - from the Carnival Collection by Mab Graves

Te Knife Thrower's Assistant - from the Carnival Collection by Mab Graves

The Amazing Tattooed Lady - from the Carnival Collection by Mab Graves

Dearly Beloved,

I often get asked where I get my inspiration. What I surround myself with. What kind of music I love and like to listen to when I paint.

Well, on the subject of music and auditory inspiration - I am the only artist I have ever heard say this - but I don't really like music. I mean I LIKE music alright, but I never work to it. It's too repetitive and chaotic. It's too controlling and emotional.

I prefer to listen to audio books actually. When I paint, I try as hard as I can to distract my conscious mind and let my subconscious auto pilot take over. Books are a great way to really engage and follow a plot or story line. They take over. You are the character. The story kidnaps you.

Music is a very "self" media. It's all about feelings or memories. I have some very dark places that I don't care to dwell on. They are done and it's over and I don't want that darkness to creep into my work. There is most certainly an "offness" in all my pieces, but it’s a personal commandment for me that I don't dabble in the self-pityingly morbid.

More than anything, I just get bored of hearing a pop star sing about herself. More than one song and I'm done. Let’s go somewhere. Let’s have an adventure.

It was a sad realization for a condemned bibliophile like myself when I realized that my two passions – reading and painting – directly conflicted each other. They both require your eyes and total focus. Then (sneaky me) I discovered the audio book loop-hole ^_^

When we were little, my parents read aloud to me and my sisters almost every night. We would beg to be read the same books over and over. It got to the point where they would try to play tricks on us and change what our beloved heroes said, and immediately four little pairs of eyes would fly up and four little voices would cry “No! THAT’S not what he says!”

To this day, I still just love having someone read to me.

My pieces are about stories and so that's what I immerse myself in. Crime novels, historical fiction. Mysteries, fantasy, dystopian fiction. I love it.

The books I listen to don’t really affect or influence my work. They're just an escape.

Here's a list of a few of my favorite audio books to date (listen to them over and over! The library loves me ^-^)

Lolita – Narrated by Jeremy Irons (my absolute favie!)

Blood Canticle – by Anne Rice - Narrated by David Pittu

Blackwood Farm– by Anne Rice - Narrated by David Pittu

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister – by Gregory Maguire - Narrated by Jenny Sterlin

Wicked – by Gregory Maguire - Narrated by John McDonough

Birth of Venus- by Sarah Dunant – Narrated by Jenny Sterlin

Interpretation of Murder – by Jed Rubenfeld - Narrated by Kirby Heyborne

Hunger Games – by Suzanne Collins - Narrated by Carolyn McCormick

Catching Fire – by Suzanne Collins - Narrated by Carolyn McCormick

Coraline – by Neil Gaiman – Narrated by the Author

Neverwhere – by Neil Gaiman – Narrated by the Author

I LOVE the Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple murder mysteries by Agatha Christie




  1. Hi Mab. Wow, your new collection looks absolutely amazing! And it's really interesting to know the influence behind your work. Never tried working along audio books before, but I find peace with instrumental music and the sound of rain pouring down outside. I guess we all have our own "thing", don't we? (^_^)

  2. I've been searching for some good audio books lately to listen to while I paint - so I'll be surely checking these out! Thanks! Also, I'm loving your new jewels!! ^_^

  3. Those are all so breathtaking, just perfect.

  4. Yes! I'm a painter too & usually listen to audiobooks or podcasts while I paint. I think we're a rare breed!

    I've been listening to an odd one lately from the young adult section. I couldn't resist this title - "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making".

    Worth checking out if your library has it!

  5. I listen to audiobooks at work and in the car too and from work and when I'm sewing. I too love the Suzanne Collins novels. Lately I've been addicted to the Larry McMurtry Lonesome Dove books. I've been getting swept away into the old west. It must have something to do with the split focus of halving oneself into two universes simultaneously. xoxo, Anna

  6. wonderful to meet you and your art and this post is a wonderful first meeting. Thank you for sharing your favorite audio books. I love listening to them when i drive, have not tried them with art. I am enjoying your art... such fabulous eyes you create.

    just stopped by via Amalia's post about you.

  7. The knife throwers assistant is my favourite thing ever!!!

  8. Mab, just wanted to say: I adore your artwork, it is amazing!