By Nell Whittaker

The 22: Portrait painting is often thought of as a sort of intimacy between the artist and his subject. How did you initially respond to the idea of opening that up to an audience?

RV: I was terrified. At the same time, because it will be a new experience for me, I am curious to see how it will influence my process. I am sure the company of the musicians will make me feel at ease.

22: What similarities would you draw between your creative process and music? What do you think links visual artwork (in particular, your artwork) to music?

RV: Perhaps because I am also a drummer, and because I frequently paint while listening to music, I find the process very similar. Especially with percussion instruments, I find the ebb and flow of the rhythm analogous to the way I paint. The accumulation of details and contrasting empty spaces in painted surface mimic the acceleration and deceleration of a beat.

22: Do you think the audience or the atmosphere will affect what you are creating on the night itself? Or do you have a clear idea of what it is you will make?

RV: While a part of the painting will be planned out ahead of time, some parts will be blank and left to be finished during the performance. The final result will certainly be affected by the evening’s performance. It will be interesting to deal with the unpredictability of a fairly short performance. It will be crucial to quickly recognize and save “happy painting accidents,” and quickly paint over a mistake which could potentially lessen the final effect.

22: What is it that you think makes your artwork work alongside music?

RV: I think all artwork can work alongside music. If we are talking about my work in particular, I feel there is almost a structural similarity to my paintings and to the way music looks in written form. The disassembled architectural structures I often use in my work remind me of the dance of notes, keys, time signatures, ornaments and clefs on the staff lines.

22: Do you listen to music as you paint? If so, what music helps to put you in the “right” frame of mind for painting?

RV: I frequently listen to music while I work. But depending on the stage of completion of the piece I might vary the music. For example, in the beginning of a piece I might listen to more orchestral music, while at the end stages I’m more likely to gravitate to music with single instruments and no vocals at all. Almost an anachronistic dynamic. The emptier the canvas the louder and richer the music, the richer fuller the canvas the quieter and minimal the music.