Musings

For me the most incredible thing about painting is starting with a blank canvas, devoid of soul and spirit, and creating life where there was none just a short while before. There’s a point when it stops being lines and colors and turns into emotion and becomes real. It’s magical.

(From an early sketch of a new work in progress.)

Sketch

Learning to paint, part 2

Yesterday I put the finishing touches on my biggest painting project yet!

I’m a fan of the computer card game Hearthstone and I admire a lot of the art in the game. I’ve been especially enamored by the color and energy of the Auchenai Soulpriest painting by D. Alexander Gregory, so I decided that the best way to learn some new painting techniques and improve my confidence would be to make a copy of it from scratch. If you want to acquire and perfect new skills, imitate the masters.

I started off making painfully slow progress, but as I got the hang of things I was able to work faster and faster. All told I think I spent about 30 hours on the project. If I were to do something similar again I think it would take half that time now that I have a little more expertise.

I had an incredible amount of fun doing this and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I can’t wait to start working on my next painting!

Here’s the finished product, with an animation showing every step of the process below. (Click on either image to view it full size.)

Auchenai Soulpriest
Animation

Debussy: Ballade

Here’s a recording I’ve been preparing over the last few days. One of my favorite pieces by Debussy: his Ballade, written in 1890 at the age of 28. The perfect blend of jazziness and Frenchness.

Learning to paint

When I was a kid I loved to draw. By the time I was in my teens I had discovered music, so I mostly left my interest in the visual arts behind. Over the last few months I decided to get back into painting and teach myself how to use a digital tablet and Photoshop, as well as traditional paint and brushes. I’ve been enjoying myself immensely! Here’s a portrait of a friend I made a few days ago, based off of a picture. The picture caught my imagination because of the beautiful pose and interesting colors.

J.S. Bach: Largo from Concerto in F minor

Over the last few years I’ve been experimenting with digital musical instruments, including Pianoteq and, most recently, the Miroslav Philharmonik virtual orchestra. MIDI instruments have been around for decades, but it’s only recently that they’ve matured and gotten very, very close to sounding like the real thing. Pianoteq in particular is a stunning technological achievement.

Here’s a performance I put together of the beautiful Largo from Bach’s Concerto in F minor. I played the piano part on a keyboard using Pianoteq, then fired up Miroslav Philharmonik and went back to dub in the strings. I couldn’t be more pleased and delighted with how the finished product sounds. What a joy to be able to play a concerto in the comfort of my studio!

Brian Hanke: Variations on a Theme by Chopin

Here’s a composition I wrote two years ago, based on Chopin’s famous Prelude in C minor. As the music progresses through each variation I push the possibilities inherent in the theme to their limits. Despite the wide range of moods and textures, every single note ties back to Chopin’s original!

Welcome!

Welcome to the newest incarnation of BrianHanke.com!

I’ll be keeping this site frequently updated with all my creative projects. Readers will find:

1. Piano performance videos on YouTube and Vimeo.
2. My compositions, posted to YouTube, Vimeo and SoundCloud.
3. Technical articles about digital music creation.
4. Interview-style videos about creativity and how to play piano.
5. Sharing the process as I learn to draw and paint.
6. Links to a variety of things I find interesting.
7. Lots more!

For the time being I’ll be posting a little bit of a backlog as I get the ball rolling. Things will get more current over the next few weeks.

At the top of every page you’ll find links to my YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, and Vimeo accounts. Everything I post here will show up on Twitter and Tumblr as well, so follow me on one or both of those services to keep in the loop.

Last but not least, I’m adding a tip jar in the form of PayPal and Bitcoin donation links at the bottom of each post. If you enjoy what I do, please consider showing your support. It’s fast, easy, and appreciated!