New Paintings

Booth-Jones’ latest work ‘Musical Vortex’ is a large diptych painted with acrylic and oil paints on paper. Each half mirrors the other, but not quite, thus generating a tension and energy in the work. The rings tumble across the picture plane, with harmonic waves oscillating back and forth as if visualising the sounds of the motion. The imagery evokes music, flight, heartbeats, and more.

As the artist has said: “Whether a huge mural or an intimate study, I like my art to begin a story, then invite its completion. The imagery should draw you in, then let your imagination roam free.  That way you’ll never tire of the work.”

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musical vortex

Musical Vortex

Media: Acrylic and oil paints on paper 
Dimensions: 9ft x 3.8ft / 297cm x 110cm
Date: 2019 May

Vortex Opera

Media: Acrylic and oil paints on paper 
Dimensions: 5.5ft x 3.4ft / 168cm x 102cm
Date: 2020 November


In its dynamism Booth-Jones’ painting has allusions to Cubism – for example Duchamp’s ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’ and to Vorticism as exemplified by Umberto Boccioni.

Nude Descending a Staircase, No.2’ by Marcel Duchamp and ‘Dynamism of a Cyclist’ by Umberto Boccioni

Musical Vortex’ is also an exploration of ‘synaesthesia’, the relationship between colours and sounds which some people (synesthetes) can actually hear, but the rest of us can infer.

There’s a long history of scientists and artists exploring the relationship between colours and music – ‘synaesthesia’. This goes back to the Ancient Greeks who wondered if colour (chroia, what we now call timbre) of music was a physical quality that could be quantified.

16th century artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo, famous for created strange portraits from unusual objects, such as vegetables and fruits for ‘Four Seasons in One Head’, also explored the idea. He worked with a musician at the court of Rudolph II in Prague to create a new experiment that sought to show the colours that accompany music.

Isaac Newton tried to solve the problem by assuming that musical tones and colour tones have frequencies in common. According to Newton, the distribution of white light in a spectrum of colours is analogous to the musical distribution of tones in an octave. So, he identified seven discrete light entities, that he then matched to the seven discrete notes of an octave.

‘Four Seasons in One Head’ by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

The most famous painter of modern times to create works which sought to evoke music from imagery was Wassily Kandinsky in the 1920s.

Composition VI (1913) by Wassily Kandinsky

Written by Hamish Pringle