Painting Music: Artist with Synesthesia Can ‘See’ Music, Turns Famous Songs Into Stunning Art

Melissa McCracken is an artist who experiences the world a little differently than most. She has a rare neurological condition called synesthesia which allows her to ‘see’ whatever music she listens to. Synesthesia occurs when the neural pathways in the brain that signal certain sensory messages become linked to other pathways.

It is not known exactly what causes this link to occur.

In some cases, people who have synesthesia say they can taste color, or see or feel sounds.

McCracken says that she sees music as colors and images when she hears them, which inspires her art.

The Missouri-based artist will sit down to listen to a song, and then uses acrylic paints to show how each song ‘looks’ to her.

On her website McCracken explains:

“Until I was 15, I thought everyone constantly saw colors. Colors in books, colors in math formulas, colors at concerts. But when I finally asked my brother which color the letter C was (canary yellow, by the way) I realized my mind wasn’t quite as normal as I had thought.”

She goes on to say that her brain is just wired to let her experience life a little differently from others, but says that the “most wonderful ‘brain malfunction’ of all” is her ability to see the music she hears.

Synesthesia, she says, isn’t distracting—it adds vibrancy to her world.

Check out the slideshow above to see how several famous songs have been interpreted by McCracken, and experienced by her synesthesia. Maybe pull up some of the songs and play them while you view her talented work.

You can see more of her work and buy prints on her website and Etsy page, and keep up to date on her Facebook.