Graphing Emotion: Fictionist’s New Music

If you are reading this on my blog page, you might have seen the masthead which reads “Gardner Art and Stuff”. I do a lot of posting about my own art, illustration and photography. Well here’s one of the occasional “and Stuff” articles.


There’s a local band called Fictionist that has been one of my favorites for quite some time. I first saw them at the BYU Battle of the Bands in 2007 and again at a show in spring of 2008 before I left on an LDS mission to Ukraine for two years. When I got home, they were still playing and the music had only improved. I’ve been following them ever since and have tried to make it to any show they play in Utah Valley. They signed to Atlantic Records in late 2011 and since the EP they released that year, I’ve been waiting for new music. Finally, after breaking with Atlantic, they have a new album scheduled for release on October 7.


I’m excited—after 3 years of waiting there’s a new Fictionist album, but, I’m nervous. Leading up to the album release they’ve put out two new songs with music videos. The most recent “Lock and Key” lacked the dynamic energy and emotion that has attracted me over the years. To illustrate  the difference, I’ve tried to create little graphs showing what I perceive to be the level of emotion and overall energy throughout “Lock and Key” and also “Great Escape”, one of my favorites from the pre-Atlantic era. I know it is difficult to be too scientific about what makes music appealing. If you try too hard at that, I think you end up with Disney Channel stars… but, this is my attempt to quantify the intensity of music (this combines volume, rhythm and tempo etc.) and the level of my emotional response.

Graph comparing intensity of music and authors emotional response of two Fictionist songs. by Jameson Gardner Art

Please forgive any inconsistencies in timing—these are transcribed from little graphs I drew by hand while listening to the songs. Obviously this is just my personal take on these tracks. Different people respond to different things. I’m just hoping that Fictionist is saving their best for the album release, because I wasn’t really touched by Lock & Key. As one of my childhood heroes Levar Burton always used to say, though, ” you don’t have to take my word for it”. Check it out for yourself. Just be sure to give it at least one listen with your eyes closed and no distractions.

If you want to compare to some other sweet Fictionist tunes, I’d recommend Great Escape, Still Reaching, or Human Wings for a start. You can click those links to Youtube, or  find them on the iTunes store.

Don’t hesitate to visit either.

4th of July Fireworks and Stadium of Fire Celebration

One of my photos from Provo's stadium of fire (featuring Carly Rae Jepsen and Kelly Clarkson) fireworks display.

Happy Independence Day! I enjoyed this year’s revelry of independence in the United States.  I believe in this country, even if I don’t believe in all of its politicians.

We slept on the street last night to save a spot for the Provo Feedom Festival Grand Parade and, tonight,  climbed a hill near our apartment to watch everyone in the valley celebrating their right to bear fireworks.  We also had a good view of the Stadium of Fire display and caught a few strains of Kelly Clarkson and Carly Rae Jepsen wafting into the evening. These are a few of the shots I got of the stadium fireworks.

One of my photos from Provo's stadium of fire (featuring Carly Rae Jepsen and Kelly Clarkson) fireworks display. One of my photos from Provo's stadium of fire (featuring Carly Rae Jepsen and Kelly Clarkson) fireworks display.

The Firebird


This is my take on the Firebird. Of course, when most people say “the Firebird”, they mean Stravinsky’s ballet. If they don’t mean Stravinksy’s ballet, they probably mean “I have heard of the Firebird but I don’t really know what it is or how its story goes.”

The funny thing is, there really isn’t just one story of the firebird and the ballet for which Stravinsky wrote music, draws elements from various tales, but faithfully follows none. In short, the firebird is more of a recurring character in various Russian folk-tales. In fact the firebird usually seems to take an “and the” sort of role.  My illustration could be entitled: “Princess Vasilisa and the Firebird”.

On this image I went straight from my sketch/drawing to digital, but I tried to color it in a way that would feel like it is still made of something, like you wouldn’t be surprised if it was on a sheet of traditional vellum.

I was hoping to channel a little bit of Arthur Rackham, I don’t know successful I was at that, but I hope you like it.


Chasing Ice


The story I am illustrating for my BFA project takes place in the arctic. I was researching arctic icebergs, flows, and glaciers and came across a documentary called “Chasing Ice”. In short, it is about photographer James Balog’s project to document receding glaciers. It show’s indisputable proof of our changing climate and raises concerns about the dire consequences of such a change.  In addition to that, it is also an engaging story of how the project came about and was executed.


The film is full of beautiful photography and time lapse. I recommend watching it if only for the stunning visuals. However, I was also touched by what may be the last fleeting glimpse of an incredible part of our earth’s history.

The images in this post are from the film.  I hope Mr. Balog and the producers of “Chasing Ice” won’t mind my showing them here.  The film is available for streaming on Netflix and you can watch a trailer or find out more at

I also loved the soundtrack, thanks J. Ralph.