Painting and Music

Tips for Painting with Musical Inspiration

“To draw, you must close your eyes and sing.”~Pablo Picasso

Art and music have always nicely complimented each other, but it is usually when viewing art when music is more often associated with it. And music is beneficial to the experience of viewing art. It has been said that music inspires a creative outpouring without interfering with the process and has been shown to help writers and students studying. But could it be beneficial to painting as well?

Modern painters have listed quite the variety of musical genres that get them into the painting groove. And so far, according to studies, no particular genre of music or artist has been proven to predominantly inspire creativity, but instead it’s whatever the particular artist likes. Just like an athlete needs his or her own choice in music to get pumped up and excited, or any person listening to their favorite music while performing their favorite activities, artists choose what they like to listen to in order to paint what they like to paint.

However, classical music may be better suited for evoking the imagination than contemporary songs. For instance, there are no lyrics to guide you, and no music video to demonstrate what the song is about. Apart from the chance you’ve linked the music to a play or ballet, there is no alternate media putting forth the meaning of the music. You are free to paint the scene the music shows you in your own mind, then put it down on the canvas or paper.

In any case, its worth giving it a try. Here are some steps to getting introduced to classical music while you paint.

  • Start by setting aside a chunk of time when you can work without interruption, say 3 to 4 hours.
  • Gather your canvas, your favorite paints and brushes and set up your workspace.
  • Explore the internet for classical music. It’s best to pick something you haven’t heard before. Art classes in the past have used Ravel’s Bolero or Four Seasons by Vivaldi or a Nocturne from Chopin. Do some research and it may take a little time to find something that will pique your interest, and when it does; just go with it.
  • Turn off the cell phone and computer-the only bit of technology you may need is an iPod and some speakers.
  • The rest is up to you. From your own experiments, let the music guide you and your paintbrush to create your own unique interpretation of the notes. Make it as realistic or as abstract as you want. 

This is a great activity because the possibilities are endless. You can try listening to classical and painting, then switch up the music to something more modern. Compare the art you make with different music in the background. I bet you’ll find out something interesting. You can also involve family and friends-see if they can have different interpretations of paintings made with the same sounds, processed through different minds. Its also a great activity to do with kids, since they have the best imaginations in the world!

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