How Listening to Music Improves Your Painting Skills

How Listening to Music Improves Your Painting Skills

Music, particularly loud genres, are often thought of as a distraction in calming and relaxing activities such as painting. However, several research studies have claimed that painting and music have an amazing connection that can improve a person’s creative skills during the painting process. Our artistic process is influenced by the surroundings we are in. Different  lighting, energy feel, various odors, and various kinds of music elicit distinct sentiments in us, and these sensations influence our concepts and ideas. The sensory effects that listening to music provides affects our painting process. The way you choose your color palette, move your brushes, and place every artistic element in your painting are affected as you listen to music and it’s also dependent on the musical genre you’re listening to. With that, how can listening to music improve your painting skills? Is there a connection between music and painting? Find out the answers to these questions in this article to give you an idea how these two separate art fields are related to each other. Keep on reading to learn more!

The idea that there is a relationship between music and visual arts has been demonstrated by artists who utilize music to explore their creativity for decades. As early as the 1900s, many artists ascribed their ability to convey how they feel and experience music on their paintings. It is no secret that painting and music are related to each other. If you look closely at album arts, you will notice that most albums have paintings as their album cover. Take classic music for example; it’s highly inspired by Renaissance artworks so most vinyl record covers are Renaissance paintings. Classical music is not the only one that has this attribute because you can also see paintings in rock, metal, and pop albums. Moreover, there are countless songs that are references to paintings. For example, David Bowie’s song about Andy Warhol, Don McLean’s Vincent, and Wings’ Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me). On the other hand, music influenced plenty of paintings, too. Caravaggio’s The Musicians, Henri Matisse’s The Piano Lesson, and Wassily Kandinsky’s Composition 8 are some of the known paintings that have music as the art’s subject.

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Painting and Music: How Similar Are They?

Just like painting, music is formed from the depths of one's inner soul, and the best method to communicate this is through metaphors and analogies. Both painting and music are art forms in their respective fields. Painting belongs to visual art while music belongs to performing arts. Different elements of art such as emphasis, pattern, rhythm, and balance are all concepts shared by painting and music. It instructs you on how to move to the beat. Rhythm has a comparable effect on art. When an artist employs rhythm effectively, your eyes will dance from one spot in the artwork to another. It is how the artist wants you to perceive their artwork. Similarly, each tone or musical theme has a certain weight that contributes to the balance of a song. The same approach is used by the painter to bring form and balance to the image. 

Music Suggestions to Boost Your Creativity

Before we discuss the benefits of listening to music when painting, we will also be providing some music suggestions that may give you a creative boost. 

Classical music
Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67
Frédéric Chopin - Nocturne in B-flat minor, Op. 9, No. 1
Richard Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 6
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Divertimento in D major, K. 136
George Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue

Rock music:
Fleetwood Mac - Dreams
The Rolling Stones - Paint it black
Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
Jimi Hendrix - All Along the Watchtower
Cream - Sunshine of Your Love

Pop music:
A-Ha - Take on Me
Elton John - Your Song
No Doubt - Don't Speak
Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
Don McLean - American Pie
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean

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Why Listening to Music Improves Your Painting Skills

Music influences your creative choices:

Music has had a huge effect on the aesthetic development of visual art during the last 100 years. It has provided energy and ideas for artists who desire to develop a pure art form that provides a sensory experience like no other. In creative expression, music has sometimes been utilized as a metaphor or analogy. Artists have discovered innovative ways in their art-making approach by listening to music and translating their experience in a vivid visual art form. By listening to music during the creative process of painting, it creates a feeling of synesthesia or blending of one’s senses— when they hear noises, they see shapes, colors, etc. Artists are enabling music to have a direct influence on what they paint and how they paint it. Colors are known to be represented by certain noises and instruments. For instance, the pace of the music can also affect the movement of your brushwork.

How listening to music improves your creativity:

There is a quote from essayist Walter Palter that says, “all art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.” Regardless of your music taste, any type of music that you listen to can affect the flow of your imagination. Some painters love to paint to the riffs of the electric guitar, whilst some need the pounding beats of dance music to select the best hues for their color palette. Others claim that classical music or country music inspire their work. The harmony, beats, and rhythm creates a story in your brain which prompts you to create something and do things differently, especially in artworks. A rapid tempo will inspire quick mark making, whereas a moderate tempo may result in mellow color selections. The music will choreograph your brushes and generate an image to the canvas to portray what you felt while listening to it. You may use musical lyrics to create a story in your head which can be painted on your canvas.   

Final Words

Lack of inspiration is normal: from time to time, every artist struggles to create new ideas for their artwork. With this, we encourage artists who face a similar situation to create a playlist of music that they love which inspires them to create. With the evocative power that music brings to our emotions, we make varied creative decisions depending on what music we are listening to. It helps us create stories, select color palettes, and have fun while painting. Music helps  us tap into our subconscious mind and explore our intuition that creates a visual image on the canvas. 

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