How Painting Connects With Music

How Painting Connects With Music

Most painters, professionals and beginners alike, enjoy painting while listening to music at the same time because of its relaxing sensation. Even the famous painter Pablo Picasso loved music so much and he even once said, “music and art are the guiding lights of the world.” Music and painting may have their differences from each other as one is a form of performing arts while the other one is visual arts. However, we cannot deny that they share plenty of similarities too: both are beautiful and they contribute to the beauty of this life. They make life more meaningful, joyful, and both types of arts allow us to share experiences and culture with each other. So in this article, we will be learning how painting connects with music-- to help you get inspired even more in immersing yourself in both fields.

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We have all experienced listening to music. We all have our favorite songs, artists, bands, and alike. Have you ever listened to a piece of music or gone to a concert and you immediately felt a zap of energy that you've never experienced before? Well, it’s because music changes our mood and it affects our emotions and it is mostly life-changing in so many ways. The truth about the connection between painting and music is that they share plenty of commonalities together and have close ties. When you listen to music while painting, it affects your creative process. It is inevitable that external variables such as the colors that we see, the brightness or darkness of our environment, the scent that we smell, and the sound that we hear elicit a wide range of emotions in us. As a result, the different senses that we encounter infiltrate our creativity which influence our artworks. According to research, listening to a specific style of music while painting at the same time will most likely affect the outcome of your painting. Your choice of color, the way you translate your brushstrokes, your mood while painting, and the rest of the creative process will be affected as you listen and paint all at once.

Believe it or not, the majority of painters get their inspiration from artists whereas plenty of musicians are fond of painting as well. For instance, the famous singer Don McLean, commonly known for his top hit American Pie, was a big fan of Vincent van Gogh, one of the world's most famous painters to ever exist. Accordingly, McLean’s chart-topping song 1971 Vincent was a dedication to the painter. The song was about the life of Van Gogh and a description of the themes of his painting as well as the personal life and afflictions of the painter. The handwritten version of the lyrics of this song was even auctioned for $1.5 million dollars. The richness of paintings and the creativity of its makers clearly inspire musicians and vice versa.

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How Similar is Painting to Music?

The different splashes of colors that we see in paintings is the equivalent of the sounds of vocals and instruments that we hear in music. While some people do not see how painting connects with music as well as the similarities of the two with each other, taking a closer look will give us reasons why both art forms are connected and similar. For one, both painters and musicians can be referred to as artists as they share one main thing in common: they create art to add beauty in this world and to somewhat diminish human suffering by reminding us that there are many joyful things in life. 

An artist can convey the process of producing mood and emotions in artworks by using a variety of colors in a specific palette chosen by the artist. There are numerous methods to generate mood in visual art, and likewise goes the same in music. Moreover, the choice of colors is arguably the most important tool that an artist utilizes to create a certain atmosphere because it is the most important element in creating a painting. Without colors, painting cannot exist.  The same is true for musicians when selecting instruments for their musical "palette."  A piece of music with a lot of brass instruments might indicate a stronger sense of mood, meanwhile, a musical piece with a lot of woodwind instruments can suggest a softer, more delicate sense of feelings and emotions.

Another similarity of music and painting is that both forms of art are always changing. Both art forms have different genres where it goes in and out from the trend as years go by. 

Wassily Kandinksy: A Painter of Vision and Sound

To better understand how painting connects with music, let’s take a look at Russian abstract artist Wassily Kandinksy who is known for his artistic compositions that are inspired from music. Since most of his artworks are referenced from music, the titles are even named based on musical pieces such as Composition VII (1913), Composition 8 (1923), and Improvisation 9 (1910). 

If you try looking at his artworks, you will notice that most of his paintings are created as if they are  an impulse to music. He connected the conditions of sounds with his art. Moreover, his artworks are often described as a visual translation of music, as if the sounds had been transformed into colors. Thus, his paintings were a mirror of music: he produced an emotional symphony of colors that are harmonic, conceptual, and mystical.

Composition 8, c. 1923


Understanding how painting connects with music can help you elicit powerful emotional responses and energy which might aid you during your creative process. Music may be quite helpful in directing artistic objectives through brush strokes and choosing colors for palettes.

As a challenge, we encourage you to listen to music as you paint and see how your creativity reacts to it. Try creating different playlists each with different genres that feature different tempos, instruments, vocals, and so forth. And observe how it reacts to how fast you move your brushes, how it affects your colors, and create a story on your canvas that looks like a symphony of not just harmonious colors, but also music. 

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