What do You Listen to While You Work?

As I’ve mentioned in past articles, my dad is an artist. When I was growing up, dad didn’t go off to work like most other kids’ dads, instead he went into the studio every day to paint. I remember dad working long hours in the studio, and you could always count on there being something playing on the radio while he was painting.

Dad has eclectic listening habits, so you might hear anything from the local classical music station, rock ‘n roll, country music, talk shows (of every variety, including some pretty strange stuff at night on the AM dial), National Public Radio or something from his record collection. I can’t even begin to imagine him at work without some sort of audio playing.

I suppose it was inevitable that I would pick up some of the habit. I love a wide variety of music thanks to the range of genres I was introduced to when I hung out in dad’s studio. I especially love classical music and am a big supporter of public classical radio, and I know this is a direct result of listening to the classical music stations in both Idaho, where we lived until I was thirteen, and summered after that, and Arizona, where we began spending the winters in 1987.

It’s almost hard for me to concentrate without music, and I know this is true of many artists. It’s a bit different for me than for an artist because music is really only in the background in the gallery.  When I’m working in my office, however, I often have on headphones. Because I’m typically working on advertising, crunching numbers or writing, I can’t listen to music or other audio that demands attention. News and talk are out, and anything that is highly focused on vocal performance are mostly banned because they slow me down and distract. Instead I listen to classical music or instrumental movie soundtracks. I particularly love Bach, Beethoven and Handel, and scores by Hans Zimmer, Trent Reznor and Philip Glass.

Listening to music helps me maintain my focus on the task at hand, preventing my mind from wandering, while at the same time blocking out potential distractions.

Which leads me to today’s question: What do you listen to while you are in the studio? What have you found to be the most effective audio to accompany your working habits? Are there some things you can’t listen to while working? Share your strategy and a sample of your playlist in the comments below.

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113 Comments

  1. Oh good question! I am a lot like your dad. I have learned different types of music do affect my strokes so I have to be careful.

    When I am starting my paintings and trying to get lots of color and texture on quickly, the energy in Modetn Indie is what I love

    In the middle when I am working to find my place anything goes. From Christian, to country, to rock and roll. Once in a while I even put on an old Disney movie like the “Ugly Dachshund “. This seems to work in tune to what emotion of the painting is needing

    At the end of the paintings I have to be so very careful. I need very calm soothing music that does not add a lot of energy to the needs of a steady hand. I.e. meditation also music backgrounds , sounds of outdoors, or nothing.

    The music makes all the difference. 🎶

  2. Hi Jason, I listen to books on tape. Novels, Mysteries, biographies, adventures, all kinds of stories. I work very long hours, but the time speeds by, and I am able to focus really well. I paint standing up, so I move around while I am painting, and I change the cd every so often, so I keep moving.
    I do a daily workout that takes one and one half hours. I use this time to watch the news.
    Recently, My artwork was accepted into the Colorado Governors Art Show. It will be on display at the Loveland Museum in Loveland, CO til mid June.
    I am 75 years old, and I work at my art 3-5 hours a day. 5 days a week.
    I live in Fort Collins, Colorado, so I hike once a week in the mountains near my home with my 80 year old husband. We are very fit.
    Best wishes, Jacquie Vaux
    http://www.jacquievauxart.com

    1. Hi Jacquie, just checked out your web site and really like your style. Very impressed also with your web site. I am frustrated with mine and looking for a new designer to create something fresh. Do you mind sharing who created yours? Thanks
      http://www.drizzle art.com

  3. Since I paint primarily Grand Canyon and southwestern landscapes I listen almost exclusively to Native American music to put my head in the right place. Favorites are Scott August, Ah-ni-mah, John Huling, and some Carlos Nakai. I also like world music genre, especially Jesse Cook. No music with words, however; words pull me right out of my right brain and into the left.

  4. Most of the time I actually prefer not listening to anything but lately, I find that I am listening to books on tape or podcasts so I can learn something or do my favorite thing which is to read but still get something done. Not sure if it slows me down in my production time though when I listen to those things. I think it may actually take me out of my zone because I am not paying full attention. Usually I listen to those things when I am on site painting a faux finish or something repetitious to alleviate the monotony.

  5. I listen to podcasts like the Savvy Painter (https://savvypainter.com/) and, because I live in Canada, CBC radio which is very diverse in its content. Actively listening to something takes my brain “out of the way” of my painting, like operating on two separated channels (listening and painting) without one interrupting the other.

  6. I create a lot of portraits of musicians and rock stars, so I tend to play their music when I’m working on their portrait.
    Currently working on James Hetfield and listening to the last few Metallica albums.
    Just completed a portrait of Myles Kennedy, so listened to Alter Bridge, the Mayfield Four, and the last three Slash solo albums.
    Also produced portraits of Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighers and Nirvana, Slash from Guns ‘n’ Roses, Debbie Harry of Blondie, Amy Winehouse, Kate Bush, Jim Morrison of the Doors, Eddy Vedder of Pearl Jam, Lemmy from Motorhead, Joe Strummer of the Clash, Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. And have started working on a portrait of Chris Cornell from Soundgarden and Audioslave, and also got plans to create portraits of David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Angus Young of AC/DC, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Sheryl Crow and many, many more! Oh, and I also do commissions, if anyone wants an album cover size portrait of their favourite rock star!🤘

  7. sometimes it is too noisy in my shop to really listen. So, it is often just background music, but always activating the brain. I have pandora piped in. Primarily Kaleo, Bonamassa and such. At age 75 I need all the stimulation I can get.

  8. I also have a variety of favorites, much of which is instrumental and classical. However, I have recently fell in love with Nora Jones and have recently rediscovered the Beach Boys. When I was painting a series on trees I listened to the Eagles “Long Road Out of Eden”. It seemed to have the right vibe for that subject. I’ve often wondered if the type of music had any bearing on the resulting painting since my work is so improvisational. I also find that the music is a nice distraction that keeps me from over thinking things.

  9. I almost always listen to Jazz radio online. Here in Toronto Canada we have one of the only all Jazz radio stations in North America. I find that it entertains without being distracting. And of course, I love Jazz. When I occasionally get tired of Jazz, I’ll switch to country where I can sing along with a tune and get more energized. This only lasts for fifteen minutes or so, then back to Jazz!!
    Jazz FM 91.1 can be heard online all over the world.
    http://www.jazz.fm/

    1. Catherine, there are a LOT of jazz radio stations in North America. If you get tired of that one station, cruise around and find another. 88.3 fm is a kind of universal jazz bandwidth.

  10. A little talk radio (I love Michael Savage’s authentic Brooklyn accent,) NPR, … and when I’m painting portraits, an eclectic mix from LeoKottke to Hall and Oates and classical (especially Russians) and the MET on NPR on Saturdays… but when it comes to the big canvas, and expecially abstracts, IT’S LADY GAGA GREATEST HITS VOL II and HARD ROCK ALL THE WAY. The neighbors in the building where I have my studio are very tolerant

  11. I always listen to music while I work. My headphones and instrumental music kept me focused and productive when I worked in cubicle-land – saved my life. Now that I can control my environment, I still feel more focused with music filling the room. My theory is that it keeps the noisy part of my brain occupied so that the creative part can concentrate. I usually couldn’t even tell you what tune I just heard. I listen to non-commercial internet radio, usually jazz, sometimes classical, but often I’ll just put Pandora in shuffle mode and see what comes up.

  12. I have very eclectic tastes as well. If I’m cleaning or painting nearly anything goes (although I do tend to favor folk, bluegrass, and classic rock – think 60s and 70s). If I’m working on the business side of things or doing something that requires particular focus I tend to go for non-vocal music (such as string quartets), but will occasionally just play white noise to drown out distractions.

  13. As an “emerging” artist, I am still learning how to produce better (and better) art. Because I sculpt stone, half the time it is too noisy in my studio to hear anything with my ear plugs in, but the other half the time, I had public radio on in order to do “two things at once”: produce art and learn about my world.
    Bad choice. At my current level of creativity, I realize if there is something else interesting going on when I am doing anything creative, I fail to be at my best.

  14. Audiobooks work for me in every situation, but if the book is somehow related to the artwork, it’s all that much better. When I was painting murals, I remember working on a western theme that room while I listened to Lonesome Dove. It was a wonderful experience. Now working on pastels in my home studio, I’ve been painting goats and animals, and listening to the call of the wild.

  15. I have a variety of mixed playlists and will often play one of my favourite artists and hit the “radio”mix . I like to listen to historical documentaries on YouTube. I don’t really end up watching the show; just listen to the spoken drama. Keeps me entertained for hours on end and helps me to focus! Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada

  16. I know I am unusual…Music is distracting to me when painting. It seems to take over and I can’t think. Even more odd, I can have TV or talk radio on and not notice it. But I live in the woods and usually have complete quiet…
    I have learned to listen to the painting…which took me years to comprehend!

    1. You’re not alone; I prefer to work in silence, too. I can take or leave music in the background — which is essential in a shared studio space like mine! — but I’ve never found that it adds anything to the creative process for me.

      1. I like the silence. In the figure drawing group I go to they play music. Some of it I find very distracting, like the ballads. It is almost like I can’t listen to 2 stories, the drawing and the music story. Some of the other music is ok, but sometimes I have to block it out. I have thought I should be playing some music while I paint in my studio and see how that goes, but actually I like the quiet. I guess I have enough activity and noise around me in my part-time job that I need this quiet time. When painting outside I love the nature sounds best!

    2. I also live out in the woods and I prefer a quiet environment. I the summer I open the windows to hear nature.

  17. I make up my own Pandora stations, all different kinds of music. I usually start out listening to classic rock, indie, jazz, blues, classical, but when the painting gets going I only occasionally register what’s playing – I’m “in the zone” and pretty oblivious. I don’t think I could listen to anyone talking while I paint. But if I’m cleaning the studio or framing – then it’s a podcast like Fresh Air or Car Talk.

  18. Tibetan singing bowls. Classical music, especially Mozart or Chopin. Mellow bossa nova.
    Indie pop. Public radio news and interview shows. Nothing at all: sometimes absolute quiet is best.

  19. Jazz, mostly. My favorite areas are Gypsy, French, and traditional American. Django Reinhardt, Edith Piaf, the big bands of Chick Webb, Ellington, Casa Loma Orchestra, etc. But I also love Miles Davis, Jeff Beck, and the electronic abstract music of today’s crowd. I like a sound that helps me move my body while I’m painting. I always stand while working.

    1. HI Allen. My tastes run with yours. I love working to Miles, because of his precise placement of notes. My Dad was a jazz musician & my Mom is an aficionado, so I grew up with the music. …. Always admired the collective creativity of musicians, so several years ago I reached out to musicians open to working with a visual artist. We developed interdisciplinary improvisation. When we really connect, it is a true jazz experience. …… In the studio I choose music which fits/supports the subject matter. I have worked with Charles Lloyd, Coltrane.

  20. In the early morning when I’m planning out my day and week, I am listening to “impressionistic classical” (Ravel, Satie, Phillip Glass, et. al). Mid morning, I step it up with jazz (Miles Davis, Jimmy Smith, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, et.al) Early afternoon, I step it up further with Surf (the Mermen), Trip-Hop (Thievery Corporation), and Trance (Ocean Lab, Deadmau5, etc). Evenings I pull out all the stops with the Grateful Dead, Paladins, Mingus, and Zappa.
    Thanks to Pandora, I’m no longer spending a ton of money on CD’s!

  21. I listen mostly to classical musi in the background, periodically a book on tape. I have private students in my home and I have classical music on for them – and ME! Ginny Abblett

  22. Being trained by Russian artists with an emphasis on detail – I had to switch to hard-beat, fast moving new country music. It’s the only musical style that keeps my energy up, and my focus on distant landscapes that are devoid of close up detail – as I want the mood and eye to go to the distant horizon.

  23. Great question, Jason, and like so many others, I listen to many types of music. The thought of sitting in my paint area without reasonably quiet background music is truly ‘unthinkable’ ! I grew up with the light operetta’s, classical and such, (Jeanette MacDonald is still my personal heroine)! I also love the great cathedral choirs of, eg,
    the Anglican church, the organ, Bach, Handel etc. I also love to put on my ‘nature’ CD’s and listen to bird song, thunderstorms, water sounds, wolves, etc. I find, too, that I paint and concentrate better when the weather is stormy, wet, windy, etc. Not because I want to go outside if it’s sunny, it’s just a funny ‘inside- the- studio-coziness’ that is conducive to painting. Artist’s are funny !

  24. What I listen to varies with the stage the work is at and what the tasks are. As the time spent engaging with the ‘business of art’ increases, the range I listen to changes; listen to business news, sound [only] of old classic 1950’s era film, Mozart, Chopin or SiriusXM Underground Garage.

  25. …..I love listening to Bossa Nova, so smoooooth it makes me enter my creative painting world and calms my ADS syndromed brain….also, the Haitian Troubadours evoke intense colors and smells and emotions and help me choose spontaneously which colors to put on my canvas, board, paper or whatever…..and the only radio station I love to listen to while working is COSMO radio, an online station based in Germany, presenting a wild and diverse selection of world music…..but then also…..silence in between….at least for a while…….

  26. Good subject Jason, I am very similar to your dad and find myself into different types of music. Sometimes searching thru my eclectic collection to find something that grabs me. I gravitate to the 70-s 80s mix, love me some Rolling Stones to pump the blood. I have a great outdoor studio here in Laguna Beach in the Canyon and can pump the tunes rather loud. I also find that music helps with the creative process and drowns out the other voices in my head.

  27. I listen to music that has a good rhythm and is upbeat (contemporary or instrumental mostly) especially when starting a painting in my studio. I do not need music when I am contemplating and when painting outdoors. I like to hear nature and the quiet most of the time. And sometimes even talking can help me paint. Favourite music lately has been by locals Campbell and Green, along with Adele, and Cold Play and some Mediterranean Jazz.

  28. I need quiet when I’m in the studio painting. There’s a continuous dialog running through my head about the artwork in progress and it just doesn’t happen with any type of TV or musical distraction. I know I sound strange but I really need to fully concentrate. For some reason, all the noise in the world doesn’t bother me when I’m outside plein air painting.

    1. I want quiet too….. and I sometimes work on articles I have to write at the same time… based upon the dialogue in my head as I paint. LOL….

  29. I listen to an Italian pianist, Ludovico Einaudi, almost exclusively. His music is so incredibly beautiful, and puts me in a calm, focused mood, feeling like the world truly is a beautiful place. If Ludovico isn’t playing, then the studio is mostly quiet.

  30. My favorite is a wonderful “who dun it”mystery from PBS. I can start the movie and let my subconscious take over until I need to engage which happens continually. When that happens I loose track of the movie and have to rewind or back track. My the end of the day I have listened and listened until I have figured out who did the crime and my painting is well on its way.

  31. Here in Phoenix, Arizona, the 6th largest city in the US, we don’t have an easy listening radio station. We don’t have a smooth jazz station. You have your choice of hard rock, harder rock, oldies rock, talk, shock jock talk, news, C and W, and classical. I tune my phone to Pandora and bring up quiet jazz guitar. That’s the only thing I can stand to listen to while sculpting.

  32. A wide range of music on Amazon Music and a lot of esoteric and conspiracy stuff on the internet eg YouTube ( though they’re heavily censoring it now – strongly suggesting that the conspiracy theorists are onto something…!)

  33. I find music too distracting to listen to while I’m painting. (My hypothesis is that it uses the same side of the brain as painting does.) I listen to audio books, NPR, podcasts or news programs. I find it easy to mentally block these out if I have a painting problem that needs critical thinking or long pondering.

  34. Early morning painting is done in quiet, just the birds. But late morning, afternoon and evening work is Neil Young, Beth Hart, Tom Petty, Roseanne Cash, The Savvy Painter podcasts, This American Life, Father Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation podcasts. I also talk to friends on my phone on speaker while i paint.

  35. When I paint, I leave the tv on in the other room… that is it. It gives me a sense of company but no distraction. However, when I sew, I like opera. Go figure.

  36. I scanned the replies to not that one person said they “need quiet” because there’s enough dialogue going on in their brain already.
    My reason for mostly quiet is that as a person with both visual art and music in my tool box, I can’t not listen intently to music. It’s strange but when there’s music on- I am engaged. It might be music I’ve heard a hundred times before and it’s still an active engagement. So- if I’m at visual work, the music is off.
    the only time there might be music is if the visual work is about the particular music and then I need to have it and be immersed in it.
    There was one notable time when this was necessary. I wore out an LP of Bach’s “Die Künst der Fuge” because I was making woven transcriptions of each fugue. Even now, I go back to the piece on occasion, but it is an intense listening time and seemed in retrospect to match the intensity of the loom work. (I’m just now in the process of building a website. The project was completed in 1985 and has taken until now to be able to get decent and workable photographs.)
    Mostly no music, but Jason and I have a similar composer list to which I add Mahler, Bruckner, Poulenc Reich, Mellits (I know Marc), the 70s bands like Chicago, ELP, YES, Focus, etc. Jazz takes too much concentration.

  37. I work in silence but can hear nature outside.
    I am by nature a contemplative person but I do get inspiration from certain music. My Creation series was inspired by Hayden’s Creation. Mostly I have the music of Bach in my mind as I paint. Also my Psalm series is built around the particular Psalm which is inspiring me at the time. However I am so focused sound really has no part in my studio – I block all sounds out.

  38. Sometimes I just prefer quiet. Then I can hear the birds outside or the wind chimes. But if there is other noise around such as leaf blowers etc I put on noise canceling headphones and listen to a random play of music on my iPod. I’m still a big fan of iPods!

  39. Used to be I always played a Classical radio station which played whole works (rather than just one movement of a piece). Now, silence.
    Once in a while I need to begin with a classical recording. I never hear the end….. or notice the following silence. I also do not notice the clock continuing its motion. Then after several hours lost in color and shapes, I discover that I am really hungry or really tired.

  40. I actually love listening to bird songs, and find it takes me to the right place for a meditative state when I paint.
    I also love the savvy painter podcasts if I’m doing grunt work in the studio, like guessing or framing.

  41. Well, the title of my solo show opening tomorrow night is a giveaway – “The Colors of Jazz.” While I like many kinds of music, jazz always does it for me – the cooler, the better. No elevator music, please. Since I’m also an old hippie, I sometimes throw on some James Taylor or Blood, Sweat & Tears. The shift from writing to painting has also been a shift from silence (when writing) to music, music, music (when painting)…Even at art school, it was clear that most artists like some sound when working and like a lot of others here, I move when I paint, sometimes even dance. Jazz it is!

  42. I usually don’t. Processing the music is usually to distracting (at least for representational work), or else I focus so completely on what I’m doing that I tune it out anyway. (though if I’m doing an abstract, I’ll often have music playing–even if it’s only in my head.)

  43. I love listening to classical, especially piano like Franz List and Fredrick Chopin. When I mix it up, it’s usually soft jazz, or Enya/Narada type music. If I get too involved in lyrics, I can find it to be a distraction. All depends on whether it’s part of the painting that demands intense concentration, or more mindless elements.
    Linda Shobe,
    Fort Worth

  44. Silence.
    I know artists who drag multitasking into the studio and listen to podcasts, audio books, and talk radio while trying to paint. Last I read any research on multitasking, the conclusion was, none can be done well or absorbed to any depth. You’re either into audio or visual mode and I can’t fathom how people do both. Different areas of the brain are activated depending on the stimulation. We need more distraction?
    I have to be fully engaged. I find if my mind isn’t actively solving a composition problem I am dealing with value differences or shapes on a subconscious level. Regardless, all those elements concern the canvas in front of me and nothing else. We used to call it concentration. 🙂
    Music … maybe, as long as you can’t sing the lyrics or the tune is so familiar you hum or sing along. How many of you give demos and have trouble talking while painting? I can’t … different areas of the brain.
    Opera is transcending, orchestra and choir performances uplifting, exciting … there is a point when your mind leaves your work and focuses on the music.

  45. I usually listen to books on my head phones or lectures. I like learning while I am blowing glass. They are usually some type of motivational books. Sometimes music or sometimes I will put a movie on that I have already seen a bunch of times (so that it is no big deal if I miss part because I already know what is happening) but that is only less than 5% if the time.

  46. I absolutely listen to music – classic, pop, jazz, country whatever is my mood. Believe it or not it breaks the ice, so to speak, in keeping me from getting too uptight in what I’m trying to do and ultimately accomplish.

  47. I have a small flat screen TV in my studio on a table behind me. I either play New York black gospel music from a DVD or I play inspirational DVDs of movies that have a great positive message. I seem to need some chatter or music in the background. I think I know word for word some of the dialogs in the movies.

  48. I listen to audiobooks. The funny thing about this is that sometimes I can look at one of my artworks and a story flashes through my mind. Not my own story, but the one I was listening to when I painted it. Since I love reading this allows me to link my memories of books with my memories of making art. Both I love, so I don’t mind the unusual connection.

  49. Depends on what I’m painting. Mostly I like Vivaldi or similar classical music. But I’m currently working on retro paintings (30’s-40’s) and I listen to music from that period. Keeps me in that M.O.

  50. When I need to concentrate on a detailed painting, I listen to instrumental music with no vocals – either classical or some instrumental station on Pandora. If I’m out working on a mural a decorative painting project, I find that songs I can kind of sing along to helps the time to pass more easily. I usually have music on whenever I need to be creative…

  51. When it’s quiet enough, I listen to CBC radio on my Bose; whatever’s on. As a stone sculptor, though, I mainly listen to the sounds of pneumatic hammers, grinders, etc. In summer when I can work outside, I listen to wildlife. Some days I get to listen to wolves howling. This time of year at night, the frogs are very, very loud.

  52. I’ve always been an avid music collector. I literally have tens of thousands of songs that I consider good or better in my archives. Having my favorites on while I work helps greatly. My taste includes rock from all periods, reggae and dub, ambient electronic, and selected pieces from other genres. One of my favorite obscure subgenres within rock is shoegaze.

  53. I too scanned the replies and am amazed that so many people listen to music with words and not one person listed Electra or Electric as their music choice. It is so primal, so full of energy, decisive and never ever any words to steal your thoughts or focus. I don’t want to go on someone else’s journey, I want to go on the journey that is unfolding in my work. I listen to Tron, Cell Dweller, The Piano Guys, Jingle Punks, Two Cellos, Kiku Matsui and best of all Hum. Pandora lets you build your own list. Anything with a strong beat and kettle drums as well as opera (so much passion) and jazz. The music reflects my painting style, high energy, bold strokes and lots of color.

  54. I listen to a variety of music when I paint. Sometimes it’s the local rock station, sometimes from my collection. My favourites include Led Zeppelin, Supertramp, Muse, Alice in Chains, Evanescence, Opeth, Cake, The Tea Party, Sinead O’Connor, Barenaked Ladies, The Tragically Hip, Animals as Leaders, Simon and Garfunkel, System of a Down, Jem, Half Moon Run,… the list goes on. NO country though, unless you include John Denver and some Bluegrass music. I am all over the place, sort of like my art! I also listen to various audio books and to Sam Harris podcasts.

  55. I listen to a wide variety depending on my mood or the subject I am painting. I have dome some powerful landscapes to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture complete with cannons!

  56. For years I was hooked on our local public radio that played the best variety of music, folk, jazz, classical, a mix of 1970s music, old country music, bluegrass, new music. I was really stimulated and creative, making art all the time. My brain had so many ideas, and I eagerly kept myself busy exploring, working out the processes and completing each idea. My art grew tremendously, I was happy that I developed a style that I felt I could call mine. And my work was selling in the galleries. Then our public radio decided to change to an all talk radio station. When the change happened I was at a loss because my stimulation to create had dramatically changed. All of a sudden my artwork felt like work. I had to rethink my creative process and for about a year I felt lost. But my creativeness has returned, thanks to a classical radio station, cds and eventually discovering serius fm, and pandora. Pshoo, wipe brow!

  57. Glad you asked this question! I listen primarily to classical music because it is the universal language. It expresses all the human emotions in a profound way, and allows those emotions to be transformed by the artist into visual translations that can speak to the human spirit. Favorite composer: Beethoven! His Symphony # 9 is renowned worldwide as the anthem call to mankind to join in the ecstasy of God-given love for each other, because we are all brothers. Also, THE Violin Concerto, considered by many professional musicians to be the most perfect piece of music ever written, takes us through every emotion man experiences, from melancholy to yearning, to enlightenment, to wild joy! Other great composers I paint to: Mozart, Handel, Bach, Respighi, Carl Orff, Gustav Holst and Dvorak. Occasionally, Gregorian Chant, Tuvan throat singing, and very old folk music from native peoples bring out the primitive stirrings that free me to paint what the subject inspires me to do. Writing this answer has prompted me to get busy, put on a CD and finish the latest moody landscape!

  58. Depends on the piece I’m working on. I have meditation mixes that I burn onto CDs, a spotify playlist, RadioLab and other podcasts, some NPR shows, often the late-night BBC. Sometimes silence.

  59. I like many types of music, and I need to have it playing when painting. I often am literally dancing while painting and singing (badly). I love/need the energy music adds to the process. I often say my paintbrush is dancing on the canvas. Some of my favorite paintings have been painted to Rascal Flats. Other favorites are Huey Lewis, Michael MacDonald, Eagles, Adele, Alabama, John Mayer, Corrine Bailey Ray, Beatles, Bread, John Ford Cooley and England Dan,Brent Young.

  60. Painting and Music go together since both are part of Art.
    Light, classical or instrumental music gives soothing effect and concentration is maintained. Even brushstrokes sometimes go along with the rhythm, faster or slower as the case may be. For the last fifteen years never watched TV, and didn’t miss even having one, better known as an “Idiot Box”😜. It’s Important to have a studio or at least a corner reserved for painting , preferably with natural light.

  61. I love the silence. When I paint I become the paint, the brush, the canvas. Time passes and I’m unaware. My son calls it, “being in the moment.” There’s no better place to be.

  62. Hi Jason,
    I love many types of music from classical, to blues . folk, native American and Jazz. I also love Silence. I live in a state park and hear a lot of nature around, birds, owls , coyotes, crickets, frogs etc etc etc. I love listening to music while I paint. I put on Pandora and my favourite right now is the Jan Gaberek station, He is a Scandinavian Saxaphone player and plays a spacy jazz which is really inspiring to me! I also love the native American, flute and drum. I will say the type of music, sound vibrations affect the painting!
    Sincerely,
    Santana

  63. Gregorean – absolute. it givs me quiet moves – and sets me in the right mode. And sometimes when the maine work is done – and I do not need to concentrate so much – I lisen to a movie. Yes. True. Sometimes when I see a move I know I have seen it – but I don’t recognize the persons……..

  64. Like you and your dad, my studio music is eclectic. If I’m in cstudio, I’m listenig! I create Apple Radio stations and let their algorithms do the work. I never listen to talk-style programming. I save those programs for time outside the studio.

  65. I listen to just about everything as well…as long as it’s good music. If I’m doing detail work I lean towards classical, jazz, or traditional Celtic. When painting more abstract high energy rock, pop of dance music. Then there are times when I paint music. With internet radio I no longer have to depend what station MIGHT come in that day!

  66. As an intuitive painter I am listening to my inner self, so I paint in absolute silence listening only to what is flowing through me onto the canvas.

  67. Wonderful topic, Jason.
    I find music with a driving rhythm moves my whole being in a way that makes me need to paint.

    That primitive response is similar to a dancer’s when certain music is played.

    Most ethnic music takes me to that creative place, but my tastes range from Bob Moses and Nicholas Jaar, to The Meters or Orleans funk.

    The music I choose depends on my mood and what I’m painting. Sometimes I’ll turn on B.B. King, Tedeschi/Trucks, or Van Morrison and literally sing my way through a piece – even cry or dance while painting!

    A little nuts, you say? Oh yeah!

  68. Loved reading everyone’s preferences on Music or silence. My home studio is really the formal dining that is part of living room. So at times I have music in my headphones or an audio book. Different according to my mood. I love Christian Pop. The message fills my spirit. Especially if I am thinking too much about my self. I try to get rid of negativity. Painting is joyful. I think God gave me this desire and I want love and joy to become part of the painting. Try not to listen to talk radio or anything to bring me down. Love New Age. I Love Mehdi.
    Sometimes I will sing and dance. I love music I’ve sang in small groups before I became an artist. Play piano and guitar. And yes sometimes I enjoy silence. Happy Painting Everyone!

  69. I live in the country so when I’m out painting en plain air, I have the sounds of nature. While working in my studio I like Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Cowboy Junkies, meditation sounds, Native American chants, Ray Charles, Spanish guitar, you know, eclectic. My favorite (for now) is the sound track from movie, Frida…

  70. I have eclectic musical taste as well, so in the studio it could be anything from folk, blues, jazz, punk rock, all the way to Native American flute or Tibetan music. It depends on what I am painting, the mood I want to set and even the time of day. My husband has a community radio show and I can always count on him, when we coincide, to provide a great mix to paint by.

  71. I live in Idaho and I’m really rural. What comes in here is really limited . Radio only comes in once in a while, so I listen to country music mostly. I like some of the younger up beat stuff. Sometimes I listen to painting instruction tapes. Sometimes it’s something on youtube. Only problem with the last two is I’m not watching them unless something catches my ear so someday I’ll have to go back and watch them.

  72. I like just about all kinds of music, but if I listened to music while painting it would have to be soft classical music. Having been a performer as well as musician and songwriter, I can’t ignore music enough to focus on painting. I have a home-based business, in addition to the art, so I do a lot of painting late at night when everything is quiet and there are no interuptions. There is a ten-foot tall wall of lilac bushes that surround the area where I paint, and it’s usually filled with birds, so I’ve become accustomed to opening doors or windows and listening to their songs while I paint during the daytime. I’ve been working in pastel, lately, so that makes it easy to take care of interruptions when painting during the day. In Colorado, our summers are short, but painting outdoors is very nice.

  73. I listen to Christian worship music on my Pandora Radio, usually something like Hillsong. Sometimes I sing with it while I paint. Music can help me get out of my left brain into my right brain and also helps me keep focused.

  74. Hello

    I prefer silence. There is a constant mental dialogue, (not necessarily in words), that I like to be in tune with, or not shut out. At the same time when my eyes are busy on something, I like my ears to be in touch with my surrounds. This goes for running in the park or snowboarding, even sitting on a train…
    That’s the default, however sometimes when I get to work on a task that is more mechanical and repetitive, I will listen to podcasts or someone else’s radio station in the studio next door. Podcasts I’ve listened to most frequently: Philosophise This, The Starving Artist, and recently your Red Dot podcast.

  75. What great responses. I listen to the voices in my head when I paint or sculpt. When I draw or teach drawing I like to have new age-ish, non verbal, cool jazz, middle eastern, slow trance or similar to go outside my head. I have friends who work best with talk radio or audio books so their eye can work unimpeded by their brain, which also makes sense.

  76. Great post! I listen to classical music mostly, and sometimes, no audio. When I know that I can’t put a full day in the studio, I tend to go without! When I have no appointments during the day that’s when I get to escape into the music!

  77. I usually listen to Robert Elms and Jo Good’s shows BBC Radio London and on BBC2 Chris Evan’s breakfast show and Jo Wiley’s show in the evening from 8pm. Good mix of music and talk topics.

  78. In the past I listened to classical music…Arvo Paart… Now, in my relative dotage its either Future Islands (great synth rock group and put on fantastic concerts), Bob Dylan or Glen Hansard. Lyrics of these great songwriters are a constant help when I confront a black panel or canvas and start painting, as I don’t ‘plan’ paintings. They simply happen and music is a wondrous muse.

  79. I listen to everything from Mozart to Cake to Ukrainian liturgical music. Whether what I listen to affects what I’m painting, I honestly don’t know. Can’t help but think hearing The Stones does something different in relationship to the work than how Los Lobos or The Gypsy Kings impact it.

  80. Well, being the cowgirl that I am for years it was country music. Then in my late twenties when I worked in a bronze foundry with lots of other talented artists. I had no choice but to listen to everything but country. And at first I hated it, then surprisingly I began to appreciate all music. Now, in my fifties, when I work in my studio depending on my mood and my deadlines, I listen to everything but jazz. From nature, audio books, talk radio, pop, etc to rock n roll, and by the end of the day, I turn the volume up, and get up and dance. I feel so blessed to do what I do.

  81. My dad was an album producer so I, as well, was showered with many types of music as a child. I always have on music. “Without music, life is a trauma”. ~ Henry Rollins.
    It depends on what medium or temperament the piece at hand demands. It could be Kitaro for light and airy or Nevermore for more aggressive pieces. Either way, it soothes the savage soul.

  82. I totally agree I don’t do much of anything without music. I think Opera is the only thing not on my Pandora playlist. I also find that I like to envelope myself in music which is appropriate to the individual piece I’m working on. Producing art is not only an end result for other viewers but an experience for the artist.

  83. I like music, but usually prefer not to have any playing when I paint. I think part of that now is that I have some hearing loss, and an inner ear disorder that can make me get tinnitus and even vertigo if there’s too much sound. But, even before that happened, I often found myself turning off any kind of background noise once I really got into a piece. I prefer the silence!

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