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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177 Comments

  1. I am a professional opera singer/voice teacher/composer as well as a visual artist. Because of my extensive training in music I cannot have any music playing while I paint. My brain/mind does not work simultaneously in both modalities.

      1. Yes, Jason, I also have the same issue. I can either paint or listen to music. So, whenever I draw or paint, I need complete focus. I tried and it did not work . I also want be alone without any disturbance of any form of audio.

    1. Thanks for that, Priscilla. I also am a trained classical singer, although I stopped singing many years ago. I, too, prefer total silence in the studio. It’s hard for me to concentrate on making art while my mind keeps trying to focus on the music. I guess maybe I need both sides of my brain fully engaged in either pursuit. No multitasking for me, I guess.

    2. I can only listen to relaxation style music with nature sounds when painting. Music with a melody or lyrics are out because I either start singing or dancing and get distracted from my painting. Oddly enough I can work with the TV on in the background as long as it’s a movie that I’ve seen a million times. But it’s not unusual for me to work in silence. Just depends on the day.

    3. that is similar to what my response would be, I find the music would definitely affect the content of my painting as well as distract me. Unless I am painting a musician….then I might listen to their music while I painted them.

    4. Hi Priscilla,
      I am so glad to hear that!!!! I have played guitar since I was 14 years old and played in several different bands through out the years. I am so glad to hear you say that. I thought I was the only one that can’t listen to music either while I paint or at work while I am working.

  2. Classical, soft instrumentals and sometimes full blaring symphonies. All depends on what I’m working on. Delicate details needs delicate music. Bold block-ins with big sweeping brush strokes requires appropriate big sweeping symphonies!

  3. Sometimes Complete quiet is the key for me. But it varies from music to movies providing some background. Interestingly, something symphonic perhaps causes the greatest thought processes.

  4. I usually listen to talk shows on NPR while I work. I find that the kind of music I listen to, when I do, needs to fit the emotional mood of the piece on which I am working. So if the piece is somber the music can’t be light and lively and vice versa. Studio work is lonely sometimes and talk radio makes me feel as if there is someone else in the room, plus the opportunity to learn something interesting lets me do two things at once.

  5. Hi Jason,
    I find myself listening to a playlist of Bach, Tchaikovsky, Debussy and George Winston. I think I’m in the flow with Bach mostly, especially the song Air, Orchestral Suite No #3 in D major. They are all in a painting playlist on my phone that I play over bluetooth speakers.
    Rob

  6. I may be unusual, I prefer silence. I find the ideas and inspirations come strolling thru the silent stillness. when it comes to actually doing the silent stillness allows me to be totally present to the process of ‘art-ing.’

  7. His Holiness the Dalai Lama sang a healing chant in Hindu that was recorded in Europe. A friend gave me the underground CD and that’s what I like to play while painting. I also listen to music without words – drumming, golden bowls, flute music, and piano. I love the symphony, but can’t listen to it while painting because it has familiar melodies that interfere with my concentration.

  8. Eclectic here also! Trance, dance, reggae and classical. Sometimes I come in the studio and see something that’s ‘missing’ from a painting and hours later realize that there’s no music on at all…

  9. As with Art, Music is another wonder art form. It goes it cycles, Classic Baroque, to
    old Motown, ELO, Neil Young, to David Gray and Patty Griffin or Pearl Jam then
    George Straight, Praise and A good podcast. UNLESS, it’s plein air, then nothing…just the inhale of nature. Good question as I do believe the arts compliment the ART.

  10. Funny to see this article at this very moment! I am in the process of “harvesting” more music to listen to while painting. I am currently listening to internet radio to find songs to add to my playlists. I have created playlists from the MP3 files on my laptop to alternate as I paint. Typically I alternate between three basic types of music: Classical, techno/electronica and what I call “ear pudding”. My preference is music that either contains no lyrics or ethereal music where the lyrics are more in the background as I do not want my conscious mind to be distracted from my work. Every now and then I will listen to various forms of rock and oldies from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s but primarily it’s those three categories I listed. My term ear pudding encompasses what was known as New Age music like Richard Burmer, Chris Spheeris, etc. And, my go to rock band has always been Pink Floyd. But Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, etc. are my night time soundtrack.

    Fun topic!

  11. I listen to WRTI , 91.7 FM, on the dial, out of Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. They play classical music during the day and jazz at night. I enjoy both and as you said it helps with staying focused. Although my mind does tend to wander sometimes anyway, most of the time it helps to keep me in the zone.

  12. Classical…Bach seems to carry an underlying thread of creative energy, the brush dances well to it; the open flowing sweep of Sibelius, or the expansive westerness of Copland (that’s how it feels, not necessarily how he intended) works really well for my national parks landscapes – and everything in between. Morten Lauridsen! Film scores are terrific. Overly repetitive or angry music is banned, as is the news (sorry NPR, I lose you once an hour!).

  13. The sound of silence is my favorite for problem solving, usually at the beginning of a painting. Once a strategy is in place, listening to jazz keeps a great rhythm… especially with a cup of coffee 🙂

  14. I listen to Buddhist teachings on YouTube by the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa, Bob Thurman and other Rinpoches. Sometimes I don’t feel like painting but I do feel like listening so that gets me into the studio.

  15. AUDIO BOOKS!!! I am a natural dancer, and it is hard for me to sit still while music is playing, so I don’t even bother to try and paint with music. Audio books have been my salvation. As I have spent a lot of time at art fairs, I have actually become more extroverted, and working alone in silence for long periods of time is no longer comfortable for me. As my paintings are representational, I find that fear of “messing up” or worry about something being too complex or difficult will interfere with simply processing what I am seeing. With an audio book to keep that part of my mind occupied and content, I just plow right through the work with no interference from the judgement part of my mind. My greatest fear is that I will run out of books to listen to! Audio books are also great because there is the double enjoyment of the artistry of the author and the artistry of the narrator/actor. Harry Potter series narrated by Jim Dale is absolutely the best ever!!! For subtle humor, Agatha Raisin mysteries and Hamish Macbeth mysteries by M.C. Beaton are great. For not-so-subtle humor, the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich is fabulous!

    1. DITTO THAT
      add to those books, The Aubrey Maturin Series by Patrick O’Brian an d Read by Patrick Tull…. Discworld by Terry Pratchett… Dickens (with preference for Patrick Tull as reader)… and of course all of Susan Vreeland’s books.

      I listen to classical and other kinds of music too… much of which is mentioned by others in this blog.

      and when the underpainting is done, and the focus and final balance grow tighter… quiet time to stare… to study…

    2. I love books on tape as well – Stephen King is high on the list. I don’t find the story gets in the way with the painting at all. I don’t find the same thing to be true if my wife is telling me a story though – I find I need to concentrate more if I need to respond with much more than a light “is that so” interaction. I went to a workshop by Tony Ryder a few years ago and he regularly had a book on tape going on in the background. The group all seemed to enjoy the background and would even stir conversation on the painting breaks.
      I also enjoy a pretty eclectic range of music including Alternative, Blues, Classical, Country, Electronic, Jazz, Latin, New Age, POP, R&B, Rock, Soul and World. I have created multiple playlists to suit the mood of the art and stage of painting. Sometimes I will opt for my Upbeat playlist when I need to lay some paint down quickly, other times I go for Spanish Guitar or Instrumental for passages that I need to concentrate on. Most of the time I listen to my Full list with all of the music mixed by artist to get a series for continuity. Some of my favorites include Gavin James, Tom Waits, Jon Secada, Dave Mathews, Sade, Sam Smith, Piano Guys, Mary Lambert, J.R. Richards, Bella Sonus, B-Tribe, Marc Antoine, Earth Trybe, Emmylou Harris, Kelly Joe Phelps and Keb’ Mo’ – many more – just a sampling.

      1. Hey Jim! Just checked to be sure this is really you. Saw the painting and knew it. Been missing you at drawing! Wanted to thank you again for the intro to Dan and Nancy – taking five pieces over for them to have in the gallery. Yay! Hope all is well with China and see you soon!
        Becki

    3. Audio books for me too. Non-fiction mostly. I borrow them for free from a service my library subscribes to called Overdrive. Occasionally I’ll listen to some old time rock and roll. I work in bronze and do my own foundry work and use noisy grinders so I use earbuds instead of ear plugs. When working with clay or wax and it’s quiet I use speakers. Sometimes I get focused on what I’m working on and lose track of what I’m listening to so I use the rewind button fairly often. Some favorite audio books have been “At Home: A Short History of Private Life” by Bill Bryson, “1434: The Year a Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance” by Gavin Menzies, and “Age Of Wonder By Richard Holmes.”

    1. I am nearly like you Kevin but I have another history : when everybody liked Sinatra , Elvis or the Beatles- I was about 16, I discovered Stockhausen, Cage, Charles Ives and all the others who made a music which is atonal, free rhythmic , nonvocal (voices only used as instruments) . With this I discovered structures like abstract painting (I began with Kandinsky,Klee, Expressionism). Finally I could see this music as an itself developping painting. Rhythm are for me the ongoing lines, spaces , density. Actually it is Hellmuth Lachenmann. I would like to meet somebody who also discovered this connection between the acustic and visual space.
      Sorry for errors in my writing- I come von Germany- living now in southern France

  16. I am an abstract, surrealism painter, so I listen to the following – always gets me into the spontaneous flow I need:

    Andreas Vollenweider (electric new age type harpist), Bebel Gilberto (brazilian relaxing jazz singer), Secret Garden (celtic type new age style instrumental with some vocals), Andrea Bocelli (pop opera master of voice + orchestra), Pat Metheny Group (modern jazz – world style), Shadowfax (medieval style new age), Sarah Brightman (pop opera diva),
    Enya (celtic style new age voice and orchestra).

  17. I have recently discovered Buddha Bar station on Pandora and it has some soft inspirational as well as more rythmic music styles that my brushes will sometimes dance to ! But I can also paint in silence. I generally prefer no words…

  18. I’m similar to you Jason, when I work (draw, paint of sculpt) I love listening to classical music and movie soundtracks. My favorite cassical composers are , Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and Chopin.

  19. Jason,
    I grew up in a family of musicians, both parents were vocal music teachers and did a lot of performance. I earned a minor in music unintentionally just because Dad was the choral director at the small liberal arts college I attended, earning (by design) a double major in Theatre and Art. Along the way, I performed a lot and still have a complete set of equipment and instruments for garage band rock when the family gets together.

    Yesterday, the studio session was accompanied by Joe Bonamassa and Eric Johnson. Tonight it might be Verdi’s The Four Seasons. Or maybe Al DiMeola… it varies. And for each choice, the variable is based on what my head seems to need to resonate with the work I am doing. I do not know why, but it is clear that my moods have a soundtrack.

  20. I was thinking about writing a blog about the same subject. Like your father, I too have an eclectic collection of music ranging from rock, blues, country, jazz, classical and Celtic.
    Last count, I had in excess of 300 CDs. Thanks to Pandora and Spotify my CD collection has stayed stable.

    Both my easel and drafting table face away from the TV so I won’t be tempted watch. I can not work without music. Most of the time I have it set to shuffle so I have a variety. When I start a new painting or sculpture I will usually play something with a fast upbeat tempo. It helps me stay loose while I block in the painting or the clay. I’m also a musician that plays the Scottish great highland pipes as well the Irish uilleann pipes so I like to play Irish traditional music. Most tunes are jigs and reels played at mach speed. Stand back because the paint and clay starts to fly. Once I’m settle in I slow it down. If I’m working at night I will have soft jazz or classical playing. I can’t imagine life without music.

    1. I love it when the bagpipes show up in the random shuffle (Enter the Haggis, Wolfstone)! As you say – such high energy. Never tire of it since my son has played bagpipes for years and now does so in NYC.

  21. Listening to music helps me to focus and stay calm. When I listen to music with words, I don’t actually listen to the words – as in the case of James Taylor. That said, I just can’t listen to the Beatles while painting – I have to sign with them and find the harmonies.

    Lately, I’ve been tuning into Pandora (my self-picked music) or instrumental CDs I’ve stored on my iPad. I bluetooth to my mini- Bose speaker.
    For some odd reason, music calms me and helps me to focus intently. Even when painting gets difficult, the music makes me feel like I’m having a good time.

  22. Although I generally prefer instrumental, I do listen to a wide range depending on what I’m painting. My preference evolves throughout the day, as well… as I always begin with something like “Mozart for Morning Coffee” or “Breathe… the relaxing piano.”

    One of my favorites is “Yo-Yo Ma plays Ennio Morricone”… simply fabulous from the start with “Gabriel’s Oboe” from “The Mission,” soon followed by “Cinema Paradiso.”

    As the day goes on, I often switch to something more upbeat and with lyrics. Right now I’m loving Adele. And yes, I do listen to Country (much to the surprise and sometimes dismay of my friends)!

    When I was working on a number of illustrations for holiday greeting cards recently, I listened solely to Christmas music. At that point, I was trying Pandora, and it got a bit repetitious but did help keep me in the spirit of the content of my work.

    Great question! I love reading what other’s do. John

  23. I liste to all kinds of music but it’s mostly classical and especially opera…. it allows my creative mind to focus so brilliantly that I cannot imagine being without it! Working through all Verdi operas at the moment !

  24. I listen to talk radio for part of the day, which makes me feel less isolated and keeps me informed, and then I put my ipod on the shuffle setting to randomly play folk, celtic or jazz from over 4,000 songs. Keeps it interesting.

  25. I can work without background noise, but it is rare that I don’t have some noise bouncing around my studio. For music I listen to Metal, Jazz, j/k-pop and movie scores. I listen to audio books from time to time as well as re-watching favourite movies and tv shows.

  26. It varies… Mozart, Bach and other classical composers, Hildegard bon Bingen (14th century abbess), Benedictine Monks, Gurumul (Australian aboriginal singer, sings his indigenous language), Philip Glass, occasionally Nick Cave. Often I will choose one artist for a whole day and go on repeat if necessary. Music calms me and allows me to enter a pure space. Sometimes I realise hours later I am in silence. Love that space.

  27. When I am in my studio creating I must listen to music or I don’t work well….. But when I’m in my office on the computer doing bookkeeping, marketing and inventory I have to have complete silence. Must be a right-brain, left-brain thing?

  28. Being a musician, I absolutely love music – a vast variety of genres, depending on my mood. Guitar music is my favorite – from Paganini and Segovia to Django, Jobim, Paco de Lucia, Pat Metheny, R.Blackmore and many more… I always start painting while listening to some music, just to set the spirit. But as I continue working, at some point I feel music rather distructing – I have to turn it off and continue working in solitude. Thus, I can focus on what comes from within, without being influenced by any outer sources.

  29. I like quiet. I live in the woods and couldn’t be happier to have silence. There is so much noise generally that it impedes my thinking. Everywhere you go there is musak or TV or other noise. Silence relaxes me and helps me concentrate.

  30. I always have music playing while painting. I like all genres, but rock and roll is my favorite. I believe Lori said earlier that she could not paint while the Beatles were playing because she wants to sing with them. I do sing with them and anyone else playing. I would not sing along if there were guests, but when I am alone in the studio, I am singing and painting…. It provides a groove that is perfect for losing oneself in the creating and the moment….

  31. I paint and my husband is a professional musician living and working in the same house. While I am working in my studio room, he is often doing things related to his own tenor banjo, practicing or writing music in an adjoining room. I cannot have on anything distracting for him. He is unaware of my having changed my old routine of easy listening music. It is a disadvantage living and working in a small house with someone else that is an artist! I have learned to paint in silence and now find music distracting and sometimes irritating. Shh don’t tell him!

  32. I can no longer listen to music when I paint. At this point in my career I have a constant dialog in my head throughout the process. There’s too much to consider and I need to listen.

  33. I have eclectic tastes in music. In the past I bought CDs of anything I heard that I liked, so I have everything from Appahachian fiddle music to classical. I guess some of my favorites are bottleneck blues, reggae, and jazz. The only music I do not care for are rapp and the whiney stuff they play lately at the gym. In the studio I grab a CD and put it in, blasting it as loud as I dare.

  34. Podcasts! I learn so much while painting, I keep a notepad by my easel. Sometimes it is to write down names of people or organizations that I might want to contact, books I should read, further research I should do; I may take notes for future speaking engagements, ideas for writing articles etc… My favorite podcasts are on personal and societal transformative subject matters: http://www.dailyevolver.com http://www.beyondawakeningseries.com http://www.wakinguptheworkplace.com http://www.emergingwomen.com http://www.integrallife.com
    Oh and I should mention I am excited about your new podcast!

  35. I sometimes listen to music, but mostly it’s books on tape. One would think that they would be a distraction, but I find that listening to a book keeps one part of my mind (the part that would naturally wander to other subjects) occupied while the subconscious paints. Being an abstract painter, that is where my subject matter comes from so the books on tape actually occupy the real world brain while the other part streams the painting ideas. The book actually keeps me in the studio longer because it doesn’t allow me to think about other things that I should be accomplishing…email, posting, etc., and wanting to continue listening to a good story is also great for keeping me in the studio longer.

  36. I listen to mainly classical music i.e. everything from Bach to Tchaikovsky. Then there is a healthy dose of movie scores and if I’m designing a play or musical, I’ll put on Broadway.

  37. I have a dual interest in both art and music. My degrees are in fine art but the intense exposure to music in a year of music school has bearing on my work.
    I cannot have music on when I’m working visually. If I’m composing music, I cannot be distracted visually. And while I can process sound and color sort of synaesethically, my brain can’t seem to accomodate a background “noise” which music or visuals provide. Plus- I seem to have a very large memory of pieces I’ve heard so that knowing the music and its “moments” focuses me there.
    I believe firmly that the Arts are really very intense experiences.

  38. Jason, my choice of music is the same as yours plus Mozart and Opera. Both painting and music seem to go together.Music seems to help stop Intrusive thinking popping up or a wandering mind. I have a 39 set of CD’s of all recorded operas and concerts with Maria Callas. How else would I be able to listen to the complete set over a long period of time? Has anyone tried Audio Books? Painting, Music and books. My idea of heaven.Someone did answer the question on audio books. Has anyone else tried?
    Mevlani music from Turkey sounds interesting. Many years ago I belonged to a ballet co. It seems music has touched all of our lives at some point. Cannot image a life without the arts in all its forms.

  39. I too listen to a variety of music – mostly rock-n-roll and blues – from the seventies to contemporary music. I also enjoy listening to KPBS/NPR.

  40. It all depends on mood and what I am painting, but I enjoy a lot of styles. Some favorites are classical guitar, cool jazz, classical, and great american standards. I enjoy the instrumental and foreign words in French, that way I don’t listen too closely. Sometimes I realize I haven’t turned any music on until an hour into painting, which is also nice, because it’s just the rhythm and sounds of me working which is comforting.

  41. I have similar tastes to Robin Gonzalez (I have a lot of the same music – plus a bunch of other eclectic stuff) but don’t usually listen to it while painting. Because I have synesthesia (an effect of the brain where the senses are crossed and e.g. for some people tastes may have shapes) often with music, I can’t have on music that clashes with what I’m painting – the painting would end up looking like the music instead. I was once teaching a paint-and-wine in gallery and had to ask the gallerist to turn down the jazz because I couldn’t guide people through painting the landscape because the music looked like pink, white and black abstract shapes.

  42. Great discussion topic, Jason.
    I only ever listen to one CD when I am painting, countertenor Davis Hansen, Rivals – Music for Farinelli & Co.
    When I hear it start I am immediately focused and ready to paint. It is a huge aid to productivity and minimises distractions and negative self-talk.
    (And Jason, seeing your taste in music, I think you would love it too!)

  43. ~ So interesting to read others comments – I have – ‘Stingray Music’ – streaming in the back ground – and while painting the choice in my ‘People’ – painting subject is usually – ‘Easy Listening’ – with piano violin – and rhythm always just right for my mood in working – I have found my preference in music may change when composing the subject in my ‘Abstract’ paintings in pure design . . . Carole Orr

  44. I listen to all types of music, if I really need to concentrate I find the music created by Native American flutes to be wonderful, it sets my mind to wondering and creating, without interfering. If I’m doing other more mundane things that do not require a tremens amt. of concentration, I listen to podcasts, brazilian jazz, jazz or other types of music.

  45. I’ll listen to anything, as long as it’s not too loud as this is distracting. Rare soul, Debussy, ACDC, Ligeti, anything, I love music. But sometimes I can’t listen to anything, especially if I’m working on a tricky area of my painting. I can just hear the birds outside and they have a lot to say!

  46. Country Music the likes of George Jones, Toby Keith, George Strait, Willie, Merle, Cash, Kris K., Garth, Zac Brown, Don Henley, Neil Diamond, etc…

  47. This is so fascinating! I literally could not contemplate creating a painting without music. I have tried painting without and I find I cannot focus on my work and things can go disastrously wrong even though I am not consciously listening to the music. It’s as if the painting and music are somehow operating on a similar wavelength. I really love all kinds of music and can paint equally to all, with the exception of very out there jazz or heavy classical music then I have to switch channels or things can quickly go to pieces!

  48. I need either happy or inspirational music while I paint or sculpt. The scores from Rodgers and Hammerstein, Andre Rieu, John Denver, ABBA, Neil Diamond, The Carpenters, lots of the ‘oldies but goodies’. This kind of music inspires, uplifts, even has me dancing as I paint………thus it equals positive ENERGY to fill my sacred, creative space!

  49. When I listen to music, I most often choose from CD Collections my husband puts together so every song is a favorite, though the genre and artists vary but it is consistently ones I know well, modestly up beat, and soothing to me. I like jazz, R&B, Rock and Roll, ballads, great vocals, and occasionally classical. I want to be able to check in and tune out easily. Same is true of audio books, radio shows, or podcasts; they can’t be complex or detailed so much that complete attention is required. Audio books and podcasts are great because you can rewind and play again when you find you haven’t been attentive. Piano Jazz was a long time favorite radio show, Start Up and other podcasts by Gimlet.
    I find some parts of painting require complete focus so ears are turned inward, other things are more rote and require outside stimulation to be content.

  50. Music influences the rhythm of my painting. I like Bob Dylan or the Rolling Stones. They keep me moving intuitively.

  51. Thirty years ago I began painting AFTER my motherly and wifely chores were done. I transitioned to being an artist with music. I had what I called a “starter pack” of songs that I’d play to guarantee a successful transition. Five years ago when I moved my studio to the ENTIRE basement just walking down the stairs was transition enough.

    So now, once I have acclimated to my studio space, I listen to playlists I’ve created for each aspect of my painting. The planning and drawing parts are ballads with melodies and words I can sing (actually, my karaoke repertoire).

    The blocking-in is “fast painting music” — classical concertos, flamenco guitar, Black Sabbath and Lady Gaga. The tempo on all of the pieces keeps my brushstrokes fresh and exuberant.

    “Finessing” is audio books by Stuart Woods, James Patterson, Carl Hiaasen and Christopher Moore. During this stage of painting, words are finally acceptable.

    Tweaking is done to ballads again. Tim Buckley, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot.

    And I always sign my paintings by exclaiming a joyful “Ta-dah!”

  52. hard classical rock, Joe Bonamassa, Stevie Ray Vaughn, etc. when I am hammering on the anvil. In quieter times I leave it at Kaleo Radio on pandora. Emotionally penetrating…

  53. I mostly listen to audio books. I am a singer and guitar player and find that any music with vocals distracts me. Classical and new age will sometimes work, but I still find myself moving to the beat, humming, etc. That is fine for sketching or working out ideas and compositions but for the nitty gritty painting, especially my fine detail, I can’t be moving around! I love to read but don’t have time outside of the studio to pick up a book. Listening to books, ANY genre, has been a godsend. If the narrator is great and the book good, I can’t wait to get into the studio!

  54. I find silence oppressive in my home or in my studio, so play soft background music to lighten my mood. I tend to tune it out when focusing on painting, but the sound is still there to keep me company. I paint peaceful places, so I like instrumental soft rock the best, but sometimes nature sound CD’s are interesting for a change.

  55. Jason, this is a question I’ve frequently asked other artists.
    I typically listen to classical, jazz, or the old standards (Sinatra). I also sometimes have the television on and listen to political programs — for as long as I can stand it. And because I’m an equine artist, I sometimes have the horse racing tv channel on.
    Also interestingly, as others have mentioned, my sister-in-law is a concert pianist, and I have almost never seen her listen to music, unless it’s a piece that she might be performing in the future. She truly doesn’t experience music as a lay person, like myself.
    Thoroughly enjoyed all the comments. Thanks.

  56. I like to listen to meditative music while I am in my studio. I especially like the flute sounds of the Native American music. This type of music is relaxing to me, in the background and helps with my creative process. Thank you for your question and I love the other artists’ answers.

  57. I like quiet or classical. I like Native American flute also. I don’t hear well but I find classical and flute hit my hearing range. I don’t like music with words because I find myself listening to understand them instead of concentrating on my painting. If I can hear my studio assistant’s music or other noises, I remove my hearing aids and all is quiet.

  58. I have always wanted music playing when I’m at home whether I’m cleaning, cooking or painting. Top 40, classical, jazz. However, when I studied under my favorite instructor, he always played acoustic guitar during our class, so that has become my favorite music to paint by. It’s very relaxing. My favorite musician is Frank Smith. He can be found on Pandora.

  59. Since I have a TV in my studio, I listen to cable Fox News. It’s to my back and occasionally I’ll turn to see who’s talking or being interviewed. My husband and I talk politics all the time and I love listening to history unfold as I’m painting. Ironically, if the TV is on when I’m reading on the computer, I can’t concentrate. Go figure. LOL

  60. I’m surprised at how few rock people are here! I listen to everything from AC/DC to Warren Zevon. I have about 500 “albums” loaded in my player and usually just hit shuffle and let it go. The music playing often influences everything about the piece I am working on. Being an abstract painter this works quite well for me, but I can definitely see where it could be a distraction for others.

  61. I am motivated by Adele and Sade as well as Diana Krall. Those are the three I mainly listen to while I paint. Music get me going. It helps with that blank canvas stare. And, music keeps me going. If I become stuck in the middle of a painting and have to make a difficult decision, then it’s music off. That is when I need absolute concentration. Otherwise, painting becomes emotional just as the music is emotional to me too.

  62. It can depend on my mood or what I am painting. If I need to be very focused, I can only listen to music without lyrics or I will find myself singing the words in my head, distracting my focus. Otherwise, classical is always a good choice or new age. But sometimes, good old rock n’ roll will get me motivated.

  63. As a kid, my parents always had the radio on a classical station and I know most of that genre well (I’ve played French horn and piano since I was a kid). When I’m out taking pictures, it’s just the noises of the woods. But when I’m in the darkroom printing or developing film, there HAS to be music. I can only get one radio station down there and it’s mostly rock – since it’s western PA, I think there’s a requirement that they play something by Rainbow every hour (no idea why) and “Devil Went Down to Georgia” at least twice a day. So I hook up my phone with all the stuff I’ve ripped from CD over the years. It’s usually loud and can be anything from classical to Dropkick Murphys to Metallica, Evanescence, Clannad, or Welsh Male Voice Choirs. Someone where I used to work told me I had the most eclectic taste in music of anyone they’d ever met. We moved to Iowa briefly and since we moved back the darkroom is the only room with a stereo so far. And the CD player died.

  64. I’ve discovered that I like different kinds of music at different stages of my process. When I’m starting on a new piece I want something like blues, jazz or rock and I work quickly to lay out the composition. As I get further into the piece and I’m working on a challenging transition or on detail areas, I like something classical or calming. It’s not unusual for me to suddenly realize that the music I have playing is just not working for where I am right now on a sculpture.

    I occasionally listen to audio books and they range from mysteries to novels based on historical events and instructional books.

  65. Weirdly, I have found the more alternative and non-mainstream music is, and current lesser played bands, the better I can settle in and paint very detailed work. In college it most mostly underground New Wave and Punk.. so this has been going on for a while. Over the 50 mark and my go-to music these days is DNB.

  66. I work in silence. No music never. I found that it helps me to listen to what is going on inside and it is very important in my creative process.

  67. I find that listening to music is better than silence & have found the need to shut off the left side of the brain so the creative right side of the brain can take over, so I listen to
    Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s Creative Mind System it is a great help. It is music with no words blending inaudible pulses of sound that mirror the Creative Mind Pattern into a beautiful musical soundtrack. I like to start out listening to this & then go to Mozart, Bach: Air, or Vivaldi: the Four Seasons, also piano or guitar. Playing music softly in the back ground is a help to me to get my mind off the everyday things we have to do in our lives, when we are not creating. It also covers up the outside noises or the TV down stairs, even though my husband keeps it low..

  68. REM, early Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Beck, Dave Matthews, Bob Marley, David Bowie, The Clash, The Cure, Joni Mitchel [Blue], Enya…etc. Depends on the mood…depends on if I’m in a space where I can sing along or find that distracting…maybe a movie that I’ve watched more times than necessary [Pride & Prejudice, Suicide Kings, Munich, Usual Suspects, Across the Universe, Reservoir Dogs]…and sometimes…nothing.

  69. Pandora: “Cool Jazz” From Wynton Marsalis, Stan Getz to Oscar Peterson. All soft great sounds that can take me out of the madness. I like keeping it easy for my relatively complicated works of art.

  70. There was a time I listened to classical music while I painted … my background noise since 2002 is a high pitched ringing 24/7 after I had a sound injury on the job. I haven’t turned on a radio since.
    Music can often trigger memory, then the memory recalls people, places, events … distracting even when they are positive. Much prefer blessed silence to lose myself and concentrate on the work. It is actually quite comforting.
    I am sometimes surprised when my mind will conjure up long forgotten songs and I mentally sing along as I recall lyrics and melody.
    Music is such a vital part of our lives and culture. Truly miss music.

  71. Music? My music was the sound of my nine children playing around the house while I painted, getting ready for art shows. At least one show per month for many years. I’ll have to admit that after my children were all grown it took me quite awhile to figure out how to paint without their noise in the background.

  72. It’s either Classic Rock or complete silence. I often come up with names for my paintings when I’m listening to a song by getting inspiration from a word or phrase.

  73. I listen to the sound of RAIN.
    thunder, on the Plains, storm, rain forest, torrential rain and summer storms.

  74. About 20% of the time I prefer silence, but most of the time I like the Blues. NPR is good sometimes , or zydeco, Hawaiian, piano or twang.
    I agree with what many of you said, that the tunes can change the mood of the art, so I am mindful about that.

  75. I’m a pyrographer who never has time to just sit and read , so most of the time I listen to audio books. But I’m working on something that takes a lot of concentration, then it has to be classical.

  76. I am a creature of habit, I find that all the modern stuff on radio help me to keep upbeat about my work and attitude, even worse the station I listen to plays songs over and over again! Strange because I would never choose to listen to those sort of things at home. I also like the occasional podcast or documentary on my laptop.

  77. I’m a former composer and find that listening to external music as I paint is distracting. Besides, there is always some sort of music going on in the background of my brain no matter what I am doing.

  78. Oh gee, so many things. Podcasts on everything from cooking to art to nature and science … favorite playlists on Spotify with a cappella music, classical, pop, acoustic covers, indie hits … talk radio and news … occasionally audiobooks

  79. I enjoy the genre -Jazz Fusion…
    and Pat Metheny; the track “Wildlife” by the Yellowjackets; Candy Dulfer; Jeff Lorber; Miles Davis; Joe Sample; Wayan Tisdale…..etc.

  80. I almost never listen to music or anything else. I sometimes get into a strange zone while painting such that the world disappears for me. I’ll lose all sense of time along with the everyday pain I usually have. When I did listen to music it was always Baroque, like Pacabell’s Cannon. I find myself moving my brush in time with the music. It actually became distracting to me.

  81. I enjoy the genre -Jazz Fusion…
    and Pat Metheny; the track “Wildlife” by the Yellowjackets; Candy Dulfer; Jeff Lorber; Miles Davis; Joe Sample; Wayman Tisdale…..etc.

  82. Jason, I would love to know how many responses you received to this question compared to others you have asked. When starting a new painting, I often listen to something like Les Miserables. Gives me a lot of energy. Then as I continue, I may listen to the blues greats (esp. Mississippi Delta Blues) like Sonny Boy Williamson or jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Fats Waller. I like the old country, but very little new. By the end of the evening, I am listening to Leonard Cohen, kd Lang, Valerie June, Brandi Carlile or Lucinda Williams. I have tried other music, but too much of it is distracting to me. I never listen to new (to me) music when painting It has to be something I already know every word. I love to listen to music so much that I can’t wait to go to my studio and line up my music for the day and to then work.

  83. It just happen, I love all kinds of music, from third world to the classic. As of Jan. 2017, I made the decision not to listen to music in the studio while working, instead I been listening to instructional videos including a lot of Jason’s, artist talks and interviews on You Tube. Having, people talking art in the background is like music to my senses. However, I do listen to traditional music when cleaning up my studio/gallery.

  84. I’m a lot like your Dad…I listen to a great variety of audio. NPR, podcasts, Pandora. My music is mostly Blues, folk and Classic rock (tunes of my youth).
    But I also love the Big Band era, jazz classics and show tunes.
    Mostly I listen to what puts me in a good mood!!!!

  85. If I am doing mindless prep work, i.e. stretching a canvas, cutting paper strips… I like podcasts about art, art marketing, art interviews, and art lessons. If I need to focus, no voices, maybe the sound machine on ocean waves and ambient soft music. I also like silence.

  86. Love this topic! I’ve been a rock fan since I was little and that is what I still listen to. My playlists are 80 percent Bruce Springsteen with Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Wings, Fleetwood Mac, The Stones and the like making up the rest. I also like Pandora’s classic rock station and I sometimes stream WPDH (101.5) from Poughkeepsie on my iPad. I can’t do talk radio, audio books or podcasts while I’m painting.

  87. Oh I love listening to anything by Hans Zimmer too! I often put on soundtracks but I can listen to anything without much issue. Late at night it tends to be the television instead. I’ve noticed a lot of my fellow artists need silence or at least a verbal free Zone but I’m the opposite and almost need the distraction to stop me from overworking something. Im quite happy to talk while I work too which has come in handy.

  88. It depends on what part of my glass fusing I’m doing…If it’s design, then I listen to soft, introspective instrumentals. If I’m painting with glass powders and want the courage to free up my usually highly controlled style, I “amp up” with Swedish House Mafia for a while. When cutting glass or doing something that doesn’t require concentration, I enjoy singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, and Simon & Garfunkel. Cleaning up the studio, or prepping for work–then it’s NPR talk radio. I love hearing what my fellow artists do–gives me good ideas. Meanwhile, Pandora gives me lots of options.

  89. Well Boy Howdy….sounds sure are an important part of our lives! My Adult Autistic son Zak prefers rock, so when I work with him we’re rockin’ out….sometimes with an antique wooden mill bobbin and a knitting needle keeping time….sometimes with a pair of brass candlesticks chiming….Alone I prefer jazz….50’s, 60’s, 70’s classics like Miles, Hancock and Coltrane, and when I’m feeling particularly happy I play Pops…as in Louis Armstrong. It’s a wonderful world!

  90. Great topic! i cannot work in silence–music gives me a pace, a doorway to getting into the Zone, and energy. Each studio session is different, it seems. Some days I play native American flute, singing bowls, or chill spa or music for Reiki. Blues. Gilberto. Cal Tjader. Classic rock, like Pink Floyd, Allman Bros, Led Zep, Stones, and metal. Lately, the Neville Bros, Stevie Ray Vaughn, early Madonna and 80’s dance club has been my soundtrack.
    Love reading all the comments.

  91. I am like your dad. I listen to everything except jazz and country western. Those are the only two genres that I don’t like. At 62 years of age I even listen to screamo as long as the whole song is not screaming. There are ties when I just want quiet. In those times I will paint from 9:00, when everyone is in bed, to the sun comes up, or I will talk out loud to myself as if I a the teacher telling myself what to do next. The latter helps me the most when I am working on something more difficult. It keeps me patient with the process and myself.

  92. I seem lately to listen to different Pandora Radio stations. That way I can chose music to match my mood or time of day . Each station plays similar music, kit like or dislike and build a thumbprint of the music you like and listen to the most some times aI just listen to thumbprint. I usually listen to music but not always. Here are some of the stations I have created:
    Guitar – Jesse Cook, acoustic new age, Hang Massive( steel Hang Drum Music), classical, Tracy Chapman, Micheal Franti, shook Twins, JJ cale, CCR, Fleetwood Mac, Norman Greenbaum,

  93. I MUST have music playing. It can vary from classic rock, alternative, pop, country, oldies or ????, but this music goes on before the brushes come out. Even my years as a paralegal, I had to listen to music while I worked. I get lost in the music and the painting at the same time.

  94. I seem lately to listen to different Pandora Radio stations. That way I can chose music to match my mood or time for dirrppfferent times of the day . Classical or mellow in morning. Once ai get going I may put on rock and roll. Each station plays similar music, hit like or dislike and build a thumbprint of the music you like and listen to the most. Sometimes I just listen to thumbprint. I usually listen to music but not always. Here are some of the stations I have created:
    Guitar – Jesse Cook, acoustic new age, Hang Massive( steel Hang Drum Music), classical, Tracy Chapman, Micheal Franti, shook Twins, JJ cale, CCR, Fleetwood Mac, Norman Greenbaum,

  95. I can work in silence, but it’s fun to listen to music. I mainly use Pandora, with rock stations I’ve made like The Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, the Lumineers, etc. Or blues, jazz, or Irish music. African pop is also good if you’re distracted by lyrics, because most people don’t speak African languages. But I’m really only listening when I first start – once I get into a painting I don’t hear the music anymore, not consciously anyway.

  96. Opps had to change a few typos. I do not hear mellow massage music because I have heard that for 35 years doing massage. I am now without internet in my encaustic studio so playing old CD Player. It seems most of my cds are scratched and messed up. But with the loud fan running it is nice to have music to drowned that out. Rock and roll and a variety of musi. Miss my internet and Pandora.

  97. I have a Pandora station that plays Eric Satiè, Debussy, Rachmaninov, Beethoven and contemporary music including Max Richtor, Eklipse, Maxence Cyrin, Emile Pandolfi, and David Lanz. The somber, peaceful mood of these sounds enhances my own mood and concentration. In the past, however, some of my most memorable work was done to the classic 60s & 70s Rolling Stones.

  98. Jazz and the Blues. Sometimes Klezmer…..no, just kidding. I listen to music to drown out the voices in my head that say “Is this any good?” “Is this worth doing?” “Am I wasting my life on this self-indulgent crap?” Well, you get the drift!

  99. Wow what an incredible response you got Jason.
    Music or not it’s a great subject!
    Not only do I paint to music but when i can feel the musician’s soul I immediately surrender to the music and allow the music to take over. I’m still the painter but the rhythm captures my creative spirit and the painting goes on by itself . I even dance when I paint. I even use my brushes as drum sticks right on the canvas. I listen to a very large variety of music from one extreme to another. I’ve even hired live bands to perform during my monthly painting performance. There is such an aliveness when I let go with good music going on. And when I let go of trying to look good the painting turns out fabulous. You can see that on my videos. I recently have been asked to paint during a live recording session of a very well known alternative classical composer in London. Music and art. What a perfect combination that dissolves the mind’s duality and what’s left is pure joy, love and the soul into expression and people respond , they can feel it! And guess what? They often buy!
    In total gratitude ,
    Jonas

  100. Definitely not music but I can listen to others talk at me. I love listening to artist interviews and will replay the more interesting ones. So I am a fan of Savvy Painter, Artist helping Artists, PleinAir Podcast, Suggested Donation and The Thrifty Artist by the Clark Huling Fund. I listen to everything from current news, to history, to art, to philosophy, to food, to science, to whatever tickles my fancy and they all are from BBC, NPR, CBC and ABC Radio National out of Australia. I adore podcasts. At least when I have finished a long day of painting I have something interesting to talk about…some interested facts and happenings in the world. And when I am really tired but have a deadline that requires me to keep painting (like right now)…I put on movies that I have listened to dozens of times before and I mark time by the length of the movie to keep on going.

  101. I can’t paint in silence, enough solitude painting alone all day.
    Two things I do when entering my studio: make a caffe latte and put my music before I pick a brush.
    Music is the companion of my soul.

    It all depends on the weather, my moods or what I am doing the kind of music I choose.
    If I am sanding or gessoeing panels I can listen to spiritual talks but if I need to concentrate I put some instrumental music or natural sound.
    The only two types of music you won’t find in my iPod are Rapp and hard rock.
    Otherwise I love meditation music, Buddhist spiritual talks, native music, classical, opera, classical guitar, flute, dance, trance, jazz, blues, instrumental, Gypsy, Irish and Scotish music, but most of the time I just listen to natural sounds like birds, crickets, waves, thunderstorms, rain, rainforest sounds, Wales’ songs, wind storms, etc.

    Excellent topic Jason, very interesting to know what other artists listen.

  102. Yes Jonas! Music and Art, you said it so perfect!!!
    I love your art and I can see the music all over your canvasses.
    Your paintings are pure joy that comes from your soul and we can feel that.

    The best to you in London!
    Cristina.

    1. Thank you Cristina,
      I’ve always felt the the purpose of art is to lift one’s spirit to the next level of consciousness. Music allows me to let go of trying to look good and the results are outstanding because the Universe has great Creative Energy looking for an outlet that is free from the need of approval.
      So glad you enjoy my work. That makes two of us!!!!
      You’ve made my day
      With love
      Jonas

  103. Lately I’ve been listening to things in French that I find on Youtube. I’ve been studying the language a long time, but I’m unaccustomed to hearing it spoken. I’ve found some simple things I can listen to that help me get a better sense of the language’s distinctive sounds.

    I also like to listen to music. Shostakovich is a current favorite. Another current favorite is a violin concerto by Lalo Schifrin that I first heard in a live performance — “Tango Concertantes.” Schifrin is most famous for being the creator of the “Mission Impossible” theme. I like classic jazz a lot and Gypsy Jazz, too.

    Having music or other audio in the background definitely helps me to stay focused on painting. Indeed, it makes my responses to painting become more automatic and natural.

  104. Hi Jason,
    I have been following you website and blog for a few years now and I want to thank you and all who reply to your blogs and art business information. You receive such great replies from a great variety of artists it has been an education for me, thank you .
    I am a glass artist and I listen to a variety of music and talk shows depending on what I am doing. I do a lot of mechanical assembly and during that time I listen to NPR talk shows. When I am thinking and working on new projects I listen to Symphonic music or jazz.
    Thanks again for your hard work.

  105. I have to paint in absolute silence…no music, no distractions of any kind, just 100% focus on what I am painting…. I can either listen to music or I can paint, but not both at the same time…both require 100% of me….I too took vocal training for a number of years, so music is a part of me, and I still love to sing, when I listen to music I can’t help but also move to it, so you can see that might not work while you’re painting…hahahah in some ways I envy those who can have music on while they paint….when I paint I enter my own little nirvana…the zone where everything else fails to exist and should there be any sound it becomes an annoyance ! hahahh

  106. Depending on my day, mood, etc. it may be southern rock (Skynyrd, Derick Trucks), prog rock (J. Tull), Memphis soul (Otis or Sam&Dave), some new wave, some current ‘punk’ (my son’s band Secret Guest), funk (George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic), classical (Mozart!!), lots and lots of Jazz (Miles, Weather Report, Dave Brubeck… list is TOO long). No country, rap, smooth jazz or easy listening… ugh.
    Some days it best quiet…. just listen to the birds outside…

  107. For a long time I listened to audiobooks because I’m a big reader and it’s a great way to get a lot of reading done. But recently I’ve chosen to be way more focused on what I’m doing at the time, whatever it is. So for painting it’s silent and I leave my iPhone in the car. A little alarm clock replaced the phone for checking the time. No temptations. I think it’s made me more focused on painting and I work a lot more efficiently.

  108. Today it may be classical piano (Kelly Yost is a favorite), tomorrow Moody Blues, the next day Daft Punk, the next Mannheim Steamroller (love Yellowstone) or the Eagles or Michael W. Smith instrumental (Freedom or Glory) or Chopin or Electric Light Orchestra or John Barry or even contemporary Christian (especially from the 80s). Just whatever gets me going. I once did 8 commissioned pieces while listening to Hans Zimmer’s Pirates of the Caribbean. I also listen to podcasts of favorite teachers and interviewers. I am always listening to something while working. I fall into the 45% left brain, 55% right brain dominant category, and after reading what others have said I wonder if that has something to do with why I can work and listen to pretty much anything. Great question… I have loved reading the responses.

  109. I love to listen to,podcasts.
    My top three these days are
    Artists Helping Artists with Leslie Saeta
    Happier with Gretchen Ruben
    Living in the Magic of Possibilities with Glenyce Hughes

    I also listen to Abraham Hicks on You Tube
    And I Love the Netflix’s
    The show, Frankie and Grace makes ,
    My laugh. Season 3just came out and ice already watched them all

  110. Hi Jason — an interesting question and very interesting responses! I have a large CD collection that I rely on, given that I can’t always depend on the radio to play the music that I want or need for a particular project. My paintings are mostly realistic but not photographic landscape in what I would call a “classic” or “Romantic” style — and my musical choices are typically classical, from the Romantic era, with preferences for composers like Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, Brahms, Sibelius, Mahler, Bruckner. I have has some musical training (piano and flute) and, for me, the music in the background of my painting creates a special “place” for the actual work of painting and, when I am successful, leaves a sensibility of that place in the finished painting.

  111. Conrad Praetzel’s En Trance, Mox’s only album, and some stuff from The Afro-Celt Sound System were my go-to music for a long time and still get played. I spent two summers working on the interior of my house (including creating some very large murals on the floors in stained concrete) to the sound of the Frida Soundtrack and French Cafe music. I also had periods of listening to Native American flute (Coyote Oldman and Carlos Nakai primarily), to African Artists (Ayub Ogada, Geoffrey Oreyema, Papa Wemba are just three of so many wonderful music makers from that Continent), Classical (singing Cecilia Bartoli singing Rossini and Maria Callas sining Tosca stand out), and some GREAT jazz (Miles, Getz, Tjader, Mann, Fitzgerald and Armstrong, plus the Greats from the 20s and 30s). And for one very intense series of paintings, Patti Smith’s primal wail of pain and rage held sway.. I find music has the power to radically alter whatever I create, so I choose with care, though certainly more by feel than thought. “The truth of a thing is the feel of it, not the think of it.” – Stanley Kubrick

  112. Sometimes I need absolute quiet, other times I listen to my Sonos system which plays anything from Tuned In Radio. Right now my favorites are Art FM and Psyndora Chill. Very few lyrics as I find I need to focus on my painting. I find working in other studio environments rather distracting too if I have to listen to other artists musical choices but, try switch to right brain mode and zone out.

  113. When I am sculpting, I enjoy listening to classical piano from artist like Joe Bongiorno and Brian Crain. Music with works distract my thoughts when trying to sculpt. I find that I just fall into a rhythm with the sound of the piano.

  114. A funny experience I had several years ago directly involved listening to music and the results of my choice. I had been commissioned to paint a watercolor portrait of a sweet little girl on a swing: A close-up of her smiling face, with whispy hairs floating gently around her in the soft summer breeze. This portrait would be beautiful, and usually, a very successful subject for me. This time, however, I found the painting completely did not work. I had to trash the piece and start over. It wasn’t until I analyzed the situation later that I found out the problem. I had been hard-jamming to Nickleback the entire day. Although it fit my mood at the time, their angry tunes simply did not jive with the sweet essence of the little girl. Needless to say, a softer musical choice played in the background on the next, much more successful attempt.

  115. Depends on what level of focus that tasks in the glass studio require. If I need lots of focus I listen to music, usually heavy metal or space rock. If the task is familiar but I need to somewhat look what I am doing I like to put Youtube talk shows or documentary videos on, often episodes of Drugs Inc. or sometimes Art Business Academy live or recorded sessions. If I have a mindless task like foiling pieces of glass I put a movie or TV series on. Presently I am going through all the old 1963-1977 Doctor Who episodes I missed. Nearly always I like some kind of human voice or music, unless it’s raining then I prefer the sound of that. Very rarely do I have headphones on while out painting, only if there is lots of mundane traffic noise when I am doing a city scene.

  116. Hi all – Very interesting comments. I cannot watch tv or listen to vocal music while painting as I see the pictures in my mind. I listen to classical or instrumental jazz always while painting and drawing. And most of the day even when not painting!

  117. I’m a whistler. Some would rather I didn’t but I enjoy myself. I have been whistling most of my life it seems. My neighbor once asked me what I was whistling. I told her it’s Tchaikovsky. I was maybe 12 and that was my favorite at the time. Later I got into Rock etc. Anyway I’m often whistling along with the music and my brush keeps moving too. Then at times I am so focused that I don’t even hear the music and certainly can not whistle along.
    Now like you, I listen to a wide range. This thread has given me many new things to listen to.
    Thanks

  118. I always want music when painting. However, I generally listen to Portuguese fado so that the lyrics don’t distract me (don’t speak Portuguese) from my thought process. Current favorites are Mariza, Madredeus, Antonio Zambujo and Paulo Gonzo.

  119. I love listening to music while I paint. My favorites are classical piano, and other classical symphonies but they need to be soothing not jarring. I also enjoy Enya and Josh Groban, or Andre Botticelli, sometimes folk or new age. TV noise just bugs me and tenses and distracts.

  120. I do listen to all kinds of music and sometimes I find that silence just happens but generally I listen to a Christian station in the area. I sometimes have to stop while I am listening and just let the music enfold… be thankful that I am an artist… then get back to painting. I welcome the distraction at times and I do embrace it and after I refocus quickly sometimes with added inspiration. Painting is part of a spiritual journey for me.

  121. Enjoying reading the replies! My list includes, but is not limited to: Phillip Glass, David Benoit, Andreas Vollenweider, Kraftwerk, Bach organ music cranked up loud – or any of the French composers for organ, for that matter. Schumann, Shostakovich, Willie Nelson or Dollie Parton, Patsy Cline, Asleep at the Wheel, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Enya, Brian Setzer, Placido Domingo singing arias, Carlos Neruda, Chopin piano music, Rolling Stones, Hildegard of Bingen, bird song and ocean wave albums, a great album picked up at the Monterey aquarium that is used in their gorgeous big darkened room with a huge aquarium window. So I guess, the playlist follows the energy – meditative, explosive, or generally intensely alive. We were at an organ recital the other night, and while listening to Bach, I realised that when I listen to him, I see swirling colours with the music. This didn’t happen with the other composers. Can’t WAIT to paint to Bach again!

  122. I’m a big fan of music on in the house from the time we get home until the time we go to bed. When I paint, I like my Mumford and Sons Pandora station, The Lumineers, Coldplay, Ray LaMontagne, etc. As the evening turns to the midnight hour I usually switch to Enya, Liquidmind, and other softer, transcendental sounds. But one thing is certain, I cannot paint or get in “the zone” without music!

  123. Mostly listen to Jazz or Classical music, depending on my subject and my mood.
    Occasionally I listen to a hockey game. Even I can hardly believe that.
    Two weeks ago I was so intent on listening to a Red dot blog podcast while seeding flower seeds and tomato seeds I inadvertenly seeded the tomatoes in same pot as zinnias.
    So they germinated in the same pot. Peace in the patch.

  124. I listen to my Christian contemporary, especially Hillsong, Hillsong United, and some of the modern versions of old hymns. Music is very much a right brain function. Besides bringing me closer to my GOD, it also helps me make the shift from left brain to right brain, making it easier to concentrate on the art and the process.

  125. When painting in the studio I prefer listening to audio books. Over the years I listened to the “Harry Potter” series three times in the studio, Jim Dale is the reader and is fantastic. I’m nearly done listening to “The Expanse” series by James S.A. Corey and can hardly wait for the next installment. The BBC podcast “A History of the World in 100 Objects” from the British Museum is informative and very well done. When painting en plein air I switch back and forth from just listening to the sounds of nature to the eclectic mix of music my husband loaded onto my iPod. It’s interesting to learn what other artists listen to, or not. I may search out some of the other ideas mentioned in these comments.

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