The Harmonious Relationship Between Painting and Music

For a long time, music has dictated the development of visual art. Again, visual arts have spiked the creativity in musicians, making them create colorful tunes and melodies.

Music and visual art might be viewed as different forms of art, but they co-exist with each strengthening the other. While two artists (say a musician and a painter) might have different goals they are trying to achieve, they may only be doing it from different sides of the same coin.

Our predispositions determine our creativity. When a musician experiences different smells, colors, and lighting, it brings out a different feeling. The feeling from work of art can evoke a sensory experience that influences their music-making process. This is the same as a painter. When they experience different tunes and voices, they get extra energy that may influence how they choose colors. If a painter listens to music as they paint, they can create unique brush tangos on the canvas.

Hearing Color

Some artists claim to hear color whenever a song plays. This is common with abstract artists whose work is influenced not by what they see but what they feel. Different genres of music produce different effects. Genres such as country, opera, heavy metal, rap, and jazz are heavily influenced by visual art genres like graffiti, murals, impressionism, installations, folk, renaissance, and abstract expressionism. As long as an artist has a paint sprayer with a regulated flow rate, they are good to start drawing inspiration.

Visual art has been a part of music for as long as music has existed. Jackson Pollock, and abstract expressionist of the early 1900s, created his drip paintings with inspiration from jazz. Today, some musicians are in art, although they may not have created pieces that will last generation. An excellent example of a contemporary musician who is in music and painting is Chris Brown, an American RnB singer. When he is not working on his music, Chris is painting. Sometimes he does both. According to him, he draws inspiration for music from art as he draws art inspiration from music.

There are so many terms shared by visual art and music. Words such as repetition, intensity, variety, rhythm, balance, texture, form, line, and harmony are seen in both music and visual art. For instance, in visual art, texture refers to the thickness and roughness of the canvas and the colors, while texture in music refers to the audible quality of an instrument or a voice.

Wassily Kandinsky Explains it in His Book

Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian artist who lived between 1866 and 1944. In his book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, he explains that colors and textures on paintings evoke emotions the same way tunes in music do. According to him, music is the audio version of visual art, while visual art is a frozen form of music. 

He further continued to compare music with visual art by explaining how different colors relate to music. For instance, black to him meant utter silence while flamboyant colors such as blue, red, and yellow point to sounds from instruments such as a saxophone or trumpet.

Art historians and cognitive scientists believe that Kandinsky was different. They suppose that he had Chromesthesia, which is a neurological condition where one associates specific sounds with specific colors. Unlike everyone else, synesthete (as this group of people is referred) has secondary senses that associate a pitch or timbre with sound. This is why silence made Kandinsky see black.

Many other artists share the same view as Kandinsky; music is color. Phillip Schreibman, a New York artist, creates paintings that are visual expressions of music. Another artist, Carol Stem from New York, believes that music inspires her work. In 2003, Carol created the painting “Runs off in Front,” which was inspired by music from the empty canvas to the completed piece. 

When Carol gave an interview on her painting, she said that she experienced colorful photism while listening to the song Adouma by Santana. She saw colors of light, and with each stroke, she created colors moving around the canvas.

Evolution in Visual Art and Music

Music has evolved a big deal, and so has visual art. Upcoming artists have come up with new techniques of creating music, and visual art and technology have helped in the evolution. Even with evolution, synesthetic artists like Kandinsky are still prevalent. While it is not possible to tell to what extent pitch and timbre influences their work, the truth remains that music is a part of their work.

In the future, it would help the art community if the relationship between music and visual art is explored.


Visual art and music are allies. Some artists do both music and art, while others are inspired by one to do the other. Musicians get the inspiration to create new music and replenish their creative mojo with art. Visual artists, on the other hand, either get inspiration or hear colors and with each stroke, they create music in physical form. Even visual artists who do portraits still get inspired by listening to music. Away from painting, they listen to music to calm their minds as they think of the next picture. Musicians, on the other hand, take visual art as an escape and a way to think of the next phase in their music. In late 2019, platinum-selling British artist Ed Sheeran said he discovered calmness and creativity in painting before he went on a sabbatical.

<h2>Randy Thomas<h2>

Randy Thomas

Published Date: April 21, 2020

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