Painting a Violin

My violin which I am to paint for the Denver Young Artists Orchestra fundraiser, 2013

It’s here! My violin arrived last week in the mail, which I volunteered to paint in the hopes of creating an interesting “objet d’art”, which will be offered for sale at the annual fundraiser for the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, a very worthy cause. I can’t think of a more exciting project right now. A violin is such a beautiful instrument, hands down.
Just look at all those lovely curves, balanced with the linear strings that are the business end of it all. This will take some thought, and I don’t take it lightly.

Painted violin by Antonio Maes, Sixth Annual Painted Violin Featured Artist

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Laurie Thede, Sixth Annual Painted Violin Featured Artist

The DYAO will auction, sell and raffle the violins at this annual event. Talented young musicians in the DYAO have outstanding opportunities to play in concerts with professional musicians. In other words, it’s a launching pad for young people who are dedicated to their art and craft. Isn’t that exciting for them?

Here are two painted violins from a couple of years ago that I especially loved to see, by Antonio Maes and Laurie Thede. You can visit the current site as well to see many more examples of a huge variety of artists and their interpretations of how to paint a violin. Just go to to see the most recent event and info on the next one for 2013.

I know I’m excited about this event, not just for the challenge of painting an image on an interestingly shaped “canvas”, but also because people do get excited about auctions that they have a reason to support. One of my favorite such events was when I donated a painting to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens fund-raiser in Vail, Colorado. I love Vail, had been skiing there since I was a kid. My dad also took us up there in summers for his conferences as a family opportunity to “hang out with mom and dad” while he did business. Later I discovered the Ford Alpine Gardens, and took our own kids there, painting the gardens sometimes on my own.

One year a nice young couple bought the painting I donated, and we happened to sit at the same dinner table for the fund-raising event. It made it special for me to meet the folks from Edwards, CO, that wanted that painting and spent their money for the cause to keep the gardens there as the highest altitude botanic gardens in the nation, if not the world! The biggest bonus for my husband Rob and I was meeting and chatting with President and Betty Ford. Rob discovered he had something in common with President Ford, concerning Nebraska roots and golf. There you go, real people meeting real people. I love that above all, and it goes to show that art is a good thing to bring people together.

If you have any stories share if these thoughts sparked a thought in you, please share with me and comment. Thanks!  -Karen


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9 Responses to “Painting a Violin”

  1. sandy Says:

    These are lovely! The colors in the first one are stunning.


  2. Leslie Ann Clark Says:

    really? you really got a violin to paint? How fun is that!!! Here is Lori’s violin she painted for a fund raiser when she was in high school. You are going to love that!


    • karen Says:

      Yes, it will be a challenge, but I have 6 months to decide on a theme and paint it. I’m thinking a night city with a feeling of musical swirls of some kind.


  3. Dareya Cohen Says:

    Could you tell me what type of paint and seal coat you used? We purchased a very cheap violin on ebay to have a local artist paint for my daughter. I am trying to figure out the best paint to use but I can’t get anyone to respond to my questions on other blogs. Would you be able to help me out?


    • karen Says:

      Sure, after I sanded and primed the violin with gesso, I painted it with acrylics. The final varnish was an acrylic gloss varnish. You could also varnish with a traditional varnish used for oil painting.
      Acrylics were my paint of choice but I see no reason why one could use oil paints instead. It’s the artist’s preference, really. Good luck! Check this blog again in the fall to see my finished violin and a link to all the others done for the DYAO fundraiser!


  4. Ellie Says:

    Does the paint affect the sound?


    • karen Says:

      I should have explained that we receive “retired” violins which are no longer to be played. Mine was a very inexpensive instrument, so there was no pressure that I would be ruining something very valuable when I painted it. Some of the other artists actually cut them up to remake into sculptures! Thanks for your question.


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