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  • Kenneth Cook

Fiddle and Painting

Updated: Nov 17, 2018

How to keep paint out of your f-holes, and bow hairs out of your paint...

Performing some William Marshall jigs with Janette Duncan and Gerry Morrison. Thankfully, it was a groove infused moment.

A lot of artists listen to music when they create. Some do not, but many do. It makes sense: music helps you flow from moment to moment. It brings you out of that self-critical stuckness and unleashes the muses to dance across your canvas.


There's an additional benefit artists can tap into if they've ever played an instrument. Can you recall a moment when the music was really pouring out of you, almost without effort? A moment when you were in the groove and it was just happening?


As a fiddler, I notice it first in my bow arm. OK, I don't notice it right away. At first, I'm caught up in some breakneck reels, trying hard to remember the notes. Then some unknown amount of time passes and I realize I've stopped thinking about the tunes; my body is just playing them. That's when I notice my bowing. I'm using far less of the upper arm and elbow, and far more wrist and fingers. They are fluid, enjoying themselves, going to all the right places and I'm not thinking about it. The upper arm is relieved to get a break from doing all the work. "Look at how well the wrist and fingers can do this...I don't need to work so hard," my arm seems to say. Overall, it feels like levitating.


Maybe you are not a fiddler (although you can be http://sfscottishfiddlers.org). Maybe you played piano or flute or drums. Maybe you found the groove in dance or sports. Your body was singing and your mind stopped churning and just went along for the ride.

"I'm not even aware that I've really stopped thinking about the tune; my body is just playing them.

Now, back in the studio, you are standing over a piece of watercolor paper, or a canvas, or piece of clay. You take a deep breath. You take another. You call up on that reservoir of groove, some of that moment. Let it flow from deep within you and out to your wrists and fingers. Let that moment happen and then make your beautiful marks.


F-holes? Do keep your fiddle away from you paints, and visa-versa. The f-hole is that curvy hole in the violin. Not a good place for paint, but is fun to say because it sounds dirty. And no, I've never played, "Devil Came Down to Georgia."



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