An Easy Paint to Music Exercise after Wassily Kandisnky


 Kandinsky Music Exercise8

Allow 2 hours for this exercise.

Kandinsky was a Russian artist and musician.  He believed abstract art could express just as much feeling as music. In this exercise you will create a colourful and beautiful abstract composition to the tune of your own music.


  • Good quality watercolour paper
  • 7 tubes of watercolours, blue, red and yellow (both cool and warm) and one tube of black or very dark grey/blue if you prefer.
  • Container for water
  • Board and tape (optional)
  • Rags for wiping up spills
  • 1 medium sized watercolour brush with a good point.

Ask at your art supplier if you are not sure about what you will need.

Choose a favourite track from your CD collection.  In music, a motif is a part of the tune that is repeated over and over again (there might be more than one).  Listen to the track with your eyes closed to establish the motifs.  This is important when completing the following artwork.

TIP: With watercolour, it is best to work while the paint is completely wet or completely dry.  Working into damp paint may cause some frustration. 🙂

Step 1

Tape your paper to a board if you have one but this is not necessary.  You can work on a paper pad if you wish.

Kandinsky Music Exercise

Step 2

Put out a generous amount of cool yellow into your palette with a small amount of cool blue.

Add water until the colour is pale and clear yet vibrant.  Test on a piece of spare paper first. This is how my mixture looked with water added (mostly yellow.)

Kandinsky Music Exercise2

When you have the colour you are happy with, drag it across the paper in horizontal strokes working quickly while the paint is wet.  I placed a bound book under the top of my board so all the drips would run to the bottom of the page, where I mopped them up with a damp brush.  Don’t be timid, your marks will be perfect according to what evolves organically.  Take a break and allow this to dry.  Depending on the day, it could take 10-20 minutes.  I tested it on some scrap paper first, this colour should be a light lime green.Kandinsky Music Exercise3
Step 3

When the work is dry, mix up a small amount of black, load a thin brush with the mixture and close your eyes.  Put on the music and paint or draw a line that suits the rhythm of the melody.  Perhaps a swirling line for a smooth rhythm and a zigzag line for a jerky rhythm.  It is your interpretation only and whatever you put down will be perfect.  It is best to start and end off the edges of the page.

Kandinsky Music Exercise4

Step 4

Mix up six colours ready to start the next process.  Use some light colours and some dark ones.  Colours directly from the tube tend to be boring so mix a little of an opposite colour to make your colours jump off the page.

 Kandinsky Music Exercise5

Along the line, paint a shape each time you hear a motif in the melody.  Make the marks different sizes, colours and shapes.  Use other shapes if there is more than one motif in the melody.  The music will inspire you to keep painting so use your feelings to add different shades of colour around the shapes and along the black lines.  When the track is finished stop painting, that way you’ll leave some restful areas.

 Kandinsky Music Exercise6

My music was happy so I used a lot of yellow, it also was quite romantic and soothing so I used pale blue and pink.  There are joyful melody motifs all over my painting!  Try to rinse your brush with water in between making these marks and drag the colour over the page to create depth.  Don’t worry about spills and drips, that’s what makes the work so very special and unique.

Kandinsky Music Exercise7
If you want some soft watery edges as I have, wet a clean brush with plenty of water picking up some wet paint, drag the water across the paper a little way.  Make sure the brush is filled with water and no colour.   This is my finished painting, can you see the water marks, I love them!Kandinsky Music Exercise8

You may also like to paint after the great master, Wassily Kandinsky in acrylics.

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5 thoughts on “An Easy Paint to Music Exercise after Wassily Kandisnky

      • Film soundtracks, Philip Glass, Beethoven, any kind of cello music and the Beatles which is the only vocal music I can listen to when I write but not all the time, usually for light editing. Problem with the Beatles is I always end up singing along and can’t concentrate. >KB


      • Thanks a lot! I have a suite of Bach cello pieces which I will get out again. Have not many film soundtracks, only one from “The Piano”. It is an old one but a very good one. Thanks for your suggestions! 🙂


  1. Pingback: Copy the Great Masters – Wassily Kandinsky | Zen School for Creative People

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