Music is a huge part of the creative process for me, and I wanted to share some of the artists & albums that are on regular rotation in my little studio.

(I should mention that my hands-down, all-time favorite band is The Beatles…but I don’t include them here, since I generally don’t paint or draw by their music, for some reason.  It doesn’t feel quite right to leave them out altogether, though, since they’re a long-time obsession of mine!)

Loreena McKennitt

Loreena is just indescribably marvelous.  Everything she touches is magic.  I’ve seen her a few times in concert now – with one of those performances being her gorgeous candlelit trio tour – and each time, she’s so completely charming and inspiring.  I love that she’s such a captivating storyteller – she puts so much research into all of her music.  Loreena is also such a gracious and thoughtful musician – if you subscribe to her newsletter (and if you don’t, you should!), you know about the thoughtful and engaging pieces she shares.  And her music…well, it just transports the listener to another time and place altogether.

I don’t know how to choose only a few albums of hers to recommend, but here goes: seek out An Ancient Muse, The Visit, The Book of Secrets…and at Christmastime, A Midwinter Night’s Dream is a necessity.

Joni Mitchell

Joni and her brilliant songs have always been a balm for my soul.  I have an ever-expanding collection of her music on vinyl, and there’s something so magical about putting on one of her records – she has a song for every mood, suited for every day.  I went through a phase where I tried to learn her music on the guitar, and after trying to wrestle my way through the complicated tuning, I came out the other side feeling even more stunned by her musical prowess.  And her lyrics! Oh, those lyrics.

I may as well just recommend her whole discography, but please do be sure to check out Clouds, For the Roses, Night Ride Home, Shine

Sarah McLachlan

Oh, Sarah.  Her albums are ethereal.  I got to see her perform a few years ago (outdoors, at a winery, with twilight falling on us while she played), and it was such a beautiful experience.  Her voice is so captivating, and her albums have been cornerstones throughout my life.

I love all her albums, but Mirrorball, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, and Laws of Illusion have my heart in particular.


Storyhill – the singer/songwriter duo of Chris Cunningham & Johnny Hermanson – holds a special place in my heart.  Chris & Johnny are from my home state of Montana, and their songs always seem to capture the geography and soul of that place for me, whether they’re writing about it or not.  We’ve seen them perform time and time again, and their performances are always absolutely captivating and magical.  Our son’s first concert – in utero – was Storyhill!  They’re on hiatus now, but between studio albums and live recordings, there’s a wealth of their music available.  (You may remember them from their feature on Prairie Home Companion!)

Be sure to seek out Shade Of The Trees, Storyhill (self-titled), and Dovetail.

Áine Minogue

Áine is an Irish harpist whose music is ethereal and transportive.  I love painting and drawing with her harp filling the air.  She puts so much thought & care into researching and creating all of her work.  She also worked with John O’Donohue, including providing the music for the audio recording of John’s book of blessings, To Bless the Space Between Us.

My absolute favorite albums of Áine’s are The Twilight Realm, Celtic Meditation Music, and Winter: A Meditation.


Moby‘s music has been the soundtrack to so many of my paintings – there’s something totally captivating about it that really helps me to get into a deeper mode of concentration when I’m working my way through thin layers of paint & color.

In particular, his albums Play and 18 are on frequent rotation here!


Music from yesteryear is a staple in our home.  I often like to listen to a Seattle-area radio station that broadcasts a huge variety of “oldies” – AM 880 KIXI.  They also broadcast old radio dramas, episodes of “The Twilight Zone”, etc., which are especially fun to listen to around Halloween!

Their lineup can be a bit mixed – sometimes they stray from oldies – but for the most part, they feature a lot of wonderful gems.

If you’re in the Seattle area, you can tune into AM 880 to see what they’re playing – but you can also stream their station online!

4 thoughts on “Music to Create By

    1. Oooo yes! Though I didn’t include them on this list, they’re one of my favorite bands – I remember a few paintings in particular were done while listening to Division Bell on repeat. 😍 I haven’t painted to them for awhile, though, and need to get back to that! Thanks for reading and for the suggestion 😊


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