With fall comes a crispness in the air that is hard to deny. It also brings the 10th Annual Painted Violin fundraiser to support the Denver Young Artists Orchestra Association (DYAO).

“The mission of the DYAO is to provide the finest possible youth orchestra programs, inspiring and educating young musicians through the performance of great works of music, and offering value cultural opportunities to the community.”

DYAO Oct 2010  DYAO Oct 2010The Painted Violin was introduced 10 years ago and it has now become more than just an honor as an artist to participate, it is  an opportunity for artists work to be showcased on an unusual surface and have their work support our youth in such a dynamic way.

“The DYAO added the Painted Violin fundraising project under the direction of the past Executive Director, Erin McLain. Over the past 10 years we have seen it grow from a handful of pieces to more than 22 total pieces in a given season. The Painted Violin project is both a fundraiser and a way to market Colorado’s premier youth orchestra, the Denver Young Artist Orchestra.”

Artist, Stefan Geissbuhler explains his artist process with the violin. “When I received the violin it was delivered with a black wooden case that was probably intended to carry a viola but looked a little like a coffin,” smiles Stefan. “My initial thought was to paint the case so that it could be displayed together with the violin. However, all that kept flashing through my mind was the scene from a movie where Dracula, stiff as a board, vertically rises up out of his coffin. I even contemplated painting the violin to look like a vampire and building a mechanism that would make the violin rise from the case when the lid was opened,” laughs Stefan. “However, I had to remind myself that this was the Painted Violin, not the DYAO Halloween Celebration.”


Stefan struggled with what he would paint on the violin for several months. He wondered whether he would come up with a good concept and how would he use his spackling knives, his preferred painting tools.


"Symphony #42, Nello Spirito" by artist Stefan Geissbuhler

“Symphony #42, Nello Spirito” by artist Stefan Geissbuhler

“It was already March when I finally grabbed myself by the scruff of the neck to prepare the violin so that it could accept the paint. When I finished sanding off the lacquer and applying several coats of gesso, I began painting with the spackling knives just to see if that would work,” states Stefan. “It sort of did, but not well, so I decided on using a brush instead.”


Once Stefan finished painting the violin, he kept looking to the “coffin” to see if he could make it work. “I thought that I could either use it as a stand, or perhaps as a backdrop to the violin. Despite a long time searching for inspiration, vampires and coffins kept popping up in my mind, and that’s when I decided to ditch the case altogether,” laughs Stefan. “I returned the case shortly after.”


“The title for my violin is Symphony #42, Nello Spirito was inspired by Mozart. He remains my favorite composer and like so many great musicians, he departed life way too early. As far as I know, only 41 Mozart symphonies are known to exist and I can’t help but wonder what other amazing compositions he would have created if he had lived longer,” smiles Stefan with his head tilted in wonder. “Some say wondering about “what ifs” doesn’t really help, but then again, wondering and asking ourselves “what if” is what art is all about, don’t you think?”


Over the course of the next couple weeks, I will be introducing you to several artists who participated in this years Painted Violin. All of the Painted Violins are for sale and the kick off to the concert season begins Sunday, October 13th, 2013 with the 10th Annual Painted Violin Opening at the Rialto Café, at approximately 5:00 p.m. (directly following the DYAO 2:30 p.m. concert), lower level, 934 16th Street, Denver, Colorado, 80202.

For more information about the DYAO season and the Painted Violin schedule please visit www.paintedviolin.com, www.dyao.org or phone 303-433-2420 ext 300 for ticket information.