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Hey there


I'm not sure if this topic belongs in this forum but I guess I'll go for it


I've had my viola for a few years now and as pretty as it is, I managed to put a few ugly scratches on it, 

(by accident of course). there aren't that many but they're kind of obvious. To me, anyway.


I like to consider myself an artist, particularly skilled in swirly doodle looking stuff, and I was curious if it would be safe to use acrylic to paint swirly doodles on my viola. I've read several articles regarding painting on the bodies, so I'm definitely aware of the effects heavy painting has on the wood and the sound quality of the instrument. However, I don't intend to cover the entire instrument in paint like the authors of the forums and articles I have previously read, I just want to do some extremely simple and light designs that are just dark enough to cover the scratches, which are mainly in one main area on my instrument. The color would be similar to that of the instrument: a reddish brown color. Nothing fancy. 


I was wondering if it would be too damaging to the wood or affect the sound greatly. If so, are there any safer alternatives? 

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Light doodling with thin acrylic won't affect sound quality but it will affect resale value.

If this instrument is inexpensive and you have no intention of selling it...doodle away! Post before and after pics for us too. :)

However...if you intend to sell it at any point...don't.

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Some years ago our community orchestra solicited local artists to create something using a violin and donate it to be auctioned for fund raising.  The artists used VSOs in bad shape even for VSOs, so no violins were harmed.  Several artists painted the "instrument"  in creative ways.  One had a copy of a portrait of Brahms on the back.  One artist cut the VSO into match-stick pieces of wood and then re-assembled the violin.  A couple of them made by recognized artists made some money for the orchestra but most of them didn't sell, even for charity purposes.


Decorations were done, historically.  For example Strad's Hellier violin (and a similar modern one by Bruce Carlson) but these had decorative purfling-type decorations.  There were some famous violins and cellos with things like coats of arms on the back if I'm not mistaken.

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A few samples of the swirlies I specialize in that I mentioned:



My instrument is a 16.5 inch and I don't think I'll grow (or shrink), so I doubt I'll sell it any time soon. It's not like a really high dollar viola but it's got wonderful sound quality. As far as I'm concerned, it's mine for good haha. The pictures were done in pen so they're a lot bolder than I'm planning on. I can't wait to get started. I'm gonna start designing the patterns here pretty soon.



Man, I hope these pictures show up.

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Hi Pickle, even on my little phone the pictures of your art work look clear and well detailed. I dislike double purfling and most other non standard ornamentation on violins. I see no reason why you can't paint these designs on your instrument with the intention of masking surface defects especially if this gives you joy and motivates you to keep on practicing. How about some pictures of this work of art when you are done.And welcome here.

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