Music is ingrained in my father’s family. It is a way of life. To better understand this, I thought I’d share some facts about my fathers family, and then come back and explain what you see in the above collage – which is primarily material from my father.

Below is a picture of my grandfather and four of my father’s sisters as they get ready to perform on WDUN-AM in Gainesville, Georgia (the radio station still exists!)


Aunts Caroline, Martha, Mary Lou and Colene with my granddad

My father rebuilt pianos, my grandfather was a piano tuner. Even tough my father knew how to tune, he  preferred putting the piano together again. I began taking piano lessons at age five (from my aunt Colene pictured above).

When my father died and I was asked what I’d like to keep that belonged to him. I asked for his piano tuning fork – pictured below lying on my piano. 


Now – back to the collage above.

Not only do you see music in the above collage, but you see pages from my father’s piano tuning book. Everything handwritten is in my father’s hands. You can see the cover of the book – kind of anyway (look to the left – see the letters FIR). There are the words “showing off the piano” – partially obscured – this is what a piano tuner does when the piano is properly tuned.

The keyboard you see at the bottom left is the Bearings Scale – which is the traditional “laying the bearing” or setting a central octave to proper pitch using the method of counting the beats (I don’t pretend to understand all of this! – but I heard discussions about counting the beats growing up).

At the top of the collage, there is a picture on the right and a drawing on the left of the “action” of the piano.  What is the action?  The Piano Tuners Guild says:

“The three systems involved in regulation are the action, trapwork and damper system. The action is the mechanical part of the piano that transfers the motion of the fingers on the keys to the hammers that strike the strings.”

The printed portion on the lower right are definitions of different part of the piano, such as string, damper, felt, etc.

Here are some additional pieces of art that were inspired by my family’s devotion to music.

The Butterfly

The Butterfly

The Buttefly uses my recital piece from about 6th grade. Here is proof!

recital copy




And – I know you wanted to see this – scroll down!

Here I am with my very first piano! (I remember sitting on my grandfathers lap about this time and learning where “Middle C” is located – it confounded me that is wasn’t in the middle of the keyboard!)

Image 014

Now – if you have read this far – I have a gift.  Subscribe to my blog (see block on the upper right corner) When you have done so – email me at vickiemartinarts@comcast.net and on March 21st (first day of Spring!), I will draw 10 names and send them each 10 pieces of original music like what is pictured below to use in your own collage!DSCN0008

BTW – an aside about the piano. I have long considered it a percussion instrument, because the sound is made with the hammer hitting the strings. Lately I’ve heard more and more are considering it a string instrument, as the musical tones originate in the strings. Any way you look at it, it is a chordophone.

I had to much fun putting this together, I’ve decided to do a series of blogs about where I find inspiration. Next up – for equal time, find out what of my mom’s I continue using in my artwork!




18 thoughts on “A CONSCIOUS COLLAGE

  1. Linda S Watson

    Vickie, I loved hearing about the inspiration for your collage and the family history. That book to the right Heller? Studies looks familiar. I swear I practiced from something like that when I was a kid. Looking forward to more of your stories about your art.

  2. vickiemartin Post author

    it is Heller – those endless exercises – and on the left is Beethoven –

  3. Sue

    Vickie, I loved hearing about your inspiration from your father .It’s amazing what inspires us as artists yet comes onto the canvas in a different fashion. Your collages are lovely and I can see the meaning in them now. Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Susan Davies

    Vickie, loved hearing more about your collages! I always see something new when I look at them.

  5. Dora Ficher


    I love to see and read about how you get your inspiration. What a wonderful story. We have a lot in common. My father’s family were also musicians. My dad was a violinist and after he passed away I have also been using his music to collage. Thank you for sharing this, I did not know too much about piano tuning. Can’t wait to keep reading.

  6. vickiemartin Post author

    Thank you Dora – Alyson mentioned we had the musical background in common. This blog taught me to keep a record of the steps in my work!

  7. vickiemartin Post author

    thank you Sue! this taught me to keep a conscious story about what I’m doing

  8. Kelly L McKenzie

    I can’t help but think that your dad is looking down now and beaming. He would be so proud of you. What a meaningful collage. Loved how you explained the significance of the pieces. Thank you. Without that I would look at it and appreciate it in a much different way.
    And yes, I too was puzzled as to why middle C wasn’t in the middle.

  9. vickiemartin Post author

    thank you Kelly – my dad and grand-dad are watching! and that about middle C was as puzzling as the pronunciation of Beethoven the first time I heard it!

  10. Deborah Weber

    What a post Vickie – I loved hearing the story of the inspiration behind your piece. And what a lovely tribute to your dad. How fun to be from a musical family – and I have to say that photo of you as a budding pianist is positively adorable.

  11. Amy Putkonen

    Hi Vickie,

    What a sweet post. My family was so NOT musical and I am always amazed by those that are. I think your dad is smiling at you for making that dear collage.

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