Paula McHugh

Music as Muse


American fiddle music, "folk music" is the music of the common folk, farmers, miners, laborers, and even slaves. The people that immigrated to America from many lands brought with them their musical traditions. The meeting of these different cultures, Irish, Scottish, Native American, African, English, and German flavored the music into a truly "American" sound. Fiddle tunes are mostly learned by ear and rarely written down. Like a good family story it needs the folk to carry it on through the generations.

Paula McHugh, painter and musician, has created a series of oil, egg tempera, and watercolor paintings inspired by the titles of American fiddle tunes and folk songs. Traditional American music played on the fiddle, banjo, guitar, and dulcimer is a lively and informal music that is learned by ear and that has been passed down faithfully through the generations. It weaves together the musical legacy of America. Like the Regionalist Movement artists of the 1930s, Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, and Grant Wood, Paula McHugh conjures up iconic American images from the past using musical titles as her muse.

Sandy River Belle

Oil on Panel 20" x 16"

The first steamboat steamed up the Big Sandy, which runs north between West Virginia and Kentucky, in 1837 carrying goods to merchants in numerous small settlements. When a seaman, sailor, or riverman talked about leaving their ship, it was the same sentiment as leaving their sweetheart.

Art Inspired

by the Titles of

Fiddle Tunes and Folksongs


The Dancing Bears - Oil on Panel - 24" x 18"