Amelia Riley Thornton

I am one of those artist - types that just can't sit still.  I grew up in Montana, land of hiking, swimming, fishing, camping... the outdoorsy world has always fascinated me and influenced my creativity on so many levels.  The mountain lifestyle comes with a culture all its own, and in Montana that meant cowboy dances, bluegrass fiddle jams, and campfire songs.  Music and the outdoors have always been linked in my mind.  My career/calling is music.  I am a violin and viola instructor, freelance performer, and recording artist in classical, Americana, jazz, and rock violin/viola.  I majored in Music Business at the University of Puget Sound, and completed my Masters of Music in Classical Violin Performance at Ohio University.  Along the way I chose to follow many musical paths, working at music festivals and workshops, children's music and dance camps, and through joining rock, jazz, old-time, and newgrass bands.  I learned how so many fabulous artists built their careers, step-by-step, note-by-note, brushstroke by brushstroke, and this

influenced my own entrepreneurial tendencies.  After moving to Missoula, MT in 2014 I started my teaching studio ( and co-founded a wedding music company (  Between running both of these businesses, performing in local symphonies, guest teaching with other music programs, and performing as a guest violinist with local and national bands, I figured...hey, I have some spare time on my hands...let's squeeze in some time for traveling and painting on silk!


As a child, I took my first years of violin lessons with Lael Gray, a Bigfork-based oil painter and violinist.  Lael and her husband Darrell Gray, artistic metalworker and sculptor, are considered part of our Thornton family and over the years have provided unwavering love, support, guidance, and teaching.  When I was in middle school, it became tradition to visit Lael and Darrell's home for "art days", where my sisters Gillian and Chloe and I would explore print-making, oil painting, watercolors, metal forging, and silk painting.  From the moment I touched the paintbrush loaded with colorful dye onto the white china silk for the first time...there was no going back.  I kept practicing and experimented throughout college with shibori silk scarves, serti-resist method, salt techniques, and card designs.  After years of setting up my music career, I am now finding inspiration in the Montanan landscapes and have honed my unique approach to landscape painting on silk.   


Travel is as essential to me as music.  Most of my adventures involve me clutching my violin case and trying to dash onto an airplane at the front of the line so there is still space for it to ride in the overhead compartment.  The violin has always been my passport to adventure and my conversation starter with fascinating people all over the world.  Music is a universal language.  When I find myself in new environments I make a point to explore the outdoors, be it nature or a city-scape.  I love to take beautiful photos and I often exclaim, "this would make SUCH a great silk painting".  

So here we are.  I travel for art, so that I can create art for travelers.  My scarves are the perfect adventurer's accessory, painted with the landscapes, abstracts, and color schemes I encounter on my travels.  I hope they help you find your inner explorer.


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