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Amelia Riley Thornton

I am a musician and artist based in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. This is the state where I grew up, a 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 during childhood that meant cowboy dances, bluegrass fiddle jams, and campfire songs.  Music and the outdoors have always been linked in my mind.


I am a violin and viola instructor, freelance performer, and recording artist in classical, Americana, jazz, and rock violin/viola.  I earned a Masters degree in Music and Classical Violin Performance from Ohio University, a Bachelor of Music in Music Business from University of Puget Sound, and am currently studying towards a Master of Arts in Music Psychology in Education, Performance & Well-being from University of Sheffield, UK. I have observed how 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 needed an artistic outlet that would allow me to slow down, reflect, and experiment with texture and colors. A musical life can offer this to some, but for me tangible results and final products bring a sense of accomplishment and release. This is where art enters in...


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 artistic inspiration, so that I can create art for fellow adventurers.  My scarves are the perfect accessory, painted with the landscapes, abstracts, and color schemes I encounter in my life. I hope they help you find your inner explorer.


Don't forget to stay in touch and tell me your stories. 

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