Category Archives: custom & hand-painted guitar art

Stars Guitar Under The Sea

After seeing my guitar artwork on her uncle Mark’s guitar and her Dad’s bass, my God -daughter Starlin asked me to make her half-size child’s guitar pretty so I decided to paint Stars Guitar. It doesn’t play well but she thought it would look good on display in her room.

Star Guitar Upright
Star Guitar Upright

My business just started with family and friends wanting their guitars refinished and painted. This gave me many chances to learn and grow without the stress of a client to please on a commissioned guitar.

Stars Guitar Front
Stars Guitar Front

I thought an underwater scene in my style with a starfish would be cool. I let the stain and denatured alcohol do most of the work on this one. The magic seemed to happen by itself, and Star was thrilled. Her smile when I was finished was priceless.


A Shipwreck of a life…

Ever since I can remember a rusty old shipwreck and the mystique of the buccaneer and the rebel pirates have fascinated me. I have always viewed the musicians, poets, writers, painters, and scientists as a different kind of pirate. Questioning the status quo, fighting to be free and believing in the treasure chest filled with art and answers.

This Yamaha is my go to guitar I play all the time. So I thought why not reflect my sentiment for the pirate, the artisans and the thinkers with this guitar. The scene is dark, under the water, the flag is torn…success historically has had a way of eluding many great minds. So…it’s a pirates life for me baby and how about you? MT

Garden Guitar

This really old nylon I bought for my friend L Shrader at Schafer and Sons more than 30 years ago. It still plays like a dream. Sweet tone, great action, just one of those magic little guitars.

I was honored to do something special, artistically on this garden guitar for my oldest dear friend Linda, who is an amazing artist herself. You can see her work at


Getting Started On The Garden Guitar

Knowing Linda’s love for her garden, I decided to paint a garden guitar for her. I had an idea for a floral effect so I used torn tape to make my shapes. The guitar I sanded down smooth as glass which is unusual for acoustic tops. Using a very limited color palette I laid down the stain, and removed the tape. Actually it was my easiest project to date. As it was one of my early projects I was amazed at how the guitar stains had blended and mixed in the voids. Art making itself I call it.

I use denatured alcohol to really make the guitar stains move around. A drop here, a drop there, and magic happens. I finished it with ten coats of  Tru-Oil  and a few years later it still looks shiny and beautiful. Thank you Linda, this guitar is still one of my favorites:-)

The Birth of MT Robison Art Guitars

The birth of MT Robison Art Guitars was unintentional and organic, although perhaps a bit random and definitely risky. When MT Robison was asked by his former lead-guitar player and MD for MT Robison & The Messengers, Mark Shrader, to refinish his factory red Les Paul and add a big “22,” neither MT nor Mark knew what had just happened. But it was big.

The one that started it all...
The one that started it all…

And who knows what possessed Shrader, typically logical and cautious, to ask MT to do that in the first place? Insanity or inspiration? It wasn’t a case of mistaken career identity. Shrader knew MT had never refinished a guitar in his life, and yet, he handed over a brand new Gibson Les Paul to an eager but inexperienced MT, and went home and slept like a baby. It may forever remain one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the 21st century, baffling psychiatrists and late night talk show hosts the world over.

Now, the story of a man pursuing his dreams and his original music for over 40 years without reasonable financial validation is for another post, but let’s just say it’s been a very long journey… one that can leave a man finding himself tired, uninspired, and a bit lost in the woods.

Next stop, who knows...
Next stop, who knows…

Few people knew what other artistic talents MT possessed besides singing, song writing, and playing a mean slide-guitar. MT himself had almost forgot how much he loved creating visual arts.


His father, E.W. Robison was a Ret. Army Major, and a civil engineer by trade, but he was also a life-long artist, doing everything from hand-drawn portraits of movie-stars for old movie theater marquees, to block printing, painting, quilt making, and so on. Visual art is in MT’s blood as much as his Kentucky roots and music from his mother’s side of the family.

When MT’s hands got to working on the wood of that first guitar, he felt a stir of familiarity… and watched with wonder, as his hands sanded away the factory paint and the beautiful wood grain was revealed. (Look, he’s actually smiling.)

MT Robison Sanding "22" Guitar
MT Robison Sanding “22” Guitar


"22" in progress
“22” in progress
The one that started it all...
“22”  Finished

Shrader was so happy with the results of “22,” that he then asked MT to refinish his Takamine with any artwork MT wanted. MT created a rich, colorful,  water-color style, layered effect with quality wood stains and a Tru-oil finish that really brought out the gorgeous wood grain.


Tortoise Shell close up
Tortoise Shell close up

And somewhere in the rich soil of the artistic process, seeds were planted that grew like wildfire beneath a cold and crusty earth, and a cold and crusty heart. Tender shoots of child-like excitement sprang up inside MT, sparking his imagination, awakening something he hadn’t felt for a long time.

And he couldn’t wait to get his hands on another guitar…

Welcome to the Birth of MT Robison Art Guitars.