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Harpsichord 3

August 21, 2007

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photo Rende Zoutewelle

The positions of the flowers are laid out on pieces of tracing paper. One by one I transfer them onto the board, then block in the main colours.

According to some historians, Flemish harpsichords of the 17 th century were painted exclusively in water-based pigments. This made the songboard exceedingly fragile, but when it comes to water, the whole instrument is vulnerable anyway.

I worked with gouache for the first 2 instruments I painted. Then one night, when I had a songboard in process, it rained and there was a leak in my studio. Fortunately, water only splattered near the board, but that was the deciding point for me. The next intrument I did was painted in egg-based tempera. It  looks like gouache, but it dries hard and mostly waterproof. Luckily it is available ready-made in tubes here in Holland.

So the painting has begun, it is very enjoyable work. My sable brushes are sharp and flexible, the colors used are vibrant, and flowers are such accommodating subjects.
Pictured is the underpainting of the rosette wreath around the sound hole of the instrument. The flowers and leaves are first painted quickly in approximate colours. Then when I’ve worked sketchily across the whole board, I’ll start to pull the colours together and work on details.

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2 Responses to “Harpsichord 3”


  1. Woooooooowwwww. Absolutely beautiful! So vibrant.

  2. szoutewelle Says:

    thanks, Alison. I’ve had quite a few responses on this and it is fun to have an ‘audience’ for a long project. So much of an artist’s work is done in isolation. But you know that, too.

    ps the final colours will be toned down a bit, also the photo makes them a bit more harsh than they are.


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