Harpsichord song board painting done
March 3, 2012
Well, the painting of the song board is completed. Johan came to pick it up this past week.
The etalage is incredibly empty. It was like having a friend there, a real presence, waiting every morning. I’d look at the work of the past day and plan what the steps for today would be- and by some miracle, flower by flower by flower, it all got done.
It took close to 80 hours spread over 8 weeks, not counting the planning and design. Those hours aren’t all painting time, they also include drawing, transferring, some research, and reworking some flower drawings.
I always have a bit of resistance to adding the final blue arabesques, those clumps of curls and swirls around the edges. I’d prefer a more streamlined look. But the blue decorations are trademarks of these Ruckers Flemish instruments from around this time (1638), so they are not optional. They are fun to do, and the artist can hide all kinds of inside jokes in the complicated strokes. You may be able to spot a few that are not just designs but contain figurative elements. Once I hid a bike, a mermaid, and even a boxer (dog).
The lines, scallops and arabesques are done with an applicator so that they will be raised in relief. Originally this was done with a mixture of cobalt glass and casein binder. I use gouache and casein with a smidge of acylic gel for elasticity.
Here are Johan and I, Johan has just finished playing air harpsichord, Bach’s flower concerto I think.
And now the instrument is back with its creator, Matthias, who will add strings, keyboard and base, several layers of paint (on the outside!!!) and other finishing touches. All of us involved with the birth of this instrument are enjoying seeing it come alive as each person does his/her part. It is one of the most rewarding (and intense) projects I’ve worked on. I’m so grateful it is safely back in Germany in Matthias’ workshop.