For once a post on a painting I am working on right now. Since my new phone has a good camera it was quite easy to take some photos in progress.
It's been a while I wanted to paint one of my my sons' clarinet; it's been living in its case for the last few months, as he has dropped out of his music lessons. I too dropped out of my piano lessons as a child but I clearly like activities in which one focuses completely !
The instrument is beautiful and complicated and it is important for me that as a subject it has been endorsed by Chardin, Picasso and Braque. In order to create relationships in the painting I set up the main body with the mouthpiece and bell separately, and I added the case as a strong tonal element ( husband said: "What I don't understand is why you had to include this black radio, guess it needs repainting"). The setting is on a small cabinet, a regular extra of my studio cast of characters; the light strikes it from the right hand side. The canvas is large and provides breathing space for the still life.
In my studio I intentionally blocked out the cool northern light. I prefer to deal with the difficulties of changing colours and moving shadows in order to paint in the warm southern light I miss so much.
I worry a little bit at this point that the painting has no "colour", but it is now that I providentially happen to have a chat with the artist Roni Taharlev. I mention to her that I have doubts on this aspect of the painting and she replies: "But I love black ! Think about Duccio. In other Madonnas you have the impression of worshipping the dress, but his stark black veils...". That was all I needed, a little word of wisdom and reassurance !
I make a quick drawing of the intricate key works of the clarinet to understand proportions better, I would like it to look "right".
I keep going with the painting trying to understand the ellipsis on the bell of the instrument and to find a good rhythm in the negative spaces.
I like very much my little cabinet, its ornate front is a good solution to the problem of the support, the plinth for the setting. I like this limited surface where the object is often placed close to the edge of its world. When I open the drawer Chardin shows up in the work.
As I proceed with the work I feel very unsatisfied: something is missing, the whole thing is just too simple. The idea of the unplayed instrument is still there and I start thinking about the small "musical cemetery" we have at home. I decide to add the abandoned trumpet and the handed-down guitar, the painting is almost becoming a family portrait, the quiet one, the gentle one, the boisterous one.
As the other elements are added there is clearly an unbalance towards the right. I gradually understand that the problem is with how I set up the clarinet. I don't want it to come out of the plain, to protrude out of the painting, it needs to be parallel to the surface, it belongs to that other world.
No fear, then. Scraping and repainting.
This is the current state of affairs, but more work to do...