Only in Paris…classical musicians hawk their wares (or CDs) outside La Comedie Francaise, just a few short blocks from The Louvre Art Museum.
As I walked back to my hotel after visiting the Louvre, I heard the uplifting sound of strings in a nearby plaza. Edged by grand arched buildings sheltering cafes, people were sitting outside in the cool spring air listening to the musicians. It was lovely.
I have had the photo of this scene taped up on my studio wall for over a year, and would often study it. I loved the graphic pattern of the musicians against the red, gray and white backdrop.
But even more, I loved the individuality of the musicians, sitting or standing amongst their cases and bags, concentrating on the music with looks of serene joy. There is nothing like an artist practicing their craft.
Each musician had such a distinct personality. I found as I worked on them, I got to know each one, and made up nicknames for each.
As I worked from left to right filling in the details, I got to know each one and their precious instruments. I had never sketched or painted musical instruments before. It was a struggle, but also an education…the different shapes, the different shades of wood. And each player had their own stance that did suit the personalities I had conjured up.
I wanted to create a rhythm and a visual movement to match the music I could hear in my head reminiscent of when I had actually been with them on that Paris street.
With the unfathomable violence this past year in Paris, it made this scene even more serene and poignant in my memory.
Each figure had a certain wistfulness. Were they lost in the music or their own private musings?
I would never really know for sure.
But it is rather like my paintings. Each viewer will put their own story to it, create their own scenario surrounding the particular scene and figures. Reality is always in the eye of the beholder. If only that interpretation could always be peaceful.
Like the “violet girl”, the details would build our understanding of the individual until they become more real, if only in our own mind.
This painting took a very long time to paint for me. It was two months of almost daily work. Many hours were spent studying the figures and deciding how they worked alone and together, before completing the background.
Finally, like a good orchestra, it all worked together in harmony.
Paris Street Music, 36 x 24″, oil on linen.