The Insular Sitar

This is a longer-term project, and will take many months and hundreds of hours to complete. This sitar was commissioned to have a look similar to the Insular style of illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages, more specifically, the Book of Kells:



I was more than happy to oblige. I have always been fascinated by this style of art, and the chance to combine it with my passion was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Right now, I am in the layout phase, deciding where everything will go:



With these kind of projects, I’ve found that it’s easier to plan this part of it on paper rather than a computer. Because the majority of the sitar will be hand painted, it really comes quite naturally to plan it out with good ‘ole pencil and paper. In researching the style, I found that the monks would often carefully plan out the design on a wax tablet, making a bigger version which would then be copied meticulously onto the vellum at a sometimes minuscule scale. While the finished products have a sort of twisting and organic quality to them, most were laid out and measured using sophisticated geometric concepts.

After I have completed the basic layout, I will do a test run on a wooden top I have carved out, just for this purpose. I will use it to test the final design, as well as the paints. Gouache will be used for the illuminated parts, along with 24k gold paint. The wood underneath will be visible in parts, which will be clear coated before the paint is applied. This will give the effect that the designs are floating above the surface, and make it more luminous looking.

I will post more blog entries as this progresses. As this will take as long, if not longer than a real illuminated page, you will get to see a very slow progression towards the finished sitar over the next few months.