Monday, July 5, 2010

Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity

The fourth planet in Holst's suite is the giant planet of Jupiter to which he added the title "Bringer of Jollity". Now, this word 'jollity' is a strange one which I think I know to be derived from the word 'jolly', but since I am unsure I have to look it up in the dictionary. Sure enough it is listed as "merrymaking" and "festivity" which I already knew from the tempo Holst set for the piece: Allegro giocoso. "Allegro" in Italian meaning 'cheerful' or 'merry', and "giocoso" from the verb giocare, to play, or playful.

So this is the idea that is rolling around my mind as I set off to develop my programme for this painting: it should be fun and jolly, even though that is very much not what Ingres conceived him to be:

Jupiter and Thetis

Even Thetis is trying to encourage a smile from his sullen face but he is having none of it!

Research on the physical planet itself reveals that it is a gas giant and the largest planet in the solar system. So already I can see he needs to be 'larger than life'! Jupiter has over 63 moons with four principal satellites - Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. The planet also has this distinctive Great Red Spot:

So plenty there to work with.

My next task is to come up with an idea for his personification which can then be developed in a semi-abstract manner.

Last year at Halloween many of the Celebs were all going out to fancy-dress costume parties and I came across a photo of the pop singer Pink in this fantastic clowns dress:

Now, here's the thing; Jupiter is a man and Pink is a woman, but since when did that stop traditional male circus clowns from dressing up in a frock for fun and to get a laugh?

The concept of Jupiter as a clown in a brightly coloured dress with spots representing all the fifty-nine smaller moons and holding the strings of four balloons, each one representing the four major moons, sounds like a lot of fun to me!

Colour Study 1

Neocolour in sketchpad, A4.
I made many studies like this one searching for the right arrangement of colours and shapes, but this one shows best how that part of the design development went.

Value Study 1

Charcoal on paper, A2.
The design rolled around for quite some time with studies like this one but somehow I wasn't satisfied with the central positioning of the figure, but by turning the clowns face to one side I could then see the possibilities of showing his big red nose better in profile.

Value Study 2

Charcoal on paper, A2.
Next stage in the design development came with a shift in placement of the figure to one side and not showing the full-length figure. Also, by turning the clowns face to the other side and slightly downward, away from the balloons he is holding, introduced a kind of sadness which is so often the other side of a clowns jollity. On his left arm are two tattoos, one for his wife (and sister [you know what these mythological gods were like]), Ceres, and an anchor just to remind you he is in fact a male in this dress costume :o)

Colour Study 2

Neocolour on paper, A3.
This is the design I choose to paint:

Final Painting

Oils on canvas, 61x42cm.

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