WHEN I WAS YOUNG, we used to have a book called Trubloff ~ The Mouse Who Wanted to Play the Balalaika by the wonderful John Burningham, and I loved the story very much indeed. John Burningham's illustrations have a fabulous scratchy folky quality that embodies great heart. This is the amazon synopsis of the story:
I try to play the accordion, as I have mentioned before.. specifically the Russian B-System Bayan :) ... there is something about the sound of accordion and clarinet together that really gets me. I often paint musical instruments, I like the shapes of them and I find that I can hear the paintings playing if I listen to a recording whilst making the image.
Anyhow, back to balalaikas... those triangular stringed instruments that can be seen not only in the arms of mice but also played in whole ensembles with instruments ranging from tiny tinkling things to great bass balalaikas.
As you know, our grand clear out is including the odd original painting sale and I have decided to sell my Balalaika watercolour for an extremely reasonable £80 :) ... it's a smallish little thing (7.5" x 5"), which I painted in 2005 and I'm selling it unframed. There it is in the fireplace with my first green accordion; a funny little man on the back of a wheeled reindeer, playing the balalaika in a snowy onion-domed Slavic forest. And here it is in my etsy shop if you should wish to own it. [Edit... the painting is sold!]
And if you'd like to hear a balalaika playing whilst you look at the painting, here's well known Polish/English balalaika player Bibs Ekkel in 1978 with Ensemble Tsiganka playing Papirosen, a Russian/Yiddish song about cigarettes. That's them over there leaning against the Gypsy vardo :)
NB - all images except those of my painting and accordion are nicked from the internet :)