Work in Progress – Ballerina in Repose (Day 1 and 2)
Now that I am back in Thailand and able to join the gang at Attic Studios again, I decided to challenge myself to a different medium than pastels. So I grabbed a canvas, spent some time thinking on what I wanted to paint and decided to go with oil paints. I haven’t painted with oils since March 2012, so you could say it’s been a while!
The ballerina image I found on Pinterest draw me in, because it isn’t the usual image of a ballerina on her pointe feet. This ballerina is at rest, and her feet are relaxed. With feet being a particular challenge for me (I tend to draw them way too small for the rest of the body and have a hard time with the shape of feet too), I decided this would be a good way to improve on my ‘foot foibles’.
Lay out the composition in charcoal on the canvas. I got started but ended up having to erase all my previous work, because I got lazy and did not measure out my centre grid line properly. Which just goes to show you; it is better to spend extra time in the beginning to get the proportions right, or it will never look right, no matter what you do later on. I find a grid helps me translate an image onto canvas/paper more accurately, whilst leaving plenty of room for creative freedom. This took me the better part of 3 hours.
Get out the paint! I started with a very thin layer of Burnt Umber oil paint, covering the charcoal sketch that was on the canvas. I then blended it out onto the canvas with a clean rag, to make sure subsequent layers did not pick up the first layer of paint. The next step: working on the darkest areas of the composition. I mixed a very dark blue for the background, and applied multiple layers in different areas of the canvas, mainly on the left behind the ballerina, a light layer on the right in front of her, and a bit as part of the underpainting for her layered skirt. I then created a darker brown to work into the skin areas and the pointe ballerina shoes. I worked on the painting for about 4 hours today.