Materials · Northern Neck Artisan Trail · oil painting · Productivity · Reference Photos · Step-by-step · Technique

Ballerinas Day 3

I’m in search of a title for this painting and I’ve posted some of the progress photos on Facebook and I’ve gotten some interesting ideas. I just haven’t decided yet. My Daughter-in-law, who provided me with the reference photo, advised that the girls were in a Ballet called The Carnival of Animals and they were dancing the parts of the Ferrets. I had wondered what the fluffy tails were all about in the original photo, I took them out for the painting, but at least I understand now.

I had considered titles like Backstage, Tiny Dancers, or Awaiting their Cue. Others suggested Ladies in Waiting, Waiting in the Wings, Debut, First Recital, Break a Leg, In the Wings, Backstage Jitters, and Anticipation. I think asking for suggestions has made it perhaps all the harder to decide. But I really appreciate that everyone can sense the emotion and anyone who ever danced, loves the ballet, or had a kid in a dance class can relate to this painting.

So, what did I get done on Day 3? I started figuring out my color scheme.

In the photo, their faces are very dark and their faces and limbs are really indistinguishable from the very dark curtains. I love the rim lighting, but I know I need to warm up and lighten their little faces and bodies without losing the sense that they are standing in the darkened wings back stage and are only illuminated by the stage lights. The satin ribbons and fluffy organza in their costumes both gather and reflect the light so appear both translucent and reflective. But I have to preserve the shadows and reflected lights as well and the dancer in the front of the line needs to have the lightest costume as she is closest to the light source and is also partially blocking the dancers behind her.

My awe of Edgar Degas, who sketched and painted ballerinas and opera performers in horrible lighting conditions all the while deeply appreciating those very lighting conditions, grows daily. It is rumored he used a camera for some of his sourcing, but I can only imagine how hard it would be without a photo from which to start. It does, however, make me want to figure out a way to find folks who would be willing to model for me.

2 thoughts on “Ballerinas Day 3

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