Monday, 21 November 2016

The Red Shoes

I started ballet as an adult and have been going to ballet classes in London for the last 20 years and have been performing every year as a member of an amateur ballet company for the last 15 years or so.  Guess my age, an older girl is still on pointe and going!

This year I was given the title role in Red Shoes, a short piece choreographed by one of the company members.  SO. I had to prepare the red shoes myself.  I selected a pair of old pointe shoes that still have life left in them and got down to painting them.

And here they are, my very own red shoes.  I used mixture of red acrylic paints (permanent alizarin crimson and naphthol red light - which is like cadmium red) and added some water and also some flow improver to make the paints go further.

Pink pointe shoes are cute, but red shoes have something different.  They are mysterious and attractive.  Having painted the shoes and having a pair of red shoes in my own hands made me strangely excited - an effect I didn't expect!   In the story of Red Shoes, a girl got given a pair of red shoes, not knowing they have the life of their own and make her dance till she drops dead.  It's a dark story, but then I felt like "Yeah, I can understand you want to dance till you drop wearing the red shoes".  Well, the prop helped me to be in the spirit of the roll I'll be dancing!

And naturally I wanted to paint them.  Very fitting after homage to Rodin's Dancers paintings.  But shoes are difficult subject to paint!

Drawing/painting a pair of shoes is complicated enough, and these ribbons!!  They make the matter even more complicated.  I will need to paint a lot more of these shoes to get the hang of it.

Meanwhile, my feet in the said red shoes.  Mmmm, aren't they special.
...and the costume.  Oh I loved the costume, the peppermint green goes so well with the red.


Saturday, 12 November 2016

Rodin's Dancers@Courtauld Gallery

Carol @Paris Breakfast was in town again and we made it to Rodin and Dance at Courtauld Gallery.  I haven't been there for ages and I have quite forgotten that the gallery is packed with gems.

Au Bal/Eduard Manet this.  I marvel at the fast and casual brush strokes and simple but effective choice of colours.

The Passers-by/Raoul Dufy
...or like this. 

 Dawn Camden Town/Walter Sickert
Something a bit darker.  If I remember correctly, the man on the bed is speculated to be Jack the Ripper.
We made our way to the special exhibition area through these permanent collection.  Rodin and Dance exhibition was held at the top floor.  Taking photographs was not allowed, so I made several drawings.  The exhibition was not very extensive, only two rooms were dedicated for the exhibition but well worth a visit.  I kind of sighed relief because if it was bigger, I thought I have to come back with more stack of paper to draw them.  I only carried a few pieces of small watercolour paper.
I painted in the drawings at home, it was a good exercise so later I searched on the internet for more images of Rodin's dancers and drew them from the screen.
The hand gestures of the dancers looked very much like East Asian style dance, like Balinese dance.

This one looks more balletic. 
I tried to draw the figures in the simplest and fewest loose lines - getting them right in the first time is pretty tough but then using the rubber and leaving the trace of where the lines were before also leaves interesting marks on paper - in my opinion...  I'm wondering how much I can simplify the lines and still making them look like human figure, or just dropping blobs of flesh colour paint on paper without even drawing with pencil beforehand and making them look like human figure - just getting away with doing minimum brush strokes...this might be my next project.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Watching the Paint Dry

A couple of weeks ago I met up with Carol from Paris Breakfasts.  I have been her reader for years and it was a delight to finally meet her!  She gave me some very useful tips on how to experiment with watercolour on paper.  I used to try to do that following her blog entries but couldn't have quite got it.  Seeing it done in front of my own eyes made so much more sense.  Since then I've been doing the "Watching the paint dry" exercise whenever I find time.

"Watching the paint dry" is just that. You wet the surface of the paper and drop some colours, and just watch them flow and merge.  I find it works better if I don't fiddle with my brushes.  Less is more is definitely true!

I'm having a lot of fun doing this, watching the imaginary landscapes appearing without doing anything is just wonderful.  This one is done on a tiny paper but it's one of my favourite. It turned out to look like a dramatic stormy sky.  I'm wondering if I could reproduce something similar on a larger scale paper...
...And quite often you find the palette produces more interesting image than what you have done on the paper!  Shame it needs to be washed away...