With this on-going pandemic continuing to bring us all down, I wanted to paint something that was totally uplifting. That was my goal as I began to ponder ideas.
For some reason, I zeroed in on a ballerina. I’ve always been fascinated by their amazing grace and power as it takes great athletic ability to do the many moves they make.
I knew I wanted to paint the ballerina out in the open, set against a blue sky. It was then that I decided to put her in a field of sunflowers and she would be holding two of them in her hands in mid-leap form.
So that was my initial sketch that I worked up.
I spent quite a while on scaling up my small sketch onto the canvas, paying special attention to the ballerina. Since she was the focal point of the painting, I knew I had to get her features correct.
Generally, I don’t paint too many faces. I have a tendency to overwork the image until it becomes a muddled mess.
The painting began with the sky. I went from a straight blue sky to working in the cloud formations that you see. Initially, I thought I had overdone the largest cloud and that it would take away from the grace of the ballerina. But I decided to let it be and move on to the flowers. Even now, I can see the shape of a praying mantis in that cloud formation. But that’s how clouds are supposed to be – where you can see objects or things that aren’t really there.
The sunflowers were more of a challenge than I anticipated. They needed to be defined in the foreground and nebulous in the background. Initially, the backdrop was flat but I thought adding distant hills on the horizon helped to define everything a bit more.
When I began painting the ballerina, her dress was more bluish which I quickly decided didn’t work. So I went with more of a plum color and tried to maintain the shape of her legs underneath the dress. I actually painted her face first before I moved on to the dress. I used a very fine tipped paint brush to highlight her features.
Though this painting may not fit my normal surrealistic approach, there is still a hint of surrealism as she’s probably about 15 feet in the air meaning she either has enormous power or I’m simply using her as a metaphor for all of us to rise above.
I’m hoping that in the coming weeks, we may all be able to leap into spring. There is beauty everywhere. And it is meant to be enjoyed.
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