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On the Easel

The Dancer


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The Dancer


You may have recognized the dancer as Michele.  I originally wanted to do several figure studies and paintings of a dancer, which I still plan to do.  I had also planed on painting a head and shoulders portrait of Michele at the same time.  After taking dozens of photos of her dancing.  I decided to start shooting continuously through each dance movement at 2 to 3 frames per second.  I found many of the photos of her about to do the dance movement were as graceful and powerful as the photos of her in movement.  So, I decided that I'd like to do a three-quarter portrait of her as she was about to execute a ballet move.

Here are a couple of the numerous photos that I used as reference.



I usually tone my canvases.  That is, most of the time I tint my canvases with paint to a light brown color.  This allows me to better judge the darkness of lightness of the paint as I lay it down.  I start sketching in the form and then blocking in the darks.



Here's another view.  At this point none of the lighter middle tones have been added.  The light areas on her face shoulders and chest are actually the toned canvass.  Its amazing how light the canvas appears when surrounded by dark paint.



I then started placing lights and blocking in the background and the dress.




At this point, I've continued to paint the background and have spent a large amount of time on the head.  Notice that the hands and arms are still just blocked in.



The next step is to repaint everything.  The paint flows differently on the canvass and is easier to control.  Also with everything blocked in, final adjustments to the lightness and darkness color of the paint can be fine tuned. 



At this point I was almost finished.  I just had to fine tune the head and hands restate the dress, and put in the lightest lights.  Then I decided that I didn't like her right arm, so I spent 10-15 hours repainting the arm, shoulder, and background.




The Dancer

Oil on Linen


February 2005




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  2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 Marc J. Surrency.  Artist scans, images, and web design are protected by copyright. Physical or electronic reproduction in whole or part is unlawful without written permission of the artist.