WIP Shots of Repainted Ballerina in Spotlight #1

So, it’s time to post some shots of the painting process for this ballerina painting that I finished this winter and that I have been circulating online and even in exhibitions.

The inspiration behind this painting: The very first painting I did on a canvas* was actually a ballerina for a friend, who kindly paid me $50 to do it despite my complete lack of acrylic painting experience or experience working with clients at the time. I remember finishing the painting within 5 or 6 frantic hours, where I stressed about trying to make it “good”. Before that, I was nervous and did several prep. sketches. This actually hasn’t changed much over 10 years… I still shit my pants every time I have to paint something for someone else, because I really care that they like it and don’t want the final piece rejected.

*Apparently, I put watercolour paper on my website. My memory is kind of faded of this, but I really feel like it was on canvas. I don’t know. Eitherway, first acrylic commission.

Here’s one of those sketches, for anyone interested. I’d be happy to sell this, as I still have it. 8″x11″, frame or no frame.

Here’s the painting I painted for her. THIS IS NOT FOR SALE. DON’T ASK. Oh my god, someone ALWAYS asks. Why is this painting so popular? I will HAPPILY paint you your own ballerina, but this one is GONE. Unlike my other work, I can’t make prints of it either because this is before I knew what I was doing, so all I have is a potato quality JPEG.

So after 10 years of practicing and learning about art and not having painted in acrylics in a long time, I decided to revisit this subject. There’s lots of things I didn’t like about the original painting: mainly, the stiff, inaccurate anatomy and the muddy, dull colours. There’s just the feeling I felt while painting it that I didn’t like: it doesn’t feel good finishing something and thinking “this is okay, I wish I could do better”. Interestingly, I’m learning that kind of discomfort is important. If you’re too comfortable, it probably means you are not being critical enough of your work and not improving. There’s always the inverse – something I have problems with now: I am too critical and mostly of the wrong things, so I end up with a painting that is overworked and lost its vibrancy and life. I’ll talk about what I learned from this painting more later on.

The first step, aside from research sketches and collecting reference photos, was to lay in the background of the stage.