Category: acrylic

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.

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Work in Progress; Slumbering (2007)

0029I’ve been busy with moving across several provinces to my new home in Quebec and settling into an apartment. I’ve also been busy with putting together a pitch for Telefilm, which has eaten up the majority of a very rushed month. Currently, I am working on colour correcting a documentary – but maybe more on that later – and in between that, I am dealing with depression.

For now, here is a Work in Progress sequence of a painting I did long ago in 2007 that I found the other day on my hard drive. The painting is called Slumbering, it is 30″x48″, acrylic on canvas. I painted this during the summer in the shed at my parents’ house. I found it very enjoyable to work in there, despite the wasp nest in the ceiling and related interruptions. The image is based off of a sketch of Canada Geese I drew from the nearby river in Lindsay, Ontario. Usually, it is a place where geese and ducks come to rest and nest – probably because it is relatively safe and plenty of people come to feed the birds. The birds are not afraid of people, and I’ve had a duckling eat out of my hands on my lap before. So, getting sketches and photos of them was quite easy. Not sure what intrigued me to paint the back end of geese…but it’s a serene painting I still very much appreciate.

My choice of music, while I worked on this, was Boards of Canada. I really didn’t have much else but the sketch and some colours in mind when I started this. A lot of my old work is very emotionally driven…a lot of choices are just made by what I feel like…hence the marshy, cloudy grass that has no real world context. I used to visit these geese a lot when I wanted alone time, and I always felt very peaceful when I sat with them.

What you can’t see, because of the photo quality, is the initial, very basic pencil sketch. I’m not sure how much time I spent on this painting, but I’d say I’d spend an hour or 2 working on it at a time. Towards the end, I spent more time with the painting. I spend a lot of time just sitting with the work and looking at it.

The painting itself can be found on this page of my website. If you’d like a print of this image, please contact me.