What an exciting Dancer Commission on Canvas this was!
Daunting? Yes! Could I do it justice? Yes! No! Yes! I think so?! I hope so?!! Eeeeek! Arrrrrrrgggghhhhh! (Technical arty terms you may or may not have heard before!)
A great friend had always admired one of my watercolour paintings of a dancer, titled ‘All That Jazz’. My friend (I shall call her J) has a beautiful modern home with a vast amount of wall space and wanted a much larger version of the original A3 painting but knew she didn’t want a print.
A ‘statement piece of original art’ was the brief and it just so happened that J had a large printed canvas of a car that had been in storage for some time and she no longer wanted. “Ooooh! Yes!” says Migglet, “How large is the canvas?” “I shall drive down through the village to you and collect it!”
Slight hitch . . .
At 140cms long x 110cms wide (55 1/4” x 43 1/2”) neither of us could fit that rigid whopper of a canvas in our cars….my little red Jimny and her Mini Cooper obviously weren’t designed for lugging canvases of that size around villages in Devon, those car designers simply don’t think these things through! 🤣
Seeing as zipwires haven’t yet been installed here, J suggested the only option was to walk the canvas up through the village to my house with another trusty friend…..turned out to be a bit more of a challenge than expected as it was a slightly blustery day and apparently that canvas acted like a sail!
I waited patiently in my house at the top of the village for them to appear…..I know, thoughtful aren’t I?! Much chortling, chuckling, hysterical visions of the pair of them taking off and inventing a new West Country craze ‘canvas surfing?’….and a couple of necessary coffees later……my friendly ‘couriers’ left the goods behind and left me to it.
BEFORE Migglet got to work . . .
It took a fair few days and many, many laborious thin base coats of gesso and acrylic paints to obliterate the original print on the canvas of a car and that was the most boring ‘yawny’ process for me, I just desperately wanted to get started! (I know some of you reading this would have loved this canvas printed vintage car and will loathe me for anihilating it, sorry, I was only following the brief!)
My original watercolour painting had a plain white background but J and I both agreed this canvas needed to be slightly different, so I used the lightest grey background with splashes and swathes of shimmering silver to add ‘life’ and drama.
Sketching her outline . . .
The day I finally got around to sketching the very basic lines of the dancer was such a GOOD day! I had my music blaring, was dancing around the room (of a fashion, charcoal in hand, cups of tea flowing…..not literally!) I admit to being more than a little excited to be finally recreating that sexy dancer and as I drew her strong, supple shapes, muscular yet feminine, I realised she would be almost life sized in the finished painting. That was an ‘eeeek!’ moment!
At this initial sketching stage, she really looks quite gangly but with bodies I always start too ‘thin’ and work my way outwards, rather than having to adjust the background, especially with paint effects.
My biggest fear was of overworking her, I really wanted her to have a ‘painterly’ finish and didn’t want to ‘sweat the small stuff’ and fret over every fine detail. She needed to have a sense of freedom about her, even though she was holding a very ‘still’ and precise dance position.
I had warned J that this dancer would have her own character and personality and wouldn’t be exactly true to my original watercolour, and J said she was more than happy for me to create a new ‘persona’…….this was a completely new experience for me, creating her with acrylics on canvas, an entirely different media to watercolour.
Finishing touches . . .
When adding those final touches (my favourite bit!)…..added texture with a palette knife, dabs of highlights here and there….especially on her satin pointe shoes…….a sheen of highlights making the floor appear almost as though she was poised en pointe on a glass surface……that lithesome little lady started to shine.
Bit by bit, she took me a few weeks from start to finish and I won’t pretend she was easy to create, due to her size she was a challenge…..but a challenge I was eager to accept!……that pesky, large, badly behaved wibbly wobbly canvas had a life of it’s own at times and Migglet had to stand on a stool to reach many areas of the painting!
But, I have to say, recycling something no longer wanted into a new piece of art and seeing a big smiley grin on J’s face standing beneath the finished Commission on Canvas hanging on that spacious wall in such a gorgeous home, made little old Migglet glow from within!
Just as I had hoped, I particularly love the way ‘Sofia’ (as J has named her) takes on a different look due to the changes in lighting at various times of the day…
A somewhat windswept Migglet and slightly saucy ‘Sofia’, saying farewell to each other and both wondering where their next steps will take them?! Who knows?! That’s the joy of being an artist……on stage and off!