Unlikely Dance: Entry Hall finished, Golden Clouds and Green Skirt accepted!

I’ve finished Unlikely Dance: Entry Hall, though I haven’t yet done a “formal” photo of it — glare from the large area of black is giving me some problems. Some last-minute resolutions, such as a cool, thin glaze defining the profile of the central figure, and a more finished rendering of the face — along with the successful re-rendering of figure #1’s face — make me very happy with this painting.

Unlikely Dance: Entry Hall - 30 x 48 in., oils on canvas
Unlikely Dance: Entry Hall – 30 x 48 in., oils on canvas

And yay! Both of my submissions to the Roberson Regional juried biennial exhibit — Unlikely Dance: Golden Clouds and Unlikely Dance: Green Skirt — have been accepted into the show! Now to figure out whether/how to frame them…

Unlikely Dance: Golden Clouds; Unlikely Dance: Green Skirt
Unlikely Dance: Golden Clouds; Unlikely Dance: Green Skirt – each 30 x 48 in., oils on canvas

I’ve also entered — and will enter — a few more biennial competitions; will write more about those as jury results come in.

Here’s the final progression of Unlikely Dance: Entry Hall:


The “Unlikely Dance” project was made possible by a grant from the Artists Fund of the Community Foundation for South Central New York

To follow my progress in Unlikely Dance, just click on the “Unlikely Dance” link under TOPICS, on the left of any page in this blog.

Unlikely Dance: Entry Hall – in progress

Unlikely Dance: Entry Hall (unfinished) - 30 x 48 in., oils on canvas
Unlikely Dance: Entry Hall (unfinished) – 30 x 48 in., oils on canvas

I did the underpainting for Unlikely Dance: Entry Hall almost a month ago, while waiting for the block-in of Golden Clouds to dry and working on the smaller, unrelated Puppet Parade. But both of those pieces had deadlines closing in, so they took precedence for a while after this underpainting was finished. In the meantime, I bought a couple of inspiring instructional videos, and both — Alla Prima Portraiture with Rose Frantzen and Painting the Portrait in Oil with Brian Keeler — have affected the way I’m working on this piece. Not that I’m painting the faces in any way like these two fine artists do their portraits; I’m feeling their influences more in the way I’m handling the paint and the values, holding my brushes, and self-critiquing as I go.

Studio assistant Lydia (the kitten) studies my technique
Studio assistant Lydia studies my technique

It’s quite interesting to me how the pieces in this Unlikely Dance series are developing so differently from one another, despite the common threads of size, medium, and theme — I’m learning a lot as I work through this self-imposed assignment.

The dancers in Entry Hall are referenced from my photo shoot of a Scottish country dance group, though of course I’ve changed the visible faces (“borrowing” my niece’s face for the central figure) and placed them in a setting other than the school gym where they dance. To offset the very dark and brown decor of the local museum hallway I’ve set the dancers in, I’m leaning the colors more towards purples and yellows — which do combine to make brown — for some color snap. Pretty happy with it so far!

Here’s the process, up to this point:



The “Unlikely Dance” project was made possible by a grant from the Artists Fund of the Community Foundation for South Central New York

To follow my progress in Unlikely Dance, just click on the “Unlikely Dance” link under TOPICS, on the left of any page in this blog.

UNLIKELY DANCE coming along…

Scottish Country Dancers
Scottish Country Dancers

I have quite a lot of photography done now for my grant-funded Unlikely Dance project. At Tuesday night’s session with the Binghamton Scottish Country dance group I finally figured out how to use the fast-burst function on my powerful little camera, and got some wonderful shots. They were so kind to dress up for the night, so I could get them in proper kilts and tartans. Currently I’m combing through the 2700+ images I captured that night…

B.F. Harridans Morris
B.F. Harridans Morris

Jo Malin of the B.F. Harridans, the Binghamton women’s morris dance team, alerted me beforehand that they’d be dancing at the Newark Valley Apple Festival on October 6, and I managed to find them (unlike their previous dance stand, when I managed to miss them altogether) and to take some pretty useable photos. Wish I’d had the fast-burst function figured out for that one, and that the light had been better — it was a typically chilly, rainy October day, and they were dancing under a tent roof. Strange lighting, but I’m working one of the photos — with some major adjustments — into a composition with storm clouds I shot earlier in the week.

Parlor City Commons
Parlor City Commons

Feels great to be finally putting together a composition for UD. I’ve been shooting landscapes and public places, as settings, for some time now — still need more trad dancers in other forms. I missed the October Binghamton Contra Dance, but hope to catch the Kindred Spirits Day of Dance put on by Binghamton Community Dance. We’ve had a bit of a go-round about how to manage the issue of photo releases from dancers — always an awkward issue, asking people permission to use their images — but I think I’ve arrived at a solution: a promise to not use any faces. Instead, I’m purchasing a male and a female mannequin head to photograph in

Clouds over Johnson City
Clouds over Johnson City

light set up to duplicate dance settings, and will patch in those heads during the digital composition process. Hope this will fly with the BCD folks — the Scottish Dancers thought it was fine.

And back to those Scottish Dancers — thanks to one of the dancers there, it looks like I’ll have a venue for showing the finished Unlikely Dance series, January through March, 2014, at the Tompkins County Public Library! This is very exciting, and I’m so grateful.

In the meantime, I hope to start actually painting UD by mid-November.
Now if I can just shake this cold…

The “Unlikely Dance” project was made possible by a grant from the Artists Fund of the Community Foundation for South Central New York

To follow my progress in Unlikely Dance, just click on the “Unlikely Dance” link under TOPICS, on the left of any page in this blog.