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How to paint a ballet dancer - My Process

I often get asked what my painting 'process' looks like so today I took some time out gather a few progress photos for you from my latest painting “Freedom”.

I’m a figurative artist and for me my paintings are all about capturing the energy, grace and freedom of athletes in motion. It's a pleasure to freeze these precious fleeting moments in time. To capture talent, perseverance, hard work and dedication. It all starts with a great photo so I’m grateful to have opportunities to collaborate with talented and inspiring ballerinas, gymnasts and photographers. Also I sketch a lot from life which is brilliant for my understanding of dance, gymnastics etc. As you probably can guess, squad practice and company classes are challenging environments to sketch in. The dancers are continually leaping, tumbling and flying through the air, so what I capture are fleeting gestures whilst I absorb the atmosphere, the drills, the emotion and energy of the place.

Once I’m back at my easel I'm doodling, conjuring up the dance studio mood, creating black and white quick sketches to get familiar with the pose and the composition. Colour comes next. For these images I had some brightly coloured rose petals to kick start my creativity but in the end I landed on a gold and black theme.

I paint in watercolour and acrylics and have a bright, fluid, splashy style which is great for showing movement. I save the splashes for last. After all that hard work those splashes are a risky business, they can make or break a painting. I take a deep breath and just go for it, hoping and wishing they land perfectly. I hope I got away with it this time?I've always found with my artwork, that it's when I'm relaxed and having fun, that I produce my best work. I hope you’ll pick up a paint brush and paint what inspires you too.


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