Air, water, earth & fire

I’m looking forward to the Air, Water, Earth & Fire exhibition at the Open Gallery. Two of my dance creations will be making their debut at this upcoming Halifax exhibition.

Painting of danseur figure mid-leap against a dark blue background

Soar is a 2023 creation in oil that you may have caught a glimpse of on my website dance collection or blog. It represents Air:

A danseur soars through the air, costumed like a bird. The secret to a good jump is knowing how to breathe. Using air to leave the audience gasping at that perfect momentary suspension.

Red painting of ballerina figure

Firebird is an older creation from 2018. This acrylic creation is part of my feathered dancers series. I’ve shared a few pieces from this series in the past, and a few have gone to their forever homes. But it’s the first piece from the series to be exhibited (excluding those displayed at my open studio day). No guesses which element it represents.

Thematically, this painting is inspired by the Firebird ballet from the twentieth century classical repertoire. There's no direct historical reference for either choreography or costume. Both the pose and the design are imagined.

Stylistically, this and the other paintings in my a series of feathered dancers are built up through layers and layers of painted feathers. They take ages to create but the process is beautifully meditative. For Firebird, changes in fiery colour and tonal value define the form. The transparency of the acrylic paint combined with the multi-directional feathers conveys the graceful movement of flickering flames and the dancer herself. Feather becomes flame in this enchanted tale.

I’ve experimented with feathered creations in both oil and acrylic. For the truly layered feathered dancers where I limit every stroke to being part of a feather, acrylic works best. There’s something magical about the translucency of the paint and superimposed layers. And the drying speed helps maintain the integrity of each feather.

If you have a look through my dance collection you’ll see that there’s plenty of room for adding feathery details in oil creations. 

You can also dip into my blog to learn more about other creations in my feathered dancers series.

Air, Water, Earth & Fire opens on Tuesday 26 September at the Open Gallery, Halifax. The group exhibition runs until 17 October. 

Thank you to the team at Artworks from the excellent framing of these two dance creations. 

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