New, blue and ready for you

Two new blue danseur paintings joined my web collection on Friday, completing my latest blue trio. Some of you might remember the first trio (sold):


Trio of bluebird danseur paintings


 Click on the image to read more about the three bluebirds above.

The new trio, also created in oil, only has one bird figure. The other two represent a young dancer in the white t-shirt typically worn in a boys' ballet class and an older figure with a princely bodice.


Painting of male dancer with leg and arms extended


Both the older and newer trios are distinct in their bold, gestural style. The figures are created using palette knife techniques, with a few other tools incorporated to add subtle costuming details or accentuate the form. A quick glance might glean a lot of visual continuity between the two trios. There's a distinctive style, yes. But technically there are some differences.

  • The new trio are painted on linen canvases (rather than canvas boards).
  • There are a lot more layers of paint to create the background.
  • There's a greater sense of depth in the composition. Created through greater use of light and shade in the background to imply space, light and perspective.
  • The figures, while still dramatically stylised, are less geometric.
  • The new trio is more monochromatic, two of the figures are painted purely in white on the blue backgrounds. The bird figure incorporates deep red and gold in the costume design.

Painting of young male dancer

The first trio represented a breakthrough moment in my representation of male dancers. They were the first painted danseur figures that I truly felt confident creating. The secret was less about trying to understand anatomy and more about feeling the movement. Both in terms of the movement of the dance and the movement of making the mark on canvas. 

The second trio wasn't originally intended as a trio. I was working in parallel on another danseur series (some of which you can see in my live danseur collection and some of which is still in progress). These emerged spontaneously. A celebration of the joy of gestural painting.  

Nevertheless, they were destined to spend some months hanging around my studio while I (im)patiently observed and waited for them to tell me what the finishing touches were. For the two in white, it was simply a case of adding some highlights. For Soar, the leaping figure, I added highlights and then the red and gold to accentuate the depth and evoke the costume.

Stylised painting of leaping danseur figure


Soar will be exhibited at the upcoming Air, Water, Earth & Fire exhibition at the Open Gallery, Halifax. The other two danseurs in the new blue trio are available (at the time of writing) from my Dance collection. The collection also includes a range of dancers in other colour schemes, so there's plenty to choose to suit your decor.

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