Little pouffes of joy

I love the tactility of painting with oil paint and it's usually my medium of choice. But, it doesn't work at all for my "pouffes of joy" series. For those creations, acrylic reigns supreme. 

Yellow and white painting of ballerina poised en pointe

^ Little pouffes of joy (2019)

The name of the former, on-going series came from a comment the first time I posted one of these on Instagram. My bestie's sister, Angie, described my yellow ballerina painting as full of "little pouffes of joy". The phrase stuck and I began to explore using it for other dancers.

Painting in progress on easel: layers of circles building up areas of light and shade

Giselle – penché – process photo of layered circles (2019)

My creative process for these involves layering lots and lots of circles. It's time-consuming, yes. But it's also very meditative once I get into it the flow. I create the circles using a range of repurposed applicators rather than brushes. Over the last few years, I've tried all sorts of tubes and lids, some work better than others. While I certainly have my favourite applicators for these, it can be useful to vary the scale of the circles to improve the sense of depth and detail in each painting. 

Painting of a ballerina in white romantic tutu spotlit and poised in a penché against a blue background

^ Giselle – penché (2019)

I've not created a pure pouffes of joy dancer in a while now. But I have experimented with a few that combine the layered circles on top of other kinds of backgrounds and brushwork.

Painting of ballerina in pink tutu

^ Sugarplum pouffes of joy (2019)

Landscape painting in blue of setting sun over mountains viewed across a lake

^ Sunset at Lugano (2019)

I've also experimented with a couple of pouffes of joy landscapes. But for me, where this technique comes into its own is flowers and garden scenes. I'm not trying to suggest that the flowers look any better than the other subjects. Rather, I suspect, my view is coloured (literally and metaphorically, lol) by how much I enjoy sitting on my doorstep painting the flowers in my little patch of garden.

Painting of red poppies in garden setting

^ Wild delights (2019)

Oil isn't suitable for these because it takes too long to dry. Instead of the circles retaining the integrity of form and colour, layered oil paint just clumps and mushes together. Plus the applicators I use will just keep picking up more paint.

Acrylic works better simply because it dries almost as rapidly as I can apply it. I'm always surprised just how much paint I use for these. I'm constantly topping up my palette. But, because of the layering of different colours, one can't squeeze out too much extra as it'll dry on the palette (aside: I've not tried these with a stay-wet palette, yet).

Detail of flower painting of daisy growing amidst lavender and foliage

^ Detail from: Daisy in Lavender (2019)

Another reason why acrylic can work well for these, is that many of the colours are transparent or semi-transparent. This enables lots of possibilities to explore different effects in the building up of the circular layers.

For the same reasons, acrylic also works well for my "feathered dancer" paintings. But that'll be an art process blog for me to write for you another day. 

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy browsing some of the pouffes of joy flowers and landscapes currently available through my website.

P.S. If you've spotted something else you fancy among the images with this post, it may well be available even if not listed in my website collections, so please contact me to enquire.


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