SHORT OF A NARROWER COMMON THREAD
The human body is, of course, very beautiful. Painting nudes--or near nudes-- is a study in beauty, in anatomy, in shades, etc. With regard to the themes, with hindsight, I guess I like the intertwining of dancers' bodies in couple/partner dances. There is complementarity, complicity, and abandon. This, of course, is particularly true for tango!
GRACE À DIEU TON CORPS
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GRÂCE À DIEU TON CORPS II
Painting-wise, I started daring high contrasts, i.e. sort of going for the impressionist transition between colours. The other "interesting" thing is to draw/paint a face that is tilted and try to reproduce it faithfully, without turning around the canvas. In fact, I had seen some drawing exercices where you draw a face upside down so that we learn to draw what our eyes see (which is supposedly more faithful to the reality), as opposed to what our brain sees. In this case, it didn't work. In the actual picture, the woman has a pretty face. If you turn the painting 90 degrees to the left (and bring the face upright), the woman looks weird.
BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS
From a newspaper picture of Emilie Heymans, a Belgian-born Montréal diver, who won over 18 medals, including the gold medal at world championship in 2003. The picture was taken I guess as she was bouncing up the platform before starting to come down. I was struck by the tautness of her face and entire body, in his moment of great exertion and concentration
This is based on a picture. This couple fascinated me. Tango being a popular (non-classical dance), I am guessing (prejudging) that these dancers are not upper middle-class or upper-class Brazilians, especially that in the picture they look more dark skinned than average. Brazil (and many Latin American countries) have unspoken social scales that are commensurate with the degree of mixture of the European conquistadors with the natives and black slaves imported from Africa. the male dancer has black-ish features, and blond-tainted hair. The female dancer has a great muscular body. I can imagine them rising through the ranks from small local clubs to whatever got them pictured, through hard work, hard knocks, and god knows whatever compromises they had to endure. OK, it is just my imagination.
I WORKED VERY HARD FOR THIS
Getting that hair slick in a bun, and the make-up, which will run-through once the dancer starts sweating, must be a challenge. If you look closely at professional dancers, you will see (or may be its my imagination), that beyond that sweet, jovial, and somewhat vulnerable exterior, there is the steely resolve of a professional athlete who is anything but. So I was attracted by the "slickness" of everything in this face, including the faultless smile.
This is from a picture of crazy horse dancers from a newspaper article. It took me a couple of seconds, looking at the picture, to realize that the dancers are "naked" in the traditional sense. But, the nudity is so stylized that it is not erotic. It reminded me of an essay my French professor at first year of college (at Lycée Louis le Grand) had us read: the author, a French intellectual, was commenting about an audition for a nude-dance club. He basically said that the only dancer who "turned him on" was one who was obviously a debutante/non-professional, and was shy/self-conscious, whereas the more experienced "pole dancers" managed to distract or "unfocus" the looker's stare with all sorts of artificial, precoded motions, whose intent was to break the "intimacy" that the spectator could develop with the "spectacle" (the kind that would make the dancer uncomfortable), and to control the way s/he looks at the dancer. Hum ... Artistically, no intrinsic value: rather naive technique.
INTENSITY AND ABANDON
I had started this a few years back (completed in fall 2017). I did the pencil drawing from a picture, and I wanted to try out different styles, mostly: a) a "realistic" version with gradual tones--like this one, and b) a more contrasted version with binary colours, with little transitions between them. However, my risk aversion led me quickly to abandon the sharp contrast, and go for the progressive tones. I started out using my "new technique", which consists of laying the dark colours first, and then "lift some colour" with a wet brush. But that didn't work very well, especially to convert the mood of two dancers under a (literal) stage spot light, with a dark background. So, I used a mixture of the two techniques: 1) laying colours from light to dark, in "light areas", and 2) laying dark colours and lifting brighter spots with a wet brush.