The Construction of a Ballerina

The purpose of my sharing this paintings' progress is to document the steps that I go through while painting, and to encourage everyone to keep their hands moving (especially when suffering from a neuromuscular disease like FA).

Why ballerinas? Why not? At times, I am exceedingly frustrated and anxious at my inability to move swiftly and efficiently (most of the time, actually), and so, I often admire the beauty and grace in others' movements. I like to visualize how I would dance and utilize my body if it weren't for the unpleasant hassle of wheelchair life. Therefor, I take advantage of my artistic enthusiasm to paint and draw the beauty that I fail to express in other areas.

Each pic that I'm sharing is just that- a low-quality phone pic that I edited to turn BW. Most of them are even askew.

Phases of the Project

Phase I of Ballerina Tying Her Laces: 

When beginning a new painting, I outline the basic forms with (usually) Sharpie and minimal paint. I do this to get the general proportions right, using a photo or printout for reference. 
You can see how the technique paid off for this particular ballerina- In the first outline I had her head much too big and her legs a little off. This reminds me, this photo reference/outline technique is one I learned in a college drawing class. ie. allow your eyes to measure where the top of the head is in relation to the edge of the photo; the tips of the toes, the nose, the edge of the dress; so on, etc. Proceed to eye up the ears, or the chin, or the corners of the mouth relating to the first features you marked. Move your hand and repeat. Nothing has helped me more in drawing/painting ANY subject as much as this tip.

Phase II of Ballerina Tying Her Laces:

Once I'm satisfied with my general proportions (and have mulled over them from a distance), I start to add more background detail as well as thick layer enhancements here and there. I have evened out the leg/head proportion and added slight definition to the ballerina's form, as well as added definition to the curtains, floor, and wall.

Phase III of Ballerina Tying Her Laces

Each phase, for the most part, consists of progressively finer detail work, definition, and proportion adjustment. I imagine that most painters follow this pattern. Throughout a painting's development, the most important advice I have to offer is the measurement tactic I described in Phase I. Acrylic (or oil) painting, in my opinion, is the most forgiving type of art- with its many layers and opportunities for improvement. Here is an image of my third round of building a Sophie-style ballerina painting.


Finer details and development to come soon with Phase IV.
This particular painting will likely not have many phases as it is using a minimal (monochrome) palette. Stay tuned!