Simple,strong, and wrong

Little Dancer
12 x 5.75
This little figurine is a teaching tool; not for my students, but for me.  She`s a replica of Degas` `Little 14 year old dancer` and she`s caused me no end of mischief as I`ve struggled to interpret her in simple terms despite her complexity. The fewer marks that I make, the happier I am with a painting, and this figure invites me to overwork every time.

Yesterday was no exception as I found myself rendering the folds of her dress and the features of her tiny face.  Luckily, I managed to avoid the usual pitfalls by switching to a larger brush and simplifying everything that I could.  The multiple folds became 3 or 4 large ones and her face, thanks to the clumsy inaccuracy of the brush, became a suggestion without being precious.

My biggest struggle was with the legs which I`d slapped on with confidence in an almost-correct position. They weren`t right, but they were `good`.  Robert Genn in his blog `The Painter`s Keys`once referred to it as `wrong and strong`, and it caused a real dilemma.  My option was to repaint the legs entirely and, inevitably, lose the freshness of the marks.  I decided to let them remain as they were.  If it had been an error in the focal area of the upper torso, I`d have made a different choice, but I decided that, for their level of importance, they legs could stay as they were.

I think it was the right decision. My overall aim of rendering her in a simple, strong statement was best served by letting it slide.

Happy painting!


brushingup said…
Thank you...I have learned much from what you have said about your experience with this painting. It inspires me to work on simplification and strength and think correction last.
Thank you for commenting. You're so right about the order of work; it's something that I have to remember every day as I slide toward correcting this and that and slowly make a weak - though correct - painting.