Beyond The Canvas - Edgar Degas
I haven't been this excited to share something with you in awhile. If you recall, I picked up studying Edgar Degas as a personal hobby this past summer and some of you have been following along for the journey. You voted on the name for this series which turned out to be “Beyond The Canvas,” a name my younger sister came up with. This series is just where we share what we learn about him, and later, other artists. Thank you for being excited with me!! This post is also about ripples.. the kind that spread if you drop a pebble into water. These ripples are about all the things, the good things, that happen when you commit yourself to your craft.
I began studying Edgar Degas simply for fun, because I liked a lot of his paintings. But there's also something I read in a book which you can see in my "Beyond the Canvas" highlight on Instagram. For my final for the fall semester, we got to choose what we created, as long as we used knowledge we learned throughout the semester and could explain why our choice was “artistically sound.” So I chose to recreate a portion of a Degas painting on a 24x36 canvas. I wanted to grow in my knowledge of him as an artist by studying one of his actual paintings. I picked "Two Dancers" from 1890 (included below) because this is one of the dancers that always caught my eye when I looked through his stuff. I love her pose, the colors he used to make her and the confidence she portrays. I also chose this one because when you look at the full painting, to the right of the dancers there is something I couldn't quite figure out. This space that seems unresolved to me. My inspiration was to give the ballerina a new home on a background I imagined which included references to Degas.
For my background, I created a large, darkened, empty studio with a single door and a single vintage mirror. Below are some process images I took as I planned this in my sketchbook. Everything from the layout to the colors I would use. (Click individual image to enlarge).
When I was deciding whether to recreate both dancers or just one, I had the idea to only recreate the dancer in front and add her reflection in the mirror behind her so she would literally be center stage.
The studio is a reference to the many paintings Degas created of dancers practicing and performing. The mirror and the lone door are a reference to his painting "Dance Class at the Opera, rue Le Peletier” (below).
And here’s the final painting. It turned out exactly how I saw it in my head and that doesn’t happen often.
Thank you for reading.
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My name is Gaby. I am the founder of Pinales Illustrated, where my sister and I share our art in various forms with the world.