Contemplating Lautrec, Degas, and Renoir

If one were to choose one art movement that seems to resonate with the broadest possible audience, it would surely be Impressionism. I am certain that this is in part because, now that fragmentary brush work is more acceptable in the art world, the soft colors and forms of Impressionist works are generally pleasing, but also more importantly, because they portray people and every-day events in an intimate and romantic light, and because they give us a vision of the world of a bon vivant, complete with cafe life and trips to the theater, a world that, to suburban Americans in particular, is extremely enticing and very exotic compared to their own.
Having recently viewed a remarkable Impressionist exhibit in Nashville (which could have only been possible in a dreadful economy-- otherwise, I cannot imagine the Musée d'Orsay shipping such a grand collection of its most iconic and valuable Manet's, Monet's, Renoir's, et cetera, around the world in such a manner), and having also seen fine paintings by prominent Huntsville artists Yuri Ozaki and Michelle Lee portraying Beth Norwood, a colorful local personality who can be seen and heard at Lowe Mill and on WLRH, in burlesque attire, I wanted to attempt to apply my Expressionist style to a different, more Impressionistic type of subject matter. The excitement and creativity surrounding the performing arts-- theater, cabaret, ballet, burlesque, concerts of all levels of formality-- have often inspired painters. In Burlesque Beauty [above], Beth is dressed for winter as her stage persona, Aunt Sofonda.

Keeping with this interest in performing arts and the expressive and creative nature of costumes or period dress, I spent yesterday afternoon sketching in the Lowe Mill theater during one of the K.I.D. Artist Collective's monthly "Draw!" events. I liked the way these sessions gave traditional figure drawing a twist-- by having the model dress up in an interesting outfit or two. In the above sketches, I focused on form and clothing, then imagined a character to go along with each pose. I particularly liked thinking of Degas and Lautrec while sketching the model in a tutu, and am currently using this sketch as reference for a new painting.

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