Friday, March 7, 2008

The figure in landscape

Dressing for the Dance WIP
9 x 12 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa

I am very uncomfortable when drawing or painting people. I have had limited instruction, and that was in Korea where I attended a women's university for a semester. My figure drawing teacher did not speak any English. My Korean was very limited. I took art classes because I thought it would be easier with the language barrier. I was very wrong about this class. I struggled daily. Finally, the teacher got so frustrated with my less than steller work and took my brush, dipped it in black ink, and put a big black X across my drawing. That may be why I shy away from this very important part of my art endeavors. It is funny to me now, but it wasn't back then.

This is my second attempt at this painting. Amazingly enough, I put the first one aside because of the background. I made it way to dark and strange. I tried to fix it, but it never looked right. When I decided to do it again, I used several reference photos taken at the event and selected the foliage I thought best stayed in the background. I like the triangle the three dancers form. I like the placement of the hula instruments. I think I will bring a branch of the pink/white foliage across to the other side for better balance. This is a work in progress so there is still much left to do. Faces, for instance.

Hula is a very beautiful dance. When I first visited the Hawaiian Islands, I thought it was done for the tourists. I had no idea about the rich heritage of this art form. I have learned so much from my kumu (teacher) since those days. This painting is of the beginning of a ceremony where a dancer earns the right to become a kumu. It is called uniki. I was privileged and humbled to be invited to my kumu's uniki a couple of years ago. It was a very hot day and the ceremony began during the hottest part of the day. All the candidates came out carrying the greens they would put on before they began. In this picture, they are tying the greens around their ankles. I like this scene because my kumu is in the middle, the apex of the triangle. I want to do this well for her.


Tom said...

Grasshoper;your figure faces are so close to being there. I can feel and see them when I look at your painting. A couple of suggestions study you photo carefully, make single strokes for components that resemble what you see. You can modify them whith care. You are working on tiny space another suggestion would be take one face and paint it on a seperate sheet larger. That would allow you to define the elements keeping away from symbols,etc.. Then paint your minature. Repeat this for each face.
I offer these as suggestions. This is a great painting without faces,too. I love how your style comes through in the background, foreground and dancers. It is beautiful

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

Thankyou for your comment on the WordPress blog - I am at a watershed where I need to rationalize some of the things I am doing. I think it will open up new areas of interest, as it is a different approach.

I love your bold red poppies against the purple mountains, and the dancers have an impressionist touch - such a shame you were discouraged! These have a real feel for the movement.

Tom said...

Gauguin. I think he would of oogled and love this painting,too.
I was reading the comment about it having an impressionistic air and it struck me, too.
Happy Hawaiian days and nights
I am in love with you

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Miki - I love it when we get local culture to go with the paintings when visiting blogs!