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Calendar Ballerina Drawings

by Sue Bledsoe

Ready to Perform

Ready to Perform

Ready to Perform
It's all in the costume

Click each image to see individual drawings.

Ready to Perform
This lady took me all day to draw. Again I started at her feet. Does anyone else do that? I find it easier to keep the proportions between arms and legs rational.

I must confess to a slight bit of cheating. I almost erased a hole in the paper trying to draw her head. Everything else looked so good, but her head made her look like the wicked witch from the east. Sooooo, I used a light box and traced the outline of her head. Just the outline. But it made the drawing look better. JUST THE OUTLINE OF THE HEAD.

This was one of the hardest drawings I've done and I am pleased with the outcome.

I used my trusty #2 mechanical penci (.5 mil). I am beginning water color lessons on Nov. 15. I'll let you know how that goes. I still enjoy sketching most of all.

It's All In The Costume
This is the hardest one yet. I spent hours and hours trying to get the face and hands right.

The title? My youngest daughter, Megan, danced with the Appalachian Ballet Company for many years. Like all the arts programs, lack of funds is always a problem.

So often, after auditions, a dancer was selected for a certain part based upon whether the costume fit her better than it fit someone else (that is a little known fact--but I know it and now the secret is out.) Not always though. Just for the smaller parts.

The year Megan played Clara in the Nutcracker she was 11 (youngest Clara the ABC had had). Clara is on stage the whole show. She weighed 80 pounds. The costume was a long white period dress, with under slips and puffy stuff. It weighed 45 pounds. (She also had to wear her hair in long ringlets and, with hair down to her waist, that was a battle.)

I really don't know how she did it. After 2 years of that part we were both ready for the traditional ballet bun and tutu.

But in most ballet performances, the costumes are a very important part. So look at the costume and not the hands and face, ok?

I used my trusty #2 mechanical pencil (.5 mil) for the whole drawing and it took me 2 days. My eyes hurt now.

Note from Kerry:
Hi Sue
So, was it only the outline of the head that you traced? --I am kidding! We did read that the first time but you made me laugh when you put it in capital letters.

You really are on a guilt trip! Don't be, it is fine to trace because you needed help and tracing does show you where you are going wrong. Trace as often as you like and you will come to terms with the problem in no time.

I do struggle from that very same problem and I have worked out that my weakness lies with proportion. The reference photo is distant so we only have to kind of "suggest" the face, mouth and eyes. We are letting our brain dictate by saying "Don't forget there's a face here!"

Beside all that, I was very impressed with the overall drawing! I like it a lot. You are picking a very tough subject to draw because of the intricate pose of a ballerina.

It doesn't matter where you start your drawing. I start wherever the mood strikes me to start but I do keep in mind that I don't want to rest my hand on any part of the drawing. I grab a piece of paper and place my hand on top of that.

In "It's All In The Costume", I see you have fallen for the same trick with letting your brain tell you about how the face should look. Her eye is too big for the perspective of the photo. Take a closer look at the reference pic and measure the size of the eye. It's probably a pin point, right?

It doesn't matter because this practice is invaluable to you. You won't notice it but next time you draw a ballerina, you will fly through it. I notice you say "This is the hardest one yet" but still you persist. I give you huge kudos for that alone. THIS IS HOW YOU IMPROVE! You are doing the right thing.

I admire what Megan went through to pursue her dreams, no wonder she is so good at it. We'll keep the secret about the costumes to ourselves (heh) but it's always nice to have some inside knowledge about those things.

Keep up the good work, we are all very proud of you.

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