Art Fair season in the UK

September starts the art fair season off in the U.K. I am exhibiting for my 7th year (not consecutively) but am pleased that they welcome my work at such a lovely fair. The fair is local to me and very valuable as travel and costs are kept down plus I get to see familiar clients and have the opportunity of talking to them. It all kicks off on Thursday 24 September with the usually lively private view and then runs until Sunday 27th. I am sharing a stand again with the lovely Frances Doherty and her fantastic ceramics. See what I got up to with the Envelope Project for charity

I have 241 tickets and a few private view tickets available for people on my website and mailing list.

Jane Denman Website
Frances Doherty Website
Brighton Art FairBrighton Art Fair

All on the back of an envelope

Participants in the Brighton Art Fair have been asked if they can also create artwork on envelopes for this year’s show 24 – 26 September. Brighton Art Fair will be displaying them in the lobby of the art fair and selling them to raise money for and the profile of the Big Heart Auction. The Auction raises money for Chestnut Tree House.

So here are my versions with dancers on. The mini project was fun to do although the paper itself problematic for paint but I like the unusual flap edge.  Inspired by many productions they are from top left across as follows:

  • Vertigo: fabulous choreography, set and costumes that inspired several paintings for this year’s fair
  • Akram Khan at Glastonbury ‘Dust’ and ‘Lest we Forget’ 2014 – a mind blowing performance
  • Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan – Sacred Monsters
  • YouTube footage of male dancers
  • David Hallberg at NYC

I will be showing larger works, acrylic on canvas based on contemporary dance. I have limited amounts of entry tickets available

Jane Denman Website

The bodies of dancers

Whilst going through my daily Youtube scan of dance I found this interesting video about the bodies of dancers, by the Australian Ballet. It takes a quick look at how certain parts of the body are in particular crucial to such athletic moves. This is probably quite obvious to those that dance but not so to those who are dance viewers, such as myself. I was particularly interested to see how a weighted wheelbarrow, some very stretch bands and a weighted ball can help train and focus on certain parts of the body.

These things are not necessarily needed to know about when drawing dancers but it does have a similarity with drawing and that is in order to portray the figure with a sense of weight and balance it is important to sense or ‘draw weight’. This can be interpreted in lots of ways by an artist and it is one of the elements I focus on sometimes intentionally.

orange, greys, tutus, dancers, movement
Drawing and print by Jane Denman 2015

Dance in a small way

Resisting the urge to paint on enormous canvases has been out on the back burner for a while as I am enjoying creating these miniature imaginary stage worlds on paper. I have been watching and drawing dance for a while now. Taking elements of favourite poses and videos I am starting to place them in a setting that is both a reaction emotionally to the dance but also to how the paint presents itself in real time. 

 Inspired by Jiri Kylian

Watercolour and acrylic on paper. This is a small selection, more on my Instagram.


A Monday morning start

Up bright and early and found myself watching some amazing dance on YouTube at 9am, well this is early for me. I am glad I don’t have to do the daily grind of commuting to my place of work, instead I am having my first coffee and being treated to exceptional visual experience, this time from the other side of the world – Australian ‘Chunky Moves’ Dance.

Chunky Moves Mortal Engine

The connection between how the light distorts and sometimes cajoles the dancer is mesmerising. It looks so seamless and right without even knowing why, I love things like this. Chunky Moves have made their production look effortless but it must have taken so long to perfect.

A Monday morning feeling crept in, perhaps I missed out on getting into the lighting profession in dance?  The benefits of working in a team, with movement and dancers, discussing how it will look, going through the moves, revising what was done and then to create a totally unique art work. Fantastic. Oh to dream.

So by 11am I hadn’t changed my profession but was limbering up in Sketchbook pro, drawing. Up until lunch I created layers, revised and saved one drawing before heading down to my studio to get stuck in to what I call ‘hands on drawing’. The difference with this compared to Sketchbook pro on the computer is what you draw is usually what you end up with, no revising or going back. Good old fashioned paint and paper certainly gets the creativity flowing.

After watching Chunky Moves video I had a few ideas for splattering, flicking and making a brush with a hole in one end and sticking it onto a pole to paint with which was great fun, not sure why I had never thought of that before. Perhaps I need more brushes with holes in? Anyhow, the rest of the day somehow disappeared as it often does when I am drawing and now I am happy, covered in paint and looking forward to the rest of the week of drawing. Here are my memory sketches.

Now for something completely different

I had a ball last weekend when I spent the weekend with my fellow seamstress (mum) attending a weekend Tutu making course up in London, it was the second part of the complete tutu course, making the bodice. We had very expert tuition from an extremely knowledgeable tutor who works as a costume maker for the National Theatre and she taught us a few insider tricks of the trade for creating a dance tutu. I was intrigued from an artistic point of view, as to how they are made. Fabrics that disguise but hold areas together, elastic, piping, coutil, herringbone stitch and lots of other new terminology all belong to this fascinating world of dance. Our tutor said she often made tutus for a whole troupe and watching her fast fingers with pins weaving in and out, with continuous seaming and cutting it still seemed a lot of work.

It seems that dance tutus are made to last and hopefully for years so they have to fit perfectly, sometimes the tutu will be altered to fit another body shape or decoration will be added for another production so the actual cost of one tutu is very expensive. We learnt how to integrate secret seams so that the tutu could be adjusted if it needed to adding to the mystery but functionality that this garment has. We were shown one decorated tutu that was probably used just for one scene, it was laced with glittering stones and applique, quite heavy so the dancer probably changed into it for a short or final scene. We were intrigued by how the light catches the decoration.

My bodice, not shown here as it has a little way to go until it is finished, is a real piece of handmade couture, in the style of the dance tutu. I will forgo the dance netting (I am not much of a dancer!) but hope to make it into a lovely garment that I can wear. I may add sleeves and make it into a snazzy jacket. I have learnt so much over two days I wonder if I will ever remember it all but  I do have my bodice to remind me of a super creative weekend. Here is a picture story and a flavour of how it went.

So now I am back to drawing and painting and into familiar territory. I have gained insight into an unseen area of dance that I would never have known and it was all down to the tutu making. We both enjoyed ourselves very much, came home exhausted with lots of new knowledge and also that there will be the most perfect tutu ready for a very special little girl in our family at Christmas and we cant wait to see her face when she sees it.

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