With her dramatic use of light and her expressive, sweeping brushstrokes, artist Carol MacConnell captures the beauty of ballet and its dancers. Visit her website to see more of her art.
I am a figurative painter. This is something I am always explaining to my guests who visit my studio during an open studio night in my building. The average person who walks into my studio assumes I am a portrait painter. I always respond that I am a figurative painter.
I paint the essence of the person, not a dead-on likeness of a person.
Most people cannot comprehend buying a painting of a person to which they are not related. I usually make a joke of wishing I owned Whistler’s Mother!
I tell them that when you walk into any museum, you will see tons of paintings by artists who paint their muse, their relative, a hired model, etc. I can almost see their minds opening up to the concept.
To remedy this, I paint a lot of women on the beach and ballerinas. This crosses the barrier from portrait into figurative. Today I am going to talk about ballerinas.
I was honored to do a photo shoot during the Cincinnati Ballet’s morning classes. I snapped over two thousand photos. When you are shooting rapidly, there is not a lot of time to think about composition.
Clearly, out of two thousand photos, there was a handful that was capable of being paintings on their own. Some of those are showcased here. But what was I going to do with the rest of random photos that I had?
That is when I came up with the concept for “Company Class.” It is a six foot square diptych with literally hundreds of ballerinas, all in different poses. Those ballerinas come together to make up the Ballerina’s legs “en pointe.” They then break apart as the legs reach the top of the painting. I even added the instructor in his floppy sweater! It is a show stopper of a piece that mesmerizes viewers. You can literally stare at it for hours because no pose was repeated. I was only able to paint about six forms a day so it took me over two months to paint.
There is a majesty and strength to a ballerina in a pose. I never tire of painting them. Although I was never a dancer, I live their dreams through my paintings.