Le Sacre du printemps/Flora & Fauna


Well-known member
Two long-time sources of inspiration that have been ever in the back of my mind are Le Sacre du printemps, Stravinsky's ballet, and Primavera, Botticelli's great painting:


Degas suggested that he was somewhat perturbed by those who sought all sorts or reasons for his obsession with the ballet. He stated simply that he loved the ballet because it afforded him the possibility of painting pretty girls in motion wearing pretty clothes. Over the years I have pondered painting bodies in motion. I had the grandiose goal of painting a multi-figural painting based roughly upon Stravinsky's ballet and Botticelli's painting with bodies in motion across the picture. As I wanted to retain the current scale in terms of height (over 7-feet tall) the painting would ideally be around 20 feet wide! I have yet to begin this ambitious painting... and stuck in my current limited work space, it is unlikely that I will be attempting it any time soon. An alternative to this single grandiose painting, of course, would be a multi-panel painting... perhaps a triptych... the favored format of the artist who may just be my favorite Modern artist (with the exception of Pierre Bonnard) : Max Beckmann:


I began this painting with such ideas spinning about in the back of my head: Le sacre du printemps, Primavera, the ballet, bodies in motion, triptychs, etc...

As usual, I began with a gestural drawing... going over and over the poses... shifting them here and there:


Eventually, the drawing became so clotted up that I turned the paper over. I also gridded the paper out in an attempt to better establish the proportions:


After a degree of effort in this side I ended up painting the drawing completely out:


And back to the drawing board... quite literally:


I liked the idea of the back-to-back figures... but this one wasn't quite right yet... and so:


Finally! And here are some details showing how heavily the figures were drawn after endless revisions:



I'm using a combination of terra-cotta pastel and conte crayon.

At this point I stopped photographing the progress of this painting. This is probably due to the fact that I was working so rapidly at this point.
By this stage the background is nearly complete and the faces are also almost complete:


I've begun to work down the bodies. I almost always begin with a nude... even if the figure ends up clothed. This allows me to capture the motion and the forms beneath the clothing. By this point I thinking again of the Flora/Fauna theme with elements of Eve with her apple:


As I moved down the figure I felt the need for more black. "More black! More black!" In a thick German accent. This was Max Beckmann's motto while teaching in the US. So I decided on a black bra.


I went with a simpler bra on the second figure. I added the strap which has slipped down around her arm as a means of further emphasizing the round form of the arm. In later paintings I would use this idea repeatedly... often in the form of a choker around the neck of a lace bracelet or anklet.



I "bounced" blues into the bra and greens, blues, and reds into the flesh-tones. In the halos I employed a variegated red-gold leaf as well as the usual gold leaf.



And here... the final painting. I initially did not have the stockings... but the bottom of the painting seemed completely lost with all the drama of the black up above... and so I added black stockings and heels.


At the time, I remember I had mixed feelings about the painting. I hung it off to the side of my work area where I began the next painting. As I would repeatedly look at it while sitting on my couch waiting for paint on the new painting to dry... it began to grow on me. With time it became one of my favorite paintings. But what do I know?:p
More black! More Black! Ha ha ha. It looks great. It must be hard to photograph that gold without getting the shine-backs., but then again, that's how you can tell it's gold.

I wanted to say that your in-progress shots are so interesting that they themselves could be their own works of art. Have you ever considered that? All those gestures, and starting overs, one on top of the other...there's something really appealing about how it all looks together in an abstracted way. I like it.
I love those curvy girls in heels.
There is something loose and something austere at the same time in your paintings. They are striking!
I was looking at the texture of your painting. What do you paint with? 😎