Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tap Dancer Drawing - Off the Cuff Remark

"Off the Cuff Remark"
18" x 14" graphite on paper
copyright 2009 Stacy L. Rowan
available at the William Ris Gallery

This is my fourth graphite drawing in my tap dancer series. I chose to call it "Off the Cuff Remark". When something is done "off the cuff" it means it is done without prior preparation or planning. This tap step has a nice sharp sound created by the quick snapping motion of the toe as the leg is drawn back.  It makes me think of a witty retort tossed into a rapidly paced conversation.

As I was drawing this I took some work in process photos that I thought I'd share.

work in process - image 1

I start all of my graphite and charcoal pieces with a contour drawing and then move onto the shading. For me the shading makes a drawing come alive. Here I started laying in the shadow shapes using a rough cross hatching technique. It takes quite a few layers to build up a good solid dark on this paper, so I know I have plenty of time to smooth out the hatching later.

work in process - image 2

Next I moved onto the stationary foot. Since this series of drawings is about tap dancing, it is very important to me to get the tap shoes right. I don't want to spend a lot of time on the legs until the details in the shoe are nailed down. Also, I knew I wanted my darkest darks to be in this shoe. I needed to get them in the drawing early so as to define my range of values.

work in process - image 3

If you compare this image with the one above it, you can see that I stuggled a bit to figure out what the hips were doing. I was confused because in my reference photo it looked like I could see the full width of the hips, but at the same time I was only seeing the side of the knee. My mind couldn't figure out how that could be possible. To resolve my confusion I ended up standing in front of a mirror trying to recreate the pose. Believe me this was more difficult than it sounds. The answer is that the knee swings in as the leg moves.

To reach the final image at the top of the page, I darkened a lot of my values and added in the reflection on the floor.

Now a little story about this drawing... Shortly after I completed it, I had the opportunity to take a master class taught by the tap dancer who was the reference for this drawing. It was my first time taking a class with her. (My reference photos were taken while she was teaching choreography to the Tap Ties company.)

After warm-ups, she taught us a short combination and in the combination was this exact step. As soon as she did it I recognized it as the step in my drawing. My mind excitedly yelled at me  "That's it! That's the step!" And that quickly I switched over from the dancer part of my brain to the arist part of my brain.

As a result I completely missed the next couple of steps in the combination. Apparently the artist part of my brain can't learn tap steps when it is comparing the feel of a movement to the lines in a drawing. Luckily for the dancer part of my brain she went over the steps a second time.

This series of four graphite drawings -
Off the Cuff Remark
is available in a set of 8 note cards (with envelopes). Each card measures 4.25 x 5.5 inches. Price for a pack of cards is $10 and includes shipping. Please use the Buy Now button to purchase.

You can also find other products featuring my tap dance art at my Cafe Press store. It's a great place to find gifts for your favorite tap dancer.


Mary Jane said...

Hi Stacy
For me, off the cuff remarks I sometimes make without thinking get me into all kinds of trouble. But I love the title of your sketch.
As you know I have a set of your lovely note cards and I recommend them to everyone.
Keep on dancing and keep on drawing.

Robyn said...

Another beauty, Stacy. And I love the backstory.

Stacy said...

Mary Jane, yes, my off the cuff remarks sometimes get me in trouble too. And this one would have if she hadn't gone over those steps again. ;) Thank you for recommending the note cards! I'm glad you are enjoying yours.

Thanks Robyn! These drawings are adding such fun to my life. I'm wishing I had thought to combine the two joys of tap and art sooner!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Satcey...I'm amazed at your wonderful movement! This is such a wonderful we just have to see YOU tap some time too!

Stacy said...

Thank you Ronelle! Maybe someday I will share a video of me tap dancing. But I think I will wait until I have more practice. ;)