Diggin’ on Degas

My favourite collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is unquestionably the Degas pieces.  There’s a couple of rooms of sketches, statues, and paintings by the Impressionist master Edgar Degas just close enough to the rooms housing your big names – Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso – but secluded enough that you can stand almost uncomfortably close to the art and cry silently to yourself at how beautiful it is appreciate the unique approach to sketching and colour!

When you get close enough to notice, you’ll see that the color, light, and shadow is comprised of bold zig-zags shooting violently in every direction.  The grain of the walls, the texture of the skirts, even the way the light falls across the back of the dancers’ shoulders!  I like to imagine Degas scribbling quickly and purposefully at each drawing and look at the flawless result!

Above were two pastel creations, here is one of Degas’ oil paintings.  According to the info at the museum, the pastel-like texture and blending of colour came about by poking and jabbing the paint onto the canvas in layer after layer!  Degas (who if his self-portrait is true, was kind of a Baldwin) strikes me as a funny character:  a dude who hung around ballet classes all the time only to take out his frustrations scribbling and jabbing away brutally at a canvas to create….beautiful ballerinas.

As a last bit of advice, always remember to stand close to the painting so nobody can see your tears so you can notice the subtle details that others may have missed!  Phew!

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