The Story of 'The Dancing Girl'

And how she became my ‘logo/avatar’….

She is my favorite example of a slowly growing collection of digital art that combines hand-drawn sketches and doodles with photographs of textures, found objects, rocks, plants, concrete…. etc.

Early last year I was trawling through old sketch books and random scraps of paper with random scribbles on them and came across this one (the main sketch, less the wood strip to the right and the black curves over the top). It was a scribble page from when I was first exploring Celtic knot-work and most of the page was covered with swirls and doodles – as much of this image still contains. But what trapped my eye was the small (not much more than 2 or 3 inches tall) figure perched at the edge of the paper… She must have been an afterthought, a dream of memories from attending new year eve Ceilidhs in Scotland. .. Who knows? For now I do not remember sketching her, I only know that It was me that drew her!

I decided that she had a certain charm and needed to be used in something so I photographed her and included a bit of the wood table top as well. The light was a small warm-coloured halogen desk lamp and the lead pencil caught some reflections off it….

The Black Curves are part of a hand illuminated ‘D’ -also drawn some years ago to go in a book of quotes that has yet to be completed. They were photographed in as well and layered over the top.

The girl was carefully traced and copied into a new layer and was then ‘burnt’ and the colour intensified(The lines made darker etc..) The gradient on the skirt was always there due to the small light source used for the photography and was just enhanced by the ‘burning’.
There is also a subtle texture overlaying the ‘paper’ area (but under the black curves). I think I used one of the layer blending modes and a lot of transparency. The texture was also a photograph – of some fine paint splatters.

The program used was GIMP -a program similar to photoshop, but open source and compatible with Linux operating systems and also with OS X.

Once It was complete I was so shocked at how beautiful it was I went into a 3 month artistic funk, despairing that I would ever produce anything so good again!!

Thank goodness it only lasted 3 months. I am well out of that now!! But she has become my avatar and my logo to remind me that I am still young and I have plenty of time to try and beat her.

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