For a long time I've been a bit obsessed with dance and gestural drawing, so a while ago I did this little spot illustration as a warmup exercise.

I had ballet classes when I was little (until I discovered that I have literally no coordination), but both my younger and older sister are dancers so they provide a lot of reference material for this kind of drawing. However this is one of the only dance illustrations I've done that isn't based on either of them; it's actually based on our childhood ballet teacher.


Drawing real women

I illustrate so infrequently now, that I'm not really sure what my usual style is anymore, but it's definitely not this. There's always a temptation, in particular when drawing ballerinas and ballet poses, to draw women with perfect bodies, perfect hair and in a style to match.

Personally, I find perfection a bit boring; I much prefer drawing people with charming imperfections. So for this piece I used a much looser, less formal style to match the more human, down-to-earth subject, as opposed to the rigid style I might use if I was drawing a ballerina with the classic, statuesque physique.

When drawing Miss B, I wanted to focus on the parts of dance that no one really thinks about - with long, stress-inducing hours and intense routines that make you sweat - so I included her tousled hair, wobbly belly and tired eyes because that's just what people look like sometimes when they're trying really hard to do something they love.

I think it's important, particularly when it concerns an industry which is very focused on perfection and body image, and is an aspiration for so many impressionable people, to portray beautiful women (and everyone else) as they are. Warts and all, so to speak, so we can appreciate the beauty in the ordinary, rather than the unobtainable.

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