The Art of Flying: Reflections on 2017

It is nearing the end of 2017. This year I made the scary but exciting decision to start blogging about creating artwork inspired by people who defy gravity. I wanted to take this time to reflect on my first half a year writing an artist blog. There have been lots of firsts, plenty of challenges and some really exciting achievements.

Commemorate my first year

To commemorate my first year writing The Art of Flying I have created a calendar containing the portraits of the 12 featured aerialists of 2017. This calendar is available for purchase and would make a great gift for anyone who loves circus, aerial or the human form.

2017 in review

25 BLog posts

 

My first blog post was published at the end of June 2017. Since then I have published 25 blog posts. I tried my best to keep to a weekly schedule. At times this was difficult to maintain when things got busy or when I couldn’t think of what to write about. Interestingly, some of the last minute posts where I just came up with something to write about were the most widely read.

Almost all of the blog posts were associated with a piece of artwork.

12 featured aerialists

These 12 amazing aerialists who have been my teachers and inspiration were featured in my blog posts. I created a portrait of each of them to try to convey the qualities that I think make them awesome aerial artists.

There has only been two male featured aerial artist so far, but I would like to include a more even split in the future. I have not had so many male aerial teachers, but the ones that I have had have been exceptional.

4 Apparatuses

I love hearing from featured aerial artists why they love their favourite apparatus. Each apparatus has their different strengths, weaknesses, versatilities and restrictions. I have found that in class different students like different ones for all sorts of reasons.

The different apparatuses were very different to represent in artwork. In particular there were strong differences in trying to capture hard versus soft apparatuses. It turns out that it can be really difficult to paint or draw a perfect circle of a lyra from all sorts of different angles. However, I do like what the circle of the lyra does to keep the composition of the artwork compact.

In contrast to the lyra, the aerial silks sometimes makes the composition more flowing or alternatively creates beautiful shapes around the aerialist. I have had such a lot of fun this year working with these subjects.

4 countries

I have had the pleasure to be able to work with aerialists in 4 different countries. My first aerial silks class was in San Francisco and I loved being able to start learning in a city that had so much rich circus culture and amazing talented teachers.

Subsequently, on my holiday to London I took some excellent classes with Astra. Then later I went to a yoga and aerial arts retreat in costa rica before moving back to Adelaide.

It has been so nice to keep learning aerial arts in my home city. There is a lovely sense of community around the two studios that I attend.

8 Aerial silks portraits

Aerial silks is my personal favourite of all the apparatuses that I have tried. I take mostly aerial silks classes with some mixed aerials classes thrown in for variety. That is probably why I have done so many aerial silks portraits when compared with the other apparatus.

I like the softness that the aerial silks adds to the portraits. The fabric has movement and folds that create lovely light and shadows for the artwork. There also seems to be greater versatility in the shapes that can be created using the aerial silks. However, this could just be my bias towards the silks showing through.

4 Lyra Portraits

There is something wonderful about the lyra and the way that it creates shapes with the aerialists bodies. It is almost like a stained glass window, with the hoop forming the frame. The hoop is then cross-sectioned by the limbs of the aerialist to create the smaller panes of the stained glass window. At least that is sometimes how I think about it.

1 Aerial straps portrait

Aerial straps is one of those apparatuses that really intimidates me. I think my favourite aerial performance that I have ever seen was the aerial straps performer in Luzia the Cirque Du Soleil show. The amount of strength required for aerial straps is just so far away from my current abilities. I think that is what makes those aerial artists who are able to make aerial straps look graceful and effortless so impressive to me.

1 aerial hammock portrait

Aerial hammock is an interesting variation on aerial silks which can be used for aerial yoga. My opinion is that aerial yoga differs from aerial dance in its intention. I think that aerial yoga is more for the benefit of the practitioner and has a meditative element, whereas aerial dance is generally meant to be viewed by an external party.

I tried to convey this difference in intention in my portrait of Nicole doing aerial yoga.

yogi portraits

I have also enjoyed doing portraits of yogis in beautiful yoga poses this year. The fascination I have with the positions and shapes that aerialists make transfers easily to other movement forms like yoga and dance. However, I also want to try to capture the meditative, zen component of yoga that contrasts with the flair that exudes from the aerial performers.

Nudes

Nudes are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I absolutely love them. My favourite kind are fine art nudes that show the strength, capability and beauty of the human form. My nudes so far have been decidedly feminine in nature, showing predominantly female torsos stretching or dancing.

I have really enjoyed trying to depict the contrasts of the female form, the strength and softness that exist side by side.

Mediums

One of my favourite things about writing this blog is that it gives me a great excuse and a slight push to try new things. Experimenting with different mediums is one of my favourite things to do.

Other Firsts

There have been many other firsts this year along with my first blog post. I was in my first performance, had my first market stall, first commission and my first original and print sales for The Art of Flying.

If you have any suggestions for what you would like me to cover next year please email me to let me know at contact@the-art-of-flying.com