How to feed your paint pouring addiction on a shoestring budget

How to feed your paint pouring addiction on a shoestring budget

Paint pouring using acrylic paint and pouring medium is extremely popular at the moment. In a flash a beautiful, complex masterpiece can be created using the random mixing and movement of the paint as it is poured onto the canvas. The only problem is that the medium and huge quantity of paint used can become extremely costly. I recently learned a neat way to practice paint pouring at a fraction of the cost and that is what I will share in this blog post.

‘Air and Water’ Acrylic pour

 

I go to a mixed media group where many of the members have become interested in paint pouring. Michelle Stratton, who teaches the group, dedicated one of our sessions to trying it out. I had so much fun experimenting with the different patterns that could be created. It is always nice to find more affordable ways to create new artwork.

I want to make it clear that I am not claiming to be an expert at paint pouring. Also the technique I will describe in this post will not have the same finish as the products that you can buy. Therefore it is not a technique that would be appropriate to use for pieces you wish to sell. However, I think it is a good way to try out paint pouring and begin using different colour combinations or styles without breaking the bank.

Materials:

  • Surface for artwork (canvas, gesso primed cardboard, glass or tile etc). I used a sheet of glass.
  • Water
  • PVA glue
  • acrylic paints (I like a restricted colour palette)
  • silicon
  • disposable cups
  • straw (to use to swirl the paint or use air to push your paint to the edges of the artwork surface)
  • gloves
  • hairdryer (I used a hairdryer to cause wavy lines throughout the mixing paint)

Method- Getting ready:

  1. Put on your gloves if you don’t want to end up with paint covered hands.
  2. Prepare your surface for the artwork so that it is sitting on top of a cup or something to raise it off the ground. I would recommend putting everything within a tray or box so that paint does not get all over everything.
  3. Dilute the PVA glue with water so that it is a similar consistency to mod podge. I used about 4 parts PVA glue to about 1 part water. This will be your pouring medium.
  4. Select your colours and put a small amount of each in its own cup.
  5. Dilute each colour with your pouring medium. I used a ratio of about 1 part paint to 2 parts pouring fluid.
  6. Add a couple of drops of silicone to each colour and stir. The silicone is what should give you cells in your artwork. Stir more for a lot of small cells and less for fewer large cells.

‘Fire and Water’ down and one to go

Now for the fun part!

There are many different techniques that you can use for the combination of the colours and the pouring part. I poured each colour on individually and then used the straw and tilting to combine them. You have also probably seen videos of people combining all the colours into one cup and then inverting it onto the surface so that all the colours pour out at the same time.

 

Finished pours sitting out to dry

Results:

I really like the results that I got using this method. The colours were not as bright once the artwork was dry. There was some blank spaces where the paint had cracked. However, the effect of the cracks was actually quite interesting. I have been told that the PVA glue may cause the artwork to yellow over time but have not seen any evidence of this yet.

Below you can see how the pieces that I did turned out once they were dry.

Finished dry artwork of  ‘Waves of Wind’ and ‘Air and Water’ hanging on my walls

 

Prints of these two pieces are also available in my online store. Below you can see the framed prints.

 

Framed prints of ‘Air and Water’ and ‘Waves of Wind

I also love the way that these abstract pours look on some of the other products in my online store. Below you can see the leggings, all over print t-shirts and backpack. There are also many other items for you to check out in my online store.

Printed all over print t-shirt, leggings and backpack

How I prepared for my first aerial silks performance

How I prepared for my first aerial silks performance

Today I am going to be doing my first aerial silks performance. I will be doing a solo aerial silks routine at the CircoBats talent show. This post is about how I prepared for it as a first-time performer. Hopefully this post will help others get ready for their first performance too!

A photo of me getting ready for my first performance

 

I took my first ever aerial silks class about a year and a half ago. Since then I have seen many amazing performances by my teachers and other professional circus acts. As my own skills progressed, I thought about the prospect of one day performing in front of other people.

I kept this in mind when watching first aerial silks performances from other people and took note on what I thought worked well.  In addition, I thought about what I would like to avoid in my own debut.

These are the steps that I followed in preparing for my first aerial silks performance:

1. Choose a song
  • slow beat (I didn’t want to get left behind the music)
  • some stand out moments with a bit of pizazz
  • between 3 and 4 minutes long (I don’t think I would have the stamina to be in the air for longer than about 4 minutes at a time)
  • a song that I like and makes me feel like dancing
  • a song that I would feel comfortable performing to in front of my friends and family

I ended up choosing ‘Fallen Angel’ by Cold Chisel

2. Create an achievable routine
  • all the choreography are tricks that I feel very comfortable with (nothing new that I need to work hard to perform safely)
  • lots of rest moments where I can pose and look at the audience
  • also lots of places in the choreography where I can catch up if I need to take more time with the previous movement
  • not too many tricks jammed in together
  • not too many climbing or wrapping parts (I am not very good at making these look pretty…yet)
  • natural flow (I wanted it to look like each move made sense in its place)
  • choreography that suits the tempo and mood of the music
  • choreography that plays to my strengths (moves that rely on flexibility rather then muscle strength are best for me)

I added a lot of poses that let me rest and relied on flexibility rather than strength

 

3. Find a performance opportunity

It might seem strange to pick a song and a routine before finding a performance opportunity. However, I did not want to be rushed in the lead up to an event. This would not work if there was the a theme to the event.

For my first performance I was looking for:

  • a solo performance opportunity (I figured my first performance would be difficult enough without having to worry about being in time with other people)
  • a show that my friends and family could attend if they wanted to come and see me
  • a show where there is not pressure to perform perfectly

The CircoBats talent show seemed like the perfect first performance opportunity. It is a community fundraiser show that is open for all types of circus performers to take part in.

Flier for the CircoBats talent show

 

4. Get feedback from others

I was a little nervous about asking other people to watch my routine when it was in an unfinished state, but it was extremely valuable. Other people noticed things that I was and was not doing that I could not see.

I asked my teachers and classmates to give me constructive criticism. Through this, I found out that I was concentrating so hard on getting the moves right that I completely forgot to make any eye contact or smile at the audience.

My teacher and classmates watching to give me feedback

 

5. Decide to do it

I think this step was the most difficult for me. Up until the last 2 or 3 weeks before the show I kept telling people that I MIGHT be in a show. I kept giving myself an out in case I couldn’t get my routine to a place that I felt comfortable performing.

Whilst I think that it is a good idea to wait until I felt comfortable, but at some point I just needed to be brave. So I took the plunge and decided to just do it!

6. Actually tell people about it so they can come

For the last little while, when people ask me what I have been up to, mostly it is aerial shows or classes. So it will be really nice for some of my friends and family who have herd so much about it to be able to actually see me up in the air in person. I am also looking forward to having a cheer squad there, just in case I mess something up. A supportive audience can make all the difference!

7. Decide on a costume

For this performance I have gone a little on the safe side for my costume. That is because my main concern is that I want to be comfortable and feel confident in what I am wearing. I think that anything that can be one less thing to worry about tonight will be helpful. So I decided on a black leotard and some brightly coloured leggings. Whilst I love a crazy costume, I might just have to save it for next time.

‘Look At Me Leggings’ available in my online store that I will be wearing for the performance

 

How to have have the Most Amazing Aerial Photoshoot

This photo shows an outfit that is very similar to the costume that I will be wearing tonight

 

8. Practice practice practice

I was a bit embarrassed at first to put my music on at open trainings and run through my routine. It was extremely important to practice to the music so that I could get a feel for what I had to do to finish with the song. I also found it super helpful to film myself so that I could see what parts looked nice and which parts of my routine looked strange. That way I knew which parts of the routine to work to improve upon.

Photos showing me practicing at ZigZag Circus

 

If you are working towards your first aerial silks performance or have tips for other people who are I would love to hear from you in the comments section!

A picture of the strength to fly

A picture of the strength to fly

I met Ashe Giovanni when she taught me in aerial hammock and aerial silks classes at AcroSports. She is a wonderful teacher who introduced me to many useful new techniques. I was always impressed by Ashe’s strength in the air. I wanted to capture that strength in my portrait of her.

A picture of the strength to fly

The Strength To Float‘: Charcoal and chalk pastel pencils on paper

Inspiration

Ashe was the first aerial silks teacher to introduce me to the idea that I should continue to work on making my Russian climbs more efficient. She would often give the class the task to see how few climbs we could use to reach the top of the silks. We would then see if we could improve over time. This exercise was extremely beneficial to me, as it improved my strength and many of my basic techniques.

Ashe was also the first teacher that taught me a sequence of several moves that linked together on the silks. It was so exciting to be able to work from one pose to another. It felt like such a big step forward.

What impressed me the most about Ashe was her strength in the air. She has considerable upper body strength. Ashe is able to use it to great advantage to make her tricks look effortless. This is a skill that I aspire to, but have a long way to go.

A picture of the strength to flyA picture of the strength to fly

Side by side comparison of the reference image and ‘The Strength To Float

Q&A with Ashe

What made you decide to try aerial?

The burlesque troupe I was with had a few members who were in a circus company & they asked me to come to a practice because they thought I would make a great addition to the troupe. I had never seen aerial or taken a class, but I instantly fell in love with all things circus; Aerial, Partner Acrobatics, Fire, etc.

What is your favourite apparatus and why?

Single Point Sling/Hammock. It has the capacity to be used for Tissue tricks when rigged long, & provides an endless journey of exploration through different pathways and twists! You never get stuck because you’ll always end up in another position you’re familiar with or discover new transitions easily.

What type of venues or events do you most enjoy performing at?

Naturally I enjoy performing at venues with high ceilings so I can rig at the height I want and use the extra fabric for larger drops! I love performing for events that draw an artistic crowd that understands and appreciates the beauty in my artistry, & character choices, rather than your typical bar or club crowd that is only wowed by the splits or a drop of any kind.

What is your favourite type of performance?

Satirical performance has become my favourite. I’m a natural improver, & clown, so when I get to take on a silly persona I truly blossom as a performer. While I deeply love a creative and elegant performance, I find that my comical performances are my niche!

What do you hope to convey when you perform?

I always hope to convey my physical strength. While I’m not as flexible as other performers, I try to use my strength to showcase difficult positions instead.

Has what you like about aerial changed from the time you started until now?

Yes, very much so! When I started, I just thought it was really cool and unique, but didn’t understand the artistic direction it required to create and perform a professional quality piece! It can be difficult to get out of the “trick-pose, trick-pose” mentality. Aerial performance requires so much strength, but a GREAT aerial performance requires not only that, but a demanding stage presence, meaning eye contact/audience engagement, character work, and mastering the artistry of movement while in the air.

How did you get into teaching aerial?

I Co-Founded a circus company, and as an extra revenue stream and community engagement we decided to start offering aerial and partner acrobatic classes in the facility we trained in. Teaching classes opened my eyes to many more aspects of aerial arts, & started me down the road to my true calling as a circus arts & fitness instructor and educator.

What are your favourite aspects of teaching aerial?

My favourite aspect of teaching aerial is the conditioning aspect! Because it requires so much arm and core strength, I spend a lot of time talking to my clients about body awareness, specific muscles they need to utilise, and the process of training in order for them to accomplish whatever skill they’re working on. I also love seeing clients embrace the artistic side of aerial, and have fun with showing off little routines with sass and flair!

What do you hope your students take away from your classes?

I hope my students fall in love with aerial for either the physical challenges & benefits it provides, or the beautiful artistry of it that you can attain with practice. I want my students to have a goal when they leave my class, whether that’s to master an inversion, or a specific trick.

Reference Image

Ashe sent me several beautiful images to use for her portrait. I thought that this one perfectly captured the strength that I wanted to portray. In the image, Ashe seems to float in mid air. She uses tremendous strength to hold herself there. I like how the photograph shows the definition of the muscles in her arms and legs as they are tensed to hold her in position.

A picture of the strength to fly

A picture of the strength to flyA picture of the strength to flyA picture of the strength to fly

Progress photos of ‘The Strength To Float

Creative Process

To capture the strength of the pose in the reference image, I wanted to keep the composition simple. In addition, I wanted to keep the colours and techniques minimal. This was so that the illusion of Ashe floating in mid air would be created in the artwork. I used mid-tone buttery coloured pastel paper. Charcoal and white chalk pastel pencils were used for the drawing to emphasise the shadows and highlights on the figure.

A picture of the strength to fly

The Strength To Float‘ hanging on a wood panel wall

 

A picture of the strength to fly

The Strength To Float‘ hanging above ‘Golden Hoop

 

Framed print of ‘The Strength To Float

 

Prints and other products available in my online store.

If you are a performer, yogi, fan of figurative art and would like to commission a piece, feel free to email me at contact@the-art-of-flying.com

How to get the whole picture when filming yourself on the silks

How to get the whole picture when filming yourself on the silks

I find it so frustrating when I am trying to film my aerial silks practice and find that all I have is a video of my feet. Never again! I was given a 360 degree camera for Christmas last year as a gift and it has changed the way that I film aerial. The fish eye lense means that I can capture the entire height of the silk, even when I leave the camera on the floor at the base. This blog post will review my experience using the Samsung Gear 360 degree camera for filming aerial silks. I will also explain how you can make sure you never decapitate yourself on film ever again.

Playlist of seven aerial videos that I filmed with the Samsung Gear 360 degree camera

Motivation

I find it really useful to film myself practicing tricks and flows on aerial silks so that I can see where to improve. It is also super useful to look back on videos that I have taken in the past to remind myself how each move is performed. Videos can even help to remind me of tricks that I had forgotten all about.

It is so annoying when the top half of my body is cut off in these videos and all you can see are the tips of my toes, or even empty silk. Most cameras are not able to get the full length of a tall silk in a single view. Also some tricks can cover a lot of height. In this case half of the prep for the move might be missed by most cameras.

A screen shot of video taken with my normal camera with my head cut off

 

Introducing the 360 degree camera! I have found that my Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera is able to solve all of these problems.

Description

The Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera is a small round ball about the size of a fist. There is one fish eye lense on each side to capture the footage. I use Muvee 360 video stitcher software for mac to combine the footage from the two camera lenses. You can use the software that comes with the Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera but it only works on windows machines.

Review

I have now put the Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera through its paces for filming aerial silks. There are many other cool things that you can film more effectively with a 360 degree camera when compared with a regular camera.

low angle

Low angle shot of my first successful 720 drop at Zig Zag Circus filmed with my Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera

 

For the above video I put the Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera  less than a meter away from the edge of the crash mat. From nearly directly below the silks, the camera was still able to catch the full height of the silk without changing the angle of the camera.

Low angle shot in the centre of a group of 4 aerial silks rigging points at the Aerial Arts and Yoga retreat in Costa Rica filmed with my Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera

 

In the above 360 degree video I really like how you can see all the way to the roof. If you move the view to look directly up you can see all four of us up on the silks. All in the same frame. I enjoy the low angle view because it is slightly unusual.

 

Low angle view of a wrapped hip-key drop at CircoBats Community Circus filmed with my Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera

 

The above video also shows another low angle view. You can see a lot of the floor in front of the silk. I love the way I can set the 360 degree camera on the floor when I am training and forget about it. There is no need to worry about adjustments for different tricks at different heights.

Indoors

Indoor shot of my first time on the cloud swing at CircoBats Community Circus filmed with my Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera

 

Some indoor settings can be filmed really well with the 360 degree camera, especially if they are well lit. The only problem comes when the lighting is dim. In dimly lit indoor situations the footage can become slightly more grainy.

backlit

Backlit video of a back balance at Aerial Artique filmed with my Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera

 

The above video shows how the Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera deals with backlit lighting. I think the film still looks quite good. Probably because there is still plenty of light even if it is coming from the window behind.

uneven lighting

Unevenly lit video of a backwards drop at Aerial Artique filmed with my Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera

 

The above video shows bright morning sunlight coming from the window to illuminate half the room. Although the other half of the room is quite dim, the footage is quite clear.

low light

Low lighting at Jagged Vertical Dance and Fitness filmed with my Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera

 

The above video shows a dark coloured room with low lighting. However, the lighting is quite bright in specific places. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera was able to capture this room. In other dimly lit rooms the video has not come out this clear. So I think that the camera was better able to deal with the intermittent strong lighting.

darkness/show lighting

Show lighting  of Chloe Axelrod on Lyra at the Circus Centre Cabaret Love Hangover filmed with my Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera

 

I took the above footage when I had first started using the 360 degree camera. That is why I accidentally pointed it in the wrong direction. Thankfully if you navigate around you can still see Chloe’s amazing lyra performance!

 

I hope you have found my review of the Samsung Gear 360 degree video camera helpful and if you are interested in getting your own you can find them on Amazon.

How does aerial dance compare with aerial yoga?

How does aerial dance compare with aerial yoga?

I met Nicole Rowland in Thai Lam’s level 2 aerial silks class at Aerial Artique. She made me feel so welcome when it was my first level 2 class and I was feeling a little intimidated. Now Nicole has started teaching aerial yoga classes of her own! I saw some of the lovely pics of Nicole looking so serene doing aerial yoga and wanted to create a portrait of her that captured that.

‘Touch Your Toes’: Mixed media (acrylic, chalk pastel and gold leaf on wood) portrait of Nicole

Inspiration

Nicole was so welcoming to me when I move up from the level 1 class to the level 2 class with Thai. It was a really challenging class. I was feeling a little out of my league because all of the others in the class were so good. Nicole came up to me after class and said not to worry. She said that everyone feels like that their first time in level 2 and that she thought I would be doing great in no time. It made me feel so much better! Nicole is now teaching aerial yoga, which I am sure she is awesome at.

For my portrait of Nicole I was inspired of the colours of this glass plate. I just loved the brown and gold all swirled together.

Glass plate that I used for colour inspiration

 

Side by side comparison of reference image and ‘Touch Your Toes’

Q&A with Nicole:

What made you decide to try aerial silks?
I first got into aerial silk when I lived in Orlando Florida looking for a gym with positive atmosphere that was fun and effective. I found Vixen which was an all female gym that included pole, spin, dance, and aerial silks. During my year of membership I tried all the different classes, but fell in love with silks immediately. It had the ability to make you feel strong and beautiful all at the same time.
What are your favourite aspects of teachers that you have had for aerial?
The best teachers I have had in aerial always created a safe and encouraging class. Aerial silk can lead to dangerous injuries if not done properly, but the teachers I loved are ones that taught with clear directions of proper steps to get in and out of wraps. As well as being able to make the class playful and fun, where everyone is encourage to continue to grow stronger.
How do you feel when you are performing?
This past summer was my first aerial silk performance for the student showcase at Aerial Artique which was an amazing experience. It was a ten week process of learning the group sequence and timing it to music with eleven other amazing ladies. It had solo parts and groups of four, as well as a short timeframe when we split the silk having multiple performers on a single silk. By the time the two shows came we were well prepared and excited to perform. For me personally it bought me back to my youth when I would do competitive cheerleading performances. Your nerves are heighten but you couldn’t be more happy to perform in front of your friends, family, and strangers who are all looking forward to a fantastic show. I hope I can participate in another performance opportunity soon.
What made you decide to start teaching aerial yoga?
When I moved out of the mountains and into the out skirts of San Francisco the first thing I found was a place to practice on silks again after my two year break in a ski town. However due to work schedule I would only be able to make it into the city on weekends so I started to look for other classes near work location which is how I found Mojo Yoga who had aerial yoga. It was a great experience as a supportive alternative to Aerial Dance. Throughout my time the owner of the studio kept encouraging to get certified to teach and within a few weeks of looking into it I found Levity who was offering a teacher certification at Aerial Artique, who at the time did not offer Aerial yoga. It was a great decision because it took my strengths from work of presenting and coaching others, and added it with my outside of work passion of Aerial world.
what do you hope your students get out of your classes?
My goal for my students is that they can find breathe, balance and strength. In today world everyone is moving so fast and multitasking, but in my class I have my student just focus on their breathe before anything else. Balance is a hard one because it could mean different things for everyone (work/life, eating habits, stability balance, etc) but by attending class they can get closer to accomplishing their desired balance by putting time in to focus on themselves for 75 minutes. Lastly strength, Aerial Yoga has relaxed poses but it also has pose that can challenge you and build your muscles.  Many of my students leave surprised to see they are strong than had originally thought.
Are there teachers that you have had before that inspired your teaching style or whose techniques you would like to aspire to?
The great thing about teaching is you are always learning new techniques by observation in the field and in other life experiences outside of silks. In silk specifically I find I pull a little from everyone: Lauriel Marques in Orlando with her fun Disney performance background, Hannah Jane for her approach to make a class welcoming to everyone, Angela Chu for skill of making the simple move beautiful, Thai Lam for his skill helping people push past their fears, Lei Lei for her free spirit, Amelia for her calming pass and the list could go on and on.
What do like about teaching aerial yoga?
Yoga for an outsider can be intimidating with the unknown terminology and different pose but with having the hammock as your prop everything becomes more approachable for all. As the teacher I get to help find that realization and create a new lifetime hobby that can help their whole wellbeing.
What do you think are the main differences between aerial silks and aerial yoga?
It’s one that is often seen as the same exercise but they are distinctly different. Aerial Silk, sometimes referred as Aerial Dance,  is split silks that involve tricks, drops, climbs and being in the air for an extended amount of time. Students strive to increase their skill set growing in levels, which is high pace and requires grip strength. While Aerial Yoga is slower sequence that always have a alternation to meet anyone needs. Aerial Yoga has inversions but you are always supportive by the hammock so there no required strength required for your first class. Both are great experiences that I do weekly that support each other but can provide different benefits based on what you are looking for.

Reference Image

The glow of the reference image is what made me think of the gold colour scheme. I also love the beautiful shape that Nicole is making. It is almost a perfect square in the window between her arm and foot. Her perfectly pointed toe and straight arm really adds to the composition of the piece. I also like the serene look on her face in profile.

Photographer Patrick O’Connor

 

Progress photos of ‘Touch Your Toes’

Creative Process

This mixed media portrait was created on a plank of wood. To try to create the golden glow I decided to use gold leaf for the highlights.  I drew on the first layer of highlights in yellow to mark where I would place the gold leaf. Then I painted on the first layer of shadows using acrylic. I applied both gold and copper coloured gold leaf. I wanted to use two different shades of gold leaf to give the piece more texture.

‘Touch Your Toes’ arranged with a metallic vase

 

Prints of ‘Touch Your Toes’  available in my online art shop

 

Do you have an interesting aerial story that you want to share? or would you like to commission a figurative portrait contact me at contact@the-art-of-flying.com

What happens when a yogi becomes addicted to aerial arts?

What happens when a yogi becomes addicted to aerial arts?

I met Nadine Johnson when she was the yoga instructor on the yoga and aerial arts retreat that I attended in Costa Rica in May run by Go Well Beyond and Aerial Artique. She was an excellent teacher, especially since she is an aerialist herself and understood what we needed from the yoga practice to recover from the aerial sessions. Nadine exudes a sense of calm and poise which I think is reflected in her aerial practice. I wanted to try to capture this in her portrait.

‘Golden Hoop‘: Ink and gold leaf on watercolour paper, portrait of Nadine

Inspiration

I loved spending time with Nadine on the yoga and aerial arts retreat. We got to chat a lot during meal times where all of the attendees stuffed themselves silly with delicious healthy food.

It was lovely to learn from Nadine. She is an excellent yoga teacher, showing each student different modifications to suit their individual needs. Her vast knowledge really showed through the way she explained challenging poses. Seeing her performing the poses was also a treat as she has an extremely graceful way of moving.

Nadine’s classes were also the first time I had ever tried restorative yoga. Along with all of the other amazing experiences at the retreat, the restorative yoga made me feel so rejuvenated. Nadine also introduced me to the use of essential oils with yoga. I loved the combination to play to so many senses at the same time and have since gone out and brought myself some oils to continue to use them.

Side by side comparison of reference image and ‘Golden Hoop’

Q&A with Nadine:

What made you decide to try aerial?
I joined FitMob, a predecessor to ClassPass, and started trying all sorts of fun and unique classes. My first class was at the Circus Center. The teacher was strict and loving at the same. I really like that. Later, I found out that she had been in the Pickle Family Circus in the 80’s. As a kid, I probably watched her perform.  And, now I get to benefit from her talent and experience. That’s amazing! I never dreamed of being a ballerina growing up, but I always liked watching women on the trapeze.
What were the best qualities about some of your teachers when you were getting started?
When I was in design school, all of my teachers were professionals in the industry. They told stories about working on Hollywood sets in the 40’s or in New York and London in the 70’s. There’s something extra, something intangible in learning from someone who’s lived the work. I always seek teachers who have a depth of experience to pull from and empathy for those of us who are just starting out. I’m lucky that I have amazing professionals like Maia, Stephanie and Elena to learn from.
What is your favourite aspect of aerial?
I love being up-side-down.  I love being high in the air. I love the flow and finesse that you can find in sequencing and playing in a lyra while defying gravity
How would you compare aerial to yoga?
They’re like cousins. There are similarities.  It’s all movement and meditation, of sorts. But, they are two different things. I practiced yoga for over 20 years when I started aerial. But I was an absolute beginner. I had to find strength and flexibility that’s different than what I use in yoga.  The mindfulness of my yoga practice has kept me from getting injured in aerial.
Has the things that you like about aerial changed from the time you started to now?
It’s been about 3 1/2 years now and I feel the same as I did before. I feel at home in a space where a really strong woman is seen as beautiful and feminine. That’s pretty rare in this world.
What are the qualities that you aspire to in your aerial practice?
I aspire to make it look effortless. I’d love to use my other talents to bring more creativity to costuming and sequencing. And, without getting political, Id like to promote more diversity in this art by example.

Reference Image

I love the beautiful shape that Nadine is creating with the lyra in the shot she sent me. Her lines are lovely and the hoop frames her beautifully. The photo was taken at Aerial Artique during a training session. I wanted to focus more on the shape of Nadine’s body and the hoop rather than the lighting or the background, which is why I tried to create a simple portrait.

What happens when a yogi becomes addicted to aerial arts?

Reference image  of Nadine at Aerial Artique

 

What happens when a yogi becomes addicted to aerial arts?

Progress photos of ‘Golden Hoop’

Creative Process

For the portrait of Nadine I wanted to keep the colour scheme simple so that the shapes and form could be the star of the artwork. I used drawing ink on watercolour paper to paint the figure. Two layers of ink were used, one slightly diluted to create a grey tone.

Once I had painted the figure I wanted to give the portrait something a little bit special. I still wanted to keep the background clean because I thought that a busy background would overpower the figure. So I decided to add some gold leaf to the hoop to make it pop. I think that the little bit of bling is just the ticket to finish off the piece.

‘Golden Hoop’ on my bookshelf with my pretty books and a potted plant

 

What happens when a yogi becomes addicted to aerial arts? What happens when a yogi becomes addicted to aerial arts?

Prints of ‘Golden Hoop’ available in my online store

 

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An aerial silks duo from the base perspective

An aerial silks duo from the base perspective

This post is the second post in my series of posts about the aerial silks duo made up by Alex and Sam. The first post I did about them featured an interview with Alex and an abstract portrait of the two of them. So now this portrait is a more realistic style and this post features an interview with Sam.

‘Fly with a little help from my friends’: Watercolour on cold press ground on a wooden panel, portrait of Alex and Sam

Inspiration

The first time I ever got to try doubles on aerial silks it was with Sam. He came to class and let each of us try flying. It was such a thrill! Sam was such a solid base that the whole class felt confident to give it a go. One lesson, sam also substituted for Alex who is the regular aerial teacher. He created a fun and welcoming atmosphere for the class.

Sam is an exuberant performer with excellent comedic timing. I have seen him perform as part of his duo with Alex and also as the teacher of the children’s performance troupe at CircoBats. I particularly liked that his character in the troupe show was an elephant since he was so much bigger than all of the kids. It was a really funny and cute show.

Photo of Sam in CircoBats Performance Troupe performance of Animal Academy

 

Side by side comparison of ‘Fly with a little help from my friends’ and the reference image

Q&A with Sam:

What made you decide to try aerial?

I started at Cirkidz when I was 10 because my brother wanted to give it a go. I never was any good at ball sports and I think my parents thought this would be a good physical activity for me.

What were the best qualities about some of your teachers when you were getting started?

When it comes to silks in general including duo silks almost all I have learnt has been from Alex. Alex was a really great teacher as it was generally always one on one so I was able to progress very quickly.

What is your favourite aspect of aerial?

Ever since I was a kid my favourite thing was climbing, getting as high off the ground as I possibly could, challenging my balance, strength and my hand placement. I think doing aerial brings me back to this child mindset but it is also able to incorporate so much more like flexibility and discipline as well. I also should mention how special it is to do duo silks. When I am doing duo silks with Alex you need to react together, generally with out talking. When you are able to communicate with someone with such little gestures it feels like your minds are connected, which I think is something pretty special!

What is your favourite type of performance?

Something new. I think why people go to the circus in general is so that they can see something that they haven’t ever seen before. When I see a Performance with all the same tricks as another act in a similar way, it doesn’t matter if they make it super graceful, this will automatically lose my focus. If your doing circus you need to be unique.

Has the things that you like about aerial changed from the time you started to now?

Yea as I’ve aged and progressed my skill level the appreciation for aerial acts has become greater as I can see the difference between a trick you can learn in 5 minutes and one that takes the skill of 3 years of training.

How did you get into teaching aerial?

I just grew into the roll slowly from getting older in CircoBats troupe and becoming a senior troupe member. I would be asked to look after areas and would inherently start passing on tips then began to teach.

What do you hope your students get out of your classes?

I want my students to be able to go home each day and be able to tell their friends and family the new things they learnt and tell people how much fun it was to learn it.

What is your favourite aspect of teaching aerial?

I like it when you can see the visible improvements in a student’s self-confidence or you see a student come up with an act by themselves. If something like this happens you know you are doing something right!

how is working in a duo different from performing a solo aerial act?

When you perform in a duo act you have double the variables to account for. There are a lot of things can go wrong and you might not know if something is not right. You need to ensure your skills and strength are above the level you need, as if they aren’t you are not only risking injury for yourself but also your partner.

Reference Image

I love this photo of Sam and Alex showing Sam supporting Alex by one arm. Alex is in an amazing split with the red silk cascading down past her like a waterfall. I think that the long, thin composition of the shot complements the way that the red silk falls. In contrast to the previous piece of this duo, I wanted to focus on the shape and form of this piece, whilst the previous piece emphasised the black and red colour scheme.

Reference image  of Samuel and Alex performing “Try Again” at the 2017 Adelaide Fringe Festival

 

Progress photos of ‘Fly with a little help from my friends’

Creative Process

I chose a large wooden board for this piece as it was long and thin enough to capture the composition of the photograph. Cold press ground was applied to the wood so that I would be able to use watercolour paints and have them run like on watercolour paper. The background was created using multiple colours with bleach and salt water dripped onto the rainbow wash.

Summer the pup guarding ‘Fly with a little help from my friends’

 

Since the background had so many colours I decided to make the figures in a colour scheme of blue and purple. I wanted to make sure I left plenty of white space, as I sometimes have issues with restraint when using watercolours.

‘Fly with a little help from my friends’ next to a bowl of citrus

 

Once I had finished paining in the figures I wanted to emphasise the silk to increase the flow of the composition. So I painted the silk in with orange to make it stand out more. I like the way that it wraps around the duo and completes the artwork.

‘Fly with a little help from my friends’ framed print available in my online store

 

If you would like to enquire about commissioning a portrait of yourself or someone you admire please send me an email at contact@the-art-of-flying.com

Aerial silks from the perspective of a captivating performer

Aerial silks from the perspective of a captivating performer

Anastasia Sauvage was one of my aerial silks level 2 teachers at Aerial Artique when I lived in San Francisco. When Anastasia performs, whether in a show or just demonstrating in class, it is impossible to take your eyes off her. She has a cheeky and captivating performance style that I love and wanted to try to capture in my portrait of her.

Inverted diamond‘ acrylic on canvas portrait of Anastasia Sauvage

Inspiration

Anastasia has amazing flexibility, stunning extension and a graceful way of dancing with the silks. However, that is only part of what makes her performances so captivating. For me, it is the eye contact and intention behind each movement that draws me in to whatever mood or feeling she is trying to convey.

You can see this in her demo reel, but I think it is particularly evident when she interacts with the audience about 45 seconds in.

The classes that I took from Anastasia were so much fun! I think that she put in a lot of effort to provide the most engaging tricks for her students to learn. In conjunction she did a great job at judging the level of difficulty that could be safely achieved by each class. The dynamic between her and Thai Lam was so enjoyable to be around and it was easy to get caught up in their infectious enthusiasm. Thai is one of the previous featured aerial artists on The Art of Flying.

Side by side comparison of ‘Inverted diamond‘ and the reference photograph by RJ Muna

Q&A with Anastasia:

What made you decide to try aerial?
The first time I saw aerial acrobatics, I was 16. I was at a concert at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. In awe and wonderment, I witnessed humans descending from the ceiling on giant pieces of fabric. They seemed to free fall, appearing as if they would plummet to their deaths – yet to be caught by a leg at the end of the yardage. What sorcery was this? Could this be achieved by mere mortals?
I kept this in the back corners of my mind for several years, until I attended another concert put on by some of my favorite musical artists at the time. They had a resident aerial performer that traveled and performed with them all over the world. At that moment, I realized this is what I needed to do. Coolest job ever? Yes.
How does performing make you feel?
Performing is the absolute essence of my being. It gives me something to look forward to, something to work on, something to pour my heart into. It makes me nervous, excited, and proud to share a piece of myself with the audience. It’s a very strong form of vulnerability that challenges me in a multitude of ways, and keeps evolving with every stage I step on.
What are your favourite type of aerial performances?
My favorite types of aerial performances are the ones that leave me speechless. Present. Inspired. Eager to get back to my creation station. I find a lot of this quality in contemporary circus acts, but have seen it in the great Cirque acts, too. I love acts with soul. Sure, exceptional technique and epic feats of strength are incredible. However, non-traditional, pedestrian movement is stunning.
What is your favourite venue/event type to perform at?
This all depends on what kind of act I’m performing. I’ve been on stage in front of 16,000 people, which was mind blowing. I’ve been in small black box theaters in front of friends and community, which is a very special experience as well. I like high-powered, dynamic acts for large crowds, and subtly powerful, soul-art acts for small, familiar crowds.
What do you hope to convey during your performances?
I hope to pay forward the gift that I’ve received from exceptional performances. I want people to feel a spectrum of emotion. I want them to go out into the world and give their gift of creativity, in whatever form that may be.
What made you interested in teaching aerial?
Teaching aerial was an offer my first coach gave me. Upon witnessing my commitment and dedication, he put me through his teacher training program. My interest sprouted from two different sources. Selflessly excited to share the technique of the art, and selfishly excited to spend more time hacking away at the technique of the art.
What are your favourite aspects of teaching?
My love for teaching has many facets. Teaching has made made my awareness for technique explode. The theory of mastery is true where one learns a subject much more deeply after teaching it.
I love my students. Their weekly enthusiasm and curiosity inspires mine. It’s an absolute gift to watch them learn and understand. I look forward to seeing their shining faces every week!
I also love spending more hours a day with my art. I’m constantly challenged in ways that grow me as a person as well as an artist.
What do you hope your students will get out of your classes?
I hope my students can unlock their own artistry and share their beauty. I hope my students get exactly what they need. Some days that might be epic gratification of finally achieving a move they’ve been working on for weeks. Other days that might be struggle and frustration. I believe in the importance of the contrast of training days, and taking lessons from the challenges in order to fully soak in the glory of success. There’s nothing more powerful than perseverance and not giving up.

Reference Image

All of the images that Anastasia sent me for this portrait were absolutely stunning, with beautiful lines and amazing shapes. I couldn’t resist this one of Anastasia doing an inverted split with a backbend from belay. Her long legs and pointed toes create a lovely diamond shape with the red silk. I also love the composition of the photograph and especially the silk pooling onto the floor below Anastasia.

Photographer RJ Muna

Progress photos of ‘Inverted diamond’

Creative Process

I decided on a brown, red and gold colour scheme for this portrait. The colour scheme was inspired by the bright red silk in the reference photograph. The background was kept simple with vertical colour bands so that the shape of the figure is the focus. I added gold highlights in an attempt to capture the beautiful lighting in the reference photograph

‘Inverted diamond’ on my coffee table with a tea set and potted plant

If you know of a captivating performer like Anastasia I would love to hear from you. It could even be inspiration for my next piece.

If you would like to have a captivating aerialist in your home, you can purchase prints of ‘Inverted diamond‘ in my online store.

Prints of ‘Inverted diamond‘ available in my online store

How to make your own gelli monoprinting plate and save money

How to make your own gelli monoprinting plate and save money

I have always loved art printing ever since I tried lino printing in high school. Now my new favourite way to print is using gelli monoprinting plates. The results are lovely and sharp and there are lots of cool effects that can be achieved by painting onto the gel. Gelli monoprinting plates can be pricey if you buy them in an art store but here I will take you through the steps of creating your own at home for a fraction of the cost.

Last week at the mixed media group that Michelle Stratton runs at the Henley and Grange Arts Society we tried out gelli printing. It was the first time that I had used one and I fell in love. The gel was so easy to paint on and make all sorts of patterns. I liked using baking paper to mask a silhouette and the way that many prints can be made very quickly. So I got to experiment with a lot of different colours and patterns for the same image.

One of the other participants at the group had made her own gelli monoprinting plate for printing. I thought that was such a great idea and immediately wanted to give it a try.

Side by side comparison of ‘Flying Mermaid’ and the reference image (photographer Casey Grimley)

Making the gelli monoprinting plate

Ingredients:

1 cup boiling water

1 cup glycerine

6 tablespoons gelatine

flat bottomed dish

Note: The dish needs to have no pattern in the bottom as the bottom surface is the one that will be used for painting on and printing. The size of the dish will be the finished size of your gel printing plate.

Instructions to creat the gelli monoprinting plate:
  1. Dissolve gelatine into boiling water so that there are no lumps
  2. Add glycerine and combine quickly
  3. Place the mixture into the dish, try to remove the bubbles if you can but don’t worry too much if there are a few left there. The bubbles end up at the top edge of the plate which is not the surface that you use for printing
  4. Cover with plastic wrap
  5. Put the dish containing the mixture into the fridge at least overnight
  6. Check that the middle of the gel plate has set completely by pressing the gel
  7. Peel the gel plate out of the dish
  8. You can now print with your plate or store it in plastic wrap

Progress photos of creating my own gelli monoprinting plate

The finished gelli monoprinting plate

Reference Image

I was sent this lovely photograph from Tracie Eberle on Instagram who commissioned me to create an artwork from it. This image made the perfect silhouette to use on the gelli monoprinting plate.

photographer Casey Grimley

Instructions on using your home made gelli monoprinting plate

These are just instructions on how I have used the gelli monoprinting plate, but you should experiment and find out how you want to use yours. I thought that I would provide these instructions just to get you started.

First I put several blobs of acrylic paint onto the gel and used a roller to distribute the paint. I then added a swirly pattern  into the paint using a toothed plastic card. To mask off a portion of the plate, I put a baking paper cutout of the mermaid on lyra design on top of the paint. The paper was then pressed onto the painted gel surface to transfer the print.

This process can be altered to give your piece an interesting background

Progress photos of using the gelli monoprinting plate to create ‘Flying Mermaid’ prints

Showing some of my prints in progress and one already done

 

Showing all the prints that I made in the mixed media session

 

Prints of ‘Flying Mermaid’ available in my online store

 

If you find this post useful I would love to hear from you and see your creations.

 

 

Aerial silks from a gymnast’s perspective

Aerial silks from a gymnast's perspective

Alexa Leporati was one of my aerial silks and aerial hammock teachers at AcroSports in San Francisco. I really liked the classes there because they were so small and personal. Alexa was an excellent teacher to learn from, as she made her classes fun and challenging whilst tailoring them to the skill level of the participants. I think that Alexa’s background in gymnastics also helped her teaching style to be quite technical. I wanted my portrait of her to reflect these qualities.

‘Subtle Splits Triangle’: Portrait of Alexa, black gesso and chalk pastel pencils on mixed media paper

Inspiration

AcroSports is one of the first places I took aerial classes and is the only place that I have ever learned aerial hammock. I took the beginner aerial silks and aerial hammock class with Alexa several times. In Alexa’s class I learned my first drop on aerial hammock. It was extremely exciting and I loved how I could experience some of the thrill of aerial silks drops when I hadn’t yet developed the strength required to perform them safely. You can probably tell how happy I am from the look on my face 🙂

 

Side by side comparison of  ‘Subtle Splits Triangle‘ and the reference image (Photographer Louis Montaño)

Q&A with Alexa:

What made you decide to try aerial?

An old co worker of mine was taking Aerial classes and suggested I try it since he knew I had been a gymnast for so long. I tried it once and was immediately obsessed!

What were the best qualities about some of your teachers when you were getting started?

When I first started I was hungry for Aerial – I was brand new and had such little experience with it, but I had an instructor who recognised my drive and fed my hunger. She challenged me in all the appropriate ways without making me feel like an outsider to the Aerial world.

What is your favourite aspect of aerial?

Versatility. You can do so many things with it and utilize it in so many different ways.

What is your favourite type of performance?

I love performing to my favorite music. Performing to a song you love makes it so much more fun!

Has the things that you like about aerial changed from the time you started to now?

I don’t think so. I like it in different ways now that I’m an instructor.

How did you get into teaching aerial?

I started teaching classes at AcroSports after I had been taking class there for a while. I was hired as a gymnastics coach but have since broadened my coaching spectrum and teach a variety of different things now as well as Aerial.

what do you hope your students get out of your classes?

I know Aerial is really challenging and can be discouraging at times but I hope that my students have fun more than anything. I’m glad to see people step out of their comfort zones. I grew up in a gymnastics gym doing scary tricks all day long so becoming an instructor has helped me recognize that these things are hard and they’re scary and people should feel good about themselves for trying something they never thought they would before!

Reference Image

Alexa provided me with several beautiful images to choose from with several stunning shapes. I especially loved this neck hang in belay with splits in double footlocks. Alexa’s split is gorgeous and I love how the light is catching her to emphasise the shape. I especially like the front hand in the photo and wanted to try to capture that detail.

Photographer Louis Montaño

Progress photos of ‘Subtle Splits Triangle

Creative Process

I have recently enjoyed using black gesso scraped onto toothy paper as a background. The uneven paint distribution gives the background interest and the spread of the paint on the texture of paper creates a nice pattern. This technique works particularly well for artwork where the reference image is from a show with a very dark background. It makes the light catching the figure and the silks so much brighter and provides the desired contrast.

The framed finished artwork of ‘Subtle Splits Triangle

 

I loved the pink and peach colouring that the show lighting created in the reference image. So I wanted to capture that. So I blended warm tones of chalk pastel pencils including a little bit of red, orange, brown and yellow.

To make sure that I didn’t loose too much of the detail from the reference image, particularly in the hands, I then worked back into the chalk pastel with black charcoal and ink.

 ‘Subtle Splits Triangle‘ prints available in my online store

 

If you would like a print of this piece you can find them here. To see all of my artwork you can check out my online store.