top of page

Do it Like Degas:

Taking inspiration from the Masters, using colour to creat mood..



I've been continuing to experiment with my pastel paintings of Musicians in Motion over the last couple of weeks using the techniques of Edgar Degas

Ballerina pastel painting by Edgar Degas (the complimentary reds and greens really sing together)



I have become increasingly facinated by him, his figuritive compositions and use of colour were quite brilliant; I'm hoping that the more I study his work the more he will rub off on me.


The picture below is my husband Col with his his sax, I used Degas' technique of keeping some of the edges soft and out of focus to give the feeling of movement and sharpening up and emphasizing parts of the portrait with more detail to draw in the eye to the focal point. I used a limited colour pallet, as Degas often did - the two main colours were yellow and violet, which are opposite (and therefore complimentary) on the colour spectrum. The yellows consisted of olivey ochres and browns to light lemon yellows. And the violets were made up of cool blue/ violet greys and warmer plummy purples. I like the way the use of colour has created more of a mood

I got the idea of using this colour scheme from Van Goghs Bedroom painting below. I liked the way the whole painting is made up of complimentary colours (yellow & violets, red & green) the different strains of each colour gives the picture harmony.

I experimented quite a bit with this colour scheme in these sketches before I arrived at the final painting.

I experimenting quite alot with this colour scheme before I arrived at the finished painting