Creating my Irish Dancing Prints October 11 2016, 0 Comments
My name is Janet Millar and I live and work in a wonderful little seaside town on the North Coast of Ireland called Portrush, just a few miles away from the outstanding natural phenomenon known worldwide as The Giants Causeway (how lucky am I?!!!). By the way, I'm an artist specialising in calligraphy and watercolours. Recently a good friend said to me, 'Why don't you write a blog about your Irish Dance journey?' ... 'And what a journey it's been!'
When I started out on the journey back in February 2014 I hadn't a clue about Irish Dancing, other than the basics...lots of practice needed, lots of commitment, lots of determination…! Boy did I learn a lot in the space of a year! And why? I hear you ask. The answer is pretty simple - I wanted to use my skills as a calligraphy and watercolour artist to create my interpretation of Traditional Culture and Local Landmarks in my own unique, pieces and where better to start than with Irish Dance?
It took me a long time to grasp, but 'Would I choose this challenge again?' The answer is a wholehearted 'YES!' Why do I call it a challenge? Well just as those Irish Dancers spent hours and hours learning the basic steps and moves before they even set foot on the dance floor, I too needed to spend hours on end studying the skills, the moves and the language associated with Irish Dancing before putting ink or paint to paper to make sure my work truly reflects what the world of Irish Dancing involves.
It all started with hours of research starting with the Shoes
Thankfully, I was blessed to work alongside a brilliant school based right here in Portrush called The Dominic Graham School of Irish Dance. A full on family of dancers who were great in 'repeatedly!' helping me with explanations of terminology (in between jigs, reels, etc), providing me with the opportunity to snap countless photos of dance positions, their Festival costumes, shoes and welcoming me into their fascinating world of Irish Dance.
As the Dominic Graham School of Irish Dance specialises in Festivals, I also had to learn about the other Variation known as Feis.
Using watercolours I created the images of the dancing shoes, then I applied my own style of Celtic Calligraphy to enhance the story of the shoe and its use. For example when creating my Irish Dancing Pumps, I was really struck by the dancers' poise, elegance and the way in which they had to position their feet – I wanted to ensure that this was reflected in my original piece of art and I think that the combination of watercolour and calligraphy does this perfectly. So as you can see there is an awful lot of thought, care, attention and research that goes into each creation before it is carefully reproduced to give you a really unique and affordable piece of art.
What is really wonderful for me on a personal level is my new found love of Irish Dancing – looking forward to show events at every opportunity certainly explains why people become so involved in this spectacular form of dance.
I leave you today with the Ultimate in Irish Dance...'Riverdance'