Edgar Degas was a French Impressionist artist. He’s most famous for his pictures of ballet dancers.
He had one very bad habit: he loved to fiddle with and re-
I’m Steve Diamond, and I’ve come to call this impulse to change something in a finished picture “doing a Degas”. I do it myself.
I started this big watercolour in the Ballycarry art class (highly recommended by the way. Come and join us!). I call it Two Little Boys, and its inspiration was the song by Rolf Harris. The first photograph was taken when it was completed. Next it would framed, then taken away for exhibition.
Wrong. Round one of me “doing a Degas” began. I found the dark foreground too monotonous, and too disconnected from the glowing sky. Back in the studio I added tiny yellow gouache highlights to one of the men’s boots, the rim of his hat, and the horse’s hooves (see the detail view).
It was completed, and ready for framing, again. Wrong.
Looking at the picture I was still dissatisfied. I saw a bright triangle of sky to the left, and a dark triangle of figures to the right. To fix that, I tried a trick from one of my TV heroes, artist Bob Ross. He’ll paint a gorgeous landscape, and shock the audience by whacking on a huge great tree trunk all the way down it, right at the end. My war-
Degas couldn’t resist re-
Doing a Degas