Libby Letcher took out first prize of our very first MAD Box Challenge with a series of striking oil pastel works on paper. Starting with simple lines, she built up these wonderful still-life animations; abstract figures blurred through use of water, motionless but suggestive of dynamic movement and dancing. Here, she shows how to create sophisticated dancing figures in this style with only a few bold lines.


Step 1:

Beginning with abstract smudges of oil pastel, laid down in lines and then smudged with a finger, Libby created the base of each figure. She used a wet brush to go lightly over each line, bringing out the water soluble quality of Micador Oil Pastels and creating a halo effect around each image.

Step 2:

She then enhanced each figure by etching a line of tightly drawn orange using the sharp corner of an oil pastel.

Step 3:

To further define the figures, sharp, wriggling lines of blue pastel, evocative of movement, highlight the dynamic parts of the figure, while subtle black marker finalizes the impression of dance. The lines work together in a deceptively simple technique for a sophisticated optical effect.

Step 4:

The technique that Libby demonstrates here is endlessly adaptable. It is as much about experimentation and exploration of the way still lines work together to suggest movement. Here is an image of a second picture Libby produced using the same technique.

About the artist:

Libby is a practicing artist who has exhibited regularly for a decade. Her work explores human drives, motivations and dreams, drawing on an interest in the human condition and philosophy. Libby is interested in how small ideas affect big changes and how desire and energy interact in the human world. She is currently studying an illustration degree at NMIT. More work from Libby can be found here.
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