Q: How do I draw something realistic when what I am drawing is constantly moving?
A: You do not have the time! The only way to reference elements of the figure to make it recognisable is to hold elements in your minds eye, leave the flow of the drawing and add them. Another way is to use recorded video of a session on a loop and use that as reference. Realistic visual clues for the person looking at your drawing should only be extra clues but not overshadow the live capture when drawing in real time. Otherwise you defeat the object of the exercise. You are trying to capture the flow and feeling of the dance and what the dancer is trying to express in a 2D format.
What media shall I use, dry or wet?
A: Wet or dry is down to your preference. Each will result in a different result and of course use the right surface whatever you choose. If wet I would suggest first using black ink (whether Indian, Chinese, or acrylic). Get 3 small bowls and water down the ink in to 3 shades before the session starts. Start the session by painting the most watered-down tone then work up to the neat ink. Ideally use heavy watercolour paper (300gsm) so it does not buckle. You will find that by overlaying the grey tones they build up an overlay of marks that represent the movement.
What paper or surface would work?
A: If working wet, use heavy 300gsm watercolour paper (suggest you use 300gsm Fabriano that can be bought in rolls from Cassart if in the UK).
If working dry a suitable surface for whatever media, you are using so if pastel it needs a tooth to hold it. Experiment with different coloured paper as well. What you paint on applies limitations to the media you use. So, think about that. Does the media match what you are drawing?
How large should I work and with what size paper for instance?
A: The size of paper you use governs the size of the media you use such as brush size or pen. Also, the larger the paper the more gestural you can be with your mark making which works well when following the movements of a dancer. As a tip I stand up when painting. This allows me to mirror the dancer’s movement when painting which translates into the painter mark. It makes a MASSIVE difference. Try it. Do not sit down and be static!
What drawing and painting tools shall I use?
A: I am not going to tell you what you should use. My preference is for wet media like Liquitex acrylics or Chinese inks. Although charcoal and pastel are equally effective at translating the essence of movement. Play with media that you can use to create soft gestural marks as an underpainting and then add hard edges on top for definition and small detailing.
How should I setup my workspace?
A: I use a large drawing board (architect drafting board) that allows me to work standing up or I can tip it up at any angle as well. I have a table next to it for all my painting materials and I have a large Monitor on a pedestal easel positioned in front of my board that is connected to my laptop. I have a mouse on my drawing board to control my laptop.
How much space will I need?
A: Ideally setup a permanent workspace. If you do not have that option, use as large a table as possible and put everything on it.
How should I setup my tech and what devices would be best to work from?
A: You will ideally need a device with the largest screen size you can get your hands on. You cannot peer into a phone screen and get the essence of movement from that? Ideally get a laptop and a large monitor and work from that. Or screencast to your TV?