Dancing Colours (Celebrating Mazowsze Dancers)

After quite a few weeks of intense work, I am happy to finally share with you my new painting celebrating  traditional Polish folk dance: Dancing Colours.

Dancing Colours by Clara Niniewski, an oil painting of Polish Folk Dancers from the Mazowsze group.
Dancing Colours (Mazowsze Polish Folk Dancers)
Oil on Canvas, 90x90cm

I had wanted to pick a subject around my Polish roots for a while, and having attended several Polish folk dance shows in Poland as a child, I wanted to reignite those memories and celebrate this very special and joyful aspect of Polish traditions.

When I saw a beautiful photograph of the famous Polish folk group Mazowsze by Jan Drzewiecki, I was immediately drawn to it and captivated by the swirls of colours of the dancers’ skirts caught in movement. Jan kindly gave me permission to use his image to work from and I chose a specific area of the picture to focus on. I  put in the center of my canvas one particular dancer to act as the gravity centre deploying a vibrant energy, around which the other dancers revolve.

Detail from Dancing Colours by Clara Niniewski, an oil painting of Polish Folk Dancers from the Mazowsze group.
Detail of Dancing Colours (Mazowsze Polish Folk Dancers)

You may be familiar with Mazowsze and scenes of Polish folk dance and singing thanks to the 2018  film Cold War, directed by Paweł Pawlikowski, where Mazowsze dancers were cast to play the film’s fictional Polish dance troupe.

Named after the Mazowsze region of Poland, the “State Folk Ensemble of Song and Dance ‘Mazowsze”’ was established in 1948 to maintain regional artistic traditions and the traditional folk repertoire of songs and dances of the Masovian countryside.

Detail from Dancing Colours by Clara Niniewski, an oil painting of Polish Folk Dancers from the Mazowsze group.
Detail of Dancing Colours (Mazowsze Polish Folk Dancers)

Below are some pictures of the painting when it was in progress.
From a technical point of view, this project has been an opportunity to try a more saturated palette than the more subdued one I usually revert to. The oil paints I used for this painting are Quinacridone Magenta, Cadmium Red, Windsor Orange, Cadmium Yellow, Sevres Green, French Ultramarine and Titanium White.

Detail of the work in progress

Because there are so many figures and stripes of colour, I decided to build this painting starting from the center, to establish early on the different colour relationships and sense of movement in each dancer.

I progressed practically one dancer at a time, before working on details accross the whole painting towards the end.

Work in progress

I hope you enjoyed discovering this work, as much as I enjoyed painting it. Let me know your thoughts or comments!

Have a great week-end and stay safe.

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