Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas was born in 1834, and he was a French painter, sculptor and print maker. Degas was a big part of the impressionist movement and he was well known for his depictions of Parisian life, in particular cafe scenes, theatre performances, as well as singers and prostitutes, he was always compelled to portray the female figure in particular. Degas experimented with a wide range of art materials including, pastels, oil, gouache, lithography, etching, monotypes, photography and wax modelling. Rather than looking at Degas’ most popular works I was more taken with Degas’ work on landscapes.

Landscape With Rocks, by Edgar Degas, 1892, pastel over monotype in oil on wove paper, 10 1/8 × 13 9/16. Collection High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia.

In this above example “Landscape with Rocks” Degas has combined the use of monotype printing with pastels. This contrast between materials and the colours used is very beautiful. I particularly like the melting together of colours between warm terracottas, pastel pinks and pale greens and vibrant blue. In order to create a response to Degas’ works I chose this photograph I took when I visited Bohol, in the Philippines and this particular landscape which is referred to as the “Chocolate Hills” namely because these little hills turn brown in the hot summer months and resemble “Hersheys Kisses”.

In the same way that Degas produced “Landscape with Rocks” I used a monotype printing process for the first layer. I didn’t want to use oils as they would take too long to dry, and my printing inks were at my studio, as I was working from home I settled upon using acrylic paint in combination with an acrylic binder to extend the drying time.

Then I worked back over the surface once dry with a range of different coloured pastels to pick out the different shades in the photograph. It’s not a particularly skilled or accomplished outcome, but I really like the combination of mediums and experimenting with this process.

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