This life we's strange, painful at times, but oh so beautiful.

I am a fusion dance artist and teacher, a fire dancer, and a visual artist. I draw inspiration from nature, music, and the amazing people that come into my life. I am also a conservationist who makes jewelry and found object multimedia craft type art in my spare time (when I'm not reading, writing, or lighting things on fire and dancing around with them). I love to dance barefoot on the beach, watch the stars move inexorably across the heavens, and to laugh with the people that I love. I am currently based in Greenville SC, working with Discordia Arts to provide unique and exciting entertainment to the Upstate.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Students Rock So Very Much

Bellydance Fitness and Fun Class Performance

Equilibrium Zen Gym Bellydance Class
Last night, Equilibrium Zen Gym, the home of my "Bellydance Fitness and Fun" class had their annual Christmas party. A few weeks ago, the owner, George, asked me if I would perform as part of the class demonstrations for the party.

I had been teaching my students some simple combos in a circle format, and I made the executive decision that I was going to choreograph a simple dance and have my students dance with me for the party. With less than a month to go, I let them know that they could perform with me. I made it clear that they didn't have to, but to my surprise, all 6 members of the class decided that they wanted to!

Jaidra Dancing with Bellydance Fitness and Fun Students
These women all started dancing four months ago, and have progressed at varying speeds, but are all amazingly beautiful, talented, kind and hard working. I have been so impressed by the work that they were willing to put in in order to join me for the Christmas party. They even surprised me by purchasing matching skirts for the performance!

In the end, I had a phenomenal time, and my students did a wonderful job. I am very proud of them, and hopeful that they have inspired others to come and join us. Bellydance is not just a beautiful art form and great exercise, but can be a truly communal experience that brings joy to the dancers and the audience, and my students prove it!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Good news, bad news, and bellydance photos

The great news is that I have a full time job. My art is my passion, but I also love science and am excited to be able to use my degree that I worked so hard for so many years to get.

The not so great news is that for the first little bit, I am cancelling Thursday night classes. I have a lot of work going on, and it's going to take some time to get used to my new schedule. I hope to be able to reintroduce advanced and intermediate level classes again in the future, but for the time being, Bellydance Fitness and Fun at Equilibrium Zen Gym happens every Wednesday night at 7:30!

Now for some fun stuff. I've had a lot of performances lately, a show in Knoxville, TN hosted by Ananda with The Lifesize Mousetrap, Jodi Waseca, and Rose Harden the last weekend in September. The first weekend in October I danced in Wasted Wine's Perpetual Spirals of Power and Pleasure CD release and dance collaboration at the Warehouse Theater in Greenville, SC. Today, I danced with two amazing ladies, Brandy and Evelyn to live drumming at Fall for Greenville. It's been a busy couple of weeks, and I'm loving it! I have tons of pics, but here are a few of my favorites.

From Knoxville Show:
Jodi Waseca, Rose Harden, and Jaidra DuRant

Jaidra with Sword

Jodi Waseca with Uniq by Jaidra hand painted veil

Rose Harden

Jaia and Amanda of Ananda

Maria and Sipi - Amazing Acrobalance Team

Claire - Poi Goddess

From Fall For Greenville: It was a Windy Day!
Jaidra, Brandy, and Evelyn pre preformance

ATS at Fall for Greenville

Jaidra Skirt Dance at Fall for Greenville

Jaidra and Brandy Duet

Brandy Solo

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Awaiting Autumn

It has been a long, hot summer, and I've found immense joy in it. Yet, even my favorite season must come to an end, and even though the temperature drop always saddens me, there are many things I love about fall...especially the colors.

Fall Fae Silk Painting
I wrote last about inspiration and how what I make changes as I move through the process of creation. The last piece I made was flowers in autumn colors. As the temperatures drop and the pulse of nature slows, the trees become beacons - golden beech and firey maple. Yesterday and today, I drew my inspiration from autumnal colors.

The temperatures outside haven't dropped significantly yet, but I feel autumn in my soul.

Autumn Dancers Silk Painting
The first piece that I worked on, I hated. I didn't do sketches for these, but just drew the designs directly onto the silks with my resist. Initially, the fae figure had too large of a head, too strangely proportioned a body, and no background. I made the head smaller, the waste larger, gave the skirt extra layers, and added abstract background lines...and filled the entire thing in with autumn colors. She sits beneath a stormy sunset, and I was so happy with the final piece that I decided to do another today.

As with the first, I put the resist directly to silk with no sketch, and as with the first, I hated this piece initially. Once I filled in the entire background with branches and leaves, I decided that it was going to turn out alright and began painting. It took hours to fill in the background, painting each leaf with multiple washes to give the fall leaves a realistic color gradation. I kept the figures super simple, dancing in the filtered golden light of autumn.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Inspiration Evolves

Henna Lace Hands by Jaidra
I draw inspiration from a million places, and rarely is it a linear process. Sometimes, I see something, and it sparks an idea. Other times, I have a dream, read a book, listen to a piece of music, or feel an emotion that just has to be expressed on silk. I write this blog for others to view my creative process, but also as a spur for myself. Writing about my process allows me to analyze it, and draw a better understanding of why I do the things that I do.

In this instance, amazingly enough, there is a clear progression of inspiration that I managed to get photographs of. It began with a henna client sending me a photograph of a henna design that they wanted. I used that photograph as inspiration in creating a design for their henna piece.
Henna Leg by Jaidra
Some of my favorite aspects of the design were the spirals with "leaves" that I think look like fern fiddle heads.

I decided to use the fiddle heads in a larger henna piece that I did on my own leg this past Sunday.

A good friend of mine saw a photo of my leg piece on facebook and suggested that I use the design in my silks. My silk process uses water based resists that block movement of the dye on the fabric, but doesn't protect the silk. I would like to get some batik materials and try out some of my intricate designs on silk, but right now, I can't afford it. So, instead, I painted a small 11x11 silk with blue washes, went over it with stop flow, and then painted my fiddle head design on using black dye.

Fiddle Head Inspired Silk Pocket Square
I followed my small silk up with a larger 21x21 piece. The fiddle heads became less intricate, and I filled the space with these and leaves and chose a fall motif to celebrate the fact that summer is coming to an end.
I was really happy with the final piece, and even though the silks bear little in common with the original henna design, all of them evolved from the same design element. I don't think I'm done with this one yet, either - who knows where the fiddle head may take me next!

Fiddle Head Inspired Fall Silk Painting

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some days are more colorful than others.

Jaidra applying Henna Belly Sea Turtle with Sun

My mind has been a wandering, a wondering...around and back again to the same points that it reached before, and no conclusions have been drawn except that I keep on going, putting one foot in front of the other, try to smile, dance as much as possible, create what comes to me and hope. Eventually, all of it will come clear, or work out...but in the meantime, I can't crawl into a hole and hide because no good would come of it, for me or anyone else.

Finished Sea Turtle Henna Baby Belly
So, especially on the bad days, I reach for my henna or my resist and silk dye, or I throw some music on and get lost in drills. The past few days have been rough on my mental state, so I've thrown my mind into the creative. Usually, the pieces that I force aren't as beautiful as the ones that come naturally, but I truly believe in the whole "fake it until you make it" philosophy - at least as it applies to moods and my personal well-being. So, even though the art I make on these days aren't my best pieces, they serve the broader purpose of occupying my mind with positive things and refocusing my energy so that eventually, the funk lifts and I feel the joy that creating brings.
Finished Sea Turtle Henna Baby Belly

I had a the opportunity on Sunday to do a henna baby belly for a beautiful momma to be in Spartanburg, SC. I worked up a custom design for her with a super cute sea turtle swimming across her baby bump. The turtle had a sun on his shell, since they are having a son, and I used some simple swirls and dots to give the impression that the turtle is swimming. We had a wonderful time hanging out, and I hope that she loves her henna.

"Standing Together" Silk Painting
Once home on Sunday, I started the resist lines for a new silk painting. I wanted this one to be extremely colorful, using both styles of bubbles that I like to employ with the figures of the couples standing in the center of the piece. I kept the figures very simple, using black for the male and red for the female mixed with water to spread and shade the dyes. I was especially pleased with the background for this piece. I used a variety of washes in green for the base and blue for the sky - dotting the colors on the dry silk next to one another and allowing the dye to spread naturally.

Small Silk Painting
But I still wasn't out of my funk. So, this morning I started on a new set of projects - working on small pieces. The first of these is a female figure kneeling with her arms upraised and a floral lotus like explosion behind her head. This piece is meant to evoke joy and peace. I used salt on the top of the background to create more texture...and as I look at this one, I smile and feel the sadness lifting.

Hopefully others will feel the same...and my next piece will come from a place of joy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

If I Could Show You My Heart

Silk Painting - central figure finished
Some days they just pour out of this one did this morning. I chose a dark palette for all of the background and the figure. I was searching for a "just after dark" feeling...almost monochromatic so that the central explosion really popped.

The title for this piece really says it all: "If I could show you my heart" I don't have much else to say about it. I used water to mix directly on dry silk, and the "heart" is done in bright fire colors mixed throughout to fade - yellow to orange, red to magenta, orange to magenta, yellow to lighter yellow, etc.

Silk Painting "If I could Show you my Heart"
It's about peace, and passion...finding joy within oneself, and finding the courage to share your inner heart with the world. I hope that it speaks....

Silk Painting on an August Afternoon

Silk Painting - Figures
So much has been going on in my life lately, and I've had a hard time finding the time and space to create what comes to me...until this past week, I brushed off the sketch pad and my medium sized stretcher frame and got back to the painting.

I really enjoy my abstract figure work on silk. I like using color to convey emotion, and the abstract figures that I have been playing with give me the opportunity to play with color blending in large spaces, but I still get some super detailed work in in places (like hair - I love my girls' hair!).

Silk Painting: Figures and bubble explosion background
I draw inspiration from my dreams, my desires, my fantasy, and the world around me. I love both literal, nature inspired art and pure fantasy. This piece is a fantasy, a representation of being in love, or being loved: of feeling a passion so intense that it spills out into the world around the two of you.

As I often do, I began with a rough sketch and then transferred the design freehand to the silk using a clear water based resist. I painted the figures first, making the woman a sun creature - filled with fire colors, whereas the male figure is more unrelieved night. Day and night - opposites that come together and create magic (I also love dusk).

Silk Painting: Close up of complete figures

After painting the figures, I used similar colors and washes that were present in the bodies of the main figures to fill in the bubbles that were exploding from them. I used water and mixed colors to create fades in some of the larger bubbles working dark to light. Then, I filled in the woman's hair with browns, reds, and a little yellow, keeping in tune with the palette that I had already chosen for her.

The base got a treatment of greens and browns, and then I finished the sky in black, using water to fade and swirl the color out to greys.

I was concerned that the final piece was going to be too dark, but I love it - the photos don't do this one justice! 

Silk Painting:Finished

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Henna from the first Henna Day at Raspberry Moon Salon

I had a wonderful time at Raspberry Moon yesterday. If you're looking to improve your complexion or have a relaxing facial, get a wax, or a manicure, you couldn't find a better place!

I was amazingly lucky - the clients that came in for henna were all super fun women, and I had a blast getting to work on some of my original designs, some traditional pieces, and some based on my mentor's (Elizebeth of Crimson Art Henna) work. I didn't get pictures of everything, but I did remember to take some photos. All in all, I had a spectacular day, and I hope to get to do it again sometime soon!

Floral Shoulder/back piece based on Elizebeth's design

Peacock/Phoenix abstract arm piece

"Lace" hands henna

Side view - "Lace" hand henna
Floral feet by Jaidra

Butterfly and Floral simple henna by Jaidra

Doe and Fawn - stylized henna - design by Jaidra

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I Belong to Neither Sky nor Sea

I really enjoy fantasy! I love to read fantasy fiction, worlds that have been created and filled with fantastic creatures and the stuff of the imagination.

I drew inspiration for this piece from another artist's work. I was sitting at my booth one day, and across from me were folk art pieces with mermaids painted on them. I proceeded to sketch a drawing of a mermaid and then I added some beautiful butterfly wings to my sketch and added the caption "I Belong to Neither Sky nor Sea....whatever shall become of me?"

Fantasy Creature on Silk
I loved this sketch, but even more than my sketch, I loved the idea of my fantasy creature. She can't fly with her giant fish tail hanging from her long, thin torso, but if she swims, she will destroy her beautiful wings. I have created a beautiful and delicate creature who has a huge predicament - there is nowhere she belongs.

Silk Painting - Fantasy Figure Finished
When I transferred my sketch to silk, I changed a few aspects of my creature. I chose to really simplify my creature, relying on manipulation of the dye and colors to bring dimensionality and interest to her without having to block out all of the details in the wings and tail.

When it came time to paint, I started on the figure of my Mermaid-butterfly woman and kept the torso extremely simply. I used two washes of brown and water to give the impression of depth and shadow at the edges of the figure and around her belly button. I chose to keep the body of the figure super simple partially because I knew that I wanted her hair, wings, and tail to be very detailed.

I used 7 different washes of green in the tail. First,  I filled in the outline of the tail with clear water and then dotted the washes of green throughout the top of the tail. I painted the fins on dry silk, using water to spread and shade the dye.
Silk Painting - Figure and Ocean finished
 I chose red, brown, orange, and yellow for both the hair and the wings of the figure. I used a similar process on the wings that I used on the tail, filling in the large portions with water first and painting dots of color on the wet silk.

The rock she is sitting on was painted using grey, green, brown, orange, and purple washes and a good bit of water to spread and shade the dye.

I chose a green/blue as the main color of the water and used the same greens and greys from the creature's tail and the rock to highlight and lowlight the water. I painted the dye on thick, using water to spread the dye on the silk.
Finished Silk Painting - I Belong to Neither Sky nor Sea

Not only is my creature in a spiritual quandary, she's also in real physical danger - I used greys, purples, and dark blues with streaks of water in order to create a feel of a storm eminent on the horizon.

I am very happy with the way this piece turned out, and I am looking forward to figuring out what other creatures will be a part of this series!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The evolution of a silk tie and matching pocket square

setting up to work on silk pocket squares
 My father gave me this stretcher frame. I'm not quite sure what this initially was (maybe part of a picture frame), but it turned out to be the Perfect size for dying 11 x 11 pocket squares!

I had already mixed my dye washes for this particular piece since I was painting this pocket square to match an already painted silk tie. I used kelly green and water to create the original washes, added yellow, brown, and blue accordingly to reach a variety of shades and tones of green to be used in the tie and pocket square.
Jaidra painting silk

 Then, I stretched the silk on the frame using tacks, rubber bands, and tiny safety pins. I use a spray bottle to keep my silk slightly damp but not sopping wet.

Then, I start to paint. Using all of the dye washes that I've mixed and a variety of brush sizes, I paint the abstract patterns that I love so much directly onto the silk, taking extra care on the rolled edges to make sure that the dye soaks through the entire silk and the thread that keeps the hem rolled.
 I've taken to dying silks in my living room while music plays on the stereo in the background....that way when I need a break, I can get up and dance for a song or two and then get right back to it!
Finished Hand Painted Silk Pocket Squares
 As always, after painting the piece, I wrapped it in newsprint and steamed for 90 minutes, washed it in cold water to remove excess dye and finished by ironing on a silk setting. I'm very pleased with the final result and the matching tie.

Very soon, these pieces will be available for sale at Artizan gallery in Columbia, SC! I'm very pleased to be an exhibiting artist here and just can't wait to see my work in a real art gallery!
Silk Ties