Hitting the Bottle

This is my bottle project. I did it!

Two weekday afternoon sessions and a big time Sunday jam sesh produced these three belabored beauties. Emmett and I are headed to NYC on Thursday for Dana’s wedding (which will be the social event of the season and another blog post, but I do want to say here that being Dana’s bridesmaid affords me the chance to wear a gold sequined dress and I’m STOKED!) So I figured I needed to get this project finished so I could have a critique before I leave. I’m so glad I did. Juliette noted that the bottles got a little fat perhaps because I laid down the vertical angles of the neck and then designed the threads of the bottle mouths outside of that angle instead of inside, thus widening the bottles a few millimeters on each side. It seems minimal, but it’s actually something I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of days.

In the atelier we work from big to small. We start with big gestures (sweeping movement lines) and follow-through lines. Follow-through lines in drawing describe that phenomena where you can identify large angles and follow them all the way out to see what other landmarks they hit in the composition, model, or scene. On a figure, you notice how in some poses the angle of the cheek might meet up with a hip and further down an ankle. These occurrences are called coincidences. Everything in nature is contained in such a beautiful design that these coincidences happen all over the place. Once you start seeing this, it’s like cracking a code. You go to a museum and coincidences start slapping you in the face, but you know, in a good way. Follow-through lines and their coincidences allow you to simplify your design by consolidating lines and angles and keeping your visual language concise.  This kind of visual unity is found in the most powerful and compelling works of art.

myron barnstone analytica drawings

(Students of Myron Barnstone make analytic self portraits and still life compositions.) 

Circling back to Juliette’s note about the fat bottles. She touched on this problem of exaggerated angles that I’ve been considering the past few mornings in life room. An angle that is just a little bit off, too obtuse or acute, will appear only negligibly so for the first few inches of that line. It probably wont make much difference if you’re using this line to connect parts of the drawing that are close together, say the jaw and the collar bone. But as you continue with the line, the angle becomes more and more exaggerated and toward the end of a 24-inch drawing the line could end up a full inch out of place. That’s huge. Especially when you consider at that scale an inch is probably half the size of the model’s head. Precision makes a mighty difference. I hear it’s a little easier to fudge this in painting. In drawing, all short comings are laid bare. There’s nowhere to hide.

This is why we do the analytical drawings. Juliette likens them to practicing scales on the piano. You wouldn’t turn up at a concert to see a pianist play scales, no matter how renowned. But all pianists know scales and play them regularly. We’d never make an analytical drawing to frame, but each time we make one we’re that much more prepared to enter the wilds of the life room and better able analyze the most wily twists and turns.

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