Monday, January 29, 2018

Joined at the Hip

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I should have mentioned earlier that I use a viewfinder when I'm drawing out my composition (from life). I mark the edges of my viewfinder and panel as shown to the left. This is a kind of simple "grid" that helps me figure out where things in my scene live.

I paint a lot of cups in stacks, and I often get questions about how to draw this. Mostly I just say, "It's hard." But here's an approach that I think will help. The first thing to do is (and this is going to sound familiar) find the boundaries (top, bottom, left, right) of the whole stack, not considering the handles yet.

You can draw the entire rectangle, or just little dashes where the stack touches it, but think of the lines extended so you can compare them to other things in your setup (if there is anything).

Next you'll want to establish the tops of the cups, the ellipses, at the correct angles. If you were to imagine a line straight up and down through the center of each cup, these lines I've drawn would be exactly perpendicular to each of those lines.

Specifically you will want to pay attention to how you are slicing up the stack. In my example, cup B is my smallest slice. Next is A, then C, then D. Measure to make sure your guesses are correct. This is a little tough because depending on where you measure each cup it will be different. So pick and spot and remember it.

Next find the angles for the sides of the cups. Note specifically how they differ from each other. For example, notice how the left side of cup A is just a slightly different angle than the left side of cup B. And how the left side of cup C is parallel to the right side of cup D.

At this point you have the general placement of your stack. Now you just have to figure out the curves, and add the handles. The top curve of the top cup is always the trickiest for me, and for that I have no easy solution, sorry. This is where you just need to make a guess, step back and see if it looks right, then try again.


Gina G. said...

Loving these lessons, Carol! I’m wondering about the top elipse of stacked cups. If we imagine that the top cup in your photo, A, were tilted more towards us such that we could see it’s full top elipse, would it be a “regular” elipse with four mirror-image quadrants like a single cup sitting flat on the table’s elipse? Or does its elipse get distorted since the cup is tilted at an angle? Thanks!!

Carol Marine said...

Thanks, Gina! Yes, you are right - if the ellipse is facing me, it is easier. As long as you can see the angles of the sides, you can figure out the ellipse shape. I think the hardest is when it is facing away. I forgot about that. Good catch!


I love the bold asymmetrical composition with the pears all in the shadow of the cup. Their subtle coloring and form is really beautiful!