This week’s challenge for the EDM group was to draw something with folds. I selected the challenge based upon my experience the weekend before – attempting to draw a crumpled comforter in a hotel room. I didn’t get very far with that live drawing as I vastly underestimated the complexity of it and we needed to leave to be somewhere. So I took some reference photos to work on later.
Drawing folds has proven, for me, to be one of the most difficult projects so far. Here are some of the reasons why:
The folded fabric doesn’t look like anything. It’s an abstract design which is mostly about light, shadow, mass, tone, value. Drawing a fold forces you to throw away the crutch of “symbol” drawing and really look at the subject. If I draw a landscape I can draw a the line of distant mountains to ‘suggest’ mountains without having to draw them slowly and carefully as they really are. I can’t do that with folds.
You can get lost in folds. It happened to me over and over. In the time that it took me to look at the subject and look down at the paper, I’d lose my place as though I was walking in a maze. When you draw a face you have landmarks that keep you oriented. The nose goes here. The eyebrows go here. Look out, there’s the ear. These familiar objects let you know where you are as you look-draw-look draw. When you do folds it’s like getting lost in an Escher drawing; up is down and in is out. You think you’re on a hill and find you’re really in a valley. Disorienting.
-Folds are unforgiving. There’s no way for me to just splash some watercolor around and say, hey, there’s a peach. If a fold works, it does. And when it doesn’t, there’s no place to hide.
For all the crabby reasons above, this has actually been one of my favorite challenges. It has forced me to slow waaaay down, to see in finer and finer increments and to think more about where my pen/pencil/brush is going.
I also realize that, in typical Karen fashion, I jumped right into the deep end rather than hanging one simple little dishtowel on a hook and getting the feel of doing some simple “pipe” folds. That’s another thing I learned from this experience – to go back to square one and see if I can draw one fold well before attempting anything so complex.
All that aside, here are three explorations of the comforter, in the order in which I did them: 1) Rapidoliner, 2) #8 round watercolor brush, and 3) pencil (2B and 3B). They were all done on the same type of paper. The top two were of one view, the bottom one was of another.