Last week I attended a Maggie Siner color and shape workshop. If you ever have a chance to attend one of her workshops my advice is to run, not walk, to the nearest workshop and go. She’s that good. Visit her site here.
At one point I mentioned wanting to learn how to paint cloth “folds”. Her response was classic: “There are no folds. There are only shapes.” In other words, get the shapes right and get the colors right and presto chango, a fold appears.
Don’t paint the object, but rather paint the shapes and colors and the object appears. All I could think of was the scene in the Matrix where Neo meets the little boy bending a spoon.
Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
If I were to sum up the entire 3 day workshop, it would be that I agree there are no folds, there are only shapes. Since the workshop I’ve been trying to see the shapes of the objects and not the objects themselves. (I admit it gets a little awkward staring at your hamburger at dinner and the wife begins to worry about you but it’s worth it.)
I’d heard this approach before but I didn’t understand it at the time. Don Sahli had said the same thing but I missed it. Like Maggie, Don is also all about the color and shape (Visit his site here). Paint enough of the shapes right and in the right color you’ll have an object but if you try to paint the object you’ll have a mess.
This thought process is probably as old as the hills but it’s brand new *again* to me. A whole new way of seeing things is opening up for me. One small turn of the corner.
I’m now practicing painting the shapes and colors of cloth folds, not the folds and I’m encouraged by the results thus far. (See Red Dress pic.) Where before I’d try to force it, now I’m trying to only paint abstract shapes and colors allowing the folds to come out naturally.
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ps. If I get paint on any of my wife’s dresses or hats or shoes or purses in my new pursuit I may be entering the witness relocation program…. don’t laugh I may end up sleeping on your couch…