Monday, June 1, 2009

Flanders poppy in pastel / Search for a white sphere

Yesterday's poppy did double duty before it deceased.


Unrelatedly: it's been rather amusing here over the last couple of days searching for an item that can be used tomorrow in the beginning drawing class I teach, on how to shade a sphere. Knowing that ideally I need a perfectly smooth white ball, the search began. An orange? Nope, too nobbly nubbly and too dark a value. Billiard ball? Don't know anyone who has one. A baseball that Mojito, one of our dogs, brought home from the park? Nope, the stitching is too distracting. Ditto the grooves in the volleyball that the neighbor brought over in hopes of relieving my dilemma. Then the neighbor's wife dug up a ping-pong ball from some basement stash, but alas, it has a very distracting seal-line all the way around it. (Plus, as she pointed out, "It's awfully small!") "An egg?" she offered. Not round enough for Lesson 1.

Things were beginning to get desperate as I contemplated showing up to class empty-handed on sphere-shading day. I started to gaze at the filthy dog-tennis-balls in the yard and wondered just how gross it would be to try to cover one of them in acrylic gesso. I almost tried it out of desperation, until I started visualizing how I would go about that--specifically, how would I cover it completely while it had to rest somewhere to dry? So then I thought, well, I guess I could sort of spear it onto a sharp stick like someone getting ready to toast a marshmallow, and gesso everything but that part...and fortunately, that's when I gave up on that whole idea.

I went grocery shopping tonight and found a couple of quite round, light-value smooth-skinned grapefruits. Voila! Good enough. Now please don't remind me how I have to lug a big ol' spotlight from my home studio to the class tomorrow along with a grapefruit and all the other stuff the rain.

Moral of this story: It's a lot harder than you'd think to find a smooth white ball in your house. 

"The Search for a White Sphere" sounds like a good title for something...perhaps a Damien Hirst piece?

More art on my website:


Anonymous said...

You made me laugh reading this:) thanks for the idea of the sweet spot in painting... now I have to work with that in my head. r.

r garriott said...

Good post... things seem like they'd be easily to find or do until your set out in that direction... (I once had a request to make a small animation of the world turning, continents rotating; and a boss who thought that would be 'easy' and that it would take 'about ten minutes').

Here's an idea for a white sphere: look in the foam section of a crafts store, like Michaels. A friend of mine found a white styrofoam sphere there, about 6" in diameter.

Now I'm hoping for some of your wisdom; any clues on how to fix a cotton canvas that keeps sagging? I've restretched twice, tried the old mist the back with water, and a commercial product called Tighten Up... but the next day, sags are all back. Any ideas?

Sandra Galda a Daily Painter said...

how bout a ping pong ball? Nice flower!

susan hong-sammons said...

Jala, how beautiful and sensitive!!!

Anonymous said...

If you can put this much thought and effort into a " prop ", I damn sure wish I could take your class!!

Will you share your search escapades with your students?

L.Holm said...

I used to use the styrofoam spheres, cones and cubes from the craft store. Have also gessoed fake fruit white before, so they can study shape and value without being distracted by color at first.

Have never hauled as much stuff around as when teaching. Good luck. Bet you're a great instructor!

Laurel Daniel said...

Another gorgeous poppy! I surely hope your students appreciate your efforts just so they can learn about spheres... you are a great teacher. I just know it!

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

Wonderful poppy - and loved the story of the search for the sphere!

Try here :

You have to buy the group but at least you get the sphere!

Jala Pfaff said...

Rahina - Glad to make you laugh. Let me know how the "sweet spot" idea works for you.

R - Funny about the little world animation. Did you actually end up doing it? And if so, how bloody long did it take you? Thanks for the Michaels idea--hadn't occurred to me, and now others are suggesting it too. Good proof that I should've asked what to do in a blog post BEFORE it was too late. :) The grapefruits worked nicely after all, though. It's amazing just how round the two that I found are.
About your sagging canvas: damn, those are the things I was going to suggest! All I can think of now, would be give up on it being on stretcher bars, and get it mounted to some kind of board. But you have so many followers, if you post about it, I bet someone will have some good suggestions. I didn't know you were in a gallery in Boulder! I will go see your stuff live one of these days! And we MUST meet, if you're in Boulder sometime. It's only fair; after all, you've already "met" The Husband. (Ha ha.)

Sandra - Thanks. Yeah, tried the ping-pong ball; it had an annoying seam.

Susan - Thank you!

Bonnie - Thanks. You don't need to take my class! I didn't share much about it with them. Maybe they should start reading my blog, though.

Liz - Thanks. See response to R Garriott, above, about the crafts store idea. ! LOVE the fake fruit idea too-thanks! I can't BELIEVE how much stuff I'm schlepping around for this one little class!

Laurel - Thank you. They seemed a little traumatized by their first experience drawing something "real." Man, I remember that feeling! (Not like I still DON'T get traumatized by art.)

Kelley - Fantastic group of geometrics, that! Thanks for the link. Unfortunately, getting that would cost more than I'm being paid for the entire class. Oh well. :)

Pam Holnback said...

Jala, When I taught I often used styrofaim shapes from Hobby Lobby, but I saw others already suggested that. Of course, since I taught middle school, after several uses, they had been poked, picked at, stabbled, broken. So, then I, too, tried fruit. They were stabbed, stuck w/ pencils, painted on, stolen, anything a kid could think of. It was a never endless trial and tribulation of comedic situations.! It is still raining down here!!

Jala Pfaff said...

Pam - Yikes! Good thing I'm teaching adults. :)