Good Eggs, Part Two

Last week I was sharing with you my interest in the subtle colors and patterns of a box of organic eggs I'd been given. Soft greens and browns beckoned my pen and brush, and I couldn't help but draw the shells. Initially, my interest was formal: the color, the soft distribution of values, their distinct shapes. As often happens with my studies, however, I began thinking about other topics while I worked, and the drawings became a means of expressing those thoughts.

Looking for an opportunity to explore value, I grabbed one of my shawls and created a drapery nest for the shells. In contrast to the soft, understated color of the eggs, the shawl featured bold colors and patterns, creating a striking contrast in texture and surface.

For the first few sketches, however, I omitted the patterns in order to focus on value. Since I like to use acrylics in a watercolor-like fashion in many of my sketches, my sketchbook paper often gets wrinkled, as you see here.

As I spent more time with the subject, I returned the pattern to the cloth in order to add an additional visual dimension. It was also around this time that I began to think more deeply about the shells, and specifically artificiality and falsehood, ideas that have long been entangled within the philosophy of art.

You see, when I initially drew those eggs, I omitted the cracks and holes that resulted from my blowing out the yolks. In the drawings, I presented smooth, flawless eggs, ones that still presumably contain rich yolks. Yet by the time I drew them, they had become empty, cracked vessels. What had once been containers for yolk are now empty, devoid of content. In the early sketches, however, they appear whole and unscathed, returning them to their previous state.

Except for the last sketch, where I decided to return to cracks and holes and present the eggs as they really are, empty but beautiful shells that have been changed into aesthetic objects.

Still interested in the idea of truth and artificiality, I looked to the shawl and thought about ways to transform it. The shawl as I saw it had a rich floral pattern distinguished by red and greens, but I wanted to change the pattern and draw one that did not exist in front of me. As I thought about it, I remembered an assignment in college where I had to design a textile. For that class, I abstracted various shapes and textures based on things I had observed, and synthesized them into a new pattern that had no direct basis in reality but was nonetheless inspired by it. Looking back on that experience, I designed a new pattern based on some sketches of plants I've done in the Roswell and Ruidoso area.

This pattern does not currently exist in the tactile world to my knowledge, but it was nonetheless inspired by things I had seen and touched. Reality is subjective. What is real to one may be false to another, and for all we know, what we call reality may only be a dream. To someone else, this invented textile is not real, but for me it does exist because I created it in my mind, using my memories and recollections of other experiences.

Picking one of the drawings, I then did additional studies. First, I applied the golden ratio to the original drawing to turn it into a balanced construction, giving it an additional layer of artificiality.

I then did a more detailed study that required a bit of mental visualization. Looking carefully at the folds of the cloth, I imagined my invented textile onto the shawl, following the dips and turns of the drapery. With that mental image in place, I drew my pattern onto the cloth, and created a color scheme that would complement the greens of the eggshells.

With all these studies at hand, I decided to created a more finished image. Given the luminous nature of the eggs, there was one obvious choice: charcoal.

Stay tuned next week for the next installment of the egg saga.