Last Friday I was cutting raw potatoes to cook for potato salad pondering–how necessary is it to get these pieces close in size so they cook uniformly? On Top Chef competing chefs often have the challenge of cutting things unvaryingly. Those who fail are out. Then I considered the possibility that, after always cutting potatoes into the same-size chunks, pieces unexpectedly cut much smaller than the rest cook faster and become mushier–and voila, mashed potatoes! Not exactly, of course. But it reminds me that, despite how useful standardization and formulas are, the oddball creates the new.
I rebel against uniformity, yet I appreciate the relationship between form and function. In prepping for this last round of figure work I encountered many formulas to assist in “proportion control”. They led to accurate-looking figures, but they were often dull and boring. “The lights are on, but nobody’s home,” as the saying goes.
Life drawing/painting is a mainstay of art education mostly because of the ever-changing subtleties of the human form. It is challenging. It is the one thing that everyone knows, yet it is one of the hardest subjects to capture, which may be part of its universality. Keep in mind that the shifting form in front of you when working with a model comes to the table with their own unique energy and together, with you, the drawing or painting is created. It feels very different to work with a model as opposed to a photograph or a still life or a landscape. It requires a lot of concentration and focus. But oh what comes from it! And the progress can be seen from session to session. Below are some of our “mashed potatoes”.