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Light for the Artist 2

Another quote from Ted Seth Jacobs:

Geo­met­ric and Organic Shapes. There is a rad­i­cal dif­fer­ence between shapes of things made by nature and those man­u­fac­tured by man. Although nature is capa­ble of pro­duc­ing some star­tlingly geo­met­ric forms, most liv­ing crea­tures, and espe­cially we humans, are irreg­u­larly shaped. Our shapes are adapted to carry out spe­cific func­tions. Unfor­tu­nately, many books about how to paint and draw present the human form as a col­lec­tion of sim­pli­fied geo­met­ric shapes. For exam­ple, the head may be described as an egg shape, or the eyes as spheres, along with many squar­ish planes and slices, cubes and cylin­ders. It is impor­tant to remem­ber that none of these abstract geo­met­ric forms exists on the body. Humans are human-shaped.

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3 Responses

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  1. Jeff Hayes says

    I’m so glad you’re post­ing about Ted’s book. It’s a scan­dal that it’s been out of print for so long. I felt for­tu­nate 6 months ago to have bought it from a dealer for “just” $70… In the end, though, who­ever doesn’t own it should just bite the bul­let and pay what­ever needs to be paid… it will be worth every sin­gle penny.

  2. Incompetent says

    This is true, but isn’t the pur­pose of geo­met­ric shapes not to sub­sti­tute but to break down form into sim­pli­fied shapes as an aid to ren­der­ing and visu­al­iza­tion? I think of the approaches advo­cated by Loomis and Hale that stress struc­ture, for exam­ple. I’m curi­ous to know your thoughts on this.

  3. David says

    I think that it’s use­ful to be able to think in terms of geo­met­ric shapes, but there is a point at which they get in the way of under­stand­ing form. The prob­lem with geo­met­ric forms is that they are sym­met­ri­cal. Organic forms are not sym­met­ri­cal. Their out­lines are not com­posed of par­al­lel lines. Those lines are of unequal length. Curves do not have their point of out­er­most cur­va­ture in the cen­ter. If you try to sim­plify forms geo­met­ri­cally, you don’t get any­thing that looks truly organic. I think that’s what Ted means when he says that “humans are human-shaped.”

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