Spirals & Curves

Even in the midst of the storm the sun is still shining.” -- Dayna Lovely


Today’s mini project is inspired by Alexander Calder’s wonderful simplistic bold style, in particular his jewellery and metalware.To start we will be creating simple but meaningful shapes looking at Calder’s spiral and curved patterns in flattened metal. The bigger project will be a stylised sun in watercolour.

Alexander was born on 22 July 1898 and you can read more about his life here.

Sketchbook Project

Look at the Pinterest board for inspiration and draw freehand with a paintbrush or large black marker, replicating the metal squiggles and curves in your own way. Add more drawings, create your own brooches, hairpins, necklaces and household inspired objects. What shapes are you drawn to? Sketch and explore the simplicity of his work.

Once you have filled some pages, make drawings of simplified sun shapes starting with a spiral and rays or petal shapes around it. Make a few of these to use as reference

Painted Project

Paint a stylised sun

Materials: Azo yellow and Magenta and a flat brush.

This project should be freehand, do not sketch outlines first. On your A3 watercolour pad, mix the watercolour paint to create warm yellow, orange and pinks. Start with the shape of an organic spiral, just using the flat brush, make a broad strong line, adapt the colours to create variety within the simple shape. Add the sun’s rays as you see fit. The painting is freehand but controlled, the replicated petal, angular or squiggle shapes have variety in them, adjusting the size and colours slightly as you paint them. You can go over sections to make it richer or add a bit of texture by stamping the brush. Add some specs around the sun in the same colour using the flat brush only.

This is an exercise in simplicity and effective use of one brush to create confident strong lines and adapting the brief to suit your own style. Why a sun? Well, it is a reminder that regardless of what goes on in the world around us, and amidst any current storms and unrest across the globe, the sun is a constant presence. It is a symbol of hope.

Once you have done this simple project you can adapt the shapes as you see fit, from abstract shapes to flowers. An idea: why not add the quote by Dayna Lovely to your artwork and give it to someone in need of a little light, or put it up somewhere, even inside a cupboard where you will occasionally see it. I’m including another inspirational quote about simplicity by Ralph Waldo Emerson, I love this man’s thinking:

'Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air' -- R W Emerson

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour