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The first exercise –

Think about the shape of a triangular cone-shaped ice cream cone. Imagine the froth of the wave curling over the top edge of the cone as it sits sideways on a table. That is a wave.

The floor of the wave draws from the water surrounding it, tugging it to the crest.

This effect can be created for experiments with light in the studio by either, wetting a knife in warm water to cut the cone down its length or by using the inside cardboard roll from papertowels cut in half and at an angle on one end.

A length of silk can be placed along the top edge draping down the back to understand the forms of the wave. Shaving cream can be placed on the top edge of the sideways cone to experiment with its shadows and highlights as wave froth. Some surface dynamics can be created using plastic food wrap pinched into pleated folds and smoothed out, then crafted below and through “curl” of the wave model.

The point of this exercise is to change the position of the “wave” in relation to light sources and experiment with conveying the form on the two-dimensional painted or drawn surface of an artwork in ways that are as 3-dimensional looking as possible.

Using the ideas developed from these exercises and clues from photographs, it becomes easier to determine the visual clues that tell the viewer about the motion inside and outside the wave, its forms and dimensionality.

With these exercises done in the studio, field work at the ocean is many worlds easier.

Written by Cricket Diane C Phillips, 2008