View Full Version : Help with design

Doug Duffield
01-16-2010, 10:47 PM
I've posted a photo of a cluster of grapes I tried for the first time. It's practice for a worship table we'll be making later on. The front panel will have a relief carving in it. Most of the table will be made from a maple tree that had to be removed to place an addition on the mission where my wife and I work. We wanted to have something from the tree placed in the mission as there is a lot of memories attached to the tree - it had been there for about 125 years - but was dying. The maple has some curl to it, so it won't carve really easily, but I've mess around with some of the smaller chunks and it seems workable. The center panel for the carving will be about 16 inches wide by 22 inches tall - totally flexible at this point (still in the design stage!)

The first scan is a sketch I made and Mark Yundt was kind enough to point out that the triangle shape wasn't going to look right in the taller rectangle of the panel. I took his recommendations to paper and came up with the second scan. Of course, the dove can be positioned higher to give a more filling effect. To make sure I could carve some semblance of a chalice, wheat head and loaf of bread - the grapes worked out ok - I glued together three slabs of basswood and went at it. The third scan is literally a scan of the carving. It's about 6 by 6 inches and the relief is about 1/2 inch total.

My questions are :

How well does the second sketch flow design wise? Does the layout of the elements draw your eye toward the proper elements?

What areas of the sketch do you see causing problems in carving that can be changed to make things simpler without sacrificing the flow of the design?

What form should a loaf of bread have so it is readily apparent that it's a loaf of bread?

Now, as to answers ... I need straight answers and criticism, because this should look as 'alive' as possible. I really don't want to produce a carving that look unnatural and lifeless.

With so many excellent carvers on this forum, you all should be able to set me straight! :)

Thanks for any and all input.

doris fiebig
01-17-2010, 2:54 AM
hi doug, i thought the same, before reading your post, the general arrangement of the items is much better in the seccond drawing. it is together with the dove, a longish rectangle and pleasing to the eye.
the chalice is well drawn, and i like how the grapes curl a little around it. this is my focal point after moving my eyes down from the dove. then, my eyes wander along the long shape of the wheat and "fall out" the paper. the lines of the grain are too strongly leading outwards. it works better on the carving, since one tip is bend down to point to the leave.maybe you can bend them a little more than you indicated already, to lead the eye down to the loaf of bread.
the bread is problematic, in the carving i cannot recognise it as bread. i would try to draw one of these rustical breads, (donīt know if you have them, as i remember from visits to your country that you have much different bread than we do) anyway, i think, two things could improve the bread. first, the size. as it is it is way too small for a bread. and, secondly, if you could carve some hint of the outer crust, as well as some variation on the surface. either take a bread as model, or google "bread" there are some very good images, i think that could work for you.
i like the space between dove and the items, when i look at it, i feel i would play with putting another supporting triangle into the composition, to combine them more and see how it works. the bread and the wheat could be used for that. arranged correctly, they could build a triangle and bring this way more depth to the arrangement, as well as combining top and bottom. just an idea... actually, i would go into my kitchen, grab a chalice or wineglass, a loaf of bread, grapes, and find some leaves and wheat(or something to replace it) and arrange them on a table until i find it is pleasing. then i would draw it. as it would lie naturally, it would look so in the drawing too.

Doug Duffield
01-17-2010, 11:01 AM
I knew I could count on you, Doris, to help out. A funny thing about bread here in the US - a baker from England told me that our bread is wind and water! Our breads don't have the density of the European breads. Oh well, I'll try your suggestion and arrange something in the kitchen to sketch. As long as I don't get too hungry looking at the objects!

Thanks again for the critique and input. I'll take another go at it!

Mark Yundt
01-17-2010, 3:56 PM
Doug, you may want to think along the lines of an Artisan loaf. You know,,the ones that look like an Italian loaf here in the States. With this you can add the slits across the top so it doesn't end up looking like a rock or something.
One other possibility that I was originally considering was to have the sheaves of wheat rise vertically tied with a string or ribbon . This way you can gain height with it being behind the Chalice and have it fan into an almost triangular shape with the dove above it. The stems of the wheat could also fan out again near the bottom creating visual lines that lead your eye up to the dove.
Then around the base of the chalice would be the cluster of grapes and the loaf similar to how you have them now.
You'll end up with a vertical arrangement, the base wider, the Chalice taking the center view and you'll be able to fill the rectangle in a more balanced way.
One other thought is to have a Host just above the Chalice , suspended in space with rays emanating from it. Then you could eliminate the bread. Now the story says you have the elements of the Host ( wheat) and the wine in the Chalice ( grapes) and how from these basics with the blessing of the Spirit ( Dove) become something else in the form of the Host and Wine ( Body and Blood)
Yeah,, I do a lot of Religious stuff, can't you tell? This seems to be the story they like to see.

Doug Duffield
01-17-2010, 7:37 PM
Thanks for the critique and ideas. I haven't forgotten the layouts you suggested, Mark. I'm going back to the sketch book and try some more things. I need to work through all these layouts and get some feed back from the folks at the mission. Thanks again! Mark, your experience in this area is a great asset!

Doug Duffield
01-20-2010, 11:11 PM
Is this what you had in mind, Mark? The wheat is kinda sparse, but that could change.

Mark Yundt
01-21-2010, 1:34 AM
Yes, that is headed in the direction I had in mind. Now remember, it's just an idea that I'm suggesting and may not be the be all , end all design. It's just another option.
I personally feel that the bread now is seen as a loaf of bread and it balances nicely, in my opinion , with the grapes without it being too busy. It makes a statement clearly.
Now without getting too "religious" regardless of the denomination, I feel that the Spirit ( dove) represents the intent or spirit in which something like this is viewed to allow the symbolism , regardless what is considered, to live.
And , as you infer , I do think that a bit more wheat would fill out the design quite nicely.
Again, these are only my opinions in doing this type of work of design elements that seem to work universally.

Mark Yundt
01-21-2010, 10:46 AM
Here is a quick thought.

I eliminated the wheat and concentrated on the Host instead. It's ( wheat) almost redundant as the bread is represented here already. The bread having been transformed into the Host....the grapes transformed into the wine in the Chalice. Now the Host is present and is seen on a symbolic cross of rays hovering , and almost rising up out of the Chalice as the Host represents the body as seen on the cross. In a sense a radiant transformation whether actual or symbolic. It's the spirit in which it's viewed. And speaking of the Spirit, I have the dove descending ( as opposed to hovering) as it is in this action where the "transformation" takes place as the spirit comes down.
As far as finishing it may look dramatic if the rays were finished in Gold leaf and a light white wash over the host and everything else left natural or stained offering a vivid contrast. Now you'd have a solid focus highlighting the primary intent of the carvings symbolic nature.
The drawing is scaled at 8 X 11 ,half the scale of your intended space and fills it nicely I think. Triangulated, leads your eye to the Host as well as the Dove. Grapes and Bread as the base,,leading to the Chalice, Host then Dove and back again clean and simple yet tells the story.
I can do others with the Wheat if you like , but this was just a quick thought.

Doug Duffield
01-21-2010, 12:13 PM
You changed things so little, but the result is astounding! Great story - now I've got somethings to run with. Let me work with all this for a while ... and I'll keep everyone informed of the progress.

So simple, yet so powerful!

Mark Yundt
01-21-2010, 1:11 PM
A tweak here and there, rearranged the mass ( will ease carving for perspective) and triangulated for a linear focus. You eye doesn't get stuck anywhere. There are triangles all over this design. Sometimes the simplest things tell the greatest story as it's uncluttered. Glad to hear you seem to like it.

Doug Duffield
01-21-2010, 3:55 PM
I love it! I showed it to Carol, my wife the pastor. She loved it also. She thinks you should teach theology! You certainly have a way with forms! ;)

Mark Yundt
01-21-2010, 7:16 PM
Haaa! A bit of flattery will work wonders. Theology? Well,, you have to know the story in order to tell it. I'm just an illustrator in wood. Same thing happens in stained glass that is found in many churches. The purpose of them, murals,carvings was to tell a story to people who at one time couldn't read for themselves. Besides a picture is worth a thousand words......