You can learn a lot by watching cats. They are studies in elegant movement and sinuous lines.
Our cat, Mavis (named after a Thomas-the-Train engine), is sixteen years old. Quick sketches of him appear here and there through my sketchbooks. He always seems to be in a good pose that creates a miniature landscape of curves. I suppose their natural fascination as subjects is one of the reasons cats appear in the art of many cultures going back to the earliest civilizations and that they continue to be popular models.
As a gift for my daughter, I carved a small representation of Mavis (or any cat) curled up sleeping. I tried to simplify the form and translate it into a combination of curving lines and surfaces — a sculptural form much like a carved bowl or spoon.
At four inches long, this piece was sized well for holding in a hand while carving. I used many of the same knife grasps that I use for spoon carving. Most of the carving of this piece of butternut was done with a sloyd knife and pocket knife, and the surface is left directly from the knife cuts. No oil had been applied yet when the photos were taken.
Just as with a spoon or a bowl, distinct facets catch the light or hold shadows. And the effect changes when the piece is seen from different viewpoints.
It seems to me that automobile designers consider these same things, putting a lot of thought into the lines formed where two surfaces meet and the effect of light. Engines and horsepower aren’t really my thing, but I’ve always loved the image of the designer scraping away the clay from the car model, checking the surface with hand and eye. A process that continues today as you can see in this short video.
I find it interesting how the tapeline is established on one surface as the important junction, then the adjoining surface is faired by judgement to the line. I suspect that Charles Douglas carves spoons and bowls.
Anyway, this little diversion got me thinking, and, like every project, taught me a thing or two. Mavis, by the way, couldn’t care less.