NOTHING IS GOING PEAR-SHAPED

A pear. Familiar image. Simple shape. Would make a nice design – slightly assymetrical, bit of texture, can do things with the stalk and leaf. Off we go!

I’ve spent a day making designs on my ceramics based on the pear. But can I make a pear shape? Just about not quite to drive me crazy.

What is it with the pear shape?

It has to be asymmetrical, but not wonky. The narrow part must be not too narrow, must have a blunt top, one side of the top is slightly higher than the other, must be in the right ratio to the wide part.  The bottom part, the wide part is not exactly round, it’s slightly flattened. The pear shape is very subtle, and if you fluctuate slightly it doesn’t look right at all, and may not look like a pear.

Am I being very literal and precise here? Not at all. I can make a literal drawing easily with a pencil, but my painting technique uses a flat wash of yellow and a quick brush outline in a darker colour, and it’s that fluent line, capturing the pearness of the pear that is so difficult to do. The great Chinese painter Qi Baishi said that his calligraphic style of drawing with a soft brush had to be like and unlike the thing he painted, had to capture its spirit without being literal. I notice that Chinese pears, as painted by Qi are round and not pear shaped.

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