AnneLawsonArt My art work

How does drawing teapots become drawing spirals?

You know me by now….I like to jump around from project to project. So instead of finishing my painting for the exhibition I decided to paint teapots. I have painted them before, and from that my friend Liz lent me one of hers to paint. I love its sensuous curves, and the wide belly looked like it would be good to experiment with watercolour washes.

Liz’s wonderful teapot.

So off I went and created these two paintings. The photos show them with the original drawing.

However I wasn’t happy with the proportions of the original drawing, so more paper and more drawing. I began with spirals, to help form the elliptic shape of the pot.

Working out the proportions by using spirals (Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2016)

I did pottery many years ago (and would love to return to it). My teacher showed me how to make a teapot, and I remember him telling me about the spout. The end of it has to be higher than the lid and to attach it we cut off the side of the pot. I used those ideas to help me ‘sculpt’ the drawing.

Spirals on the spout! (Copyright: Anne Lawson2016)

While I was understanding more, I still wasn’t happy. More paper, more drawing. Some geometry, some measuring, and some understanding of angles. One trick I have learnt is to think of angles as a clock face. It helped me to see that the line of the spout went at about where the 5 is on a clock.

My drawing started with the complete pot and went in a clockwise direction around the page. (Copyright: Anne Lawson, 2016)

Now I was more confident that I understood the pot and could draw it more accurately.

(Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2016)

The next step was to trace the outline of the drawing ~ this makes it easy to transfer onto good watercolour paper for the painting. Now that I am looking at this simple line drawing I wonder if I haven’t made the belly of the pot, under the spout, too wide. I will notice more inconsistencies as I paint.

Simple line drawing on tracing paper (Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2016)

Lastly I did a tonal drawing. This is a map of the dark areas and highlights. Drawings like this are an invaluable reference tool, helping give the painting a 3D effect. To make it I put another piece of tracing paper over the line drawing and started to really look at where the darks and lights are. You will see that I left the highlights white, because when I do the painting I have to remember to leave these areas the white of the paper. It is the darkest darks that add oomph to the drawing. Often artists are too scared to go as dark as is necessary. I haven’t done a very good job of modelling the belly of the pot, but there is enough there to help me understand some of the tonal complexities.

Tonal drawing to map out the darks and lights on the pot. (Image copyright: Anne Lawson, 2016)

I love working my way through drawings like this. It reminds me how lazy I can be, with my first attempt being ‘good enough’. Until, as I painted and realised that it wasn’t good enough, because I had been listening to that lazy part of my brain that says “It is a teapot. You know what a teapot looks like. It looks like this….” The problem with this process is that I don’t take the time to really look and analyse. Where is the edge of the lid in relation to the foot? The top of the spout to the top of the handle? What angle does this line take? Is the pot as tall as it is wide? (Actually it is wider.) Where would the spout attach? How does the handle attach?

So, instead of drawing a teapot I ended up drawing lines and angles and spirals and negative spaces. Now I am intrigued to see what the painting looks like. I will certainly let you know!


7 replies on “How does drawing teapots become drawing spirals?”

the comment about the spout being higher than the “top/lid” interesting so is the original teapot set up on those standards… I’m not good at drawing things to really look like things unless I can get something that has a similar shape – I have managed over the years to draw a kind of abstract bird which most people see to recognise as a “bird”


Your bird comment made me smile! I am not able to draw abstract things ~ I have to make them look like something! I have taught myself to relax with doodles, but that is as far as it goes.

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