Roots, from The Art of Drawing by Bernard Chaet

         By examining root forms at close range we are permitted many kinds of investigation. For some the roots suggest distorted animallike configurations; others are interested in the velocity at which the forms unexpectedly travel; still others examine the sculptured weights, thrusts, and counter-thrusts into space. yet no matter which attitude or combination of attitudes is stressed, one consideration should be borne in mind: All the extremities that were twisted into strange patterns underground derive from a central core, the trunk. This idea has a parallel in figure drawing, in which arms and legs move from the cylinder of the body.

Student Response

The first four drawings in this section suggest animal imagery. In Figure 106 the roots are presented in a dramatically staged composition. The actors - the large trunk and root forms - gesticulate in the center of the stage. The lighting and the ambiguous background add to the effect.
     In figure 107 the root branches resemble claws, and the bulging mass suggests organic matter that seems capable of crawling, yet the whole shape swells and moves through the space as an entity. The placement of the form at the top of the page precludes immediate contact with the viewer and leaves room on the stage for potential movement. Again in Figure 108 the branches are organic, animallike forms, this time writhing and twisting diagonally across the page.
     Figure 109 is a group of three separate studies, and each gives a detailed look at minute swellings of form. This close examination does not prevent the eyet from following the transitions from one part to another, nor does it prevent us from reading the overall character of the individual form.
     Each form in the wash drawing in Figure 110 applies weight and pressure on its neighbor in a reciprocal actin. The complicated structure is intrepreted as a heavy sculpture.
     The brush drawing in Figure 111 focuses on speed. Specific details are articulated by the fast line that contains the modeled sections within its flow. Long, looping brush strokes play upon the carefully chose details. The most detailed areas are the intersections where forms meet in tension.
     The pen-and-ink drawing in Figure 112 uses techniques similar to those in Pisanello's work to express the actions of roots by accenting their postures. It is a study of poses - the dancing movement of a whole form - and the artist repeats the action across the page to underscore the theme.