I decided to use this object as a simple exercise in direct observation. The first attempts, while not very good, were still promising. My shadows were too heavy, the object seemed too large in frame, and I was breaking a watercolor cardinal rule by using heightened white on the highlights. Yet, there was something oddly compelling about this simple, ubiquitous object isolated in frame.
Once I began painting different paperclips that I had bent myself, I quickly noticed a pattern developing. I was continually bending them into similar shapes and unable to get a good variety to paint from. While I was still unclear on my direction with these paintings, I sought the help of other people in neighboring studios.
These were people working in a variety of disciplines and backgrounds quite different from my own. I gave each person a handful of paperclips to mold and twist. The results were surprising to me. Although the shapes varied from person to person, each individual’s paperclips formed a common pattern, similar to my own. For instance, one individual gravitated toward organic round shapes, and another consistently used angular movements to bend the clip.