Bridging the gap between
abstract, intangible memories and real, physical art is not an easy process.
Christopher Pratt has used the metaphor of counting from zero to 100. The
hardest step, conceptually, is going from zero, or "nothing",
to one, or "something." After you get to an actual number like
one, counting to 100 is only a matter of process. So it is with a work of
art. Getting from the idea to something on paper is one of the hardest parts.
No matter what medium Pratt chooses for a work, a series of studies are
almost always completed before the actual piece is worked on. These studies
can take many different forms. Sometimes, as is the case with Sheds
in Winter (1964), the image is more refined with each study and eventually
leads to a final image. Other times, the studies allow Pratt to refine,
or even change, his concept of what an image will contain. This is seen
in his studies for Young
Girl with Seashells (1965). Pratt's studies are often drawn on paper,
usually in ink or, more commonly, in graphite (like pencil).
One of the most interesting things that you will see when looking at some of Pratt's studies is the presence of a grid with which the study is overlaid. This grid may also contain additional diagonal and intersecting lines. It is in looking at these types of studies that Pratt's use of geometric techniques becomes apparent. He sometimes uses a geometric construct known as a golden section or root-5 rectangle, which leads him to many interesting things with form, space and perspective,but important lines and intersections can be located and constructed within any rectangle. Though he uses these geometric tools, Pratt is not, by any means a slave to the grid. If the grid does not produce the 'look' he wants the work to have, he simply ignores the lines the grid presents.
Another way Pratt uses a grid throughout the study process is to discover where the boundaries of a work should be. He will frequently draw a grid on tracing paper and then overlay a study with the paper. Moving the grid around, he is able to decide the shape and proportions that the work should have.
Finally, the grid is helpful in moving from the final study for a work to the actual piece. The borders of a study will usually have the same ratio as that of the final piece. For example, if the study measures 18' x 24', the artist may prepare a canvas that is 54' x 72'. The comparitive scale will then be 1:3 allowing any portion of the study to be drawn on the canvas using the scale.
Many studies were completed for Pedestrian Tunnel (1991). Studies for this work were done to refine the image and to work out perspective issues in the final work.