Monday, April 8, 2013

Tippette #8 - Painting Fabric

Tippette = Snippet of a Tip (in watercolor).  One per day during April, right here!

Painting Fabric

Painting fabric is no different than painting glass (see HERE), except fabric is not always shiny.  Sometimes it's nubby, velvety, gauzy, and so on.  The most important thing you can do to succeed at painting fabric is to make sure your drawing is correct before you start painting. The folds are super important, because that's where your darks will be placed to emphasize them.   The next most important thing is the paper you choose.  A hot pressed paper would NOT do.  Brush strokes would be too evident.  I choose a cold pressed paper, and usually a rough one (like Arches 300# paper) when I paint fabric.

"NOT on Edge" (watercolor with graphite) by Helen K. Beacham
Sold - Reproductions Available.
When faced with painting fabric, I decide ahead of time on the colors I plan to use, and I try to limit myself to perhaps no more than 6.  In this green dress (which I painted several years ago as part of my "Barefoot..." series), I probably used: olive green, cerulean blue, purple, yellow, hookers green, and indigo.  I honestly don't remember which colors specifically, but those are the ones I'd choose if I were to start it today.  

In this painting below of the blue chiffon dress (which I again painted from a photograph I took of my model), I had to pay attention to the fact that I wanted to be able to see the layers underneath the top layer of chiffon.  Once again, I had to study my photo and take my time with layers of color to simulate the various layers of chiffon.  You must let each layer dry thoroughly and then apply the next layer with a soft touch so as to not disturb the previous layer.  The darks in the folds are not quite as dark as in the first image above, because the nature of the chiffon makes the darks appear more subtle.  
"What Should I Do?" (watercolor with graphite) by Helen K. Beacham
Sold - Reproductions Available.

Take a close look at the bottom right of the dress...see how I made it look like the foot is BEHIND the chiffon?  To accomplish that, I took the pale blue color and painted it right over the foot.
While we're on the subject of fabric, here's a picture of a crewel stitched tablecloth.  Same process as mentioned above, with extra shadows added to the stitchery itself to make it looked raised and nubby.  (Hopefully, you're able to click on these images to make them larger so that you can see things better.)  Notice how the darker (vertical) areas of the white cloth are warm on the right where the light was hitting it, and cooler on the left where it's in shadow. 
"Welcome" (watercolor) by Helen K. Beacham - Sold.
Reproductions Available.
NOTE:  If you truly want to improve your drawing skills, I can highly recommend the book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards (click HERE).  Follow the exercises in the book, and you're on your way to better paintings!  

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