28 February 2011

The Damage is Done

22" x 15", watercolour, 1998, private collection

Drapery is tricky: keeping track of all the folds and wrinkles, making sure the highlights and shadows are accurate (or, at least, correct enough to be convincing as drapery) is a challenge that I enjoy, but haven't confronted too often. In my current series of portraits, clothing is usually an integral part of the picture, adding much to the story of the characters in the paintings, and I feel obligated to be as truthful about their clothing as I am about their faces.

There's no real trick to rendering drapery other than simply keeping track (as mentioned) of the folds and wrinkles; it can't be a random mess of curves and lines --it has to make sense, and lighting is very important, helping to describe and separate the shapes. Call it fastidious attention to detail, but I consider it simply paying attention.

In the painting above, the model is enshrouded in a bedsheet I was using as my tablecloth at the time. High threadcount for the kitchen!

The title comes from a Juliana Hatfield song called "Universal Heart-Beat" from her Only Everything CD, but I'm sure she was, in turn, influenced by Neil Young.


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