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Painting the Folds in the Shirt

 

The folds in the shirt are stippled with small brushes

The folds in the shirt are stippled with small brushes.

The underpainting of the shirt was built up with glazes of titanium white to create a luminous background onto which the darker tones of the folds were applied. Fortunately, the original pencil drawing was still visible through the underpainting and the form of the folds were easily outlined with a fine brush in grey. Finally, the soft texture of the material was suggested by using a transparent grey glaze (equal mixtures of red, yellow and blue ) that was carefully blended with small sable brushes (size 00).

 

Painting the Folds in the Waistcoat

 

Glazes of color unify the texture of the waistcoat.

Glazes of color unify the texture of the waistcoat.

The underpainting of the waistcoat was done in yellow medium azo. Next, the stripes inside the waistcoat were simply painted with several glazes of sap green to create a flat, even lines. The tones of the folds on the rest of the garment were rendered with glazes of sap green by gradually building up more layers to deepen the shades of the darkest areas.

Finally, the excessively bright yellow front of the waistcoat was subdued with several thin glazes of sap green. Glazes of Prussian blue were then applied to deepen the tones the darkest areas.

 

Close-up detail of the shirt and waistcoat.

Close-up detail of the shirt and waistcoat.

In our close-up detail above, you can see the tonal, textural and colour effects of the paint surface on our shirt and waistcoat.

You can see that the folds on the shirt have been created by minute stippling with the grey glaze. The darker tones are more densely stippled than the lighter ones.

A similar painting technique is used for the softer folds of waistcoat. The dark tones of these folds were built up with stippled and smudged layers of of sap green. Prussian blue was then added to create the areas of deepest shade. Finally several transparent glazes of sap green were evenly applied overall to subdue the luminous yellow front of the waistcoat. The resultant soft felt texture of the cloth was a by-product of this technique.

 

Painting the Folds in the Jacket

 

The application of dark tones to the jacket.

The application of dark tones to the jacket.

Artists often use a more spontaneous painting technique with looser brushwork and heavier pigment when they paint the outer clothing in a portrait. This is done to contrast with and consequently focus the sharper detail of the head.

For a similar reason, the tone and detail of our jacket darkens and diminishes towards the edge of the portrait to avoid any possible distraction from the focal point of the face.

The underpainting of the jacket was built up with several glazes of sap green to achieve a dark translucent surface. The edge of the lapels and collar of the jacket received fewer coats of the glaze to highlight their outline.

The rendering of the folds of the jacket cloth was achieved by following the usual process:

  • applying the dark tones
  • applying the light tones
  • refining the tone, colour and texture

The Dark Tones were painted with thicker than usual glazes of Prussian blue mixed with sap green and applied with a half inch hogs hair filbert brush. These darker tones establish the basic shape of the folds on the jacket. As you begin to paint more freely with a lager brush, it is important that you know exactly what you are trying to do. Therefore, the drawing of the shapes of the folds was worked out in advance in a preparatory study so that little was left to guesswork.

 

The application of light tones to the jacket.

The application of light tones to the jacket.

The light tones were painted with a mixture of permanent light green mixed with titanium white and applied with a quarter inch hogs hair filbert brush. It was important to use titanium white in the mixture as its opacity was necessary to cover the dark underpainting. The light tones begin to establish the highlights of the folds and the texture of the cloth. Their colour must be brighter than necessary because they will lose some of their intensity when they are blended into the underpainting.

 

Unifying the tone, colour and texture of the jacket.

Unifying the tone, colour and texture of the jacket.

Refining the tone, colour and texture is the final stage in painting the jacket. The aim is to carefully blend and balance the dark and light tones with the underpainting, smoothing out any awkward looking bumps and filling in any irregularities in the paint surface in order to create a smooth fabric with natural folds. This process has the effect of reducing the contrasts between the darkest and lightest tones of the jacket and unifying the overall effect.

 

Close up of painting technique on the jacket.

Close up of painting technique on the jacket.

The detail above gives a close-up view of the painting technique used for the jacket. The basic dark and light tones were rendered with larger and stiffer hogs-hair brushes to match the scale of the area being painted and for greater control over the thicker paint. Brushing and smudging was the technique that was most usefully employed at this stage. The refinement of the tone, colour and texture was executed with thinner glazes of colour and mostly stippled with softer brushes to smooth out any irregularities. Some very fine glazes of white and yellow were carefully built up with small brushes to highlight the form, while glazes of Prussian blue and ivory black were applied to increase the depth of the darkest areas.

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