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Archive for May 13th, 2012

Drapery got interesting about the same time that flesh got interesting.  To paint, that is.  Probably around the middle of the 15th century, when oil painting was invented.  Jan Van Eyck is often credited with this invention, but there’s no proof.  Anyway, oil painting, with its slow drying time, made blending and shading in infinite nuances possible.  Painting flesh and drapery is all about nuances, creating the illusion of roundness with infinite variety.

When I plan on giving a demo on drawing drapery, I bring in some art books to illustrate where we come from (#1 in the class photo):  drapery as rendered in byzantine art, then in 12th century, and then in the 16th and 17th century when drapery came into its own.  In Caravaggio (d.1610)  and Van Dyck  (d.1641) you can see that drapery was a joy to paint and that it serves an important expressive function.  In this Caravaggio tableau, the red drapery at the top is pure invention, ridiculous in a way, if you’re literal minded, but he clearly uses it to add vitality to the dreary scene.

The demo is done on the brown paper (#2) with thick charcoal to illustrate how light behaves on a round object.  Then I sit next to individual students and draw along with them, addressing their particular questions and stumbling blocks. One student went from I-don’t-get-it to wow! (Heather’s is the first of the student drawings shown below.)

The still life, a humble pile of white cloth and some drab pottery (#3), inspires the students and challenges them to create a lively illusion of billowing forms.

(Click images for enlargements.)————————————————————————–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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