Satin or Bust

by Lisa


Last week I had two of my still life classes paint a drapery study of this pink satin fabric.  Because I had been in the mindset of painting satin for the trompe l’oeil painting (see January 8th post) I thought this would be a good exercise for them, and that I would gracefully guide them along in their pursuit of dank rags (as my son might call it). Oh boy. They struggled and struggled and much whining did commence. Those who seem to gravitate toward a more painterly style seemed to struggle the most. Satin, especially seems to need a fluid line running through it to be convincing. With broken choppy strokes and a lot of fancy color built in one seems to loose the effect. I struggled with how to keep them on track.

Although I had certainly got some good practice painting drapery with my trompe l’oeil piece, I had not painted the pink satin that I had the students paint. I actually thought pink would be easier than white. So the next day I decided I better try it myself. Duh. Perhaps I should have tried it first you might be saying to yourself. (Dude, as a teacher I get to learn too.) Hence the study above. And here is what I learned that I would pass on to the students now: paint cotton. At least first. I think it was the highlight in satin that was throwing everyone. The way I painted it was to block in all darks with mainly alizarin and umber with a touch of cad red light, and ultramarine blue. Next, do all the remaining areas in cad red light mixed with a touch of alizarin and white. The hightlight (white tinted with cad red light, alizarin and cad yellow light) gets floated right on top and the EDGES of the stroke get blended in. Finally deepen the rounded sides of the cloth away from the light and on the other side of that dark stroke place the beautiful notes of pure cad red, and cad orange.


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3 Responses to Satin or Bust

  1. gypsy-heart says:

    I think this is beautiful, but I can understand your students frustration. I used to get so lost in drapery..especially if it had a lot of folds (even with my little view finder).

    Of course, I wanted a story out of it became mountains or caves (which it often ended up looking like)! :(

    You sound like a wonderful teacher. That is such a gift, and I do not have it. I am not patient enough with myself, let alone others.

    I am looking forward to your next piece.

    Oh, I keep forgetting to tell both of you that I am enjoying the art side of this, but also your writing styles. god how I love a good sense of humor (esp dry wit)!!

    until later…

  2. lbtowers says:

    Yes, the feeling of getting “lost” in the drapery was rampant last week. You do seem to lose track of the darks and lights and warms and cools of all of those folds.

    Glad you are enjoying our blog. We are enjoying yours too!!!

  3. As one of your whining students, it was fun to see your take on the experience. I even whined about it in my blog!
    I saw the painting “live” when I was at the school this week and wondered when you had done it. It is, of course masterful! — Worthy of a good teacher.
    I enjoyed visiting in your class and hope to learn from you again in the future. Of course I have since also enjoyed your blog. Thanks for letting me know about it!

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