Page 4 - The Clothing


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parisonthe25thphoto.jpg (9698 bytes) The Clothing

Now as I study the photo, I will begin with Michael's sweater since it is further behind in the image than Helen's jacket.  One of the difficult challenges of painting from someone else's  photograph, is that there is usually not enough information within the photo, such as texture, patterns and colors for me to paint exactly what is there, so I open myself up to creative freedom, and visual interpretation...and sometimes...

Tips and Hints

I make a request to get the clothing that are worn in the photo.  And in this case, because the clothing is so dark in the photo,   I asked Mike to deliver both his sweater and Helen's jacket.   This up close and personal study will shift the very essence of the painting.  So do not be shy if you have been commissioned to work from someone else's photo...Ask for objects that are in photos....

clothing1.jpg (210402 bytes) Helen's jacket is absolutely beautiful in color and texture.  I will achieve this level of lightness and detail in the original and it will be a wonderful contrast to the remainder of the lines and hues in the painting.

Had I not obtained this jacket and used the photo as my roadmap to the painting, I would have lost an incredible feature to this painting which opens it up to the full spectrum of color and offering a playfulness to the stark cool colors of the majority of the painting.


clothing2.jpg (159735 bytes) Michael has given me full liberty to design and create his  sweater.  So into my own personal wardrobe I go...searching for a sweater that I can detail the lines of fabric.


Here it is...a bluish gray sweater with vertical texture lines that will contrast nicely with Helen's horizontal lines of texture.


clothing3.jpg (36307 bytes) Ahh...the passion of the study....A self portrait in a light sweater so I can clearly see the direction of the fabric lines...Now I am ready to begin drawing again....
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The drawing process begins again on both the sweater and some more details in Helen's Jacket.  I have drawn in the vertical lines of the texture of fabric and followed the angled lines from the study photo above.  Although I was going to eliminate the backpack straps from Michael's shoulders, ( which are barely visible in the photo)  I erased the sweater lines and drew them in.  I felt that this was significant for the overall memory that the two of them would remember as Canadian travellers in Paris. I have also enlarged the Canadian flag clip on Michael's chest.  I have used my architectural square to draw the vertical lines in the center portion of the sweater and then resorted to freehand drawing in the shoulders, neck and arm areas.

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I begin masking out four areas, the first being Michael's neckline, the second is the separation between Michael's sweater and Helen's hair and body line,  the third is the Canadian Flag clip on Michael's sweater and the fourth is a small area where a trace of the background can be seen by Michael's right elbow and his side.  I am not concerned about the backpack straps since they will be a dark gray and since I will be using a royal blue/gray for the sweater, I will make the straps a dull gray and not focus on any detail for the straps...well maybe some threadlines..I am wanting them to be present but not noticeable.

Since there will be a full water wash and a full Pthalo blue wash, I will allow the masking to dry completely before beginning the first of the two heavy washes.

Tips and Hints

I prefer not to mask out any background images with masking fluid.  In my experience, I have not enjoyed the rework in applying masking to painted areas of my paintings.  There is a good reverse masking fluid available, but it is a choice that I make not to practice this.

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I have completed the water wash and the first level Pthalo blue wash.  While the paper is still wet, I dab out the areas of the folds of the sweater to provide me with a guideline when I begin painting in the fabric lines.  I will do a wash of the fold areas with a Mauve wash which will give the sweater some depth and additional 3D qualities as I continue to build the layers in the sweater.

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The completion of the first two level of washes. Now I will blow dry the sweater area to flatten the paper.
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Using Payne's Gray and a 15/0 brush, I draw all the vertical lines of the fabric texture.  I have also added Mauve to where the folds are in the sweater.

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One wash of Pthalo blue.  I have left the folds in the sweater for the next wash.


You discussed on one of your earlier pages that you do not like to have your hand/finger touch the painting.  How do you paint the details in your paintings without having your hand at least touch a portion of it.


It is very important to the integrity of the paper that you should never allow anything but water and paints to come into contact with the image area.  When I am painting the finer details, I use a piece of 90lb Arches acid free Watercolor paper as a hand rest.  I will only lay down the hand rest on the painting if the painting is completely dry and also including my hand.

This is really important and if you try this method, validate this by using this hand rest for a test study painting some time.  Your first color washes will actually reveal handprints, fingerprints on it and if you use hand will understand why I share in my experiences.



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A Complete covering of a Prussian Blue wash.  Notice how the vertical lines of Payne's Gray is beginning to disappear.   I will have at least one more wash that I can add before I lose the lines as my template.

Now I begin cutting the shadows using Indigo.


Using Indigo mixed with Lamp Black, I repaint  the lines of the fabric texture.  Then I use Prussian Blue to begin a process I refer to as banding.  Every second vertical space I fill in with the blue and then after it has dried, I fill in the spaces between the blue with the Indigo/Lamp Black wash to achieve a dark blue for the sweater. After completing the banding, I use Aquamarine Blue to wash the whole area of the sweater to blend the colors.  Looking really good.


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You use a lot of miskit/masking , have you ever had a problem with removal? I like PEBEO miskit and in the past found Winsor and Newton gummed up on me a lot. Are you ever concerned about the length of time you leave it on the paper?

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I move into the backpack straps beginning with a Pthalo Blue layer after the water layer. Then Mauve, Payne's Gray, Indigo, and then a touch of Crimson Lake for highlites.  I remove the masking for the lapel pin and the small gap by the right elbow.

Using the Crimson Lake, I complete the Canadian Flag label pin.

Now I do a little water burnishing on the shoulders and chest.    A little water, brush away a layer of paint, and then dab it off with my paper towel.

I will come back during final details and do some edge remind me if I forget to show this process.




Masking was developed for a short term solution.  Yep, and I use it a ton.  The perfect length of time for removal from my experience is about a week, but as this painting progressed, I had left the masking on for almost a month with no issues of removal.  One thing I should note is that I only use 140lb hot pressed which provides a very smooth texture which also keeps the masking from moving into the fibers of the paper as it would for cold pressed papers.

I do use a plastic drafting eraser to remove the masking and maybe that's the secret.

I move back to Helen's jacket and with a little more precision, I draw in the final shapes.  I am now working from three different photos, so sometimes I find myself erasing.  Everything that I draw now has to make sense and I have actually pulled out the jacket to verify what is really going on in the photo. 

I mask out the base of Helen's neck, her right shoulder and Michael's hand on her left shoulder.






Tips and Hints

I keep a sheet of 90lb Arches paper always handy for testing my colors, especially if there is a color that I will need to build.  And in this case, Helen's shirt color is one that I do not have in my large collection of watercolor paints.  The actual color of her shirt from the photo appears to be somewhere between an Olivey green to a beige.

So I begin with three color patches, building each with the base Gamboge.  I keep track of what colors I use to get there.  In the case of Helen's shirt, I will layer Gamboge, Sap Green and Burnt Sienna to get to the base color.

I will keep this sheet as a reference sheet for future reference.  The three colors on the left were used for my last painting " Letters to Heaven".

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I have completed the base color washes in Helen's shirt.  Now I give the whole jacket a water wash and then a transparent wash of Gamboge.

I will come back with the shadows in the shirt after I have completed the shadows in the jacket.




The fabric of the jacket is amazing..almost like tapestry, so I want to capture this feeling with my paints.  I begin laying in my colors using the banding method as I discussed earlier for Michael's sweater.

After each color is banded in, I do very gentle transparent washed to block the pattern in the jacket.  After each layer of wash I band that color in again so I do not lose the lines as my template.


I continue with wash after wash to get to this point.  I am not concerned with shadows at this point.  I want the colors to all reach the same level of intensity before I begin the shadowing.  I am about 30% done at this point.



I have added several washes to the right side of the jacket and laid in three washes on the purse strap. Using Cadmium Orange as a blending wash I cover the entire coat and then return with Indigo banding to bring the tapestry effect back into the jacket.

My paintings are well known for symbolism and hidden images and this painting remains consistent.  In studying the transition from Michael's sweater to Helen's jacket, I thought it would be important to blend the two pieces of clothing with no contrast line between the two.   A symbol of two becoming one...forever appropriate for their celebration.

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I begin adding details that cannot be seen with the human eye in the photo.  Who would ever known that there was a zipper present.  I utilize my computer to enhance the see what is not visibly present....these things are important to me as an Artist and I will paint them in even if they disappear in the completion of this area of the painting. I use Indigo to build the shadows in the jacket...the distinguishable separation between her arm and and her upper body.

I am really paying close attention to Helen's shape beneath the jacket to build her form.  Indigo is the perfect shadowing color for my style.  It allows the colors beneath to remain present.

Using Mauve Indigo, and Sap Green, I complete Helen's Shirt building folds in the fabric and shadowing.  Be courageous when you are blending colors to arrive at your final color. 

I will come back to the color and complete the final shadowing after I complete Helen's flesh tones and hair.

I remove all the masking.  I am very satisfied with the results.






Well lets take a look at where we are today.   I have been in touch with Michael to request a photoshoot for additional images of both Michael and Helen's facial features and hair.  This is another important part of working on commissioned pieces.  I will request some time with the person or persons so that I can observe facial expressions and experience their presence so that I can carry that essence of their being back to my studio.

Now I am laying down my brushes and am going to celebrate my Mom's birthday....

Now its on to Page 5..but wait until January 7th...

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