Thursday, March 29, 2012

Expressive Drapery

This drawing by J.W. West from the Magazine of Art in 1895 shows the expressive power of classical drapery. 

Small halflock folds contrast with long pipe folds, which accentuate the gesture of the leaning woman. Some folds lie inert on the ground while others spiral and bunch up.

This sort of drawing is only possible if you observe real people in real costumes enough to get the feeling of what kinds of drapery effects are possible. At that point an experienced pen and ink artist can invent drapery from the imagination, but it never hurts to have a model or a lay figure for reference.

6 comments:

sarwar said...

thank you for sharing

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The Surfin' Squid said...

Those are some beautiful drapes, indeed.

Tim Schneider said...

I see this and want to weep. This single image has in it more beauty than is contained in most modern galleries and museums—and moreso by far than is in my own sketchbooks. And this is merely the title image for a list of illustrations in what was likely an inexpensive magazine (possibly The Yellow Book or its ilk).

It is very true what James points out, that direct study is an irreplaceable resource for artists who value realism, and that it is only after building up a mental & visual vocabulary from such observation that an artist can truly use his imagination to craft realistic images.

Thank you, James, for being such a superb link to the splendors of the past (and future possibilities) for us.

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Cameron said...

You say: "This sort of drawing is only possible if you observe real people in real costumes enough to get the feeling of what kinds of drapery effects are possible. At that point an experienced pen and ink artist can invent drapery from the imagination..."

If you can only achieve that level of realism with your imagination after enough observation, then is it really imagination? Or is it just memory of accurate or possible folds?