Classes Notes: Painting Drapery

I confess, I have had a bias against "drapery" - probably from the tedious hours of drapery rendering that we did in college painting.  ZZZzzzzzzz.
And when there are so many other fun things to paint -  drapery, for its own sake seems SO prosaic.
But, when a student made the request - I figured it was time.  In my on-line research I found: "The secrets to painting drapery" (it is still a secret),  "How to make elegant drapery",  "Understanding Drapery", etc, etc.
This is all good stuff but I can't believe "drapery" is so much different than anything else 3 dimensional that we are trying to communicate on a 2 dimensional plane.
It has to be about shapes.
The top/red drape is my first demo and I started with a Sharpie sketch to organize the big shapes.
It was hard. It was fun.
After class I began to look at books for painted drapery - classical and otherwise and when I pulled out a book on Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel- a light went on. I am sure that sounds pretentious . . . what can I say.
But, his drapery is so bold, so simple, so understandable.
It makes sense, that a sculptor would paint drapery that was oh, so readable, and not tight or bogged down with minutiae.
This photo, from the book by Lucinda Hawkins Collinge & Annabel Ricketts, is what we studied in class.
I can't say we came up with any secrets to painting drapery but just looking at work from a master made a big difference. We all did stronger work in the second week.  It seemed to make real sense.
My second demo is the green one and even in its unfinished state it has more volume.
Thanks Michelangelo.

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