'Crumpled Up In Blue'

Crumpled Up In Blue

Many of the finest painters from the 15th Century on have displayed an uncanny ability to render patterned material, usually dresses or curtains with astonishing accuracy. I often used to wonder whether the artists had simply painted what they observed or if they had used some artificial means to get the fall of the pattern just right. So I thought I'd try to see how it could be done.
I found the straight observation process very difficult indeed but then I'm not that sort of artist. In the end I resorted to drawing a suitable grid on a piece of cloth which was then laid on a table and various folds applied. I found this much easier to transfer to paper, but I had to set up a system that ensured my viewpoint remained constant throughout the process (I also had to keep my cats from leaping on to the table). Once the grid was in place, the drawing of the pattern was fairly straightforward.
Postscript: It wasn't until quite recently that I discovered that the artists in question quite probably did resort to an artificial means of drawing the material. David Hockney has shown how a camera obscura and lens could have been used to draw intricate details with astoundingly accurate perspective which would have been almost impossible to attain by eye.
This painting now belongs to my good friend Francis.

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