still life

How to paint drapes – tutorial

I receive many visits to my blog of people searching on painting drapes and cloth. They usually land on this post ‘satin on the paving‘.  I thought of trying to do a tutorial before, but just have never done it. Now Sylvia asked me to do a tutorial. So, I hope this is helpful. Firstly I have to say that I only work in oils and this works for me, because I use the fact that oils do not dry immediately. I would not know how to do it with acrylics, I can only assume that you must then work in small parts and finish the process for that part.

I took photographs of a piece of satin and cropped it to this picture… because I need reference to work from.

Then I will mix my colours. Choose your darkest colour. I took the easy way this time and just used prussian blue, so I did not have to mix a colour. Then add white to get three lighter tones. …not the nicest colour I must say.

The main thing now is to not think that you are painting cloth, but only forms. Look at your cloth and see the darkest ‘forms’ and the lightest ‘forms’. I marked them here on the next two images.


The next step was to draw the forms on my canvas with charcoal. Just roughly. I have to admit that I drew it so terribly, I didn’t use them in the end and just worked from the picture, but it could help to draw more careful.
Then paint the light forms with your lightest colour and the dark forms with your darkest colour. Just touching each other where necesary, but do not mix where they touch. You will end with something like the next image.

One thing to remember: It does not matter if it does not look exactly like your picture. It will still be folds, even if they are thinner, thicker, longer or moved a bit. : )

Next I added the second darkest colour, which is mostly next to the darkest where the dark is starting to fade to a lighter colour. Still look at your forms. It is a bit more difficult to see where the middle colours must come, because the colours are closer to each other.

Still just put them down and do not mix…and don’t worry that this is not looking like cloth at all.
The last white spaces are all filled with the second lightest colour.

…and now the best part comes. With a dry brush I now fade all colours into each other where they touch. Work with the direction of your painted ‘lines’ as I tried to show here with the arrows.  Do not go in the direction of where I’ve put the red cross, you will just mix your lines to form one new shade of blue. Clean your brush every now and then on paper when it gets too much paint on it. Also look at your cloth. See where maybe there is a ‘hard’ line that should not fade out. Usually where a folded piece is lying flat on the cloth.

Here is an image after the fading was halfway done. What you are actually doing with fading is to create more shades of blue with mixing each of your two blues.

…and after all the fading was done. I am always surprised by this. Starting with painting only ‘forms’, it now actually looks like cloth. : )

Now I just added more of the darkest colour to bring it out more and then more of the lightest colour. In the same way as before, put the colours down where you think it is needed. Add to the darkest and lightest areas and then fade it in. Also the ‘hard’ edges are made darker.

The next image shows the white added before I faded it.

… and then you have a nice piece of cloth! : ) a small painting on canvas board 20×20 cm.

I was eager to do this post, so this painting I did in one sitting. It is now still very wet. : ) But I know that I now have to wait a week before the paint is dry and I can work on it again. The right thing to do will be to accentuate the darkest and lightest parts even more when this layer is completely dry. Now the colours just mix and you don’t get really light and really dark. But for now this is good enough. Just to give you an idea of how I do it. Probably not the best way, but it works OK. And I only wanted to show you that it is not difficult at all.

… 5 days later. I did a second layer after the first was dry and add more of the darkest and lightest shades. I had to add the other shades as well to fade it in nicely.  It does make a difference.

Categories: oil painting, still life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

A wonderful Christmas to you all!

Categories: Pen, sketch, still life | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

A painting for someone you don’t know

Our youth at church are going to Summercamp in December. On Saturday evening they hosted a talent concert to raise funds. ..and are they talented!! I offered to make them a painting to ‘raffle’ or something to make money with.

This was difficult. Now you wonder what kind of painting would ‘other people’ like. I learned something with this painting. You should paint what you like and then it will be good… and people will like it too. But, it worked out ok, even if it was my first flowers painting.

arum lilies…

more detail…

Categories: Flowers, objects, oil painting, still life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Flowers in a pot

This was really a quick sketch. The picture even came from a magazine. Done with a uni-pin fineliner.

coffee pot…

Categories: Flowers, objects, Pen, sketch, still life | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Second sketch

I did the sketch this afternoon while watching Bafana Bafana play (only gave it a glimpse here and there).

There are so much excitement here about the world cup, so even if you’re not interested at all (like me), you have to watch. There are flags everywhere, vuvuzelas blowing and everyone is wearing yellow shirts! There is a game on now. That I know from the buzzing sound (that’s vuvuzelas!) coming from the TV.

done with rotring pen

Categories: objects, Pen, still life | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: