Illustrations By Ellinor Forje
"Indeed, the depiction of drapery, in the form of a carelessly thrown shawl on one's knee, is an important theme in Renaissance art."
- L. Mahadevan
I'm obsessed with drapings. Drawings and paintings of them, to be more precise. Jean-Honoré Fragonard's "The Stolen Kiss", is one of my favourite pieces in this domain. But, Leonardo Da Vinci, in my opinion, remains the master of the realm.
I would say that my obsession reached fever pitch last year. I was possessed, by the idea of it. Its mystery. If that makes sense. And the only way for me to exorcise this textural demon, was by trying to emulate the way fabric hangs and drapes around the anatomy, through sketching.
The first illustration (as well as the others), is of a dress in an editorial spread, that I saw in "Vogue" last year. I don't remember what design label it was. But, the garment was of a beautiful sheer chiffon, modelled by Laetitia Casta.
Note to self: Start cataloguing your drawings.
Response to note: The self ain't listening.
The best way to learn how to paint or draw draped textile, is through observation and practice. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this I have come to discover, the hard way. There is no other route. Although I'm still in the process of learning the craft; I can tell you this much right now, never argue with those who know better than you.
There I was last year, with my lack of good sense, refusing to listen to (what I then called,"the rants of a raving artist") the demystification of the elements of draping, by someone who knew better than me. He, my instructor, presented it as something fairly simple. Just observe the relationship between the folds, the light and the shadows. Then sketch. And there you have it. Simple.
But no, I was determined to crack the Da Vinci puzzle and uncover the sine qua non of this art through frying my brain. So, I drew nothing. Practiced nothing. Instead, I revisited the old theory books. That was the key to solving the old draping enigma, according to my own hypothesis. And I read:
"To extract the main ingredients of the theory, we start by considering the 'draping of a point' when a thin heavy circular sheet of thickness h and radius R, made of an isotropic material of density ρ, Young's modulus E, and Poisson ratio ν is suspended from its center. If the sheet is large, a conical shape with multiple flutes is observed...
In terms of t, the tangent to the curve , and n = t × u, the normal to the surface, the only nonzero surface curvature is 1/Rc = κ/r, where κ = –n·.f Differentiating the second expression in...for the curvature then yields..."