Drapery in the artistic sense means cloth, clothing or textiles. We will be looking at fabric used in still-life arrangements; the clothes that people wear in our drawings; and anything else connected with the activity of drawing.
Initially, we have to examine the actual materiality of a piece of cloth. That includes the way it folds, how it hangs and how it drapes around an object. It also includes the sheen or surface texture and whether it reflects the light or absorbs it. When you come to look at the way a piece of cloth drapes or folds around a shape, the fibre from which the cloth is made should be obvious to anyone with very little experience of looking at clothes. If you are lucky enough to wear a well-made piece of clothing made out of the best fabric that money can buy, then it neither feels nor looks like a similar article of clothing made from a cheaper material. Nor does something like pure, natural wool 'handle' the same way as a synthetic textile.
By the same token, a modern version of formal dress will not be the same as an historical piece of formal wear. So we have to do a little research if ever we want to portray anyone from a historical period. And when we look at the old master paintings, we see that they used different ways of representing the same kind of materials, so there is some choice of methods.
One problem with coloured textiles is that the patterns on the cloth can be quite complex. This often means that you have to find a short cut in the way that you draw it, or else you may find yourself engaged in a drawn-out piece of work. So, try suggesting the pattern with marks that are not exact but rather more impressionistic. Emulate the general shapes and don't try to put in every detail. And be sure to note the difference between the colour of the shadows and the highlights on the cloth.
There is a significant difference between the way tailored clothes hug or hide the figure and how less structured clothing hangs on the human body. If you see a man's jacket hanging on the back of a chair, compared with a dressing gown or bathrobe casually discarded, it is immediately obvious that these clothes have very different functions, and their form tells you so. Finally, there is an exercise in which you can use all the knowledge you have gathered to construct a scene in which the clothing of some kind plays a significant role.
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