Fabrics

Fabrics can make a surprisingly pleasing composition. Even if you don't sew, your clothes, comforter, pillows, and curtains are each of a different fabric, and setting one against another can create an arrangement you'll want to draw.

It may help to pretend you're Martha Stewart. Artfully arrange a few pillows against your headboard. Add a breakfast tray (oh yeah, we all have those handy). How about a pretty nightie, or a fabric throw? (Or some craftsmen's tools, a saw or two, and that Harley ...) Arrange your fabrics as if they're casually thrown, without them looking like a mess.

Fabrics present their own unique problems. They are the essence of surface texture, with all sorts of spots, lines, patterns, plaids, flowers—you name it—sitting on top of some flexible material that has fallen into interesting but hard-to-draw folds, creases, and overlaps.

The solution is to draw the shapes first, as always, but this is ever so much more important with fabric. Then look at tone, the lights and shadows of the folds of fabric. Try to lightly shade to define what the fabric is doing.

When you can see in your drawing what the fabric is actually doing, then and only then should you start adding the surface texture. See it disappear as the fabric folds under itself. Or is it covered by another object? Does it come out on the other side? Don't rush along here; pattern and texture take time and patience.

An artful arrangement of fabrics can make a lovely drawing.

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