Patterns and Paintings

I love the look of patterned clothing and backgrounds in a painting. On a  recent photo shoot I  included patterns in almost every picture, maybe I went too far, but one thing’s for sure, I am going to get some good practice painting patterns.

Patterns can be tricky, they look a certain way in real life, but don’t always translate without some major tweaking. Many times they look too harsh, hard and busy, screaming for attention over the center of interest.

While studying how other artists have handled this issue I came upon this Whistler painting, “Caprise in Purple and Gold, The Golden Screen” This really demonstrates a masterful handling of many patterns. I especially like the way he hints at most of the patterns instead of being literal.

Caprice-in-Purple-and-Gold1detail below-

Caprice-in-Purple-and-GolddetailI began the new painting below with an averaged tone in the background, the tone I saw when squinting down the pattern.  The pattern in the original picture was bold and repetitive, my challenge was to tone it down, while keeping the flavor of it.


As more of the figure was established, I adjusted the background tone and began established the pattern. I kept working back and forth between the figure and the background. After about two days I put some oil on the surface of the painting because it was dry to the touch. I brought up the things that were important in the pattern, and neutralized those that weren’t.

Scarlet and Lace by Diane Eugster
Scarlet and Lace,, by Diane Eugster

It’s a balancing act, I was able to bring the pattern up to a point that enhanced not detracted from the main figure.




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