How to Paint Folds in Fabric in Oil

Skill Level : 1 Beginner, 2 Intermediate

Medium : Oil Painting

Subject : Still Life

Tutor : Nolan Clark

Class Length : 2 hours 6 minutes

Avg Rating :

Gold Level or Higher Class

Class Description


Latest Reviews

A wonderful class which encourage a beginner to create it own simple composition and succeed in doing so.


Class Tutorial


drawing the picture onto the canvas

Crop the photo to the proper dimensions to fit the size of your canvas.  Starting with the pear, begin sketching in the still life.   Notice how Nolan uses basic geometric shapes to outline the form of the pear.  Use the same technique for sketching in the fabric.

Mixing the colours

colors used for painting the fabric

Determine the colours you will need for the background fabric; then mix the paints.   Remember you will need mid-tone, highlight, and shadow colours.

Masking the pear

mask the pear

Before you begin painting the fabric, be sure to mask off the pear using a product such as Clear Cover.

Painting the background fabric

painting the background fabric

Starting at top left, block in the darkest spots.  Just a thin layer of paint is all you need at this stage.  Block in the mid-tones next.  Then move on to blocking in the lighter tones.  Continue on with the application of the lightest tone.  Finally, mix colours as you go for the spots that are a different tone than any that you have done already.

Now blend the colours together, being mindful of whether an area needs a gradual blending or a more abrupt blending.  Note the technique Nolan uses to keep colors from going gray while blending.

Now add the highlights and small shadows.

Painting the foreground fabric

painting the foreground fabric

Note that the foreground fabric has a blue tinge to it.  Mix new colours to reflect that.  Clean your brushes so as not to contaminate your colours.

Begin blocking in foreground fabric with darkest colours first.  Then follow the same procedure you used for the fabric above.  End up by brushing on just a touch of the background fabric colour onto the foreground fabric.

Painting the pear

painting the pear

Remove the mask from the pear.  Clear your palette and mix paints for the pear.

Begin by applying the base colour, being careful not to cross your brush over into the fabric colour.

Add the dark shadow on the edge of the pear.  Add the bright colour in  the center.  Blend carefully following the contour of the pear.  Add the reflections of light on the pear.

Use the shadow colour of the pear to paint the stem.  Add a highlight and the shadow cast by the pear.

Finishing up

final painting folds in fabric

Review your work against your reference photo or shadow box scene.  Make any necessary adjustments.


About Nolan Clark

Read more about Nolan Clark

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