Dressing for (Art) Success - Really!

What is it about a beret and black clothing that always "says" artist?

Even in cartoons for Pete's sake!

It took me a while to figure this one out but here's how it happened.

Even the fake artist like this can look "real" if he dresses the part - but I'll wager he doesn't know why.

I spend a LOT of time at my easel and don't get a lot of exercise...like how much of an effort is it to move my hand and eye all day? It isn't as if I work up a sweat painting.

Like a lot of the Old Masters, I live in a cold northern climate. If I wear a hat, it really keeps me warm.  I keep one in the studio. It has no brim because I don't want a shadow across my eyes. Hence I usually wear a  wool beret (and woolly sox) most mornings in the wintertime until the studio warms up.

Then there was the clothing problem. I used to just put on any old clothes that I didn't care much about if I spilled some paint.

HA! This was a short lived practice and here's why:

I'd work all day and sometimes I'd find it easy to get an accurate skin tone - sometimes not. I couldn't figure it out.

I eventually began to notice that if I wore a red shirt, for example, I would put too much green in the face in order to compensate.

A green shirt, would, of course reflect into the wet paint and wrongly tell my eye to add too much red paint.

You get the idea? Colored clothing will reflect on your canvas and will prevent you from seeing and painting colors accurately.

Now I wear neutral clothing - mostly black or dark brown.

I look "just like an artist" these days when I paint.

And then there's the WALL COLOR - it has to be something neutral too. White doesn't belong on a studio wall unless the art is totally "modern"(you can quote me on this.) Just look at the studio walls in the self-portraits of the Old Masters as they paint - the decor is pretty dull - just like their clothes.

See comments below.


Enzie at World Market Portraits said...

Darn it ~ I look awful in black!

Karin, this is a very interesting observation and now you got me thinking that maybe I need to invest in a dark smock. Does this phenomena intensify if you are standing right next to a window with lots of sunshine?

My Painting Studio said...

Alas, black isn't much of a positive fashion statement for me either.

Try for any dark "neutral" that does NOT have a color temperature (warm or cool) attached to it. Frankly, other than dark brown, I cannot think of any.

Light colors tend to reflect off of wet paint - dark colors don't.

Be grateful that in a warm climate the beret isn't necessary.

I hate to say it, but you're gonna have to toss that neon sweatshirt - it won't work in any lighting condition in your studio.

Bite the bullet, wear black or dark brown, and begin to see your colors more accurately.

And be mindful about what is behind your easel...it matters a lot too.

The Space Above the Couch said...

I didn't pay much attention to vermere's socks before, but from now on it will be the first thing I see in that painting. (-:

I don't have endless time in which to work while my children are still very young so I find doing a few moments of yoga in my pj's and going straight to the easel without changing saves time. Of course this is easier to do with casein and egg tempera than oil. The yoga also makes it easier to sit still once I get to the easel.