Virgil Elliotts painting below demonstrates his mastery of the silk satin technique

5. Diaphanous - Remember Virgil Elliott: said 'The key is to understand that light on diaphanous cloth renders it more opaque, and thereby obscures more of what is underneath, while in shadows it is more transparent, allowing more of what is under it or behind it to show through. The diaphanous textures can also be done this way as well, by painting the cloth and what shows through it at the same time.

Virgil's method - 'To simplify the painting of diaphanous cloth, let's ignore the refining touches wherein long paint is lightly dragged across a tacky passage, and just deal with painting it all in one step, wet-into-wet first. This gives excellent results as long as the eye does not miss anything. The procedure itself is the utmost in simplicity, as it is only a matter of putting the right color in the right place, just as it appears. It is usually best to apply the darks first, then the middle values, then the lights, working wet- into-wet and ignoring the smaller details until the larger shapes of the three main value masses are blocked in in a general (rather than too specific) manner, and working them together where they meet, then working back into each and introducing the more subtle variations of value and color, including what is seen through the cloth as well as the light which falls on the cloth itself. All of this should be done in a single sitting, while the paint is wet. This includes also having wet paint at and beyond the edges, so the degree of softness and sharpness of the edges can contribute to the textural effect as well as indicate varying degrees of focus. The effectiveness of this method depends on accurate observation more than anything else. In other words, it's the eye that makes it work. After it is dry, it is also fairly simple to add to it by painting over parts of it with a light grey or color mixed with white, very thinly, so that the paint is less than opaque, and more or less translucent. A transparent medium can be added to this paint to reduce its opacity somewhat while maintaining a controllable viscosity. It should be more opaque where the light hits the cloth most strongly, with the shadow areas allowing more of what is underneath the cloth to show through.'

Lesson list

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