Finbarr was the recipient of a gorgeous portrait painting in watercolor at the beginning of 2014. He loved it so much that he decided to contact me to commission his own painting. With a flair for the eclectic and a creative mind he approached me with the idea of painting a fashion illustration on book pages.
The big twist was that he wanted the painting to span 9 pages in a 3x3 page grid. The result is what you see below.
We started with Finbarr's vision for the painting. He shared a vision that was open to creative interpretation,
' ...my style is very much like the tweed with red page you did.... love that jacket and the pink pullover, but would love some lime green base polka dot with it too... pocket square / tie etc..... sunglasses on a non existant face and hat is also wonderful...'
We began with several pencil drawings. Finbarr decided on the composition he liked best and from there I presented some color thumbnails. Staying true to his original vision he chose the 2nd image. To be sure that we were thinking the same I painted a mini version of the 3x3 on a single page.
Bringing The Painting To Life
Upon approval I excitedly set off to paint the final image. The process is the same as all book page fashion paintings, perhaps a bit more tedious, starting with the india ink outlines. I search for the structural components that will hold the form of the final painting, laying in the black ink to draw out the figure.
Next I lay in the first washes of flat color to cover the largest shapes. At this point the painting is still a mixture of odd shapes juxtaposed together. Slowly I add darker shades to suggest a shadow and thin layers of white to hint at where the light may be falling.
As the layers of watercolor are drying I begin to mold the figure with darker shadows and brighter highlights. Before the figure is completely rendered I begin laying in the finer details- stripes, dots, textures. Moving from one area to the next to see the figure emerge as a whole. The final steps are to lay in the brightest highlights with white gouache and push the darkest shadows with new layers of black india ink.