Tag Archives: vintage costume

Some victims of ‘fancy dress’

As I’m on holidays for another couple of weeks, and I was doing some art in the garden with the kids this afternoon, I kept going and made a few tiny images for the start of this year’s 52 Week Illustration Challenge on Facebook.

Week 1 is Fancy Dress.

I went naturally to my cabinet card portrait collection where there are plenty of people in both fancy dresses and in ‘fancy dress’ in the sense of costume.  There I saw lots of kids who had been hauled, strapped, tied or stuffed into their best clothes for portraits; many of them looking dubious about the whole experience. So I thought I’d borrow their misery for a few little ink and wash drawings.

W1 fancy dress unwilling suit boy judywatsonart lores

A little boy in fancy dress, from a cabinet card portrait. It was hard to say if he was in his best clothes or in costume. The clothes are somewhat smart but also very oversized, especially the hat!

W1 fancy dress unwilling girl judywatsonart lores

A little girl who would rather be playing with her dog in the garden

W1 fancy dress - scottish judywatsonart lores

A little Scottish lad in fancy dress looking very miserable

Cabinet Card Faces that tell a story

Young actress wearing a hat

Young actress wearing a hat – This was my warm up sketch. Fast and loose.

Waiting for the kids while they are in their drama class on Wednesday afternoons, I am in the lap of luxury for an hour in a big leisure centre. There is a huge room with large tables, very few people and a nearby change room with fresh water for painting. This week I took my altered book sketching back-pack (have ink, can travel) and did some sketches there.

When I want to launch into something without thinking too much or wasting limited time finding a subject, I sometimes like to look at vintage cabinet cards, featuring studio portrait photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries. The faces are intriguing, the costumes often more interesting than today’s garb and usually the poses are wonderfully contrived. They are in black and white so the tonal values and detail are usually good for my purposes.

gentle faced woman

Italian ballet dancer with smiling eyes.

Italian ballet dancer with smiling eyes. This one was done after I got home and she has a touch of collage. I cut the face first, loosely without drawing an outline, to avoid getting caught up in detail.. 

This woman looked like she was having a ball being photographed. She had a confident pose, uplifted chin and laughing italian eyes with Audrey Hepburn style eye make-up and brows.

sad-eyed woman

There was something rather sad about this woman’s eyes that touched me. My sketch looks very little like the original woman, but it has retained the inward gaze. Although it’s not a particularly good picture, I find that I like her in a personal way, so she’s going up.