Monday, October 31, 2011

The Religious Sister - The Habit

Despite saying, in my last post, that I was finished with the face, I spent a whole session reworking it. And, I'm not sure that it's actually much different to what it was!

Anyway, now to the background. At the moment, I am applying the first layer of brown to the nun's habit. Even if the shade of brown is a good match, I will apply layers of different colours so that the fabric doesn't look flat. I will apply some red to warm the tones and, also, some pinks and oranges in the lighter areas. Because the nun is in shadow, there are no distinct highlights in her clothing. I find this to be a problem. A lack of contrast will make it harder for me to achieve a realistic effect, so I will supplement my reference photo with other photos of similar clothing.

This nun belongs to the order of the Brigidines. In the 1960s, when this photo was taken, the nuns of this order wore a full habit but, these days, they wear civilian dress and they no longer live in a convent. The photo shows the sister in her early 20s. She is, now, aged 80 and soon to celebrate her 60th anniversary as a nun.

Because they no longer wear a habit, I was unable to find another suitable photo of a Brigidine nun to use as a reference. The following photo does, however, show a similar habit on nuns of a different order, and, as such, it will be very helpful in determining my colours. For example, I can see from this picture that the brown cloth has pink, rather than yellow, highlights. This reference will, also, help me to achieve a more realistic look to the folds than would be possible by guesswork.


  1. The face looks great, Vicky! Good luck on the habit (though I see that you already researched this). I think your customer will be very pleased with this portrait :)

  2. Thank you. Mary. I feel a bit limited with this one because of the photo, though I has been an interesting challenge to see how much I can improve on it.

    I appreciate your encouragement, Mary:)


Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate your comments and feedback. Vicky