Blazer Color Sketch

Back in the 1990s, when I was a younger man, I had a couple of coats that I wore that I had made paintings on. A long duster and a short denim jacket. Then time went by, the coats wore out, and for the last fifteen years or so I only wore plain coats. That was until last fall when I bought a new duster and painted it.

I’ve enjoyed wearing that painted duster this winter. I wear it mostly when I commute and it keeps me warm as I walk down to 14th Street on cold Manhattan mornings. I’ve enjoyed it so much that it inspired me to paint a new Spring coat too.

I still have my two old denim painted coats in a closet. At first I thought about pulling one of them out and repainting the coat. I would add new stuff to it. But I’m not as fond of denim jackets as I used to be so I decided to poke around online and see what else is out there. That’s how I ended up finding out that there is such a thing as a denim blazer.

I like suit coats, blazers, and sport coats. They have been what I’ve been wearing for the last 20 years. But they are very hard to paint on. About 15-20 years ago ( I painted more on it every year for a while) I painted on a zootsuit that I would wear to the Halloween parade in NYC. That suit fabric was not easy to paint on. I didn’t want to go through that again. That’s why I was happy to see a denim blazer. Denim is easier to paint on than whatever sport coats are usually made out of.

I ordered the coat and as I was waiting for it to arrive decided to work on a drawing for it. I had the photos of the coat, front and back, to use to set the proportions of the drawing. I went through my archive of scans of my thousands of drawings from over the years and used various drawings to make a composition for my jacket painting. That archive makes my life a lot easier when I’m working on something like this.

Then the coat came and guess what? The proportions of my drawing were off. The proportions of the actual coat were wider than the photo of it that I was using. So I went back to my archive, picked more images to work with, and redrew the composition. I went from four main figures/faces in the drawing to eight. It was a big change but I think I made it look even better. I had also done a digital color sketch for the painting so that had to be reworked too.

I already had a lot of fabric paint left over from the coat I painted at the beginning of the winter but I quickly noticed that I was running out of opaque white. I use that white as a ground so it goes quickly. The denim of the coat is black so anywhere that I’m going to paint has to have an opaque white coat of paint applied first. This meant the whole back of the coat as well as some smaller parts on the front. I quickly ordered some more opaque white.

The coat took a long time to paint. Day One: I worked on the drawing and color sketch. Day Two: I reworked the drawing and color sketch and primed the back of the coat with white. Day Three: I transferred the drawing to the back of the coat and painted the drawing in black line. Day Four: I painted on the base color of the painting. Days Five through Seven: I worked on finished the painting on the back of the coat. Day Eight: I painted small stuff on the front of the coat. Each of these days was at least eight hours of work. A couple of them were ten hours because I want to keep going and get it done. It’s a lot of work to paint on fabric that isn’t stretched and taut.

Blazer Drawing

I still have some more to go on this coat. There are just a couple of simple things I want to do on the front of it that I haven’t gotten done yet. Just a couple of blue stripes and maybe a small face on the top front pocket. I already painted art wasps on the two bottom pockets.

I also want to paint a couple of figures on the sleeves but that might take some doing. I have the drawings picked out but I have yet to do color sketches for them. Plus I have to figure out exactly where they are going on the sleeves. I’ve done such sleeve painting on my old denim jackets and they are in the tradition of pin-up tattoos on a sailor’s arm. I’ll get to that eventually but I might need a break first. It has been a lot of work to paint the back of the jacket. The painting is around 16×28 inches.

The main reason I painted the long coat earlier this winter was because I got tired of wearing a boring coat all winter. I just couldn’t take it any more. With my interesting coat people even occasionally talk to me about it on my commute. I find that nice.

On the warmer days of the winter when I wore a boring short coat I began to feel a little disappointed that I didn’t have any cool paintings on my coat. I’d look down at my coat and sigh. This new coat won’t even replace that boring short coat because, as a blazer, it’s really a coat for mild days. I think I’m going to have to plan to do something with that short winter coat for next year but I’m not sure what. It’s not denim or canvas like my duster. I’ll have to think about it.