• MimiElisa

Painted white ball gown

It's no longer white! Along with a couple of other painter friends, we painted it.

Summer was just beginning, and it was one of the first days England allowed us to be outside. So we set up the acrylics, a notepad and coloured pencils on the outside table, and got to work designing, planning and experimenting with colours.

For the designs on paper, we used pencil to sketch out the dress, and then watercolour. Watercolour runs freely, and I wanted a sort of 'gradient', smoothly blended affect, so watercolour was easily the best option for this.

Then for the real thing- watered down acryllic. Watercolour sinks easily into paper because it's so thin, but for fabric it is too weak to sustain enough pigmentation. On the other hand, acryllic with some water added, allowed us to blend easily and create the same softness, but with a little more strength.


I think it was just two days later when I wore it, and we took it out to the woods. That day the way the sunlight was filtering through the trees was truly resplendent, and I would never hesitate to say that it felt like I'd fallen into a magic- infused forest.

I was just ready to see fairies tilting their heads into circles of light, from behind trees; or come across some talking animals, or a mythical creature or two. The spring bluebells had only just begun to stoop and fade, and there were pools of lilac petals ocassionaly on the ground, where an enitre bush or tree of flowers were losing all their colour.

I had wanted to use it for my art exam, but exams were cancelled and it never got used. So it turned out to be a project I could just relax and enjoy, without the stress of exam related creation.

It also meant the choice in design was completely free. To just try and 'make it look pretty' in a day, (still with drawings and looking at inspiration moodbarods of course; but without weeks of buildup or any restrictions which would be placed in following the theme and question of the exam) felt a lot lighter, and liberating.

We began with the skirt- and painted the bottom with a pink gradient which faded as it went up; and the top with some blended streaks of blue and purple. Of everything we painted, I think the pink gradient at the bottom is my favourite. We painted the underskirt with a bold, solid pink at the bottom, and then only added a subtle wash, of watered down pink, on the tulle on top.

For the bodice...we trailed some blue and purple from the waist lightly up; then gave the waistband a purple gradient. The waistband covered most of the colour we had added to the beginning of the bodice, but that didn't matter too much.

On the neckline, we aimed for a golden/burnt yellow/muted orange colour. I wasn't totally in love with this decision, but I like the way it lifts the face, and provides a bit of interest and change after the slightly predictable pink and purple. Finally, we painted the drops of lace on the shoulders with some purple gradient, always making sure it was soft, fluid and delicate.

None of the colours were very strong in this dress, but the softness is what I had wanted; it's what achieves that dusky, whimsical feel.

It left me wanting to paint more dresses. There are so many possibilities, which in general is something I adore about creating, and painting. I think I'm going to be on the lookout for old dresses just in case.

I think what I loved most about this project though, was the escape from the grey old world. When I wore that dress and stepped out into the woods- with the moss and the falling petals, and the dark, filtered sun- reality sort of slipped away, and I felt like a princess of the woods, or a queen, or a fairy. Totally at home, totally at peace with nature, and any magical creature that happened to fall across my path.

Mimi x

Photos by Ruth- @Photog_Ruthie


Recent Posts

See All