Woman in patterned top, with child



I’ve referred in the title of this post to the patterned top the woman’s wearing. That top took me a long time to do, much longer than I’d thought it would.  First I couldn’t decide on the colours, then thought I’d picked out the centres in a different colour than I ended up choosing and found I had missed some. Then realised that parts had outlines I hadn’t, at first, spotted. Eventually, I told myself “you’ve got to buckle down, Val, and put on the grid!” Urgh. The Grid. It superimposes a grid of sub-divided squares onto the image and I use it sparingly because it’s too much like the sort of discipline my dad would have approved of but which my wayward/free spirit, doesn’t care for… But I did it. And I suspect I have still missed bits here and there…

Because… well… I’m human. Yep, there I said it!

Click the image a couple of times to see both photos larger. It’ll open in a separate tab or window.

I don’t know the date of this photo. The child’s dress is Broderie Anglais, again, I think (but again, might be some form of crochet.)  The woman’s top (blouse? Tunic?) could be anything from the 1930s to the 1960s. I  don’t know if the woman is the child’s mother or grandmother – her hands look too old for her to be the mother, possibly an aunt. Her skirt’s fabric is reminiscent of a type of lining material. I’m sure it has a name (the lining material and the actual material of this skirt) but I can’t recall it.

And where is it from?  I bought it from a British seller (on Ebay, I think) but of course it might have come from anywhere. To me, the woman’s hairstyle looks Germanic or Scandinavian.

I chose the hair, skin and pattern colours based on how light the hair was, and what details I was able to bring out. The green for an older look, the turquoisey-blue for a later look, blonde or light brown hair for that more Scandinavian look.

My collection of photos and my colourings have a way of giving me a chance to time-travel, so why not have the option of going back a little way, or back even further?

What looks like something knitted that the woman’s partly sitting on is probably the child’s cardigan and maybe should be in a different colour, but I didn’t want it to distract the attention away from the main subjects. This is the thing of colouring people in unknown situations – one can choose colour to give or avoid giving a particular effect… but that’s not the way to do it if trying to achieve a proximity to reality in family photos where a sense of connection and familiarity is more important.

I’ve done this one darker than the one in my previous post. My choices in this one had to do partly with the quality of the photo and partly with it being a studio photo. Light indoors and outdoors has different qualities.

I like this photo –  particularly the way the woman is just barely concealing a smile (that could probably turn into a laugh at any moment) and the way the child has been surprised by something – probably the intensity of the studio light, or maybe someone to the side of the room, out of our view.

The woman’s hands are loose, showing she is fairly relaxed, and the child is in an “oh my!” position.

51 thoughts on “Woman in patterned top, with child

  1. It’s amazing how colorizing the image sharpens it and gives it definition. Might the material you are trying to think of be poplin? It has a light sheen and it was used often in women’s clothing. Looking at the “skirt” material and the way it’s draped, particularly at the left side, it looks to me like a separate piece of material that has been draped over her lap for the child to sit on, either to hide whatever is underneath — possibly her entire dress is made from that top material, or else for modesty sake to hide her lower legs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mmm, it’s possible it’s poplin.
      Her skirt does look strange but I’m not sure it’s separate fabric rather than a skirt. The child is sitting on the lower part of her top – which looks to me like a tunic (very long blouse or shirt type thing) with a wide hem in a different colour. The part on the left nearly behind her is the same.


  2. This is one of my favorites of yours so far. Their expressions are so relaxed and cheerful. You must be right about the girl’s attention being on someone else in the room, since she’s looking in a different direction. I wonder if the pose with her hands was spontaneous, or suggested by the photographer as a way to keep her from fidgeting? She wouldn’t be able to hold it for very long.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That hadn’t occurred to me that it’s a pose suggested by the photographer. I suspect not, though, because it seems to me that the woman is trying to keep from smiling at the child’s reaction. Thanks, Brad.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. From looking at the photo I get the sense that something funny was going on out of view. I can’t help but to think that the woman is on the verge of bursting with laughter. Great job on the woman’s blouse. It looks like it was time consuming.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s a lovely photo (as well as a great job of colouring!). Looking at the expressions on both sitters, I wonder whether someone behind the camera has done something to distract the child, who might have been rather reluctant to pose and is looking suspiciously like she is mid-tantrum, and hence the smile on the older sitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s strange, the woman alone looks like she’s out of an arts and crafts scenario, but the child’s outfit looks much more modern. Is the card back plain? Great end result though I struggle to see how “the grid” would help!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m pretty sure the back was plain, but I’d have to check and I badly need to re-sort these photos/cards… (which is another way of saying, I’m not sure where I put it!)

      The child’s dress is fairly timeless probably because it’s (most likely) Broderie Anglais, which was a cotton fabric that has been used for a long, long time.

      I use the grid when there is so much detail in one part that I can’t see the wood for the trees… Then I can focus on what’s inside each square rather than getting distracted by areas round it! I’m used to using it on photos with a lot of people and a lot of pattern, but only occasionally resort to it on seemingly-simpler ones. Here, have a look at two of the more complex ones I used it on:




  6. Wow, I can see how much time and effort you’ve put into this. The colouring is lovely and so precise, even down to the contrasting stitching on the dress! Beautiful. It is a very charming image too, and I imagine that the little girl was hiding her face and had to be coaxed to move her hands away! At least, that’s the story in my head…!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Like everyone else, I love the expressions on their faces: contained humor in the woman, and impishness in the child. You did a fabulous job on the tunic. It looks to me as though both tunic and skirt are of the same fabric. I wonder if it might be silk crêpe de chine? It has much the same drape, and just a little lustre, which really comes out with the coloring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suspect it is some kind of silk fabric, but not sure if it’s crêpe as, when zoomed in, it doesn’t have that texture. Maybe a different kind of silk? Glad you like this! Thanks, Linda.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the analysis that comes with your artwork. You did indeed a very good job with this photo. Before I even read your post I thought about the time it must have taken you to do all the details in the blouse. I have a vintage blouse that looks like this one (exactly the same hues) and it’s from the 30s. The skirt’s fabric looks to me as raw silk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My mother always used to say to me, apropos my artwork (at the time, ink and watercolour drawings) “I don’t know how you have the patience”… not realising she had lots in what she did, and I’m sure you do in other things that you do, too. Glad you like this. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You mentioned the woman’s hands look “old”. I can remember a toddler trying to pick up the large blue veins on top of my mum’s hands. At the time my mum was in her early 30s, but without so many time- and labour-saving devices, she probably worked a lot harder keeping up with the house than we do today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was always doing that with my own mother’s hands, I couldn’t believe that the wrinkles and blue veins wouldn’t suddenly somehow detach! (Now I have them myself…) Yes, people did work much harder in those days.


    1. Thanks. I wish the families could see these photos but they are ones I’ve bought from places such as Etsy and Ebay and I’ve no clue who they are, apart from a few that have a first name on the back (which is rare). I do colour for other people but don’t have any of their photos on this blog.

      Liked by 1 person

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