Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fabric Painting Tutorial

My friend, Emily, from The Floss Box  has encouraged me to do a little tutorial on painting the fabric backgrounds for my textile art.  So, I decided to put a little something together to show you how I did it.  It's really very easy.  All you need is a piece of fabric, some acrylic paint and brushes, water, and a stencil or template.  For this piece, I wanted to recreate the feeling of the creekbank covered in soft green ferns bathed in dappled sunlight.  So, I literally went out and picked a couple of fern fronds to use as a template.

The first step is to dampen the fabric.  I did this by brushing on water with a paintbrush.  This will allow the paint to flow smoothly and evenly onto the fabric.

Next, make a thin wash by mixing the acrylic paint with water. The more water you add, the lighter the wash will be. 
Now it's time to brush on your base coat of color.  Remember, it's always easy to go back and add another wash if you want more color.  Just allow it to dry for an hour or so between coats.  You can, of course, speed the drying time by putting it in front of a fan.

The edges of the fabric want to curl, and sometimes the fabric will pucker a bit, but don't let that bother you.  I just weight the edges with some handy dandy rocks and keep going. The paint/water mixture will also want to puddle up in places which doesn't bother me either, as I am going for a very natural, organic look.  The imperfections give it more character.
When you get the background color you want, let it dry completely.  You want the fabric to dry so that when you start stenciling, you will get crisp, clear lines.  If it is wet, the paint will run and you will get blurry, undefined shapes and lines. 
I wanted my next layer of color to be a shade darker, so I added a touch of black to my green paint - just a touch!  Now I am ready to begin laying my stencil or template and begin adding another layer of color - still very thin and watery. 

Now we are ready to lay our stencil and begin painting around it.  The brush shouldn't be dripping wet or it will run underneath the edges of the stencil.  Press the brush against the edge of your container to get most of the watery paint mixture out and if necessary, blot it on some paper towels.  Here we go....          
Pounce your brush around the edges of your stencil.  You may have to hold the stencil down with your finger as you go around it.  I still have green paint under my nails. Now lift up your stencil, and voila!                                                              
See?  Isn't it pretty?  And easy peasy.  Now, just continue doing this until the whole piece is covered.  Change the angle as you go to give it more interest.  Allow each layer to dry before adding another layer on top, so that your images stay crisp.    
Here is the finished piece after 2 layers of stenciling.  Don't be afraid to overlap the stenciling.  It adds depth and creates a richer, more layered look.  I had a lot of leftover paint/water mix, so I added a tiny bit more black to make a nice dark green and just flicked the wet brush with my finger to create the speckled effect.  Then, with a nicely wet brush, I went a little Jackson Pollack and whipped the brush across it a few times to make those nice streaky effects.  I am really happy with the result.  I think it looks a little bit like fern fossils.  It is not a painting of ferns, but rather the soft suggestion of them.  Now I just have to figure out what to put in the foreground.  Why not try one of your own?  I'd love to see what you come up with.  You might teach me a thing or two.  Have fun!                                                                                                   


Emily said...

Thanks for showing your method! It looks like fun.

Suztats said...

Starr, you've created a very nice background on your fabric. I like to do fern paintings with watercolour.
I love to depict or use bits of nature in my paintings.
Keep going.

Starr White said...

You're welcome, Emily! Thank you for encouraging me to do a toot!

Starr White said...

Hi, Suz! Yes, I can tell from your lovely blog that you are a nature lover too. Thanks for stopping by to visit, and thanks for the encouragement. It's very much appreciated :)

Webmaster... said...

I think the picture of your sunfish would look good as the foreground!!!The colors would be a cool addition.