I’ve recently become interested in doing something different with fabric painting – so trying a few textile experiments. I want to get away from the old school style of silk painting – which consists of a gutta resist outline, usually in gold, with the shapes painted in and maybe a bit of salt sprinkled around the background to give a bit of interest. I got tired of doing that kind of thing quite a while back – it’s a bit too much like colour by numbers – although it’s a good place to start from when you are first learning. I want to meld my techniques together a bit more and push myself to do something different, inspired by things which aren’t necessarily “textiley”. So I’ve been looking at lots of different things like watercolour techniques, mosaics, pen and ink with colourwash and lots of work by different illustrators. Sometimes the effects that can be achieved on paper can then get lost once they are translated over to textiles which is a real shame – very fine lines of pen and ink drawing for example. I’m not drawn to using paper and embroidering on it – I don’t know why but it just doesn’t appeal to me. I want to stick with fabric and overcome some of the challenges of using it and still getting some of the effects possible with paper, pen and pencil.
Silk Painting Experiments
I’ve been a bit frustrated with my silk painting in the past and found some of the so called “fabric” paints or pens a bit lacking in colour and intensity not to mention the minimal colour ranges available in some products. I don’t want to go down the route of steaming my silk and using dyes at the moment (although I might do later on) – I know hardcore silk painters will throw their hands up in horror at this but it’s just not something I want to do right now. So after quite a few experiments with techniques and different media, some successful and some not so, I’ve decided to use a mix of acrylic inks, acrylic paint, and various pens, and markers to use with them. It’s led me to question the whole thing about silk painting and being restricted to just painting on silk – I do love the sheen and the feel of it but what I’m trying to achieve now is not necessarily “a silk painting” but rather a piece of textile art which uses whatever it needs to, to get the effect I want and to say what I want it to say. I still have an eye on the future so I’m still trying to make sure that the materials I use are good quality and light fast and won’t drop off, fade or wash out. I’m going to be pushing myself with stitching too – trying out new hand stitches, experiments with sequins and beads and creating new elements of digitized embroidery to blend in with the other media. I don’t really want any one technique or medium to dominate. And neither do I want a technique or medium to carry others. I used to feel a bit like that with my silk painting – that it wasn’t strong enough so I covered it with embroidery because embroidery to me seems “stronger” – but now I’m trying to achieve all I can with each technique and each medium so they all have something special to add to the piece.
So that’s the material side of things – what about the spiritual? I want to marry the physical beauty of the natural world that inspires me so much with the dream like experiences found through doing shamanic journeying. In shamanic journeying one is given symbols and stories and a way of looking at the world which is not literal and obvious but challenges the way we are attached to what we call “reality”. I want to explore that in my work too so that it’s not all about doing naturalistic flowers and birds, no matter how lovely they are. I’ve felt the need to do this for a while but it seems a rather daunting challenge. So I’m currently exercising my drawing skills so that I can render more effectively what the inner and outer eyes see.
Grand plans eh?!
So, I’ve made a start with these little textile experiments, I’ve dusted off my equipment, bought new materials, got my old PC running again with my embroidery software (which I would very much like to upgrade soon so I can get rid of the PC) and now I’m going to settle down to the business of pulling together lots of images and ideas through things I’ve experienced in the everyday physical world and in the world of Spirit; the shamanic dream reality. See the photos for a few of the bits and pieces I’ve been working on – I’ve chosen what I think are the most interesting to show you and I’ll probably be posting a lot more as I go on when I start doing digitizing again (as long as my eyes can take it) and doing some larger work.