Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The wild world of passion.... in art.

Silk Scarf 44" x 44" Hand-Painted on 100% imported fine silk.
Silk painting must the most sensuous thing I have experienced - well next to chocolate, and of course sex... but it's been a few years since that...
The feel of silk almost like flesh as it glides through your fingers, wraps around your body. Because of its organic make-up silk adjusts to your body temperature instantly and warms you on cool days and wicks off the heat on hot ones.
Painting on silk is challenging primarily because the techniques required for several different layers of the work. The most often seen is simple Tie-dye (remember the hippie clothes of the 60s?) the fabric is knotted and tied and wrapped and then dipped into the dyes. Color combinations are created by setting the dye (If it is French dye either by steaming it or by chemicals, the new fabric paints don't require as much work but they leave the silk stiff and not natural feeling.) and then re tie-ing. Layers of color are added that way for patterns and variety.
Similar to that is the Shibori Silk method. Traditionally these complex colors are created by folding and wrapping the silk tightly against and around a bamboo pole or other prop and then painting the colors to give depth and variety of color and texture to the silk.
These are both time consuming and simplistic in many ways considering that there is no "painting" but a gifted silk painter can create incredibly rich textures and colors when they know their craft. and the garments created by a gifted dyer are in high demand.
I tend to work more in the French tradition of silk painting. In this way you use what is called a "resist" to block out the part of the fabric you wish to keep white (very similar to watercolor painting) and then layer colors. you can under dye then use the resist to have more complex colors and it is very much like working in watercolors or in acrylic paints where transparency allows you to create color and depth by layering.
The thing that makes my silk wearable art so different is that I paint Virginia Landscapes - paintings that become simply color when worn but also are recognizable paintings when hung. For me the challenge of course is I don't plan things out ahead. I let my instincts guide me. I have a somewhat photo-graphic memory so I paint what I see and recall in my head. That gives me the freedom to re-arrange the landscape to suit me. But in working for transparency and brightness of colors one has to be careful not to layer too much or like pastels or water colors one can end up with muddy colors. Once they are there the silk is ruined and you have to begin again.
My silk painting is a great joy to me, even more so when someone buys one of my scarves and tells me how incredibly beautiful they feel in them and how sensuous they are. Life is a feast.
Back to work!
Until next time
Create Beauty and fill the world with Love