Starting with a line drawing from my sketchbook, I traced an image of a squash plant onto a high thread count cotton pfd (prepared for dying) fabric, then used a transparent base textile paint to bring it to life..
After painting the leaves, I started on the squash painting it a warm golden yellow. Then I built up the shading using transparent glazes. At first I used water mixed with the paint to make it thinner and more transparent, but had a bit of bleeding, because the fabric got too wet.
I quickly grabbed a blow dryer to dry the area before it bled too much and then switched to using a clear textile medium mixed with the paint.
A textile medium, like Jacquards Colorless Extender or Pebeo’s Lightening Medium will make the color more transparent, while keeping the viscosity the same, so that it will not bleed when working directly on unpainted fabric.
A blow dryer can be a great tool to have on hand when you are painting. When you are glazing paint you want to build up the color gradually, the paint needs to dry between layers. This is really important if you are glazing several colors on the same area, if the layers are not dry the colors will mix and get muddy and you will not have depth.
Next I painted the dark green on the squash and glazed a darker shade of green at the top and bottom to increase the illusion of it being dimensional.
The blossom is painted in golden yellow with a tiny bit of red to deepen the color.
I painted the background with brown textile paint straight from the jar.
I liked this initially, but after a couple days when I came back to look at it, the splotchiness bothered me, and I felt like the flower didn’t have enough depth or range in value, it looked a little flat.
I think it’s always good to set work aside and come back to look at it with a fresh eye a day or so later. You’ll often see things that were not apparent before. Another trick is to turn the painting upside down or look at it in the mirror. This helps tremendously with composition.
Using violet paint mixed with textile medium, I glazed light washes on the flower in the center and in the shadows where the petals curl to give it more depth. Then I glazed light washes of deeper green on areas of the leaves, and in a few places on the stem, where there needed to be more depth of field, and definition.
I still felt the painting was a little flat, so I painted over the whole brown back ground with glazes of violet. This evened out the splotchiness and warmed it up to an aubergine tinted brown. Because purple is the compliment of yellow, tinting the brown with violet created more contrast making it pop and come forward from the background. Now you can see the final deeper brown background has color and value contrast with the imagery giving the overall painting an added richness.
As I have thought about teaching painting workshops, it has brought to mind how useful a class in color theory could be for people who are interested in learning more about the role of color in their work. It would really help in learning to mix color for painting and to understand what happens to one color when you put another color next to it. I am wondering if it would be worthwhile to create a workshop for this that could coincide with fabric painting, any thoughts? It would need to be 6 hours to cover the basics of color theory, would this be something you would consider taking the day before a painting workshop?