Painting a Squash

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?

27 Responses to “Painting a Squash”

  1. Carol Sloan says:

    Hi Judy
    Great painting! I do love how you take it step by step and explain what you have done. What exactly are you using or what do you mean by “glazing” your color ? Do you actually use a glaze or is that what you call the process itself?
    And as far as the color workshop goes..yes, yes, and yes! As an “self-trained” artist, that kind of workshop would be invaluable in every aspect of what I do…quilting, fiber art, paper art, stained glass…you name it I could use that information. Ideally, it would have been great to learn when I first began this journey. Ok, so I am going to the Atlanta classes , will you be interjecting color therory in those classes?

  2. thanks carol,

    Glazing is the process of building up color by using transparent layers of paint. I add water or clear medium to the paint on the palette to thin the paint to a light wash. This allows more control over the color so it does not get too dark or too bright too fast.

    In the tsukineko ink class, I can certainly discuss some color theory. The inks are transparent so as the colors are blended and built up the color laid down first will greatly affect the color that goes on top.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Hi Judy
    Three thank you’s: thank you for posting your supply list for the DVD–I’ve now officially ordered it, thank you for the inspiring post about your ‘blogiversary’ and Happy Blogiversary (yes, I did read through to the end)! and finally, thank you for sharing in such fine detail the process of painting your beautiful squash. YES to the colorshop for all the reasons Carol has already shared. I am going to print your post on this as a resource. Perhaps a book/DVD proposal is next for you. I would love to see you do it.
    Thank you again for the supply list.

  4. luanne says:

    judy, this squash painting is so lovely, will you be quilting it too? if so, please share!

    thank you for showing these painting steps, it really helps; also your blow dryer tip is great.

    i’d love to see you do a color theory class (or dvd, or both!)–the difference the violet glaze made illustrates how much impact the right color can have. i once took a botanical drawing class, and it was clear that some of the more advanced colored pencil artists understood this aspect of using color way better than i did.

    this is all such helpful info & you’re very generous to share these lessons here.

    thanks again, luanne

  5. Cindy says:

    Hi Judy,

    Colour is one of those things that I know I love & that, given time, I can figure out but it just never seems to come naturally – at least to the front of my thoughts. For me it just seems to happen but I wish I could explain why.

    But I wouldn’t have thought to have used violet. Yes, doing a colour class is always a good idea. Knowing those sorts of things would be extremely useful. And I woudl say that even the most talented & artistic person could probably still do with a refresher course in colour. I think if you offered it you would find people would take the class.

    I love your painting, it is so inspiring & thank you for details as it gives me different things to try. I just wish I had a bit more time at the moment! After everyone graduates & my parents leave, I’m painting!

  6. Helen Cowans says:

    Love the end result of the painting 🙂

  7. JJO says:

    Love your work. Can’t wait to download your segment on the Quilting Arts Workshops. I think a color workshop would be great providing it wasn’t too technical. You blogs are so great with instruction.

  8. I can’t wait to take your class!

  9. I agree with Cindy, never would have thought of using the violet over the brown, or anywhere near the brown for that matter *smile*. Yes, a color class would be a good idea. But…how about an online class? I would be happy to pay for help to get my painting rut into a groove. Does that make sense?

  10. Cindy says:

    I have another question, after looking at my paints (I couldn’t wait! :)) How do you tell if a paint is transparent? Or are you making it transparent by adding the medium to it?

    I have pre-ordered your DVD & am anxiously awaiting it! I also like the idea of a colour class on-line if possible. It is difficult for me to get to classes with my travel schedule.

  11. Cheryl says:

    Love this walk-through… Can you list what kinds of paints (brands) you used?

  12. Hi Cindy,

    Generally textile paints come in three different types. I will use Jaquard as an example, they make paints they call Textile color: these are the ones with a transparent base, Neopaque: have an opaque base, and Lumiere: the metallics have a somewhat transparent base.

    To make the paints have less coverage for a technique like glazing, you can use a product Jaquard makes called Colorless Extender, this is basically the textile medium without the pigment added. So if you add a little paint to the extender you would have a very transparent paint, like a watercolor. This is probably the best method for glazing since it retains the viscosity of the paint and will not bleed on fabric the way adding a lot of water will.

    An online class is an interesting I idea I will have to do some research and figure out how that would work.

  13. Cheryl,

    I used Jaquard textile color paint in brown, violet and white and Stewart Gill Student grade textile paint green and yellow.

    I really like the Stewart Gill paints for their pure pigments. The Student grade paints are much more economical than the other lines of paint they sell in the little jars, but I don’t think student grade is an appropriate name for these paints. They are closer to glazes than solid paint. I would not recommend these for a beginner/student, I could see people getting very frustrated using them in an illustrative way without more painting experience. My sister had a hard time working with them and had a lot more success when she switched to the Jaquard paint.

  14. If you do do an online class, maybe you could do it thru blogger and each of your students could have access??

    Also, maybe ‘taylor’ some of the ‘assingments’ to help one of us, yet we all get to see the lesson?? Kind of like you would in a classroom.

    I wouldn’t mind paying to be a beta-tester student. Maybe start with 5, or less, of us to get a feel for it, to see if it works at all.

    I know Quilt University is a great source of learning, but I don’t know how involved/experienced/accredited you have to be to teach a class ‘there’, [since it’s online, there isn’t really a ‘there’ is there???? *smile*] I sure wouldn’t want to step on any copyright toes!

  15. Mai-Britt says:

    Just wonderful – more please! A DVD on colour would be useful to us that are on the other side of the planet.

    I can understand why you are so popular with Quilting Arts Magazine and Cloth.Paper.Scissors readers (myself included).

    Thanks for sharing your techniques.

  16. SewAmy says:

    Hi Judy, stopping by to read your blog. I love your work.


  17. Vicky,
    the private blogger class might be a really good way to do it. The ability to upload video in blogger would be really good for painting demos. I have begun putting together a color workshop, so that has kept me very busy the last several days. Every day I think of something else to add. When I get some time I will investigate how to create an online class some more.

  18. Way cool! Since many of us have cameras with movie tech also, we could even take shots of ourselves so you could see how we are doing something, in case we are not quite getting it. You are writing down all the ideas, aren’t you?? *VBG*

  19. Waterrose says:

    Great post and it’s so much fun to see and read how you create your lovely work!

  20. Carol Sloan says:

    Hi Judy
    How would the private blogger class work? I’m new to all the “blogger” technology…

  21. Carol,

    when you get a blogger account you can choose to make your blog private or public. the private blog would be a blog that only a select group of people who are signed up have access to and can view it.

    I am not really sure, at the moment what would be the best way to do an online class. I am going to do more research to find out what I think will work best.

  22. Carol Sloan says:

    Oh, ok , I remember seeing that option when I made mine. You could definitely count me in for that.
    Great idea Vicki!

  23. Thank You Carol!

    Judy, if people are going to reimburse you for your teaching, I would go private with the blog.

    Don’t forget, the first class with be a ‘test run’, so you will learn from us as well!

  24. Carol Sloan says:

    Let me ask you a question not specific to this posting. I was working on the paper quilt that I posted a pic of, and had drawn out my quilting design on regular tracing paper. I tried the design on a random quilt sandwich (to make sure it was a “do-able” design).I had a lot of problems with the stitches pulling up or out when I removed the tracing paper. I tried a small design with some paper specically made for sewing a quilting design and another with the kimwipes. The kimwipes did the best but I still had a small amount of pulling on the stitches. How did you do yours/did you have the same problem? I took pics so that I could post a “hey, look …you really don’t want to do this” posting…if you have a second to help, I’d sure apprecite it.

  25. Carol,

    I think my machine does a pretty tight stitch to begin with. The smaller the stitches, the more it is going to perforate the paper making it tear easier. There is a lighter weight tracing paper that comes on a roll, architects use it, and it will tear easier, also I am sure you realize now you to have to pull the paper away gently. Your thread tension may be a little loose as well, try tightening it and see if that helps.

  26. Claudia says:

    Judy, if you ever give a painting workshop – I’m SO there. I LOVE your work – and saw your quilts at the Denver Show a couple of weeks ago. Magazine photos just don’t do them any justice, I was completely in awe.

  27. Hi Claudia, thanks.

    I have put together a workshop for painting, now it is just a matter of getting booked some where near you, lol. But in the mean time the next closest thing to taking a workshop will be to get the Quilting Arts workshop DVD I made on painting fabric for whole cloth quilts. It is one hour long and covers some of the basic techniques I use when painting. The DVD has not been released yet (maybe in June?), I will post about it on the blog when it becomes available.

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