Succulent Love

IMG_2047I have always loved succulents and cacti.

Years ago when I lived in Los Angeles, I had a pretty big collection, but I had to give them away when I moved across country. Now that I’m back in California and in a drought, I’ve given up my thirsty garden and have been accumulating succulents garden

I have always been amazed at the incredible variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

I don’t own this big gorgeous specimen. agave photoIt lives at a pottery studio in my neighborhood, but I have a little baby one, that will grow into a big one someday 🙂


Look at those incredible spines!agave photo detail

When I came back from Colorado, I was itching to paint, and it was the form of this beautiful plant that I was anxious to work with.

I began by putting color down on fabric with pale washes of acrylic ink. Soft green where the large agave would go, and soft blues and lavender for the background.agave1


butterfly chartThen I used gel medium to adhere printed images of bugs all over the background. I was thinking about bug charts when I did this. I also stamped plant images all over, to give more visual texture.

I began the process of defining the form of the agave from that big blob of green, by painting with white acrylic ink to lighten the outer edges of the leaves, and then used a grayed blue-violet mixed with colorless extender (making it lighter and more transparent than the full strength ink) to paint into the recessed shadows of the leaves. By painting the highlights and shadows on each leaf, I can define the edges of the separate leaves, going really dark as it comes up against the next leaf.agave2

Painting the white and grayed violet over the green also covers some of the bug and stamped images fairly opaquely, but that’s okay, because in the places where the images peak through, they become more interesting, your eye naturally seeks out the images, wanting to complete them. Of course they will become even more obscure when there’s quilting.

I wanted the spines to be a deep rich burgundy, so I used Golden brand High Flow Acrylic Ink Quinacridone Magenta, which is a clear and vibrant magenta with no white pigment in it (the FW’s have white in the magenta), and Alizarin Crimson which is a beautiful deep wine color. Also I use the FW brand white because it is much less expensive than Golden, and white is white, I sometimes use a lot of it when I paint too.
painting spines I use both FW’s and Golden’s, each brands ink line has some special colors that I like to use.

I decided to paint another succulent in the background, using this one as my inspiration.curvy leaf plant
I simplified the plants basic form, by drawing fewer of the curling leaves, then used a deeper transparent blue to give shape and form to the leaves, and added red-violet around the edges of some of the leaves like the original plant.

fused quilt

Next I painted over the blue background with white acrylic ink to separate and define the second plant from the background. The white acrylic ink is not completely opaque, so the blue and lavendar from the background still comes through, but softer, and more pastel, while the stamped designs and bug images also ghost through. I chose not to paint over 3 of the bug images, so they would read clearly in the background.

Now that the painting is finished and Mistyfused to the wool batting, I’m ready to start quilting! Stay tuned 🙂


While I’m on the subject of painting with acrylic inks, I’ll be teaching my class 10+ Techniques with Acrylic Inks this fall at International Quilt Festival- Houston, registration opens July 15th. Some classes fill right away, so don’t delay if there’s one you have your eye on! Click here for a PDF of the catalog.

This is my schedule at IQF this year:

Wednesday, Oct 28

Tsukineko Inks_Perez
#335  Painting with Tsukineko All Purpose Inks -6 hours

In this class you’ll master blending and shading, mixing colors, creating light and dark colors, learn how to control bleeding and paint fine-lines and details with both the fantastix tool and paint brush.

Tsukineko inks is a popular class and fills up fast, so don’t delay on this one.


Thursday, Oct 29

Its all in the process

#456  8 am Lecture:  It’s All in the Process- Everything you learn when things go wrong

Grab a big cup of coffee and let me help start your day by entertaining you with tales of disaster and inspiration, while sharing the process of making several of my big show quilts.

‘From the initial inspiration to the finishing touches, I take you through my process of creating several award winning art quilts, giving special attention to products I use and why, various techniques and problems I ran into and how I resolved them, and all the things I learned in the process.’


#465  3-5 pm Mixed Media Miscellany:  Collaging on Fabric with Tea Bags and Printed Tissu-Tex paper

Learn about collaging paper on fabric and what mediums to use for best adhesion and to create a workable surface for other media.


Friday, Oct 30

Illustrated Document No1
#530 Tea & Ephemera -6 hours

The ultimate mixed media exploration; beginning with a tea bag and fabric, we’ll draw, collage, paint, use colored pencils, stamp, incorporate paper ephemera, print with thermofax screens, and stencil with paint stix.


Saturday, Oct 31

Acrylic Ink Adventure
#722  10 Techniques with Acrylic Inks -6 hours

Create textured backgrounds, explore mark making, stamping, using masks, drawing fine lines and painting imagery, This class is packed with creative ideas of different ways to work with these versatile inks on fabric.

To make things easy on you, and to avoid the occasional student bringing the wrong type of inks, I’m providing all the acrylic inks, fabric, my favorite extra large paint brush, calligraphy pen, china marker, spritz bottle, sea sponge, foam brush, and lots of other supplies.dart-solo-10cpwf-10-1-4-white-3-compartment-famous-service-impact-plastic-plate-125-pack

You’ll need to bring a few basic tools along with; a paint tray – when teaching, I love to use disposable plastic picnic plates with dividers for acrylic inks; they’re light weight, white so you can easily see colors, has high sides to hold plenty of ink and you can toss it out at the end of the day. I also like to use a large yogurt or sour cream container (16 oz or bigger) for my rinse water, a variety of smaller synthetic bristle brushes, a sharpie for marking fabric, and don’t forget to bring a few of your favorite stamps- rubber, foam, or wood.

10 Responses to “Succulent Love”

  1. Carol D Frank says:

    Judy I LOVE your painting of the succulent, gorgeous!!

  2. Gail Terrell says:

    Thanks for the heads-up on the Houston registration opening. I hope to take at least one of your classes. I have some experience with Tsukineko inks. Can you explain the difference between those and acrylic inks – in how they handle and can be used on fabric? Thanks.

    • HI Gail,

      the difference between the two media is most easily explained is by comparing the two inks to the difference between watercolor and acrylic paintings.

      Tsukineko inks are clear and very transparent like watercolors. They are vibrant saturated colors that behave more like dye does on fabric, by staining the fibers and not changing the hand of the fabric at all. It does not put a surface of any kind on the fabric, so you can still see the woven thread that make it up.

      Acrylic inks on the other hand are more like acrylic paints except they are thin like calligraphy or india ink. They can be transparent or opaque depending on the colors and how you use them. Acrylic inks change the hand of the fabric, making it a bit stiffer and it puts a painted surface on the fabric. The thing I really love about them, is how incredible versatile they are, for all kinds of painting and surface sign techniques.

      Both inks are fun and wonderful to work with and they have very different finished results. Hope to see you in Houston!

  3. Pam says:

    They all sound like so much fun. I took your Heavy Metal play day one year and it was a blast. Love how you provide supplies! Alas, I’m going to be in Mexico for the Day of the Dead celebration in San Miguel this year which is at the same time. Hope to catch you next year, and I loved your book.

    • judycoatesperez says:

      thanks Pam, and oh I’m totally envious of you! I would love to go to San Miguel for a day of the dead celebration, enjoy!!! 🙂

  4. […] months ago I posted about painting a new piece called Succulent Love, and in the mean time, I’ve had a couple teaching gigs and a vacation trip and have been […]

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