Thursday, 12 March 2009

Silk Tie

Last year I got some silk paints for Christmas. I had a little play with them and have been looking for something else to try them out on. Marks birthday gave me the excuse I needed.

I had a blank white silk tie and an idea for fish, in a Japanese water colour style. So after researching some images from the web, I drew around the tie so I had the exact proportions and tried out a few sketches.

I wanted a flowing shape and the soft watercolour techniques work well with silk paints, but the paint spreads a lot so you need to use special outliner. It comes in a tube and stops the paint spreading. As I didn't want it to look like a kids drawing with a heavy outline, I thought about what parts of the fish I could get away with not outlining. The body needed to be out lined but the fins only needed a hint of shape, it wouldn't matter if the colour for them spread. In fact I let the spread of the paint dictate to some extent the shape of the fins, you can always add more details with the outliner once the paint is dry.

I penciled in the rough outlines of the fish then used the outliner. I didn't bother penciling the blossom as I was happy for that to be free hand. Start at the top and work down so you don't smudge it. When it is dry start adding colour into the fish. I tried out a few small fish on the back (thin bit of the tie) to see how it all worked!

The background was done with a big brush and I mixed the colours as I went adding water with the brush to dilute it in places. In some areas I sprinkled sea salt crystals over the wet paint to draw out the colour and give a speckled effect. I did the background pretty much in one go so I didn't get any hard edges in the colour.

Once it was all dry I added a few tiny details to the fins with the silver outliner.

I used a silver outliner for the fish and purple/silver for the blossom. I used only burnt orange and yellow for the fish, pink and a hint of lavender for the blossom, dark blue, green and burnt orange for the background water. The orange brings the blue and green down a shade and ties in the orange from the fish. The blossom was kept very pale.

  1. Draw the main shape very lightly in pencil
  2. Apply the outliner in long even strokes and let dry (be patient and resist poking it!)
  3. Apply paint, starting inside your shapes and with light colours, then moving to darker colours and the background
  4. Add any more defining detail with outliner when it is dry
  5. Iron on cotton setting. I put a cloth over the silk when I ironed the front to protect it a little. The heat sets the paint and makes it washable.
Before getting started I consulted the oracle as she had made some lovely ties as christmas presents. So here are her tips and some things I learnt along the way.

  • Dip your brush in clean water first then shake out. This stops the paint going up into the ferrule and being wasted and makes the brush easier to clean.
  • You can dip your brush in clean water and use that to "push" the paint around on the silk and dilute colours if need be. It can also make a nice dappled effect.
  • Colours can be diluted with water. Either mix them on a palette, use a wet brush to pick up the colour, or spray the silk with clean water first.
  • The paint spreads, so put your brush near the edge of the area to be painted not right up to it.
  • The paint will spread a lot further on wet or thin silk
  • Colours will bleed into each other and mix. So use an outliner to create clean shapes and keep colours separate. Use the bleeding to your advantage to create mixed colours and patterns.
  • Use small pots or jar lids to mix the paint in
  • If you use the outliner too thinly or there is the slightest break in it, the paint will bleed.
  • Wet on wet = mixing ie wet paint next to wet paint will bleed into each other.
  • Dry on dry = harder edges, let one colour dry before painting another next to it if you want harder edges without using an outliner. There will still be some mixing.
  • Use a fat brush for big areas
  • You'll find some colours act differently. My burnt orange has a high pigment and 'stays' put where as my pink bleeds and spreads not matter what I do.
Silk painting is like water colour painting, it is loose and fairly abstract so don't worry about it spreading into unexpected places, jut go with the flow!

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