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A Beginner's Silk Painting by Allison Holland

This is my attempt at silk painting, and I can't wait to have another go!  Although I know a little about the techniques, I have never really put them into practice.

Before you can start, you need a silk painting frame and pins, a good quality brush, a piece of silk or scarf, an autofade pen, at least 3 colours of silk paint and a gutta outliner.  See below for how this design was achieved.

Flowers painted on silk by Allison Holland A silk painting of flowers by Allison Holland
silkpainting of flowers Silk Painted Flowers
  1. Pin the silk to the frame as per the instructions on this page about getting started with Silk Painting

  2. Using an autofade pen, sketch out your design.  The ink from the autofade pen will wash away with the wet paint, or fade completely within 24 hours.  Keep the shapes simple and bold.  If you make a mistake you can use a little clean water on your brush to wash the pen mark away.

  3. Now go over the outlines of the design with a gutta outliner (I have used pearlised brown coloured Javana from a 20ml pipette). The outliner will sink through the surface of the fabric to form a barrier, remember to close all 'loops' to stop the paint from escaping beyond the boundaries.

  4. Squeeze the tube gently until some of the outliner starts to come out of the nib, wipe away any excess.  Try to be confident, it doesn't matter if the outliner does not follow the design exactly.  Example e) in the picture above shows a mistake I made in my first efforts, the image c) shows how quickly I was able to improve! 

  5. I painted the purple flowers first (using Deka Silk paints).  In hindsight, I would have diluted the colour slightly with water first, then I could have built up the colour in stages.  I waited for these to dry before painting the centres with a loaded brush so that the paint would soak outwards.  The effect is not easy to see on this dark colour.

  6. With the white and blue flowers, I first painted the petals with clean water to make the fabric damp.  I then loaded the brush and touched the fabric at the centre of the flowers.  The paint is drawn across the fabric by the water to create the fade effect shown in images c) and d).  Image b) shows where I left the fabric to dry out too much before painting the edge of the petal, this could have been rectified by painting the edge of it with clean water. 

  7. The red and yellow flowers have been painted in the same way as the blue and white flowers. I first painted in the red and allowed it to dry before painting the remainder of the petals in yellow.

  8. The most difficult area to paint was the green background.  You have to work fast to ensure the paint doesn't start to dry as this will leave marks, see image d).  I tried to disguise these by sprinkling table salt onto the wet paint.  This created delightful patterning as in image a) but was not quite so effective where the paint had begun to dry.  I suspect that painting the background with clean water first and then painting with the green would have given me a more satisfying result, back to the drawing board - or frame in this case!

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