Hand painting silk techniques

As a long time painting artist, I know of hundreds of ways to create art on canvas and paper. I think nothing of switching from pastels to oils to alcohol inks without too much thought. Without realizing it over the course of years, I had  developed an expertise in many mediums simply by using them over and over 🙂

Portrait Painting Demo with pastels

So as I began to expand my silk painting it did not take me long to realize that there were as many methods to add color to silk as there was to  canvas!  I remember my early confusion at reading about dyes and paints in the big catalogues and trying to make sense out of conflicting information!

hand painting at a show

And of course I wanted to skip the learning curve and get right into the silk art! Think about it: All those methods such as steaming, not steaming, heat setting, instant set, dye paints, dyes, fabrics, types of silk……the list of what to know seemed dauntless at first!

In college I studied printmaking, so carving my own blocks to print on silk was not a problem.  I mean there is a huge industry in the arts devoted to stamping but I wanted mine to be unique!


My horse blocks

Carving 5 or 6 blocks of just horses has given me so many options for variety and I know that no one else has those images!

And then of course there was the method I use most often, drawing with resist!  I love the water based resists. I am not into suffering for my art 🙂 and melting wax, using the equivalent of oils in resists just wasn’t for me.

Stamping on silk

So making stretcher bars (from canvas stretchers!) has been a solution to drawing out my designs then adding the dyes. There is something zen-like in hand painting anything and watching silk dyes flow up to the resist lines is very much like painting in watercolors…except the resist acts as a “dam” to control the flow of dye.

Applying the resist
Hand painted Poppies
Hand painted (and Ecoprinted) silk wraps

And then there are the dyes that required steaming and I found rice steamers at the Goodwill that worked! I went from scarves to clothes and love to work my large pieces into garments!

So in my hand painted silk, I love to experiment. I love the colors, the designs and often incorpoarte both into my ecoprinted! There is nothing more beautiful than silk drying on the clothesline!

Hand painted silk drying on the line!

3 thoughts on “Hand painting silk techniques

  1. Theresa, I taught myself to silk paint. When I discovered it after my son left for college in 1969 and his bedroom was empty I had to have something to keep me sane, so I found a published book by Dianne Tuckman that explained the basic steps. It was the only book at that time that was devoted to silk painting in the US that I knew of. PS – Dianne is one of the Founding Members of SPIN. With the book and the help of one friend who had a degree in Art I took over my son’s bedroom as a studio. The rest is history. Soon it seemed that everyone wanted to silk paint. The paints changed, resists became easier to use, Discharge agents were made available, etc. More books were published. I bought them. Short cuts were developed. The members of PSP have not experienced processes that I have over the yrs. Where am I going with this? Maybe we need as a group to go back and review the basics with our new members. Try some of the techniques from the beginning.

    1. I think you’re right Marcia. I know when I gave the demo on resists I was surprised how many were not familiar with it. All the hand applied techniques can be daunting for a newcomer to silk painting! But even those who are experienced could benefit from demos on new dyes or techniques or even the types of silk to use!

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