Monday, February 21, 2011

From watercolour to quilt: a transfer of learning

I’m learning some things in trying to paint watercolours that I want to apply to my quilts.  Even though several folk commented that dye/cloth is a very different medium from paper/pigment,  I think there are many goals and techniques that will transfer from one medium to the other.  

Since at present it’s very difficult to sell work, and no one is currently begging me to do a solo or even a two-person show (though please feel free to commence such pleas  - I’d be delighted!), the inventory is piling up.  No point just  making work.  And so I thought this is a good time for more experimentation, for some slowing down and looking at both process and design.

One of the attributes I love in watercolours is transparency and  the sense of mystery that this conveys.   Transparency is (relatively!) easily achieved in watercolour painting,

gatheringstorm72dpi    and I think it should be possible in quilting too.  I used a lot of transparent elements in Gathering Storm (on the left)






and also in this detail from Electric Fields:


I do love dyeing and screen printing and have the stash to prove it!  I find screen printing especially magic, as you lift up the screen, you have really little idea (well, I have little idea!) as to what amazing image I will reveal!

I particularly like to overlay prints and also have developed some ways of printing with various cut out shapes sticking on the screen, then picking them off  full of dye, reversing them and printing with another colour.  All very messy and so much fun!!  The more imperfect the print, the happier I am!


This is a detail of the screen printed base layer of the piece I’m about to start work on;  I’m thinking of layering more with organza, and maybe some opaque elements too.  We’ll see where it goes!  I’ve got some good rich saturated colour for the focal area, and need to achieve a greater range of lights and darks..sticking with my urban theme.






One of the other things I just love in watercolours is the use of white.  I’ve not often used white much in quilts – apart from the black and white series I did a couple of years ago (example on right).

  It’s a great colour and I don’t know why I’ve ignored it.   So that’s on my list too. 

I’m also trying to develop a greater awareness of the negative space and the quiet areas so important in a painting so I can incorporate them as well.    And I’m going through my stash getting rid of all muddy looking fabric – mud is something that it is important to avoid in watercolour and I’m not going to be precious about a few yards of fabric!   Onto the thrift store pile with them!!

  I’ll report on my progress!!  The piece may well end up in the Sally Army pile, but nothing ventured……

And so…. What are you up to??  Is anyone else so foolish as to try to apply learning from one medium to another?    How well did it work?

And, if you have been, thanks for reading…………………Elizabeth


Anonymous said...

I take an ongoing class at my local art center. I use watercolor pencils some days but usually do value drawings,with student and teacher input. I am thinking this will strengthen my fiber work.

Beth said...

I love your post. I do try to incorporate/modify paper techniques to fabric and vise versa. I too am working more on non-fiber fine art this year as well as translating lessons into plans" for future art quilts. I do watercolors, sketching and pen and ink. I liked your b/w piece - reminiscent of a wood block print. I'll be reading...

Jean S said...

Painters work on cloth (canvas) all the time and I've found that fabric paint and other liquid mediums that will adhere permanently to cloth can add much to the process. It is the one way I've found to add that spontanaety talked about in the previous post.

Susan Turney said...

Every piece you posted is gorgeous! I don't know anything about the techniqes you're using but I do know I love the results....especially the green piece!

magsramsay said...

I've often used my watercolours as inspiration for quilts. The different quality of edges you get according to whether you use wet in wet or dry brush is something I've struggled to replicate in textiles - layering with organzas and blurring with stitch is part of the answer.
I've also used acrylic paints on fabric but they have different properties to watercolour - nothing quite captures the magic of granulation!