Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Tutorial - Painting On Fabric With Inktense Colours

Today I am going to show you how I painted this cushion cover using Derwent Inktense colour blocks and pencils.
First, I made the cushion cover from unbleached calico - how I did that is another subject!  Before painting on any fabric, first wash it to remove any coating that may have been put on it during production.  This will help with the surface you are painting on, it removes any 'waxiness' that might prevent the paint sinking in to the fabric.

Here I have painted on calico, but I have previously painted on cotton, t-shirts and silk - each fabric is different in absorbency and it is wise to have a trial piece before you go in for your main project.  Calico is robust and like painting on canvas; t-shirts are slightly more absorbant and need drier paint mixes and silk is extremely absorbant and needs patience and caution!
Before you start, put a piece of card or paper underneath your surface to prevent any paint seeping through to the back of your item. If you are painting on something like a scarf which has only one layer, this is still a good idea to protect your drawing board.  If necessary, attach the fabric to your drawing board with bulldog clips or masking tape.  The last thing you need is your painting falling to the floor mid brushstroke!
Sketch out your design lightly using pencil - pencil washes out easily if necessary.  I believe there are pencils out there specifically designed for use on fabric but I have never had cause to use one.
Start by mixing up light washes of pigment and painting carefully within your lines.  Try not to overload your brush until you get the measure of the fabric's absorbancy. Make your first brushstroke well within the lines to make sure the paint does not bleed outwards, spoiling your design.
I have left the sparrow until later - it is a far more intricate piece, so needs different strategies.
While the fabric is still very slightly damp, add shading in a darker wash as you would with a watercolour painting.  The pigment should spread within the already painted area and hopefully not bleed over the edges - be careful with those edges!
Continue in this manner until you have the effect you want, making sure not to over-saturate the fabric - you may have to wait to allow it to dry occasionally.
Here I have added a darker green to the leaves as well, using the same technique.
Add detail using an Inktense pencil. As the fabric will still be holding a little moisture, this should help the colour flow easily on the fabric.  If you want extreme depth of colour, it is acceptable to dip the end of the pencil into your paint water carefully before drawing - be careful not to get the water on to wood of the pencil as this will soak in and affect your use of it.
For the bird I am using light washes to begin with, testing them on a spare piece of paper first to make sure I get the right colour and to make sure the brush is not dripping wet.  This requires a delicate touch!
To add the black feathers, I am using a small wet brush and getting the pigment directly off the end of the pencil.  Do not use too much water for this, just enough to get the colour you want.
You can also draw directly onto the fabric with a sharp pencil and get very good detail.
Carefully go over the drawn lines with a damp brush to 'set' the colour and make sure it does not run when you paint over it.  This also helps work the pigment into the fabric a bit better if necessary.
Here are my main black lines.
Time to fill in the browns of the plumage using light washes - keep your brush fairly dry to make sure the colour does not run too much. Continue to paint in this manner until you are happy with the result.
It's time now to put in the white highlights.
In order for the white to show up on the fabric, mix the paint as thickly as you can while still being able to paint with it. A thin wash will not show up.
You may have to put on several layers if you want the white to be very bright.
Here is the finished painting,  ready for the next stage.  We are going to iron the fabric with a steam iron on the correct setting for your fabric.
Before ironing, remove the card and insert a teatowel between the layers of your item - if it is a scarf, put a teatowel under it on top of the ironing board.  This prevents any bleed-through of the pigment - it's never happened to me but you can't be too careful!

Cover the top of your painting with muslin or another teatowel, just to prevent any mishaps. Occasionally my iron decides to spew out some brown water due to limescale - you do not want this spoiling all your hard work!
Iron thoroughly with the steam on full throughout.  The idea of this is to get moisture into every particle of pigment and set it into the fabric.  Take a few minutes to ensure that each part of your picture has been gone over several times.

Ta-Dah!!  Here is your finished cushion cover, which should be safe to wash as many times as you like with no loss of colour.  I would recommend the first wash be by hand to make sure nothing goes wrong, but I am very confident that the colours will not wash out.  For this reason, do NOT get your paints on your clothes or you will have a permanent reminder of the day you painted.  I tend to wipe my brush down the side of my trouser leg when deep in concentration - if this is you, put a towel or something over your legs to prevent ruining your best jeans!

Have fun - it's great to have your work of art on something different for a change!


Heather said...

Thankyou so much for sharing your technique - your results are wonderful. I have used the Colour Soft pencils on paper with success but not yet tried Inktense on fabric.

Caroline B said...

You're welcome Heather - give it a go, it takes a bit of practice but is well worth it.

Anonymous said...

thanks for a really excellent tutorial. the cushion cover is lovely. I have tried using intense on fabric, but only with fabric medium which can make it a bit stiff. I am going to be brave and try it without. Jane

Caroline B said...

Should be fine Jane - I have a t-shirt I painted a couple of years ago that has been put through the washing machine lots of times and is still fine.

moomum said...

Your tutorial is absolutely excellent and perfect timing - at aged 47 I have just started a textiles degree and having heard about inktense pencils was wondering how to use them and set them.

Caroline B said...

Glad to be of help!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful work Caroline!

Sue Doran said...

Wow, I didn't know you could do this, lovely cushion!