watercolor techniques on cloth

My other art medium is watercolor. I have taken several workshops from an outstanding watercolorist, Wendell Mohr, of nearby Keosauqua, Iowa. He does a lot of 'wet on wet' work, and one of the exercises he teaches involves this process to get a varied, glowing background:
1. thoroughly wet the paper and attach it to a board
2. starting on one edge, with the board upright, brush on a pigment heavy, juicy swath of a color
3. let it run down the page
4. turn the board 90 degrees, and repeat with another color--all while the first wash is still wet
5. let this run down, blending with the first color
6. turn again another 90 degrees, and repeat with a third color.

This can result in a beautiful, glowing, varied background. Any three colors can work, and done wet on wet you don't get any mud.

So I decided to try this on fabric. My first attempt was outside with a large linen tablecloth hung on a clothesline, using Procion Mx dyes. Although very messy, it worked great. Do I have a picture of it? No. Did I mention it was a LARGE tablecloth?

The other day I decided to try the same process with Setacolor fabric paints. This time I chose a linen napkin and pinned it to a piece of gator board. I got the fabric wet, and used a yellow, ultramarine blue, and oriental red. Here is the result:

It is close to what I intended. I found that at least with Setacolor, i have the ability to muddy it up some, whether I want to or not. This paint doesn't flow on this substrate as well as watercolor does on paper, so I had to help it along by continuing to add water and 'pushing' it along. I like the piece, and will do more like it--and make something of this one. I put paper towels beneath the edge of the board to protect my tabletop, and got some interesting paper towels that I've been using in mixed media work.

So it was a successful experiment. And I continue to like the implied texture provided by the pattern of the damask weave on linens--I like that a close study of my work would show this reference to the past.


Ann said...

Well that sounds like fun.

bj parady said...

well, the outside part was. No worry about messes...

teri springer said...

Ok, did you pre-soak the tablecloth in soda ash or not?? I have several old damask tablecloths I'd like to paint with MX.....


bj parady said...

I got the best results when I soaked the tablecloths in soda ash first. You could just add it to the dye mixture, but since for this technique the cloth needs to be sopping wet, soaking it seemed easier. Good luck!