By Barbara Gabogrecan
During the many years I have been painting on silk, I have never used an antidiffusant. It wasn’t until a student of mine asked about the technique that I decided to try it and see how it affected my silk painting technique and if I thought I could use it for myself. I knew that using new painting tools would require quite a lot of practice to get it right.
I have always used a solvent gutta (liquid rubber like substance) to draw with but it was becoming very difficult to buy as water based gutta was taking over. Now I had used the water based gutta many years ago, very unsuccessfully. I paint using a great deal of water and I was simply washing the gutta off as I was painting.
I was told that the new water based gutta was now very good, so I decided to try it too. But I was dismayed to discover that I had to let it dry for 40 hours before painting. As I like to get in and get a painting finished in a day or two – this was a real turn off for me. But this was to be a time of trying new painting tools – so I was going to ‘give it a go’!
While in the mood for trying new tools, I also decided to use a fabric pen to add line work as texture to the finished design. I wanted it to have a sketch like feel to it.
I had also never painted a human form on silk – I specialised in Australian Fauna and Flora. So, I decided if I was experimenting with new tools (antidiffusant and water based gutta) then I would also experiment with a new subject. I chose to work from a sketch that I had of a nude woman…I figured that would be a real challenge.
What were the outcomes?
1. The water based gutta was pretty good most of the time. I used a gold gutta and just outlined the flowers with it. Colour wise, the gold of the gutta and the purple of the flowers looked quite stunning and very exciting.
2. I did not totally complete shapes when drawing with the solvent gutta and decided to depend on the antidiffusant to hold the dyes in place. I covered the entire form of the figure with the antidiffusant and when painting, made sure that the soft colour on the figure were matched by soft colours on the background so that if colours did move they would work together and not be so glaring a mistake. I also used a heavier crepe de chine to paint on (rather than the light weight Pongee that I normally use), as heavier silk automatically slows down the movement of the dye.
3. I still used water to soften and merge my colours and really felt that for my style of painting the antidiffusant was not all that satisfactory.
4. The fabric pen was OK – but I need to think more clearly just where I want to use it and not allow it to look like little tufts of texture. But I think it does have a lot of potential for future paintings. It will just take practice.
It does not matter how long you have been painting (I have been painting on silk for around 20 years) you can always experiment with new painting tools and techniques.