Early on, I mainly painted in oils, though I did do a little with acrylics and even used cement in a painting to add dimension to the fished work. Most artists have a preference for what medium they wish to work in; many also use such things as pastels and water colours.
I painted in oils for a number of years and enjoyed the experience. I did a number of works using only a palette knife on canvas and others demonstrated strong linear designs on wood. But it wasn’t until I started using dyes on silk that I felt I had truly found MY medium.
Oils take a long time to dry but can be painted over if you make a mistake or are not happy with the result. Whereas silk work dries pretty quickly and is totally unforgiving if you make a mistake. Silk also needs to have the dyes set by such methods as steaming the finished work.
My oils were not really all that strong in colour. I tended to depend more on line, negative space and tone to get the effect that I wanted. I think the reason that silk painting was so alluring for me, was because of the exciting, dynamic colour that I could achieve.
I still concentrated on line work; all my designs are strongly linear, and I am still very conscious of negative space. I would even go so far as to say that if my drawing and design skills are not so high, then my silk painting results would not be all that great.
My work is also very decorative and this style especially suits working on silk. My work is very detailed and many folk find that difficult to do using gutta and silk dyes. Really, it just needs practise to be able to produce detailed work.
Hints and Tips
My advice is to develop your drawing skills before commencing any form of painting. Even if you decide not to depend on drawing in your final works – such skills will still help you to achieve stronger results with your painting.
Video You can watch this video to see just how I completed my latest design based on the Queensland Floral emblem, the Cook Town Orchid.
If you would like to learn how to do silk painting, I have an online course available and have artists from America, England and Australia taking part. As my background was as a secondary Art Teacher (also teaching for 13 years at the National Gallery of Victoria), I am confident that my teaching skills will enable you to achieve great results.