Silk Painting Versus Other Mediums

An oil landscape painted on timber

An oil landscape painted on timber

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.

Oil landscape painted with a palette knife on canvas

Oil landscape painted with a palette knife on canvas

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.

Decorative, detailed painting of Cook Town Orchids on silk

Decorative, detailed painting of Cook Town Orchids on silk

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.

 

34 thoughts on “Silk Painting Versus Other Mediums

  1. Jherica

    Any type of art is beautiful, but there is something about the vibrancy of a silk painting that makes it truly unique and amazing. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  2. james

    This great advice. I really waned to jump into painting right away but I realized that I need to improve my skills so I spent six months drawing and improving my technique. When I finally started to paint it was much more rewarding

    Reply
  3. Ken P

    Being new to painting I was not even aware of such a medium. I am intersted in anything that is differnet form the norm. Thank you for this information.

    Reply
  4. Shannon

    I’ve never heard of silk painting before. How beautiful and what a cool, unique alternative to other methods!

    Reply
  5. sam ross

    A good tip is to spend a little more on good quality paints and pencils if you can as you will see a better result.

    Reply
  6. Katherine

    Thank you for sharing this! I’m applying to study art at university and silk painting isn’t something I’ve really come across yet so this was very educational and I think I’ll have to give it a go!

    Reply
  7. Cynthia Ford

    I’ve always wanted to try silk as a fabric piece but never had. It’s quite intimidating but the end result seems so refreshingly elegant. Perhaps one day 🙂 Nice article!

    Reply
  8. Roscoe Smith

    Very great talent with silk painting and it is so beautiful. I really hope you get the recognition you deserve.

    Reply
  9. Raul

    I think its really important to have a clear understanding of drawing basics. silk painting will be an added advantage for sure.

    Reply
  10. Nick Smith

    Painting on silk is a new concept for me, I am sure the results are much better. As it dries faster maybe one day I will start using it after gaining more experience and perfecting my technique.

    Reply
  11. Daniel Jean-Baptiste

    I enjoyed this article, all mediums are exciting, but to me I choose silk to work with because it is so spontaneous in that the colours go on very quickly and bleed into textures and hues that are no in our control. I like the surprise end result every time.

    Reply
  12. Dixie

    Silk painting is a very fine and elegant art style. The results are gorgeous. I wish I had the skill required for silk painting.

    Reply
  13. Gau

    Pencil sketching and doodling is an effective way to put together a rough picture of what you want to paint and can be used as the basis to add paint to your artwork.

    Reply
  14. Alex Blinda

    It’s very difficult to paint. I’ve tried sometimes but I don’t have any skills at this,but you are doing a wonderfull job!

    Reply
  15. Brian

    Some of these paintings are truly beautiful. I’d love to be able to take it up as a hobby, but I can’t even draw.

    Reply
  16. Elleah

    I agree that you will be a better painter if you can first become good at drawing. That will enhance your paintings.

    Reply
  17. Heather Engholm

    I think your tip of “develop your drawing skills before commencing any form of painting” is spot on. I prefer the look of silk paintings, but I would never have the confidence to try it!

    Reply

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