I have been commissioned to create a silk painting to be made into a ladies dress coat. In order to become familiar with my subject matter, I needed to do several watercolour studies of my subject: Australian native flowers.
These studies can then be shown to the client before I start painting the silk to give her an idea of what the final silk painting will look like.
Designing the Dress Coat:
The dress coat will be made by dressmaker Svetlana Khmelevskaya. The client and Svetlana decide on the design and fit of the coat. Using Svetlana’s coat pattern I made some sketches for the client to give her an idea of my painting design. Svetlana measured the client and made a calico ‘toile’ (a practice coat) to double check the fit of the pattern. Once she was sure that the toile fitted, she gave me a copy of the paper pattern to sketch my painting design on and to lay out on the silk.
The Watercolour Studies:
I began with a graphite study of a banksia. As ususal, by the time I had finished this study I was over drawing and shading with thin lines and was ready to get stuck into slapping some paint onto paper!
Below are the beginning layers of one of the watercolour studies. I quickly drew the outline of the flower and leaves in watercolour pencils. Then I began the process of layering the watercolours, one on top of the other.
Making a watercolour study or an acrylic study (like I did for my goldfish silk painting), is a cheeper way of giving the client an idea of what some parts the silk painting will look like without using the expensive silk. I use silk dyes in a similar way as I use watercolours and watered down acrylics. The gutta outline on silk is similar to the initial drawing I do with watercolour pencils. Silk dyes do behave differently to watercolour paint because silk absorbs dye differently to paper absorbing watercolour. However, I tend to slop the paint on without worrying too much about staying in between the lines in both cases.
The Finished Studies:
The Final Design:
The client decided she wanted only pinkish hues on the coat, and no green. This is another reason why making studies is important, even if it is just a quick sketch.
I drew the outline of the flowers on the pattern pieces and showed the client. When we were happy with the final painting design, I stretched the silk taffeta on my pvc pipe silk frame. I then tacked an outline of the pattern giving myself an extra 2m all around the edge. This 2cm includes the seam allowance, plus a bit extra to allow the painting to bleed over the edge.
Taping the pattern pieces to the wall allows me to use them as a reference while I paint.
Now the silk is prepared I’m ready to begin painting!