When I think of fabric painting, Mickey Lawler's Skydyes and the wholecloth quilts of Hollis Chatelain and Judy Coates Perez come to mind.
But now that I work in the same office as the Cloth Paper Scissors magazine editors, I've been exposed to more mixed-media fabric art than ever before. And my definition of how paint and fabric can come together has broadened.
|Mixed-media fabric painting by Sue Pelletier.
Some artists are positively fearless when it comes to painting on fabric. One who comes to mind immediately is Sue Pelletier. Sue will try just about anything. She uses chalkboard paint on doll dresses (an unusual way of putting writing on fabric, to say the least) and holds her fabric collages together with gesso or gel medium thinned with a little water, rather than with stitching.
Here's an example of one of her techniques.
1. Start with a piece of raw canvas or other heavy fabric. Coat the canvas with a wash of gel medium thinned a bit with water.
2. Place a piece of tissue paper, such as sewing pattern tissue, over the gel medium.
3. Lay on another wash of gel medium and apply a piece of painted and stitched crinoline on top. (Sue loves crinoline because it is cheap, paintable, stitchable, and adds interesting texture.)
|Sue applies stitched crinoline with gel medium
to layers of fabric, paint, and paper.
4. Draw on top of this fabric and gel medium sandwich with water-soluble oil pastels. You can blend the colors by applying water with your finger or a paintbrush.
You could add more marks or paint to the piece or attach it as-is to a stretched canvas or background fabric.
I'm not saying I would necessarily use all of these techniques on a quilt; non-fabric paint, especially when mixed with gel medium, is definitely going to change the hand of the fabric. But I like the idea of experimenting with paint, mediums, and fabric collage techniques. You never know where it might lead.
If you're looking to experiment with paint, fabric, and texture in a free-wheeling, mixed-media kind of way, I recommend Sue's new WorkshopTM video, "Preparing to Paint: How to Add Texture, Depth, and Personality to your Art."
P.S. Do you mix fabric and paint or gel medium in your fabric art? Does gel medium have a place in the contemporary quilting world? Add to the discussion in the comments section below, or on our new Facebook page.