Sunday, September 11, 2011

Up and Away!

For the past two days, I’ve been painting grass. Lots and lots of grass. It is for a new piece I’m doing for an exhibition called “Meadowood Stitched” by Fiber Art Options at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden that opens October 1.

I used lots of muted shades of green and brown, working from a traced line drawing underneath PFD (Prepared For Dyeing) fabric. I added additional strands of grass to make it a little more full and lush.  

This is the first time I’ve used PROfab Textile Paints in a wholecloth painted piece, and I must say that I am extremely happy with the results. I used the Transparent paints. They were a nice, consistent texture, even the white and black, which can be lumpy in other brands. The containers are very easy to use, and the paint pours nicely from them. The shape makes it easy to get the last little bit of paint out.

I have never used extenders much before, but I played with them a bit this time, and found they did a good job of keeping the paints from drying out as I worked. (And since I painted over several days this weekend, that was important.) If you use a lot of the extender, you get a paler color; I just used a bit. Using a plastic palette with multiple compartments and a snap-on lid helped, too. You can see this palette in the first photo.

When it came time for the background, which I wanted to look like blue sky, I added Paint Thinner to the shade of blue I had mixed. I sponged it over the entire surface, and rubbed it in with my hand and a sponge. This had the effect of muting the grass colors down a bit, which was initially a little scary, but I like the results. When I was done, this is how the 24" x 36" piece looked:

For this exhibition, the pieces have to be either 24" x 36", or 24" square. Initially, I had envisioned the piece in the vertical format. But once I put the butterfly down, I wasn’t liking it so much. (I had already constructed the butterfly; it is three-dimensional, and will be positioned on the piece after I finish and quilt the background.) There was too much “negative space” (the blue sky), and the butterfly seemed to small:

What to do, what to do? I played with the idea of adding some taller strands of grass, or some some other plant stalks. I had taken some photos of the meadow with these kinds of stalks, and thought this might work. I also considered adding a line of trees in the background, but I really wanted the piece to emphasize the flight of the butterfly, and thought these options might be distracting. Right now, I am playing with something like this, in the square format, with part of one wing extending out beyond the edge:

I’m thinking about calling this piece Up and Away! I am going to go back in and paint some of the grass strands in the foreground a bit darker and more saturated color, leaving the strands in the background more muted, as if they were out of focus in the photo. Right now the butterfly is standing out a bit too much, and I think it is because the values are stronger in the butterfly than they are in the grass.

On the Pro Chemical and Dye website, here are today’s prices for the products I mentioned in this post:
PROfab Transparent Textile Paint: $2.35 for 3 oz., $5.50 for 8 oz.
PROfab Transparent Base Extender: $4.95 for 8 oz.
PROfab Paint Thinner: $2.25 for 8 oz.

This is cheaper than the Jacquard Textile Color I’ve been using, and the consistency of the white and black is much better.