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You can get distinctly different results from dripping paint by chosing to start with wet or dry fabric.  Here was the dripping paint on wet fabric – very smooth:

And here is the next layer, dripping paint on dry fabric.  The paint is thinned with water, so it is wet enough to blend, but you also get some more defined lines when using dry fabric.

And a detail shot:

How wonderful to have beautiful enough weather to be painting outside!

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Another beautiful morning to paint outside, and good timing because I was not thrilled with my last dripping paint results.  Things are looking much better today though.

I mixed pink and red with a VERY small amount of blue to get fuschia.   If you put in more than a drop of blue, you will get a lovely purple, but that is not what I was going for here.  Then I mixed blue with a very light torquoise and a more green torquoise to get the torquoise-blue color.  I mixed both colors right in a squirt bottle and added water to thin the paint.  I hung my fabrics, sprayed them with the hose, and proceeded to drip the paint.  After applying all the paint, I lightly misted the fabric to enhance the flow of the colors.

I painted a second piece using the fuschia already mixed and an orange mixed from yellow and a SMALL touch of red, same process as above.

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Time to get back to painting, and it’s finally nice enough to spread out in the yard!  “Dripping” can be done indoors over the laundry tub, but it’s so much more fun outside.  I pull a piece of twine across the yard; it’s attached to my fence but you can use trees or whatever is available in your space.  Old-fashioned clothes pins hold the fabric. 

I’m in the beginning (experimental) stages of a series on water reflections from Venice, so dripping seems to be a good place to start.  I hang my fabric (background already dyed and painted), wet the fabric and start to apply paint.  This can be done on dry fabric if you want more defined lines; paint on wet fabric spreads.  I’m using a spoon here but also use various sized brushes to apply paint. 

  For even more dripping, spray lightly with the hose.  If you spray too heavily here, you can wash off a good amount of paint – nice if you don’t like what you’ve done.


  Add water to thin the paint, and you can apply it from a bottle; this gives a little more control over the dripping.

  Don’t worry about the wind blowing your fabric – your paint may move around in some interesting ways!


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Value is the relative lightness or darkness of a color, and it is sometimes more important than the actual hue (color).  Value gives a work contrast and gradation; it defines form and separates objects.  Value sparks interest.  If a piece appears dull, you may need to increase the range of values.  The value of any color is also relative to the value that lays next to it; the same value may appear dark next to a light color and light next to a darker color.

There a two good ways to determine the value range of a work in progress.  You can “desaturate” the image in Photoshop, reducing it to black, white and grays, an easy way to see the lights and darks.  Viewing a work while squinting your eyes also helps blur color and define values.

An interesting and informational experiment is to take any color and move from the lightest value to the darkest value you can get.

These images show gradations of blue and red.  For both experiments, I started with white and added very small amounts of color several times to produce darker values.  The final three strips of color for both red and blue have increasing amounts of black added to produce still darker values.  Notice the range available from one color plus white and black.

For this experiment, I started with yellow and mixed in very small amounts of blue for each successive strip to get many variations of green. 

This kind of experimentation will help you feel more comfortable with your paints, and will show their versatility.  Go ahead and play!

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Another way to get lots of texture:  Put a base layer of paint on your fabric and let it dry.  As it dries, the fabric will scrunch and crinkle (technical terms for sure).  When you apply the next layer of paint on the dry, crinkled fabric, texture happens magically!  Start with lighter colors so they can shine through.  Be sure to wait for the initial layer of paint to dry so you don’t wind up with muddy colors.

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This piece shows dripping paint on dry fabric.  You will get a halo effect, but beyond that, the paint does not spread.

And this piece shows the result of dripping paint on wet fabric.  Obviously, if the fabric is wet, there is much more blending of colors.  For both pieces, the paint was diluted with water to make it “drippable”.

This experiment was done with a comb (once again, the many uses of common household items).  The fabric was painted orange with fairly thick paint.  A comb was dragged through the orange paint to get the rhythmic lines.  After the orange dried, diluted blue paint was brushed over the top.  The blue paint filled the lines formed by the comb to darken that design.  The white lines across the top were done with broom bristles.

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The three primary colors, red yellow and blue, can be mixed endlessly to produce new colors, some shown on the color wheel in my last post.  Fabric paint can be mixed in a container (as done for the color wheel) or directly on fabric.  This is the first experiment with mixing transparent paint on fabric.  I used ProFab Textile paint on unbleached muslin.  It may be difficult to see the subleties in the color changes, but I will explain, and you can try these explorations on your own.  I started with wet fabric because I love the blending that occurs.   The first 3 strips of color are dry (paint straight from jar) on wet(fabric).  The last 3 strips are wet (diluted paint) on wet (fabric), and there is very clearly more blending when using “wet on wet”.

FIRST STRIP on the left:  Layer 1 is yellow.  Layer 2 has red over the yellow resulting in a red-orange hue; the red, though darker than yellow, is transparent enough to allow some yellow to come through and blend.  Layer 3 has blue painted over one layer of yellow, resulting in a blue-green hue.

SECOND STRIP:  Layer 1 is red.  In layer 2, yellow is painted over red, giving an orange hue; painting yellow over red produces a lighter orange than painting red over yellow (1st strip, layer 2).  In layer 3, blue is painted over the second layer of red and yellow, resulting in a brown hue from blending of all three primary colors.

THIRD STRIP:  Layer 1 is blue.  In layer 2, yellow is painted over blue, resulting a green hue.  In layer 3, red is painted over blue, producing a violet hue.

Looking at the right half of this fabric, first notice the difference between the left side and the right side.  The left half was done with “dry” paint (right out of the jar) on wet fabric, producing some blending due to the wet fabric.  The right half was done with wet paint (water-diluted) on wet fabric, producing even more blending.  Diluting the paint with water causes spreading and bleeding (think watercolor); colors mix, creating new colors.  In addition, you can see that the colors, being diluted, are lighter in value than the deeper hues on the left.

The same color sequence was used for the set of strips on the right, this time wet/diluted paint on wet fabric.  Working with “wet on wet”, there is so much blending, it is hard to differentiate between the 3 strips.

FIRST STRIP, right side:  Layer 1 is yellow, layer 2 has added red, and layer 3 has added blue.  Similar to the “dry” results, layer 2 has a red-orange hue and layer 3 has a blue-green hue. 

SECOND STRIP, right:  Layer 1 is red.  Layer 2 has yellow painted over red, producing an orange hue.  Layer 3 shows yellow painted over the orange, resulting in a blending of the three primary colors which produces a brown hue.

THIRD STRIP, right:  Layer 1 is blue.  Layer 2 has yellow painted over blue, producing a green hue from the blending of yellow and blue.  Layer 3 has red painted over blue, resulting in a violet hue.

You can begin to appreciate some of the different results that can be achieved when using wet vs dry paint, using wet vs dry fabric and depending on which color is put down first.  The next exploration will be with dry fabric.

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