This life we's strange, painful at times, but oh so beautiful.

I am a fusion dance artist and teacher, a fire dancer, and a visual artist. I draw inspiration from nature, music, and the amazing people that come into my life. I am also a conservationist who makes jewelry and found object multimedia craft type art in my spare time (when I'm not reading, writing, or lighting things on fire and dancing around with them). I love to dance barefoot on the beach, watch the stars move inexorably across the heavens, and to laugh with the people that I love. I am currently based in Greenville SC, working with Discordia Arts to provide unique and exciting entertainment to the Upstate.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Birth of a Silk Painting

It begins with a concept.
I wanted a fire goddess type woman for my abstract series "bodies in motion."

Sometimes I look up images online or work from a photo that I've taken. More often than not, I sketch out what I'm planning prior to drawing resist lines.

This time, my sketch was representative - I chose a simple, curvaceous representation of the feminine, deciding to focus on the use of color and shading to portray the emotions of the figure.

I played with some background ideas and reworked my "fire" to the right of the central figure - the original sketch was too clean - I wanted a bit more chaos in my fire.
Resist on Silk

For this piece I chose to go straight to the resist lines, rather than sketching the line drawing on the silk. As the piece began to come together, I made some changes from the original drawing.

I increased the amount of hair that my goddess had, while keeping the pieces large enough for a bit of shading. At this stage it is particularly important to pay attention to the size of the space that will be dyed in reference to whether or not shading, multiple dyes, or water will be used in the painting process.

For this piece, I had no intention of flooding any of the resist lines. After the resist dried, I went back over the piece to make sure that there were no breaks in the lines. I also made some changes to my background, including the addition of a "shadow" at the base of the piece.

Starting to Paint

Once the resist lines are dry, I'm ready to start my favorite part of the process - the actual silk painting.

For a piece that is this intricate and large, I generally paint the details first. At this stage, if I flood a resist line or find a break in the resist, it is still possible (though difficult) to fix a mistake, so I paint areas where I am more likely to find a break (detailed areas with thin lines, such as my goddess' hair) first.

I begin by mixing a variety of washes in the set of colors that I plan to use - for this piece, I wanted the hair and the fire to emulate one another while staying distinct in color. To this end, I chose a red/brown color palette with highlights of orange and yellow for her hair.

I used water and the lighter washes to create fade effects in some pieces of the hair, while leaving some strands very flat. My hope was that when taken as a whole, the variety in technique and color would give an additional depth to the piece.

I allowed the hair to dry and then moved on to the main body of the figure.

I chose a fade technique within the body of the figure. At this point I am thinking ahead to how well the entire piece will contrast with the background colors that I have in mind. I know that I want a blue background at the top of the piece so I mix my colors for the central figure with purple so that there will be a distinct variation in the color of the background and the focal point of the piece.

Since this piece is the representation of a fire goddess, I used water to lighten and fade and mix streaks of dark blue and purple through the face and arms of the figure into the red and finally orange of the base.   
Next, I painted the fire using a color palette that was similar to the goddess' hair. I darkened my reds by using more concentrated dyes and put more emphasis on yellow. There are no browns in the fire, but I used a mix of techniques similar to the process by which the hair was dyed to keep these two portions of the piece similar yet distinct.

After the body and the flames dried, I began work on the background of the piece. I chose to start at the bottom and work up.

I chose a palette of brown/deep green and kelly green for the first section of background, knowing that I would eventually fade out the brown and move into blue greens and mostly blue for the other sections.

It was within the lowest section of the background that I encountered my first problem with this piece. The left hand resist line on my shadow didn't hold. I had a few options - I could have grabbed a hair drier, quickly dried my fabric and used alcohol and water to try and stop the bleeding, reinforced the resist line and then re paint the piece....but I decided to run with it.

I added water and purposely painted over my resist line, soaking the dye and letting it run. Since I still had a strong line to the right of my shadow, this process ended up producing a really beautiful "fuzzy" effect on one edge, and I'm pleased with this happy accident.

I continued fading the greens up the piece, finishing with a mix of cyan and navy/purple mixed with blue green edge in the final section of background. For the first three background sections I chose to work wet on wet - painting the silk with water before adding dye.

For the final section, I switched up my process and painted the dye directly on the dry silk, using water over washes to fade and mix the colors directly on the silk.

While the silk was still wet I added large crystals of sea salt in waves across the last section of background. The salt will absorb some of the dye, creating a random pattern of lighter splotches wherever the crystals are on the silk.

As I type this, the silk is drying. To finish, I will remove the silk from the stretcher frame, wrap it in news print, steam it for two hours, wash to remove the resist and excess dye, and iron to finish. The finished piece will measure 15x60 inches.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing, Jaidra. I've never seen the silk process intricate and detailed.