Monday, November 1, 2010

Silk Angels

Back to silk painting.  Angel trumpet flowers (Brugmansia) are among my favorites.  They look almost alien in their size and shape.  I videotaped this painting as I worked on it.  I'm going to try to post the video below.

 I just posted it to youtube and it's a bit blurry.  It wasn't before I downloaded it but the file was probably too large and maybe it was posted as a smaller file and that made it blurry.  Who knows?  I certainly don't.  I think it's amazing that I've gotten it this far.  You wouldn't believe how many hours it's taken me to figure it out to this point.  I am very technologically challenged.  Thank goodness our son was home from college this weekend or the video would still be in the camera - not compatible with Mac.  Matt's my computer genius.  I know it would be nice to have music but sorry, not this time.  I'm tired of working on this and my head is spinning enough already.  It can only get easier from here, right?

I hope you can see this enough to get an idea of the process.  If you are interested in seeing me demonstrate silk painting in person, I will be the speaker at the Tustin Art League's monthly meeting next Wednesday, November 10th at 7:00.  If you will be joining us, could you send me an e-mail so we will have an idea of how many people are coming?  We are a very small art league and have limited space.  My e-mail is  The meeting is located at 300 South C St., Tustin, CA.

Here is the video (I hope):

Silk Angels
Image Size 12" x 20"
Silk dyes on silk
Stretched but unframed


  1. The silk painting is lovely; I enjoyed seeing how it was done.. thank you for the movie.

  2. wow Nancy, you painted that in less than 7 minutes!? (but the camera was fast forwarded for the video? how long did it really take to paint?) And how long did it take for you to put the drawing down on the silk? that looks like it was probably the hardest part.

  3. Thank you Carole.

    Yes Robin, I'm an incredibly fast painter, aren't I? The actual painting part took a couple of hours. You're right, the drawing, transferring the drawing and putting the resist on the silk are the most time consuming. On this one the figuring out how to use the camera, making it recognizable to my computer and editing the video was the most time consuming. There's really nothing quite like technology to make me feel like an idiot! But...I learned a lot and I can't wait to try again. I think next time I need to split it into two videos so the file isn't so big and then maybe it won't be blurry.

  4. Loved watching this video - gave me food for thought! And the final piece is outstanding. I'm very intrigued (wish I lived near Tustin CA). A couple of questions if you don't mind. During the video I often see you lifting the silk, is that to prevent it from building up underneath? And what do you have underneath the silk while you work. How fast does it dry (to the touch). Also (only 1 more, sorry), what type of silk do you use?

  5. Hi Nancie. Thank you for your interest and don't worry about asking questions. I'm always happy to answer them (if I can). I keep lifting the silk because as it gets wet, it gets heavier and sometimes slips down the pins that hold it up. It need to be above the flat surface so that the dyes dry without touching anything. There are other ways to stretch the silk on stretcher bars with rubber bands and hooks but I prefer this way because I'm not restricted to certain sizes. The pins I use keep the silk a couple of inches above the table surface. I put my pattern on a piece of sound board. You can find that at Home Depot in a 4" x 8" sheet. They won't cut it for you so you will need a truck to get it home. It's very soft and can be cut with a mat cutter into whatever sizes you want. You can cover it with contact paper so you can wash any dye off of it. The pins can be pushed into it very easily.
    After the design has been transferred to the silk, there is no need for the pattern under it so from then on, the silk remains above the table.

    How fast it dries is very dependent on the weather. I was working on a scarf when we had 3 days of rain (very unusual) and it never did feel like it dried until I used a hair dryer after 2 days. I had used salt on it which may have effected the drying time. I don't know because usually it's pretty dry here and the silk is probably dry with in an hour or so.

    My favorite type of silk to paint on is 8mm Habotai. It is fairly thin so the resist goes through the silk well and there aren't as many breaks in the resist. Silk satin is very beautiful (shiny) but very hard to work with. I have many more "happy(?) accidents" when I use it and every time I do a project on it I swear that I will never buy it again but the beauty of the surface if very compelling. Of course, I frame my paintings behind glass to protect them so the shine of the satin isn't really seen very well anyway.

    I get my supplies from a wonderful company called Dharma Trading Co. Their website is

  6. Nancy, thank you so much for all the information! I so appreciate you sharing your tips & tricks of the trade! I may very well give this a try, I do love the look of it very much.

  7. It's such a fun medium. I hope you try it.

  8. Hey Nancy.... I like the video....watched it 2x ....I moved it faster to see the process in a more flowing way. Thanks for sharing your amazing work. Awesome.

    Linda Keyes

  9. Thanks Linda. I hope you can come to the meeting on Wednesday to see the demo in person.

  10. Nancy, this is awesome. Thank you so much for putting this video together, I really enjoyed watching it! Thank you for sharing your process... it's a very beautiful painting!

  11. It is late now, but I will be back to watch the video. I think the silk painting is beautiful. My daughter, Chelsea, just painted a silk fairy and I love it.

  12. Thank you Margaret. I saw Chelsea's fairy and it was really nice. Is she going to continue painting on silk?

  13. Hello Nancy,
    Thank you for putting this video and sharing your process!
    Nice painting!
    Black resist looks so nice. It gives a nice touch to painting.
    I want also to try it! I always use clear gutta, but see that black line
    could give interesting result.
    What kind of resist do you use water based or solvent based?
    Thank you!

  14. Hi Irina, sometimes I use Gutta but usually I use the water-based resist with black dye in it.


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