Jan 172011

Painted PurseHow do you Paint Fabric Like That?

One of the first things I notice about the comments people make regarding my hand painted designs is the textured surface. Instinctively they run their fingers across the surface. Then I’m asked, ‘how do you paint fabric like that?’ Of course I know that they are asking me to explain how to paint with texture.  I admit it is intriguing, but more than the intrigue is the excitement and yes even fulfillment in learning how to paint on fabric.

I’d be the first to admit that it is not rocket science; if I can do it, then I’m pretty sure almost anyone can. What is so interesting is the endless designs that can be created on a surface with a such a simple  skill; that’s why I share my fabric painting techniques with people who want to know how to paint fabric with texture.

Coupled with straw, leathers or other interesting fabrics, your painted fashion accessories are bound to be show stoppers. The great thing about painting abstract designs is that you really don’t have to be a Picasso; in fact it’s better just being yourself. You’ll be encouraged by the creativity you really do have.

Well there are numerous ways to achieve these awesome looks. Textured painting can be done on just about any firm surface. My primary surface for textured painting is a sturdy fabric. Other great surfaces for textured painting are walls, canvas, wood, paper, cardboard and the list can go on.

What is Texture?

When referring to texture it is basically talking about the dimensional look and feel of a surface. Textures can be subtle; like the grooves created when painting with a coarse paint brush, or it can be bold. An example of bold is the depth created with layers of paint or additives to the paint (like buttons) which add a visual and physical lift to the surface.

There are of course positives and negatives involved in this process. While textures can be quite beautiful, we can sometimes do an over kill of textures which only leaves the viewer feeling unsettled about the surface. In this case you would want to build your surface slowly developing it as you go. You may also consider creating a smoother area for the viewer to rest their eyes. Remember busy is not always better. Nonetheless knowing how to texture is a simple technique to learn.

Creating Texture

In creating textures, I like to use paints that have body and are quite easy to manage. I also like the idea of using water based paints so there are no harmful fumes to breathe in. If you are painting on canvas you may choose acrylic artists paints. However, when you paint on fabric as I do, then your paint of choice would be the acrylic or water based fabric paints. There are a number of brands to choose from.

Once you begin experimenting with the surface of your choice, it’s a good idea to document what you did and how you did it. Taking a snap shot of the outcome is also neat to add; it’s handy having a visual on hand. In compiling this information you will be developing your library of textures.

First off, try painting on your surface with a generous amount of paint, randomly and somewhat smoothly. Scrape off some of the paint with a palette knife or whatever tools you have handy. Try doing this with a swirling motion. What you have done is created a simple texture by lifting off some of the paint and exposing a bit on the base fabric.

Applying a textured finish on paper would yield a completely different result compared with using the same application on a canvas. A great thing to do is to test your surfaces to see what the outcome is before proceeding with a larger area. So you see knowing how to paint and how to texture your painted fabrics is a simple technique you can learn in minutes by watching how it’s done.

  4 Responses to “The Art of Painting Fabrics With Texture”

Comments (4)
  1. I have always admired your beautiful paintings and wanted to learn how to. Do you have classes? If so, please send detailed information to above email address.

    Many thanks

  2. Hi Beulah- thanks so much for your kind words. Yes I do have classes and of course you can join our membership area and just jump into our large collection of videos and tutorials to learn at your pace 24/7. I’m sending the details of our upcoming class via email as you requested. Happy Painting and I look forward to sharing my fabric painting secrets with you.


  3. where and when do you have classes and what is the cost?

  4. Hello Roslyn,

    We have classes in Nassau & the Family Islands at this time. Nassau classes will be posted as they are made available. You are free to gather a group and host a class or contact BAIC concerning a class in your area. The cost of the classes vary but are generally around $100 not including supplies.

    Until then Roslyn join our family of students who enjoy learning with our video tutorials for only a fraction of the cost (starting at $9.99). Choose your video collection and get started painting right away. The results are amazing!

    All the best,

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