Monday, March 2, 2015

Painting Fabric Backgrounds

I often like to paint fabrics that I use for backgrounds and mountains. A wide variety of paints will work for this, including various brands of textile paints, acrylic paints, and acrylic inks.  I don’t tend to use Tsukeniko inks for large pieces because of the expense.  I also don’t use watercolors or other paints that may wash out with water. This may not make sense since fiber art pieces should not be washed, but I spritz with water at times during construction and really don’t want to risk changes to the colors or bleeding into other fabrics. In general I have found that paints that are permanent on the fabric after heat setting all work well. Acrylic paints, if diluted, are fine and don’t leave the fabric too stiff.

I prefer to paint large pieces of fabric on a table in the back yard because it can be “drippy”.  But, if the weather doesn't allow it, I do paint in my studio in the house. I protect the flooring with a sheet laid out in front of the table I am painting on. I also put plastic on the table top so that the paints don't stain the table.

painting on a table

I sometimes stretch the fabric on oil painting stretcher bars. Binder clips work great to secure the fabric to the bars. Fabric stretched on bars dries more quickly, but the paint drips off of it, resulting in lighter values. But, if you put salt on stretched fabric and let it slowly dry you can get some beautiful effects.  
stretcher bars

I like to mix the paints in plastic containers ahead of time. 

paint containers

Spritz the fabric to dampen it and then apply the paint in large strokes across it. I like to use a wide brush to apply it to the fabric. If you add more paint in some areas you can get streaks and light/dark effects.


For other effects you can paint unstretched fabric and scrunch it up or fold it to get light/dark lines. 

Or sprinkle salt on for additional texture. Or scrunch fabric in a ball and pour paint on it. It is fun to experiment with different methods and see what you get. Scrunching gives me fabric that is ideal for foliage or leaves. I have always found the result to be a fabric I can use.

The sky, mountains, water, and some of the tree/bushes were all fabrics created by painting using these techniques.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Inner Self Portrait - the ForegroundI

It's A Wonderful Life

I thought I’d show you how I did the jacket, hat and rest of the foreground pieces in this post. The jacket and hat were made from purchased batik fabrics. You can see the jacket fabric below in this photo of my auditioning fabrics. As you can see, its pretty dark, and I had to figure out how to give the jacket some dimension. Normally dimension comes primarily from shadowing. But in this case, I added dimension with highlights.

auditioning fabrics

For the highlights I took some white textile paint and mixed it with blue/green textile paints to create a light version of the jacket color. I thought it worked pretty well to give highlights and blend into the jacket fabric. In this photo you can see the jacket folds and pockets made primarily by painting highlights.

jacket highlights

The hat fabric was a lighter shade of blue/green, so creating shadows was easier. I just painted the shadows as I normally would.

painting the hat

The fish started with a speckled beige fabric that I purchased. I painted the reddish/yellow and maroon tones on the fish body and fins to give definition. Additional speckles were added to the body by flicking paint with a tooth brush.

painting the fish

The shadow of the fish body and my arms on the water is made from organza. I used a couple different organza colors. Fray Block was applied to the edges to help prevent fraying. 

Fray Block

shadow placement

Each of these parts were cut out and painted separately and then assembled. Fabric glues and fusibles were used to temporarily hold them in place. Then I stitched them all down with machine appliqué.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It’s a Wonderful Life – Face, Hair and Hands

"It's A Wonderful Life"

My last post showed how I created the drawing of me holding the fish. Once I had the drawing completed and enlarged, I had to figure out how to create it with fabric.

I decided to paint my face, hair and hands on white “prepared for dyeing (PFD)” fabric using Tsukeniko inks. A Frixion pen was used to draw the major features of my face, hair and hands on the fabric and then I put "No Flow" on the fabric to prevent bleeding of the inks.
face drawn on PFD

The inks were mixed together to create a flesh-tone that is close to my coloring.  I mixed the paints so that I had some light, medium and dark flesh values. The flesh tone inks were applied going from lightest value to darkest value. I am a watercolorist and that is my natural progression for painting.

One Hand

The Other Hand

I added some blue to the shadow areas in addition to the flesh tones. I like the look of the addition of cool blues to warm skin shadows. My lip coloring was the red that I used in the flesh tone mixture.

Face Painting

I didn't have to paint eyes since I was wearing sun glasses, so I mixed some dark blues and browns for the glasses and frames. My hair coloring was a combination of light, medium and dark browns.

The paintings of hands and faces were cut out and applied as you would any other  raw edge applique piece.

I should mention that I mix my inks with aloe vera gel and apply it to the fabric with paint brushes. This method is comfortable for me given my painting background. There are many people who prefer other techniques and that is fine. You need to use what works for you.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Friday, February 6, 2015

It’s a Wonderful Life – Me and My Fish

It's A Wonderful Life

Today’s post is about how I created the drawing of me holding the fish. I actually caught the fish that you see me holding here, but my husband messed up the photograph by cutting my head off and taking the shot with the sun at my back, putting me in shadow. Here is the photo that he took:

Me and the trophy fish

Can you believe it? The fish of a lifetime and he messes it up? Did you notice that the fish is not cut off? You can see what he was looking at! Ultimately I decided to forgive him, I think. Yes I'm definitely over it. Hmmmm......

Anyway, for the image of me holding the fish I had to recreate my head. I pulled out a bunch of photos of me holding fish and found one that I thought would fit for the position I was in holding the fish.

Me with fish
photo I used for my head

I am facing the other way in this photo, but I remedied that by tracing my head and flipping the tracing paper over. I had to do some re-sizing of the traced head so it fit the body size, but that wasn't too difficult.

After filling in some details on the jacket, this is what I ended up with for the drawing of me holding the fish.

sketch of me with fish

My next post will show the making of the face, hair and hands out of fabric. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"It's A Wonderful Life" and What it all Means!

"It's a Wonderful Life"

This quilt is a very personal piece for me, so before I post about the making of it, I thought I would show some of its details and give a little explanation of their meaning. This seems very self-indulgent, and I hope I don’t get carried away, but here we go:

1) That’s me there, holding a trophy steelhead fish – and yes I do fish. Fly fishing in particular. On a trip to BC one year I caught the trophy steelhead depicted here. It was 26 pounds and it took me a half hour to land it. It is the largest fish I've ever caught and it’s larger than most other steelhead caught. I’m not the best angler on the river, but sometimes if you just try something you have success beyond your wildest dreams. The image is a metaphor of sorts. Disclaimer – the steelhead I caught was released, and no steelhead were harmed in the making of this art quilt.

2) The two people wading the river behind me – that is a silhouette of me and my hubby. A friend took a photo of us crossing a river and it is a favorite of ours. I've done a painting of it and it hangs over my bed. So this part of the piece is symbolic of my happy marriage.


3) Paint brushes, needle with thread, and scissors – did you notice them? Well they are there. Where would I be artistically without them? These are my favorite tools. My hand is happy when they are in it.

scissors, needle and thread

paint brush

4) Periodic Table of the Elements – It’s really hard to see this, but some of the tree trunks and bushes are made from fabric of the Periodic Table of the Elements. I purchased it on Spoonflower.  That fabric was used because there is still a scientist/engineer inside me, gradually getting obliterated by fabric and paint.

5) The Heron – In another life I could be a full on bird watcher, binoculars, Bermuda shorts and all. I love birds and must have one in all art quilts somewhere. It’s a thing with me.

heron and signature

And I think that covers it.  Thanks for letting me blather on about myself. My next posts on this quilt will talk about how I went about making it.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Monday, January 19, 2015


"It's a Wonderful Life" by Eileen Wintemute

I’m proud to have this art quilt that I call “It’s A Wonderful Life” in the “My Inner Self Portrait” exhibit at Road to California this year. Beyond the Edge Fiber Artists is presenting this exhibit at Road. This year is Road to California’s 25th anniversary, so it should be a great show. I’m sure there are many special things planned.

This is the description that Beyond the Edge prepared for the “My Inner Self Portrait” exhibit:

A fine arts fiber exhibit exploring aspects of self-portraiture that look beyond the mere physical to review that which is unique to us as individuals and/or that which is universal to all.

We were asked to prepare something to show how we see ourselves. As a child I was very shy and my shyness prevented me from trying experiences that I know I would have enjoyed. In high school I realized I was missing out on a lot, and started to push myself more. Much to my delight I found friends, happy memories and accomplishments once I took some chances. Today I am a happy person with many blessings and accomplishments, partly because I have been blessed, and partly because I overcame my shyness.  My quilt is intended reflect all of that.

I will be showing how I made this in my upcoming posts. In the meantime, I hope I see you at Road. As always, thanks for visiting my blog!

Saturday, January 17, 2015


I am sometimes asked where I get my inspiration for art quilts. I find inspiration in many places, including art museums. It helps to go to see an art exhibit a few times each year and just take in how others are depicting their view of the world and beauty. I recently went to see the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Arts Center quilt exhibit in Anaheim. They have several traditional and art quilts on display. I enjoyed looking at this and found inspiration in several pieces on display. Here are some examples:

These are photos from a coxcomb traditional quilt. I have always loved this pattern. Seeing this inspires me to make my own coxcomb design and then make a fiber art piece from it.

This is an art quilt by Linda Anderson. I love many things about this piece, but for the first time I noticed the echoing of the figure she has done. I love finding additional surprises on closer examination. This inspires me to go work on the current art quilt in my studio and add some surprises of my own.

This is a traditional quilt made from a cotton sateen, I think. It had the appearance of silk, but was called cotton. This quilt has given me the idea of using sateen in place of silks when I want a sheen. It had a very striking appearance, and is probably easier to work with.

These are just a few examples of where inspiration can come from by looking at other's work. I hope you are inspired now too!

 Thanks for visiting my blog!