Experimenting in feltmaking, using references to acrylic painting (book in photo is by Flora Bowley)
We've been enjoying trying out other types of art and craft recently, to feed back into our feltmaking and give us a different perspective on creating artwork.
A couple of weeks ago me and mum went on two of Jenny Muncaster's wonderful workshops. Highly recommended! The first was an introduction to art - an Art Taster Day - and the second was an acrylic painting day - "Foodie Painting" - where we would be led through making our own masterpiece!
Neither me nor mum had really done much painting before, mainly just splotches of colour on felt and other fabrics so this was a whole new experience. I've dabbled with watercolours before but only little sketches, never a proper finished picture.
So we were quite chuffed when at the end of the Foodie Day we both produced finished acrylic paintings of mackerel on a plate...
and here's mine (I got a bit carried away with the shimmery blue and green paints so mine look more like rainbow trout than mackerel, but still, pretty pleased with it!):
It was quite amazing how all 8 of the finished pictures were so different given that we were all painting the same thing. Am planning to attempt a felty version at some point, such a lovely composition!
I've hankered after doing some acrylic painting for a while and at Christmas I received the book in the photo at the top of this post, called Brave Intuitive Painting by Flora Bowley, to help remove the fear and begin the process - as she quite rightly says "there is no wrong way". Jenny showed us that completely on her workshop and instead of me just looking longingly at the paints - we just got on and painted - very liberating!
..and so with that extra armoury I plan to do some more painting soon. Flora's book is great, I haven't read it all, but it is very easy to read and offers lots of lovely quotes and snippets and related things about life as well as painting which make it a bit different. You really want to just roll your sleeves up and dive in!
But first, some feltmaking! I wanted to see what elements of the approach to acrylic painting I could bring into wet felting because I like the layering effects you can achieve with acrylic paint and the effects you can get with paint spots and splats and so on.
This is just my first experiment - some things worked well, some not so well:
I have an idea in my head to make a really big (not sure how big yet!) piece of work to hang on the wall but I want it to be sort of blocky and defined rather than the softer brush strokes finish I quite often go for. This sample is about 25cm x 35cm and I'll do a few more first to see what works for me and what doesn't.
- The effect of the white netting.
- The red/blue layered "flowers" - the circles of silk with blue rings of felt around them worked well.
- The bold prefelt shapes.
- The way the pink silk kept it's pointy shape.
- The way the details really showed through while the felt was wet (but when it dried they disappeared a bit. But that is to be expected - felt is not paint after all!)
Things to change next time:
- Use thicker felt so it will look more substantial on the wall.
- Use more thoroughly felted "prefelts" so the fibres don't fluff away so much, to give a more defined line. Although with tiny pieces I suppose fibres will always break away.
- I always like a spot of white in a picture (some nepps or a splash of stitching because it lifts it a bit, as we found spattering white paint on our mackerel really livened it up). I like the white cut pieces but I don't like the white background showing through, it looks a bit wishy washy in this case.
I also made a little nuno sample recently using an open weave scarf with sparkly bits in. I put blocks of 4 different colours of merino wool under the fabric to see the different effect on the final colour. I also just chucked a couple of extra little bits of fabric on the edges to use the spare space just to see how they worked.
The effect of the different colours of wool was quite dramatic - the blue and the green looked like the fabric was in shade where by contrast the yellow looked like it had a stream of sunlight across it. I also liked the way the cotton open weave blended with the merino fibres to make a sort of fairisle knitted effect. It might make some nice little landscapes one day, but really it was just an experiment. The little scraps were quite interesting too - they went really wavy as the wool fibres felted.
I'm really enjoying playing and mixing it up a bit at the moment. Some of the painted papers from the play session on the workshop had taken on a kind of fabric feel after lots of layers of paint and water, so I thought I'd quickly stitch a circle of handmade felt on to a piece to see how it felt. It worked quite well. Then I stitched another bit of painted paper on. I am imagining now how this might be used to make another piece of work - all layered up with bits of handmade felt and paper and stitch....so many possibilities - we'll just have to do what we can!