It seems that at this time of year; everyone is preparing for back to school;…
Yes, I know what you are thinking… But really; everyone can paint (in some way)! I am testing Dye-Na-Flow (free flowing liquid colour) and sharing my outcomes. Honestly, who doesn’t love Jean Jackets?! So Painting on Light Denim is Perrrfect!
The Perfect ‘Canvas’
Everywhere you turn there are Jean (denim) jackets of all kinds! I actual have quite the weakness for them, (so do NOT ask me how many I have) but for good reason as they are going to be my canvases. I have tried some opaque painting on them but I would rather paint the image in a more naturally artistic way. Opaque painting on denim means having to apply a solid coat of white paint first. It is laborious… and takes so many layers.
I have excitement for the Dye-Na-Flow (free flowing liquid colour for fabrics) to make the job easier, since I am starting with a very light canvas of light denim.
I am keeping this simple in the sense of colour. The base denim colour still has some ‘blueness’ to it so it would not show paint colours true to their hue. Why fight with the media?! It’s good to stay in harmony with the light denim and use only blue (814 Azure Blue), Black, White and a bit of opaque paint (Angelus)
Find your own Special Images:
It’s hard to find imagery that I will not tire of. I love nature and graphic shapes that are quite freeform… so roses seem to keep creeping in. ‘Love how they a symbol of strength and also beauty, not to mention they are so simple to draw/paint. You can’t really go wrong. For me, bigger is better but please suit yourself. (be original!)
Mixing the blue with a touch of black will make it match the denim colour a bit more. If you want to lighten the blue it is suggested to not water/dilute more than 20%. You can also use the white Dye-Na-Flow rather than adding water. The white is however not opaque; meant for mixing.
To plan it out you can collect images on the net as inspiration or draw from life. I like to draw on the jacket with an Erasable Pen. They are great since they will disappear if you apply some heat like a blowdryer or iron so you can draw like crazy. (just do not leave them in a hot car, sheesh)
Since this paint/dye sinks in I rather have the image cross over seams and details to be more interesting.
You can watch the video to see how the Dye-Na-Flow acts on the denim. Since it is a 100% cotton it just sucks up all the pigment. Do not load the brush too much or it will bleed quite far. It does give a nice ‘sketchy’ effect when you are slightly using a drier brush. That is what I love about this stuff so much!
If you find that the blue is too bright for your looking you can add some black. This dye/paint can also be diluted but is suggested o not over dilute it more than 20%. Ok, I may have stretched that limit a bit… But if it does slightly lighten then it will look even more worn, as denim usually does.
Ready, Set – Heat!
It does dry quite quickly so it can be pressed with an iron set as high as possible for the fibre. This makes the Dye-Na-Flow permanent.
What do you think? Is it too much? I imagine it could be worn in many ways, even over a bridesmaid dress! If you really like it… you can make it your own easily!
Again, trying not to be typical there’s a few massive roses on the back. In my illustrating career I have found that larger images allow more time to perfect that having way too many small images. ‘And it’s easier!
My Personal Challenge:
Maybe I have been missing some of my old figure drawing… My absolute favourite drawing method I remember was drawing on a mid-tone paper! It meant there wasn’t that huge daunting ‘white’ to fill and it also allowed some cool addition of lights later. Let me show you…
I found an image that inspired me and made a tracing. I needed to convert it to line so I can transfer it to the fabric (denim) Transferring onto denim can be a bit of a nuisance but is so important. The transfer papers I have tried do not always give a visible line if the fabric has some texture.
How to Enlarge an Image:
So for this method I used the ‘Grid Enlarging Method‘. It is a basic ‘tried & true’ method that has been around for centuries! ‘And it is simple.
Squares (there have to be the same amount) are mapped out on the chosen small image and also on the fabric. Then, square by square you look at where the lines are intersecting to draw the details. I draw out areas of shadow as well.
Then the fun part; Paint!
Please do not feel intimidated but it is really about a lot of observation. Looking at the original image and slowly adding the areas of light and dark. Stand back and assess or squint to see the major areas of Value (light and dark)
I was really loving this since it was taking on a very sketchy look. The brush is not fully loaded with the paint/dye so it’s really not bleeding. I have some extra fun by adding strokes to exemplify that it is indeed drawn by hand…
See the grid lines? No worry as they will be gone when ironed…
Once you are happy with the tones you have, you may want to even get some lighter areas called ‘highlights’. Since you can’t get opaque coverage with the Dye-Na-Flow you will need to use another opaque fabric paint.
I like my Angelus Acrylic paint for leather (it stays pretty flexible) or you could use one of the others I tested. Again, do not blob on too much, be subtle. It should not be that noticeable; just the odd lightening.
As usual, more ideas in my ‘noggin’ and the The Creation of Adam touching hands fit the space perfectly. (notice the square grid on both)
Sketchy lines and some background brush strokes for interest. I think I could spend days painting like this…
Always trying to make statement; a famous quote hand-lettered on the sleeve.
There’s little unexpected hidden drawing of brushes & paint next to the pocket as well.
And so how does it wash?! I have sent some test pieces through a pretty tough long cycle of hot-water wash and found that most of the lightening is due to all the agitation. The colours do not wash out but cotton has a way of changing due to surface rubbing. Gentle hand washing without agitation or dryer tumbling would be the most ideal. The way that the drawings are light and sketchy also allows that if they do lighten a bit it does not look obvious. The darker colours will show more surface rubbing effect…
More Dye-na-flow Exploration to come…