Ooh I’ve had such a brilliant day out in the garden with the cats, some canvas and paint.
I tried out my letters on canvas, but it’s the wrong sort of fabric, doesn’t take the paint well on such a textured surface.
So I painted another piece with sort of sea colours and I intend to sew some clear plastic over this, sort of see what that does to the colours and perception. The colours on this came out much brighter than I expected. Maybe because it was really hot and sunny and the paint dried a lot quicker. But this made me think perhaps I should try painting a large piece of canvas on the floor like a painting but with lots and lots of water. I found an image I could paint that had lots of seaweed in it that I can machine embroider when finished and add on any detail I fancy.
I began with a large piece of canvas. This was approx 75 x 100cm when I started. I laid out the canvas on a piece of oilcloth and painted a good 3rd of it all over with water. This means I can easily blend the paint, which is the way I like to paint best. I diluted all my colours as I painted and blended as I went. I also painted it upside down as it was easier to ensure I got the scaling right and stopped me from being too literal, which is something I have to overcome.
I took the colours and blended and washed and swooshed it. I loved doing this. Adding layer on layer of colour and washes. Having finished scrubbing the colours in, I peeled it off the oilcloth and pegged it on the line to dry. Because I had painted the cloth with water before I started, it meant it stuck to the oilcloth and didn’t warp too much. A bit like stretching paper on a board before you start. There was something about painting on canvas as a fabric that I found much more engaging than on a primed stretched canvas. Theres something about that frame that removes it from me. Makes it formal. Stiffens it. Disconnects it. I loved painting on the raw fabric. It was so much more involving. I also really like the qualities the natural canvas has. That it slightly muddies the colours and the speckles of the fabric show through the paint like in the way old film pickes up dust and speckles. Instant, uncontrived ageing.
While the piece was drying on the line I looked at the back of it too. This was fascinating. It was like the memory was fading. It was splodgy and not quite all there. Bits were strong and other bits had faded or not soaked though to the reverse. This got me thinking about how I could show the memory fading. Could I overlay organza or something on it? To walk around the piece?
But I love the colours on the front of the piece so much I don’t want to hide them behind the veil of memory. And I could do it on the reverse, but then the colours are so muted by the organza… So I thought about actually painting the organza. I did a tiny test piece and it worked beautifully. The colours were so ethereal. Just what I wanted to see for a fading memory. A memory needs to be portrayed on fabric for me. It needs to flap, to be free, to move and change shape and return. Even a strong memory needs to be able to flap and change and return. It can be stiffer and more robust, but it still needs to be flexible. I also feel that a fading memory needs to shimmer. It gives it a more ghostly feel. So using organza for a fading memory seemed perfect.
I damped it all down on the oilcloth again and it disappeared entirely. I barely used any paint on it, using small blobs straight out of the tube that streaked out across the fabric and mixed really easily. I hung this up on the line attached with the oilcloth as the organza sticks to itself very easily. All the colours started to run, but I quite liked that. Most of the liquid runs out of the fabric in the end as even the holes in it dry ’empty’. It’s quite hard to make it dry as it tends to fold in itself and in some colour rubs off further, but I quite like the misplaced blobs of colour as that is what happens with a memory anyway. I tried weighing it down with pegs at the bottom which worked rather well.
I would like these pieces to be seen as a pair or individually. One will reflect the other, but they should be able to be seen as individual pieces. They have both dried out in the sun and I will aim to stitch on them tomorrow.
I’ve loved doing these and might finally have found a way to combine all the fabrics and techniques I like to create memory. It feels right. It finally feels like they all fit.