A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September with Mags Ramsay - working with acrylic paints

Way back in January I volunteered to do a month's posting on using acrylics paints  in September. Well here we are and hasn't the time gone really quickly!
As an introduction, I thought I'd re-run that post to give you an overview of what I'll be covering.
If you have a technique  using acrylic paints that you'd like to share, do leave a comment - I know I've only scratched the surface  of their versatility.
'Dry Valley' - Mixed media on watercolour paper  

I have always painted, drawn and sewn, and many of my quilts are based on the sketches and photographs from my travels both at home and abroad.  I was introduced to using acrylic paints on a mixed media course with Yorkshire artist Katherine Holmes, combining them with watercolour and pastels, attempting to capture the atmosphere of the hills –and the weather. It  got me thinking about how I might capture some of the immediacy of sketches directly in my textile pieces.
Test sample - wild fabrics give interesting results!
So on my return using machine quilting test pieces and failed projects I practiced using acrylic paints in different ways on fabric until I was confident enough to design a quilt ‘(Strindberg Shore’) with acrylic painting at its core.
'August' (Strindberg Shore sample) before and after painting with palette knife

I’ve since used this technique in many quilts and as I taught myself mainly through trial and errors ( lots of those!) I thought I’d share what I’d learnt along the way so hopefully readers   will have the confidence to give it a go.

The 3 main techniques I use are:

1)      applying thick opaque  acrylic paints with palette knife/dry brush  after quilting/ stitching

2)      painting with fluid transparent acrylics  on fabric surfaces primed with gesso

3)      using masking tape stencils to create shibori effects.  
 'Rich as Honesty ' primed with gesso,  ready to paint  
'Nautical Dawn' masking tape shibori effect

For each method I’ll describe step by step what fabrics you might use, how to prepare them for painting and some tricks of the trade I’ve picked up along the way.

Acrylic paints are quick drying which can be a blessing (and a curse!) so I’ll start  in my next post with an introduction to their properties and tips on their use. 



  1. I'm going to enjoy following you this month Mags. I've never seen those flat handled brushes before so I've learned something already :-) Your 'shibori' method is much easier on the hands than stitching and tugging.

  2. I can tell already this will be an exciting month. I also paint on canvas with acrylics so I'm good to go!!

  3. Thanks for this--I definitely want to play with that Shibori technique. And could you give info about those brushes? I've neve seen them before either and have been wishing I could find something like that!

  4. Mags, sounds like a great month. Can't wait!

  5. I'll be following with much interest! thanks

  6. Are the stubby paint brushes the liquitex paddle brushes? Any supplier you would recommend? Looking forward to reading the posts.

  7. This is going to be great! Many people ask me questions about using acrylic paints on fabric - I know where to send them this month! Thank you.

  8. Wow, September has come fast. I am looking forward to learning about using acrylics on fabric. I just know it would help me with some ideas I have percolating in the head!
    Sandy in the UK (or Bracknell, which ever suits)

  9. Looking forward to seeing how you achieve those great results. Mine always look like a toddler's got at the paint.

  10. I'm just starting to switch from craft acrylics to professional ones. Your post is fascinating and you've offered a lot of tips and information. I'll be following along....very...very closely.


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