Maggie Ayres

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Newsletter - August 2007

Welcome to the August edition of my newsletter.

Silk painting is one of the main features of many of my works. This month I've been busy with paint and a camera to try and capture the way colour moves across the silk, when affected by water and salt.

Coming up this month:

  • Hidden Worlds in Silk Painting
  • See the spread and change of paint on silk using time-lapse photography
  • Download a free high-resolution print for your own wall


Painting Silk

In every art form I have undertaken, I realise I have been trying to achieve a flow and movement of colour and light and form. Working with layered and stitched textiles gives me these effects but it is most specifically through painting on silk that I can begin to achieve the results I want.

Silk absorbs yet reflects light like no other fabric I know, and that is still maintained when silk paints are applied. Colours are taken through the material by a seemingly magical capillary action, spreading in what almost always seems like an unexpected way. I like the fact that I never quite know how the painted silk will turn out.

I select my colours, sometimes straight from the jar, sometimes mixed in a palate beforehand. I need brushes, sponges, droppers, sprays, water and fingers to apply the paint.

The weight and texture of the silk fabric I choose is also important. Habotai is the most commonly used, with its even weave easing the flow of the paint.

Traditionally, most silk painting is done using gutta outlines, which are used to stop the flow of the paint between colours. This works well if you are looking to create a specific shape or form. In my work, however, I prefer to create that tension by using stitching and applied textures instead.

Lines of stitching and applied silk fibres create tension
Detail from "Wellspring"

Without gutta I have the unrestricted flow of the paint and I enjoy the unrestrained quality this method offers me.

I am fascinated too by the effect salt has on the silk paint. It seems like a magical process whereby a few crystals scattered randomly, or carefully placed on the wet fabric, transforms the finished piece when it is dry.

Hidden worlds appear in distorted waves of colour, and these can often act as a springboard for the direction of the work.


Hidden Worlds in Silk Painting

For this newsletter, I took over 60 photos of a piece of silk as I painted, sprayed water and dropped salt crystals on it. We then overlayed the photos into a video creating a time-lapse effect of the spread of the colour on the silk.

Sit back, press play and enjoy.

Download a free high-resolution print for your own wall

Now you know a bit more about the process of creating this effect in silk painting, if you would like a high-resolution image of a detail of the piece I created for the video, for your own non-commercial use, then right-click on the image below and select Save Target As You can then save the image on your computer and print it off on photographic paper at up to A4 size without losing any quality.

Be advised that the image is approximately 2.5MB big, so might take a little while to download
Hidden Worlds in Silk Painting
If you run into any difficulties then please let me know.


Questions and Comments:

I would very much like to hear from you. Please email me with any questions about my artwork, or with ideas of things you'd like to see and read in future editions of this newsletter.

And finally, if you know of anyone who you think might be interested in receiving this newsletter, please point them to to sign up.

Wishing you all the best until next time,



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