Painting fabric; autumn leaves

When I first moved from California to this state of New Hampshire, I was utterly startled the first time I saw the changing color of leaves in the fall.    Photos I had seen of them seemed “enhanced” but here they were in real life just as brilliant and as saturated as those surrealistic photos!  I found that I needed to test my eyes, so I set about mixing paint to recreate those colors – the blends were true to the pigments!   Determined to test it further, I then painted each leaf to see if I could recreate them.  What I began was a yearly habit of picking up the most interesting leaves I find then recreating them with paint on white cotton fabric then fusing them to a backing to be little, mini works of art.  These are some of the leaves I painted in 2013.

Here is how I do it.

  1. Stretch plain white fabric onto a painting board taping it down with painters tape to keep it taut.  My preferred fabric is Pima cotton due to the tight, fine, flat weave.  My painters board is a simple coated board available at Lowes or Home Depot in a 4′ x 8′ length that I have them cut for me into smaller sizes.DSC04884
  2. Using the actual leaf, I trace it onto the fabric using either a fine retractable pencil or preferably an archival black pen .01. DSC04796
  3. I mix my paints to match…DSC04807DSC04798
  4. Then I start painting using the patterning on the leaves as a guide but I do use some artistic license so each completed leaf is different from the next.  I will add water to the paint when I want a more blended look and some times I add pencil to create the little imperfections or veining in the leaves.DSC04802DSC04805DSC04809DSC04922DSC04928
  5. When I am finished I let the fabric dry completely then I iron each piece of fabric with a very hot iron to set the paint.  Then using a heavy gauge fusible adhesive web, I fuse the painted fabric to a solid color coordinated fabric.
  6. When completely cooled I cut out each leaf with fine scissors.
  7. To shape the leaf I VERY CAREFULLY use the tip of my very hot iron to press and pull the leaf into a curled shape along the vein lines.  Finito.
  8. They are fun to look at, wrap packages with and I make them into lapel pins for we daring folk who want to look like a trees.  Pins are available through the League of NH Craftsmen galleries in: Meredith, Littleton, Hanover and at the Hooksett rest stop gallery.

NOTE:  all these pictures are my painted leaves NOT the actual leaf!

10 thoughts on “Painting fabric; autumn leaves”

  1. So THAT’S what you’ve been doing in your studio! They really do look like the real thing. Mission accomplished…… and beautiful! L.

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