I was checking my DMs on Instagram and saw that one of my followers had forwarded a post to me. She had a feeling I would like it and she was absolutely right. My jaw dropped and I clicked on the link quickly to learn more about these beautiful swatches of color painted on linen. Were they, by chance, for sale?!
This is the post that got my heart fluttering…
Cathleen of @815vintagegoods found these amazing color charts at an estate sale. Unfortunately, they were already spoken for, but I knew immediately I wanted to try to replicate them. I had never seen color charts on natural linen – only on a bright white surface like a gessoed canvas or oil paper. Those are pretty, too, but the linen is yummy!
Not only do I love the look of the colored squares on linen, but creating the charts on a mid-tone substrate makes a lot more sense, since I’m usually painting on a toned canvas. (A toned canvas is one that has a thin wash of color on it to make it mid-tone.)
I found my mind wandering to how these were made. Was a clear gesso applied to the linen first? Or was the paint just applied directly to the linen? Would the oil bleed in that case?
I decided I was going to experiment and try to discover the process, so I can recreate it.
I dug around in my fabric stash to see what I had. I pulled out some scraps of antique linen grain sacks that I bought years ago and used for an upholstery project. The shade of the linen was perfect. Now, I had to figure out what to do with it!
I decided to cut two pieces and clip them onto scraps of MDF with bull clips. If this idea works, I can attach them to the boards with my upholstery staple gun. I used clear gesso on one and left the other unprimed to see which method worked better…
I then taped off a grid with 1/4″ masking tape. I usually measure when I make color charts, but I was just playing, so I eye-balled it. Measuring devices don’t come out when I’m playing.
I mixed and applied colors with a palette knife to make a thick square of paint. I usually have a method when I’m making color charts, but I just did little color studies with Indigo and Bice, both blues.
The Indigo study was the one that was gessoed. The paint definitely sat up on the fabric better, but the tape didn’t stick to the gesso as well, so there was more bleeding under the tape.
For the Bice study, I applied the paint directly to the raw linen…
The tape stuck better, but the fabric definitely absorbed a good amount of paint. The fibers also made smearing the paint on a little more challenging.
I need to try a few more experiments before I decide which way is my favorite. I also ordered some clear-primed linen panels and a pad, so I’ll compare those to my antique linen fabric as well.
As I allowed myself this creative playtime, I got an idea (which is often what happens)… Why not create little color studies on antique linen with leftover paints on my palette? These really are little pieces of art by themselves and I think people would be interested in buying them. I’ll have to play around with that idea and see if it works.
I love it when one little bit of inspiration can be a jumping-off point for all sorts of new ideas.
And, I’m excited to introduce you to a very talented young watercolor/acrylic artist – Amelia Polder. She is a part of the Polder family (as in Polder’s Old World Market) and started her own Etsy shop to sell her art. I really admire how industrious, artistic, and entrepreneurial that whole family is!
I’ve been following her on Instagram for a while and, in our conversations, she offered to give away a print of her original art to one of my readers. This is the print that the winner will receive…
There are two ways to enter…
Visit Amelia’s Etsy shop and leave a comment here letting me know what your favorite painting is…
Follow Amelia on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you did.
If you want two chances to win, you can do both and leave a comment for each. The giveaway will run through Monday, March 2, 2020, and a winner will be randomly chosen and announced that week.