Silk painting techniques - hiding the gutta lines
Painting on silk is not like painting on paper. The paints don't stay where you put them! They run across the fabric, spreading out from the initial brush mark. Silk painters use gutta to draw outlines on the silk, this keeps the paint in place and gives silk painting a distinctive look. You can see the gutta lines clearly in the painting above, around the birds, branches and leaves.
When I paint I build up layers of paint and gutta. You can read more about the process I use here.
Recently I've been curious about how to paint on silk without having the gutta lines. Some silk artists do this by spraying the silk with various products that mean that the paint behaves like it would if you were painting on paper.
Other artists use gutta in such a way that the gutta lines are hidden. I wanted to give it a try. It's a more complicated way of painting. In the painting below, I outlined the birds in gutta and then painted the background using gutta as normal. I then ironed and washed the silk to remove the gutta. At this point the background was finished but the birds were still unpainted. I then put a line of clear gutta on the painted background around each bird. That meant that when I painted the birds, the paint ran up to the gutta, which was over the painted background. So there was no white line around the birds.
And on this painting most of the gutta lines are hidden. At several points I washed the silk to remove the gutta and then reapplied it over the painted background. It took ages! But I think I've figured out a better way of doing it for next time - it's all in the planning!