May 31, 2023

Top tips for painting! – Rebecca Desnos

I met a friend last week. He finished his work I’ve been painting some plants over the years and asked how I got my colors so saturated.

These are my top tips for her and I thought I’d share them with you!

These tips form the basis of my painting philosophy, which you can find in my book Botanical Color at Your Fingertips (available as e-book and paperback).

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1. Use less water.

Use only as much water as necessary to submerge the plants. If you’re painting with things like leaves or onion skins, they’ll soften and you can use less water and push them below the water level later.

Technically, you can boil off the extra water afterwards, but some dyes are sensitive to aggressive heat and this can really dull the colors. This is why I love making concentrated dyes first! Then the paints can double as ink for printing or coloring!

2. Make the paint slower.

After heating the dye bath, leave the plants to soak in the dye for a day or so. I love working intuitively and watching how the paint darkens. I add small strips of fabric to the dye bath to control the shade. Many paints will oxidize and darken within a few hours. Others will gradually change color after a few days and you never know what you’re going to get.

Time is also an important factor when dyeing fabric! Sometimes I soak the fabric in a dye bath for days. Admittedly, you won’t even get results this way, but whatever technique you use dwarf paintingthen the reward can be incredible.

3. Patience.

Don’t give up too early. After point #2, allow plenty of time for the plants to be completely removed from the water. I know how easy it is to get frustrated and even now sometimes I have to remind myself to be more patient. The reward of beautiful colors is worth the wait!

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Dye Experiments
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