I joined a painting art challenge in February led by artist, Jowarnise Caston, to create 20 paintings in this year of 2020 called RVAPaints20. Having a fine art degree, I had to take several painting classes but once I graduated, painting for me was a rarity. My current favorite medium is fabric but I thought why not join the challenge.
Art quilts are quilts that are designed completely by the artist. No patterns or kits are used in the making of the quilt; and the quilt is, in essence, a work of art meant to be hung rather than used as a blanket. Many techniques are used in making art quilts including fabric collage, free-motion quilting, thread-painting, raw-edge appliqué, and ... painting.
With painting on fabric, there is a fine line between it being a painting to being a quilt. After all, a painting is paint applied to canvas - which is fabric. An example is the work of Faith Ringgold, an artist you may be familiar with. She considers herself a painter, and rightly so. In order to tell her story - her art - the primary medium is the paint. She paints on canvas; and when it is completed, she either keeps it stretched on the frame support or takes it off, adds a patchwork border (like adding a decked-out frame to a stretched canvas) and quilts it. This doesn't take away from the fact that it is a painting. The painting has simply been quilted.
So, what makes it an art quilt? When the quilting of it is a part of the story being told. Art quilts not only use paint, but also fabric, and thread as a key part of the art. For example, Bisa Butler uses different colored pieces of fabric that have been collaged and quilted to create her famous portraits. She is an art quilter or quilt artist as some say. Another example is Hollis Chatelain who paints her portraits but then adds thousands and thousands of stitching to add texture, color, dimension, and illustrations to her work. She is an art quilter.
I am also an art quilter though I am still learning. I've tried my hands at several techniques and I have a long way to go. I decided to use this challenge to practice painting with different types of fabric paints and dyes. Everything is painted on a 12in. x 12in. piece of muslin that has been either stretched on wood or an already stretched canvas, or ironed on interfacing with the paper backing left on one side. This keeps the muslin from wrinkling up as I paint. Then after some time, I go back and add a border and quilt it much in the way of Faith Ringgold (sometimes I use contrasting thread color). My quilting, so far, has not added anything important (in my opinion) to the painted artwork. It merely finishes it off nicely.
Making these "little paintings" has helped me figure out my style and what I hope to add to my art quilts. But for now, I will paint away....
These three were painted with Tsukineko inks and Pro Chemical & Dye paints.
These pictures below show the paintings before they were quilted.