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My Painting Techniques

     I am a professional theatrical costume designer and artist from S-Petersburg where I worked for 20 years with several theaters and music halls creating historical costumes for theatrical plays. In Hew Hampshire I discovered a new venture - painting on fabric using different techniques and approaches. Creating my artwork is a complex multi step process where I use a combination of multiple techniques.


     After I have developed the idea of the design, proportions, details, and color palette of the article I am going to create, I prepare a stencil.


Preparation of the Stencil   

     At first, I work with paper (it could be any paper, even wallpaper), in which I put small pieces of wax and iron it with a hot iron. Melted wax penetrates the paper and makes it water-resistant and durable. Then I cut out my design with the scalpel. I can use one stencil for many projects. I can make one stencil for the entire article, or use several, one for each color depending upon the complexity of the design.                 


"Dry Brush" Technique

     To create subtle backgrounds I use end-brushes with hard bristles. The diameter of a brush varies depending upon the texture of fabric. I take a very small amount of oil paint with a brush and rub the brush against paper, so very little paint would be left on it, and then rub it into the fabric using the stencil, each color separately. This is a unique method that creates an imitation of airbrush technique.

Working the Stencil with Acrylic Paint

     Acrylic paint is heavier than oil, it is opaque, so I work with so-called "wet brush". It means that I soak the brush in paint, so it leaves a precise trace on fabric.    


     In some of my work (Christmas tree ornaments, home decor items, greeting cards) I use Applique.
In order to make applique out of fabric I have to starch the fabric first, so it would become hard and would be easier to cut. For that I make paste out of starch and dash it on the underside of the fabric after cooling it down. Cut-out details I glue to the article I am working on. I do that with the special "tool" I make myself - a tiny wax paper bag, filled with glue. It is called "foontick". I carefully apply small amount of glue only to the sides of the detail creating a neat look. I finish the detail with the final touches with a thin brush.            

Final Decorating

     For the final decorating of the article I use my special tool - «foontick” filled with acrylic paint to create an imitation of embroidery. «Foontick” has a tiny hole in it, which is used for applying paint to fabric. The technique itself is very old and is almost never used nowadays. Painting with “foontick” adds texture and depth to my artwork.                                                                                                                                                   
 Finishing the Edge
     The methods of finishing the edge of articles like tablecloth, a scarf, or a tablerunner varies with texture of fabric and type of itemsFor the fabric that frays easily, I use scutching to create a fringe-like edge and sometimes I make tussels, and for firmer cloth I paint both sides of the edge with the "foontick".



     I am in a constant search of combination of old techniques and developing new methods. That is just who I am. My artwork includes tablecloths, napkins, medallions, table runners, scarves, greeting cards, Christmas tree ornaments, curtains, and home decor articles.

     Last year in collaboration with Rick Gagne, who is also a member of the League, I created a privacy screen/room divider titled "Two Sensations in Symphony of Woods", for which I painted six different panels in summer and fall palettes. 

     This year I have come up with an idea of painted curtains for the exhibition "Living With Craft" at the 81st  Annual League of NH Craftsmen Fair at Mount Sunapee Resort, Newbury, NH. I was inspired by colorful New Hampshire foliage in the fall and created four window curtains - two panels and two sheer curtains. The curtains are made in the same style as a table runner and together they make a nice set for interior decorating.

     My creative work with fabric is part of me, part of my life; it comes from my soul, and I just love doing it! Painting on fabric is my passion, it is similar to submerging into a magic world, a fairy tale; and I want to share this world with you.

     Welcome to my world!

     Your friend Elena