Adding a dark background

Along time ago when I was a student my textiles tutor once commented to me that she could always recognise my work by my use of black. At the time she had been looking at drawings for a floral fabric where I had used only the tiniest hint of black behind lime green stems.

Adding a dark mottled red to a red and pink neckerchief.

I also remember my mother (an amateur oil painter) making a comment that she never used black, but only ever Payne’s grey.

Adding purple to a square flat crepe scarf.

Over the years I have begun to include more and more colours in their darker shades instead of the black to add depth to my designs. Every now and then I think I am going to stick with a pastel background, but somehow I find I want the design to be a little more punchy . . .

Adding Prussian blue as the final layer.

And then a pot of a dark Prussian blue or an imperial purple or even a rich brown is unscrewed and the dark dye banishes the pastel.

Adding dark brown and dark grey to a large crepe de chine scarf.

However, as I write this there’s work on the frame where I have designed from the outset to use pure black. I know it might seem strange, but to get the best black it has to be painted onto the natural silk before any other dye has been added. You’d think that black would just cover any previously painted area, but some of the initial coloured dye binds to the silk and even though the black is strong, it never quite looks as sharp.

Currently using black again.

Finding myself working again with black it seems, as with so much in life, even one’s creativity can turn full circle as part of a cycle. Apparently for me it turns out I am on a roughly seven year circuit! Of course, it’s never a true repeat, but a revisiting with the benefit of experience.

An example of a black background from the outset. One of the first five scarves I created when I launched my online shop back in 2013.

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

16 thoughts on “Adding a dark background”

  1. All the designs have their own distinctive appeal. They are all delightful. I never thought I’d see the day, but somehow black has taken over and pushed most of my red clothing out of my wardrobe.

    1. Yes, as I was typing I realised I have started wearing black again. I wore a lot in the 1980s, but gradually stopped. Over the past five years black is back for me. Wonder if it is an age thing? Some strong colours are harsh against older skin.

      1. I see that once you get as old as the Queen, white hair hails the return of bright colours. I saw a recent photo where she was head to toe in scarlet!

      2. Wow! Well scarlet does have ancient connections with royalty, doesn’t it? Or is that purple? Or is that the priesthood? Anyway, I’m more used to her in pastels and other “not in your face” colours. Good on her for putting it out there. I often wonder if she would have wished a different life for herself.
        Someone brought my attention to her quote “Grief is the price we pay for love,” and whichever way you wish to cut WHY she said that, I think it is beautiful. I hope I remember it going forward.

      3. It would be nice to think that those words originated with the monarch, but I suspect they were suggested by one of her courtiers/advisors who had read them in ‘Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life’ by Dr Colin Murray Parkes, a psychiatrist at St.Christopher’s Hospice and a pioneer in hospice-based bereavement services.

    1. Oh don’t be – the Queen is of that generation and stratum of Brit society that doesn’t do public emotion and it was an amazing accomplishment for somebody to find such a phrase that she thought was suitable for general consumption.

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