Hey Gang,

 Tonight I needed to put together a list of things that have been helpful & not so helpful in regards to our black velvet paintings.I sent it off to somebody that might be interested in trying and or submitting something for the show. I thought that I'd pass this on to you so if anybody is looking for some current info on the subject. Also feel free to edit, modify, add to, expand upon, correct, etc. .....




Black Velvet Painting Tips

Glad to see some interest in our attempts at trying to get some velvet paintings done.

Well , so far here's what seems to be working.....

1) You want to start with a silk or cotton based velvet material, one of the other artists found that using synthetic velvet doesn't accept paint very well, it wants to slip off of the surface. I read that silk velvet works good , we haven't tried it though, it's pretty expensive too. (Oh the cotton velvet was around $10.00/ yd.)

2) Obviously you want to stretch it over frame bars, they were a couple of dollars each at an art store,- found out that when you paint over the surface of the velvet that is in contact with the frame bars you get a 'line' in your paint, so we are now putting a piece of acid free foam core board cut just a little bit smaller that the diameter of the stretcher bars- in between the velvet and the stretcher bars.

3) You can either lay out your painting with a white pastel pencil (wouldn't use an oil pastel I don't think), Or what seems to work well is use a large enough sheet of heavy paper and do your layout drawing on that, take a sharp needle like poker ( kind of like the sharp end of a drawing compass), poke holes in your paper every 3/8 inch or so tracing your drawing. Tape your drawing to your stretched velvet - don't let any of the velvet be exposed - take a piece of softer white pastel chalk & rub it over your tracing - you can work it in a little bit with your finger. Remove the excess white pastel dust. Then remove your stencil overlay, and your ready to paint. If you didn't cover over the whole surface of your canvas you will now see why you should have covered the whole surface - there will be a noticeable whitish area from the excess dust, most of this can be brushed (swept?) out but it's better /easier just to avoid having to deal with this.

4) Painting - Acrylic paints seem to work the best. Way ahead of time plan where your darkest areas are going to be, and in my friends words, " consider those areas already completed". In the areas with color a try a dry brush with plenty of paint in it. When the paint dries a lot of the color will fade out, so you may need to build up layers of paint until when it is dry you have the intensity you are looking for. If you make a mistake and colorize an area that you wanted to have be very darkly shadowed, you may not  get very good results if you try to bring that area 'back to black' using black paint. It reflects too much light to be mistaken for the black of the black velvet. Another artist on an art forum said that he had heard that black velvet is one of the least reflective materials that there are. Also at times you may need to scrub your colors in to get them consistent with adjacent areas. It doesn't seem to work very well using a wet on wet or a dry on wet combination. If you do make a mistake with your paint a lot of the paint can be lifted back off of the surface of the velvet with a clean brush if you catch it right away.

5) It might be helpful if the subject matter that you choose to paint has a lot of contrast between the lights & darks, Also if you are using a smaller 'canvas' it is pretty hard to get a lot of small detail in your picture. If you want finer details to pop out, you might consider working on a larger 'canvas'. Also you might want to be doubly careful of getting paint on your hand or finger un-noticed and then touching that area of your hand on your painting, It's a lot easier to fix on a regular canvas than on black velvet.


That's about all I can think of right now. If you try this out & discover anything that you can add please pass it along this way, we can use all the help we can get, there doesn't seem to be much written on the subject. One of the next things I'd like to find out is if it's okay to Scotch Guard some of my work ( the piece I'm making into a throw pillow) Well hope this all helps. Good luck & let me know if you would like to enter a piece in our show.

Thank's for your interest

Loren Smedberg