Suitable Surfaces for Acrylic Painting. A five part series. (Part Five)

Part 5Fabric and Paper

Fabric painting is such a joy, and fabric is one of my favourite surfaces to paint on.

Just think of all the one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art you can create!

T shirts, canvas shoes, scarfs, tote bags are great items to start on.

Then there’s the home furnishings such as table runners, cushion covers, seat covers, placemats and the list goes on.

There are many speciality paints available to use. DecoArt SoSoft Fabric Paint is one of my favourites, there is no mixing of paint with mediums involved, it’s all ready to go. The Paint comes in a variety of colours that are inter-mixable, once the paint is dry, it’s soft and flexible which prevents it from cracking and peeling after use. And there is no heat setting required.

Another product I love using is DecoArt Fabric Painting Medium. This product can be mixed with DecoArt  Americana Acrylics creating a permanent non fading fabric paint, it won’t crack or peel after  repeated washing and wearing.

Dragonfly notebookFabric covered note book, painted with acrylics and fabric painting medium

But, there is also care that should be taken when painting with acrylics on fabric.

Because once it’s on, you really can’t get it off.

 Here are my tips for fabric painting.
  1. Although you can achieve great results with cotton blends and silk, it is recommended to use a cotton fabric for best results. A good idea is to do a test on a sample piece before you begin.
  2.  Pre-wash the fabric to remove any sizing and chemicals added during manufacturing as this may prevent the paint from adhering. Do not use fabric softener when pre-washing as you’ll be adding chemicals into the fabric.
  3.  You can hang the fabric to dry or you may dry it flat. Then give it a good iron to remove any creases.
  4. Place a piece of cardboard wrapped in cling wrap between the layers of fabric to prevent paint colours from bleeding through. Keep the fabric taught on the cardboard, you may need to tape it down here and there with low tack tape so the residue won’t remain after removing. It’s much easier to remove the cardboard as soon as you finish painting, before the paint is dry so it won’t stick to the cardboard.
  5. Avoid getting paint on places that you shouldn’t. In case you do- use a fabric stain remover and an old toothbrush, try and loosen the paint by brushing in the direction of the weave then pat the area dry with a dry cloth.. Wet paint is easier to remove than dry, so as soon as you notice paint where it shouldn’t be, start the removal process.
  6. Wash your hands regularly.
  7. Use a wet in wet technique when painting on fabric, it is a lovely and relaxing technique to work with. Avoid using too much water, as it may affect the qualities of the medium.
  8. For fine detail work, use a little less medium than required to prevent any chance of the colour bleeding through the fibres of the fabric. Do not use water.
  9. Let the paint cure for at least 48hrs.
  10. Heat set the painting using the iron, following the instructions on the packaging.

Painting on Paper

 Acrylics have allowed us to paint on many surfaces that were once dismissed as unsuitable by many famous artists in history. And paper is now a surface of choice for many artists.

Here are some tips for painting on paper using acrylics.
  1. If you are thinking of painting on paper, personally, I would recommend watercolour paper of at least 356gsm (140lb), and as always buy the best you can afford.
  2. Many everyday usage types of paper, such as printing paper are highly absorbent and are not acid free. They are not something I would recommend for acrylic painting, especially if you want your work to last many years.
  3. After some time paper will turn yellow and become brittle. There are precautions that can be taken to prolong the life of paper. You can prime or gesso both sides before you begin. I also recommend this process for watercolour paper as well.
  4. Adding an acrylic varnish over the finished painting also adds to its longevity.
  5. Care must be taken not to get the paper too wet, as acrylics are water based, the paper will absorb moisture. If too much water is used it can become soggy, warp and tear.
  6. To give a painting a good chance of longevity I would always recommend framing it and using a UV protective glass in addition to the above precautions.


Happy painting,




One thought on “Suitable Surfaces for Acrylic Painting. A five part series. (Part Five)

  1. Pingback: Experiment with creative materials | Effie Carayannis

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