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Paintings - Silk painting

About Silk Painting

Silk Painting is an art form originated in china is as the name suggests its painting performed in silk fabric material as a medium. Silk paintings are very unique way to create a charming sense of aura in the impression of the painting. Silk art is diligently used as a canvas for portraits and paintings. The ancient art was once known as 'Bo' painting, referring to the white silk used as a surface medium.

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Compared to wood, stone or bamboo of the time silk was the ideal canvas for painting. It was luxurious and yet easy to cut to any desired shape and light to carry. Silk fabrics are very comfortable and flexible, famous for its luxurious look such as jacquard silk products. Skilled artisans using the process that allows the silk canvas to keep on “hold’ the paint in vibrant way which exhibits the details for the design. Silk drawing also had its drawback of being used in large paintings in ancient times due to its flexibility.

Silk paintings are blessed with their timeless appeal and their elegant style which adds up to the magnificent artifacts. The characteristics of these paintings usually depict the rich court life, epics etc. Silk paintings are classified as Mughal Paintings, Animal Paintings, Bird Paintings, Village Paintings and Religious Paintings etc.

Unique Features of Silk Painting

Silk Paintings are popularly known for their positive attributes of movement and fluidity which makes it a sign of hallmark, the colors used in paintings are liquid and translucent that makes the work easier to blend with the fabric. The advantage of making a silk painting is that it is clean while the end result is a beautiful piece of art.

The colors used by the painter’s glide through the silk very comfortably and help in generating fusion of brilliant colors. In this way silk painting differs from painting on cotton canvas or paper. The artist needs not only to consider the placement of pigment when they apply the dye but also to control its movement. Similar to watercolor unrestricted the ink or dyes will flow freely on the silk creating a soft and diffuse artwork.

The silk surface is often prepared by stretching and dying silk with a background color. Because pigments spread freely when applied to silk, the artist relies less on brushes and more on creating boundaries for the pigment through the use of a resist. Gutta (a rubbery cement) and water-based resists are popular for sketching the outlines of designs on the silk drawing. Once the outlines are dried using hair dryer, dyes are applied to the silk art that spread up to the resist borders.

The traditional silk paintings dyes have certain characteristic of movement, painting techniques that are used to create the art are resist, shading, gradation, watercolor, hard edge, salting and spotting with water/alcohol. Silk artworks such as the ragamalas or melody garland which is a very exclusive style of Indian paintings, they are magnificent and have known to make a great home decor and gift articles of art work in the Indian and Global context.

History of Silk Painting

Silk painting originated in China is believed to date back as far as the Warring States period (476-221 BC), reaching its height as an art form in the Western Han dynasty (206 BC to 25 AD).

Legend has it that around 100 AD, a Chinese princess promised to a Khotan prince in Central Asia smuggled silkworm eggs and mulberry seeds out of the country. In so doing she revealed the secret of silk production and ended China's monopoly on the Chinese silk fabric. Around this time silk painting could be found in India where wax was used as a resist in their silk designs. Silk painting has come a long way from its beginnings in the ancient imperial courts. Smuggled to Central Asia, seized by the Crusades and combined with batik inspired methods in Western Europe and brought to America, silk painting is now practiced all around the world.

Modern day techniques such as Serti technique (closing or fence), with its simple outline and dye method, have made silk painting as easy as filling in a color book and accessible to all.