Blending with acrylics is challenging, precisely because the drying time for acrylics is very short. In order to blend colours smoothly, I have to work very quickly, as the key to blending is controlling the amount of paint and/or water on the paintbrush. Wiping the brush is the best way to manage the amount of paint on my brush. Did I mention I have to work very quickly? My wipe rag must be on hand at all times. There is no time to search for a misplaced wipe rag. Having a traditional wipe rag hasn’t been a reliable solution to my wiping needs, which is where my paint shirt comes in. I always know exactly where my wiping rag is, because I’m wearing it!
My paint shirt has paint wiped and smeared all over it, and it doesn’t take long for a shirt to become encrusted with my acrylic paints. If my paint shirt is relatively new from the thrift store, the shirt is also at its peak absorbency and usefulness as a wiping rag. If my paint shirt has been in use for weeks or months, a globular texture begins to develop on the shirt. Putting the shirt through the heat of a dryer cycle repeatedly allows a bead-like texture to develop as the acrylic layers on the shirt melt and meld together. A globular paint shirt is not as effective a wiping tool as a newer shirt, so eventually, the paint shirt is retired and put away, and it’s time to visit the thrift store to find a replacement.
Because my wiping action is so ingrained and so automatic, I find that this wiping habit is very dangerous to my wardrobe. So, in order to not ruin my ‘nicer’ clothing, I tend to wear my paint shirts most of the time, and I go everywhere in my paint shirts. I get a lot of comments about my paint shirts, and surprisingly to me, most people think that the paint patterning on the shirt is intentional. I’ve often been told that I should sell my paint shirts because they look so colourful and cool.
It’s hard for me to imagine anyone wanting to wear my paint shirts, but it has also been hard for me to want to throw away these wonderfully random assemblages of texture and colour. This is what led me to preserving my paint shirts on wooden artist panels.
Much like stretching a canvas, I stretch my paint shirts over the wooden panels. Then, I position the shirt for the best composition possible, before adhering the shirt with acrylic gel and stapling the material to the backside of the panel. I give the stretched fabric a final clear coat, in order to protect the globules, and to bring out the colours to their maximum brilliance. Each shirt panel is a dynamic artifact from my process of painting, is fully unique, and is not replicable.
While I consider these pieces to be more art relic than art, I have included them as one of the collections on my ArtMoi site. Check it out!