Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

Silk Painting Competition – Paint a Mandala

This blog post is all about having a bit of fun and having the chance to get a nice reward for it into the bargain. And that can’t be bad.

So here’s what I want you to do.

I’m publishing here one of my mandala templates. In fact I published this in my newsletter quite a few months back but I decided that these templates would be of more use if I published them directly online for everyone to access.

All you need to do is right click on this image, ‘save image as’  and download it to your computer. From there you can print it out and create a lovely

Free mandala template

piece of artwork from it. Obviously I would love you to paint it on silk but if this isn’t your forte, why not just trace it onto paper or any other medium you use, and colour it brightly as it takes your fancy.

Next, take a photo of it and send it to me at info@silkandart putting ‘Mandala competition’ in the subject line. I will post every entry that is submitted to me on this blog.

And to make it even more interesting, I’m going to select one of them and the person who painted it will receive a pack of my mandala greeting cards as a gift.

Does that sound like something you’d like to do? Remember, you can use any medium you like – felt pens, watercolours, oils, silk paints, or crayons. I’ll accept anything you choose to work with.

So how long do you have to submit your artwork? Until Friday February 18th.  I’n really looking forward to getting email from you and seeing what you’ve created.

And in the meantime it would be great to hear from you if you’ve painted mandala artwork before. How was it for you? Please share your experiences with us.


N.B.: I just wanted to point out that you are very welcome to use this free mandala for your personal use. Please do not use it for commercial purposes. Thanks so much.

January 30, 2011 Posted by | COMPETITIONS | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Colour therapy: wearing green clothing (Part One)

If you’ve been reading my posts in the last few weeks, you’ll know I’ve been discussing the impact we make on others when we choose to wear certain colours. So far we’ve been looking at the warm magnetic colours and seen how wearing red clothes puts you in the driver’s seat, wearing orange enhances the feel-good factor and wearing yellow clothes puts you in the limelight, attracting lots of attention to you.

Me in my new green jacket

Today we’re putting the spotlight on green. Now green is in the middle of the visible colour spectrum and is neither magnetic nor electric (cooling colours). It has a very neutral effect and is definitely the choice you want to make to bring balance into your life.It might interest you to know that our eyes can only perceive of a very tiny portion of the electro-magnetic spectrum and these waves are what we know as colour.

Let’s have a look then at what the colour green signifies to people you interact with. Most importantly people are likely to feel safe around you and at the same time the colour  helps you feel more protected and at ease with others. This colour takes the bite out of other more dominant colours in play, restoring a calmness and a restorative element.

Wearing green clothing you are likely to be more successful in negotiating and mediating and children respond favourably to adults wearing this colour. If you were wearing lots of cold blue tones, you could add a green accessory to take away that coolness and others might find you more approachable.

It’s also a colour that is linked with the heart, as is pink, oddly enough. I’m going to be taking a look at chakra colours at some later point but for now suffice to say that wearing natural spring green shades can have a very healing effect on you.

The other correlation that is fascinating is green being symbolic of wealth. Taking that a step further, we can talk of green symbolising our self-worth, the extent to which we love and accept ourselves. So all in all this is a very interesting colour to reflect on.

Now interestingly, I never usually wear green clothes a lot. Again, because I believe I don’t look very good in it. My complexion comes alive when I wear bright, vibrant colours. However….just recently I was at the January sales and picked up a dark green jacket. Or rather, my son asked me to try it on. It fitted and looked good, so I just had to bring it home. And I’m sure you’ll agree that it doesn’t look that shabby on me either.

I believe very strongly that the colours you need at any particular point migrate towards you, so right now, green is definitely doing it’s work, helping me find balance and breaking down my limiting beliefs around money. Watch out for the next post on green, where I’ll have a look at some of these points in more detail and discuss some of the different shades.

In the meantime I’d love to hear how you feel about wearing green clothes. Is it a colour you are naturally drawn to, or does it not any place in your wardrobe?

January 28, 2011 Posted by | COLOURS | , , , , , | 24 Comments

How to Gain Visibility as a Silk Artist Online

Many of you reading this are silk artists or at least have some interest in silk painting generally. And I know from talking to many of you how hard you find it to get your work seen in the huge sea of work that is available these days. It’s true that we can’t just sit back and expect people to magically find our work so it’s up to us to make sure that find those people who resonate with what we do. And that’s why I  decided to write this article. It gives you some ideas of how to gain visibility as  silk artists online.

My suggestion to you is to open an account with one of the many online galleries and start to put your work on display there. Yes, there are very many of them, but you need to browse a bit and find one that is in keeping with what you are all about. I would also suggest that you pay attention to possible fees you will need to pay. Some of them charge you a fee just for being there on their site. Others only charge you when you make a listing. Others again, only charge when you make a sale. So do some homework and see whats fits for you.

It’s sometimes hard to judge what the service is going to be like before you take the plunge and join up, so why not send an email to the contact address on the site you like the look of. Clarify any questions you might have, regarding all fees, promotion, etc. And make sure you know what their policies are regarding the publication of your artwork. You’re the artist and you want to remain in control of your artwork.

There’s also Ebay to think about as it can be utilised as an online art gallery too. Go on the site and have a look at what other artists are offering and how they are displaying their work. It’s quite easy to set up an account and start selling there. They even have weekends where they don’t charge any listing fees so watch out for opportunities to save yourself some money.

If you are one of those silk artists who also paints silk scarves and accessories of different kinds,  you might be interested in looking into artist opportunities on Etsy , where you can set up a small shop with relative ease. The big tip here is to keep a steady trickle of new listings as the newest items on the site show up in the feed and are much more visible than those you posted a while back.

For those of you who feel confident enough, you could start up an artist blog and share your projects, experiments and processes with those who are interested. It takes a bit more know-how to do this on your own, so why not get started on this site, and make things easy for yourself as everything’s laid out for you at the click of a button.

There are very many artist opportunities available for silk artists and the important thing is taking that first step to move your artwork from confines of your attic to the screens of people looking for attractive artwork like yours! I will be expanding on this topic in due time.

What experience have you had?  Please share here if you’ve found any platforms on which to share your artwork, whether you are an emerging artist or someone who has been playing the field for a while. Or even if you are an art lover. I’d love to hear from you.

January 26, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Buying Silk Painting Supplies at Low Cost

I recently posted an article about how to do silk painting on a shoe-string budget and not long after that a friend asked for some help on how cheap this whole thing can be.

Well, I had a look into this and came to the conclusion that you really can do it for very little money if you are prepared to just start with the absolute basics and not invest in lots of fancy equipment. Why spend a lot if you don’t really know if silk painting is going to be up your street. Wait until you are hooked (which will happen very quickly) and then think about spending on some of the more specialist products.

Okay, back to the silk painting supplies.

When you are starting out, I would recommend you buy the silk paints, not the dyes. The paints are fixed into the silk using your household iron whereas for the dyes you’ll need a steamer of some sort and it can be a bit trickier. There is one exception and that’s silkpainting with the microwave which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Get yourself 3 small jars in red, blue and yellow so that you can mix whatever shades you need. If you’re in the USA the store to contact is Dharma Trading. And if you’re in Europe, try out Rainbow Silks. These will cost around $3.99 or £3.95 per jar.

The next item is a square blank silk scarf which you can tear up into 4 smaller pieces. If you buy a 90cm x 90cm one made of habotai or pongee 5mm, you might pay around $5.19 or £6.00, so each piece costs a quarter of that. This is the thinnest quality shops sell, but it’s perfect to get started with.You can get these at the stores I mentioned above.

Next you’ll need some pins or tacks which you’re bound to have lying around the house. And finally, instead of a frame, you can stretch the silk over the top of a cardboard box. There is a delightful little video by Yanghaiying which shows this silk painting technique.

Use any watercolour brushes you may have in the house and if you need to buy some, you can pick up a couple at very low cost from any hobby or craft store.  Old mugs or empty jam jars are perfect as mixing pots or water jars.

And finally you might want a tube of water-based resist to draw some lines with, but it’s not essential. This will cost around $2.89 or £3.75.

So adding all of that up we come to a figure of around $12.00 or £22.00. That’s enough for four  45cm x 45cm pictures, which makes each one cost $3 or £5.50. Oddly enough the US prices are much lower than the UK ones,

I hope this price list helps. It is just an approximation so you’ll need to check things out for yourself. And if you have, how did your calculations go? I’d love to hear if you managed to kit yourself out for this or less.

Oh, and don’t forget to let me now if you got hooked after the first go.

January 22, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Mandala Silk Painting Workshop Date in February 2011

There’s good news for those of you who’d like to try out silk painting  in the cosy atmosphere of a small workshop. I’d love it if you could come along and join in. And here are the details:

Day: Saturday, 12th February

Time: 10am – 4pm

Where: private address in Bristol. Details on registration

Cost: £50.00

Here’s a link to the FB event page where you can find a bit more info about what we’ll be doing:

Silk & Art Silk Painting  Event

I have posted some more detailed information about these Mandala Silk Painting Workshops here on this site, so be sure to check it out.

January 21, 2011 Posted by | MANDALA ART | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to do Silk Painting on a Shoestring Budget

How many of you sigh when you hear the words “silk painting” and think that it’s something that you’re going to have to dig deep into your pocket for? Well, in a way you could be right but actually you might be quite relieved to hear that it’s possible to create some fabulous work without having to break the bank. This article is going to talk you through how to do silk painting on a shoe string budget.

And this is what you need to do:

Buy yourself a piece of silk yardage  that you can paint on. One quite good way to do this is to buy a large blank square scarf and divide it into four so that you can make 4 smaller pictures. You might be lucky enough to have a bridal outfitter’s near you that you can visit and barter with for lovely silk off-cuts.

You’re going to need some sort of frame to stretch the silk on. Special frames for silk painting can be costly, so what I would suggest is to go to your local DIY shop and buy 4 lengths of wood which you can nail together to form a square or rectangular in the desired size.  You don’t need to invest in those 3-pronged pins at the start. Drawing pins would make a great substitute. For more info have a look at a video I made on how to stretch silk on a wooden frame.

Pin your silk all the way around the frame, making sure that your fabric is quite taut as it will tend to sag as it gets wet during painting.

As a beginner opt for the small bottles of silk paint which you can heat fix with your iron afterwards. Any watercolour brushes are perfect for applying this so have a good dig through your art materials and see what’s already there.

Now depending on what you’d like to paint, you might want to buy a small bottle of gutta which creates the lines that give structure to a silk painting. When you’ve drawn the lines you want onto the plain silk, let them dry and then you can get out the paints and silks and have a ball. If you choose to just use the paints on their own, it’s important to know that they flow freely on the silk. A great effect for this is the salt technique. Sprinkle large grain salt onto the very wet paint and just watch the wonderful effects manifest before your eyes as the pigments get drawn out.

And for those of you who love to mess and splash, how about laying out some plastic sheeting, wetting the silk and then scrunching it all up before sprinkling different paints on it. When it’s dry, just iron on the reverse to fix the paints. The great thing is that you save on a frame. It’s really important to remember to buy the paints for now as you can fix them easily with your iron.

So please don’t think you have to go spending huge amounts of money to be able to indulge in silk painting. You don’t. But remember that after the first attempt you are most likely to get hooked… beware.

I’d love to hear back from any of you have tried this out for the first time. Did you manage to use things that were lying around? What creative ideas did you come up with?

* This article first appeared on the UKHandmade website as a winning article in a competition they ran. The above version has been adapted.

January 20, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Help! How Can I Stop People Breaching my Artist Copyright (Part two)

Since I made my last post I’ve been having a good think about the various responses I received and have come to some conclusions. I spoke about some basic steps the layman can take  to protect his artist copyright and realised that I had already come on quite a long journey in this respect. And so I decided I would share those insights with you here.

When I first started silk painting I had no idea how to get it out there and get the price right, let alone how to deal with the issue of people trying to copy it without my permission. And it soon became obvious to me that the more I worried about these things, the more I was attracting them into my life. Many people honestly wouldn’t know what they were doing unless I educated them.

It wasn’t until I began working in article marketing a few years ago that I really became exposed to putting my work out there on the net and just letting it go. I remember the guy we all worked for telling us to run some tests by Googling the first one or two lines of our articles and seeing where they appeared. Well, I was stunned at how many people had actually lifted my work and published it on their site with so much as a simple acknowledgment that it was mine. One specialist even claimed it was his work. Many of these magpie sites just disappeared overnight but it exposed me to the scale of this whole business.

Okay, back to the artwork. I began to realise that there will always be people who give themselves permission to use my images in whatever form they choose without my permission. I have decided that it is impossible for me to be vigilant round the clock. I have also decided that as long as I don’t know about it, there is little point in me worrying about it and wasting my energy. Just as there is little point in me worrying about the possibility of it happening. I am not a huge shark in the artworld, rather still a very little fish. So, to be honest, people aren’t going to be queuing up to use it.

And if I become as famous as Leonardo da Vinci is now (one of my all-time favourites), then why would I worry about bandits trying to steal my artwork?I feel at ease about sharing and trust in the process and will cross these bridges if and when I come to them and not before.,

I’m in a good space as far as artist copyright is concerned. I take care to point out publicly that my work may not be reproduced and that I am likely to take steps if this is not adhered to. But in terms of where my life is leading me now, others will find it very hard to copy and steal me, my very own brand. That is definitely something I am not afraid of.

For those of you who would like to know more about using images on the internet, have a look at this great post put together by Kathy Alice Brown about public domain photographs.

And what about you? Do you agree with me or do think differently on this matter? I’d love to hear your comments.

January 17, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , | 32 Comments

Help! How Can I Stop People Breaching my Artist Copyright. (Part one)

It’s every artist’s nightmare, isn’t it? You take the brave step of publishing your work online and then discover down the line that someone has taken the liberty of lifting it and passing it off as their own. It can be very disheartening and put you off sharing any more of your work, but is it a reason to completely give up? Basically, no. And I’m going to discuss some simple layman procedures here with you which will help you to minimise the chances of someone breaching your artist copyright without you having to dig deep into your pockets in the process.

Firstly and most importantly keep in mind that you need to assert ownership of your artwork whenever you publish it anywhere. So when working online, be sure to make clear statements on your website or whatever page your work is appearing on that the artwork is yours. The more you do this, the better it will be if it comes to any dispute.

So in my case, I show my mandalas paintings and state that they are under my copyright and are not intended for public use in any way without my express permission. I also write that the images in question do not belong to the public domain. Whenever I sell prints or greeting cards of my artwork, there is a copyright symbol together with my name on the reverse, again showing my ownership and copyright to the work.

Copyright symbol on back of greeting card

Another good tip is to take a quality photograph of the completed artwork, ideally with you standing beside it and to sign and date it and send it to yourself in an envelope. You will then keep this envelope unopened in a safe place in case any dispute arises. Opening the envelope in the presence of a lawyer proves ownership of the artwork.

When you are uploading art files to a website, make sure that you only do this with low resolution images, no larger than 700 x 700 pixels because this will mean that anyone trying to reproduce them will only get grainy images which are substandard for any commercial use. You could also put a watermark on them as this will help to deter any illegal downloads.

This question was recently asked by Franziska San Pedro and Judy Stone-Goldman in a discussion we had on how to protect work when dealing with the public. So thanks a lot for your inspiration for this post.

Have you had any bother with people trying to copy your work in any way without your permission? If you have any hints or tips on this subject, I’d love you to share them here with us.

January 16, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , | 6 Comments

The Psychology of Colour: Wearing Yellow Clothes (Part two)

I spoke in yesterday’s post on wearing yellow clothes about the signals you send to other people when you choose to wear yellow. And I promised to get back and tell you a bit more about our choice whether or not to wear yellow.

As I already said, I’m not a great fan of yellow clothes but there are many people who just love to wear them. So what might be the reason for this? The first most obvious answer is that we all have different types of complexions and depending on our skin hue, yellow may scream in defiance or snuggle in and complement the picture. According to seasonal skin type colour analysis , I am a pale winter type which means that yellow is a no-no for me.

There are also very many negative connotations of this colour which will affect our attitude towards it. Your skin takes on a yellow hue with jaundice or excess bile. Your teeth turn yellow through excess smoking. And we link cowardice with yellow too. But on a deeper level, there are other reasons why you or I might turn our backs on yellow tones. I already mentioned the fact that you will be very much in the lime-light wearing them, so it makes sense that we tune into this subconsciously and pull away if we need down-time and want to become invisible.

Lemon and the colder shades of yellow are linked with the intellect and left-brain characteristics such as logical thinking, reasoning, calculation and the like, so with me being a total right-brainer, it could be another reason why I don’t feel drawn to wear this colour much.

But for me the underlying reason we develop an aversion to a particular colour is because of how it is linked to things that are triggering us in daily life. Yellow is connected with the solar plexus, the seat of our gut feelings and personal will power. So as we learn to digest life’s experiences and become confident in projecting our self-image out there and engaging with others, yellow is a perfect companion for this part of our journey. It’s total absence in your life will be a signal to watch out for what you are avoiding. And the answer may  lie concealed in the area you are least expecting. Wearing warming shades of yellow can go a long way to opening us up in this respect and helping us to feel comfortable with being ourselves amongst others.

And on a parting note, yellow accessories are ideal for outfits which might otherwise be rather dull. Wear a yellow necklace or loosely tie a yellow scarf around your shoulders to bring a ray of sunshine into your day. Or even add some gorgeous yellow buttons to a plain cardigan to give it a new lease of life.

That leaves me thinking about what I can do to introduce a bit more sunshine into my life, despite my wintry complexion.  Mmmm…off to see what I can find. And what about you? Do you have any aversions or love for yellow? Do share any yellow clothing tips you have.

January 13, 2011 Posted by | COLOURS | , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

The Psychology of Colour: Wearing Yellow Clothes (Part One)

What a perfect day for writing about yellow clothes! It’s grey, really overcast and the rain is pouring down. But, as we all know, the sun is still there up above the clouds, shining in its full glory. We just can’t see it from where we are standing.

And that’s what the colour yellow is all about. It is pure sunshine, packed radiance to lighten up your day. So go on, have a look in your wardrobe and count how many items of clothing you have in yellow…4 or 5?…..1 or 2?……or none at all? Well, I have to admit that I belong to the ‘none at all’s’. Because I have a belief that I’m not a ‘yellow person’.

It’s one of those colours that I like on other people but just don’t fancy myself. You’ve probably got your favourites, too.  However, all of the colours in the visible light spectrum are there for a reason and their energy can be harnessed to improve all aspects of your life. You can quite literally empower yourself with colour. And yellow is no exception. It’s a warm magnetic colour like red and orange but has it’s very own unique flavour.

Let’s have a look then at what happens when you choose to wear yellow.

Sunshine yellow: You’re actually sending out a signal of joy and happiness, letting people know that you are a fun person who delights in the  pleasures of life. It can also indicate that you have a very warm nature and are easily approachable.

Lemon yellow: This shows those around you that you are a bit of a left-brainer, a person who likes tidiness and organisation. It’s a great colour to help accent some darker shades, particularly grey and give a real lift to your outfit. This shade can signal to others that you can be counted on.

But no matter which shade you choose, wearing yellow makes you very conspicuous and so if you are feeling like you need a bit of space and peace and quiet, yellow might not be the wisest of choices.

So why don’t some of us have any yellow in our wardrobes I hear you ask. Well, that’s a very good question and one I’m going to talk to you a bit more about tomorrow. But before I share any further insights on this colour, I’d love to hear if yellow is your colour and why you love wearing it. And for the rest of today I’m off to bring a little yellow into my life and see what difference the psychology of colour makes in my life.

January 12, 2011 Posted by | COLOURS | , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

My Unfinished Silk Mandala – Seeing it as a Reflection of Me

This afternoon I went up into my attic studio and decided that it really was time to completely declutter and tidy it all up. I recently pulled so many things out of boxes and shelves when I was picking some items to put in a friend’s shop in Glastonbury. And, as is my wont when I have just abandoned the space after an excavation, I left it looking as though a bomb had hit it.

This occasion was no exception whatsoever.  But it has never bothered me because I know that I will always go back in and enjoy putting things back in place, exploring nooks and crannies that I haven’t looked into for a while and getting inspiration from all the things I find there. Literally exploding with creative excitement.

And then I bring the space into a state of real tidiness and order ready for the next work session.

However, this time is a bit different in that it’s New Year and I would like to get to grips with all the piles of artistic chaos and bring some sort of new order into it all, symbolic of me changing direction somewhat and bringing in new forms of expression.  Luckily I was reminded by a lovely friend Franziska San Pedro to take photos before I got stuck in. Strangely that’s something I always do with great delight, but it’s more linked with the creative process, documenting my steps and not looking at how messy things have got. So the photo here is sort of taking a new direction in that it reveals my mess in its full glory.

Many of you who follow me both here and on the Silk & Art Facebook page will have seen the one I am talking about here. I started it a few months ago and then about half way through, I placed it to one side and left it sitting there.

I sat down and had a good look at it. It is the very first mandala painting I have done with a mantra on  it, something I had been wanting to do for such a long time. ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ runs around the outside in gold letters. This is an ancient Sanskrit mantra roughly translated as ‘the jewel in the lotus’. It is claimed that all the teachings of the Buddha are contained within this one mantra.

As I painted it, I listened to a beautiful rendering of this mantra on a CD I bought a few years back, which had been brought over from Nepal.

And so why did I not complete it? I think there are many reasons for that. Often when I am in the process of creating a painting, the events going on around me play an important part in its make-up. I see these artworks as a barometer of where I am in life at the time.

These paintings really take on a life of their own and this one was no exception. Firstly, they let me know how they want to be and the sooner I get out of my own way and allow this, the easier everything flows. Secondly, they know what energy they need and tell me when it’s time to get out the brushes and continue the work. They determine the pace. And thirdly, they know that it’s sometimes wise to wait in order to find their true expression.

I hadn’t felt drawn to do any more with it over the past months as I had entered a space where I was feeling the need to redefine myself in many ways. And yet today, when I took it out and saw the unfinished work, I realised that this blank canvas, so to speak, was showing me that I had work to do. I do indeed have work to do and am excited at what this year has in store for me.

So I feel resolute about clearing out what has become obsolete in my workshop space and feel brave enough to part with many things that have simply run their course. And this mandala will be an expression of the new space I am moving into energetically. I look forward to seeing it in all its bright colours and vibrancy. I know now that it will be bright. A reflection of the new me for this year.

And on that note I’d like to ask if there is anything you are looking forward to this year? I’d love to hear what lies ahead for you and if you have any unfinished business like me.

Happy creative 2011

January 3, 2011 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , | 38 Comments