Painting On Fabric

Nicola has been developing her technique of painting on good quality fabric, instead of canvas for over ten years. The story of the fabric weaves its way into the story of her paintings, transforming a 'blank canvas' into something dyed, patterned or textured.

From preparing the surfaces, to making the paint by hand, every step is considered in a way that gives Nicola's work its strong visual identity. 

Painting on fabric allows Nicola to achieve a surface texture that is more dynamic than traditional canvas, without compromising on the quality and longevity offered by cotton and linen.

Nicola first began exploring alternatives to the more traditional surfaces of cotton, linen and wooden board at art school in London, 2006. Her first experiment with a patterned surface was a vintage floral curtain, which she partially painted over with a portrait of a friend, leaving some of the pattern showing. Three years of further experimentation lead to her degree show; a series of eight large, dark and looming portraits painted on velvet.

The velvet intensified the mood of the paintings and became more than just a surface to be built upon. Using this process, the fabric is visible throughout the painting, as well aswhen viewing the painting from the side. A benefit of this is there is no need to frame the painting.

"By using fabric as the base of my painting, I am able to integrate the story of the fabric into the story of the painting. This has become a source of inspiration for the way I work in layers, but it also creates a quite unusual finished painting. It almost creates an illusion of depth in the way the light reflects differently off the charcoal, fabric and oil paint."


Handmade Oil Paints

As well as painting on fabric, Nicola also makes her own paints using the centuries-old technique of grinding pigment into linseed oil.

This started as way of exploring historical approaches to oil painting, but has since become a way for Nicola to discover more contemporary materials, such as ground aluminum, whilst increasing her knowledge of colours and their characteristics. Since moving to Scotland, making paint has become a larger part of her practice. It is both a reliable way of accessing the best quality oil paint and a meditative ritual that feeds itself into the work.

"I am lucky to have been taught the benefits of using quality oil paints. The intense colour has become a central feature of my paintings. Using high-pigment paints made by hand, such as those by Michael Harding and Vasari, led me research the process. I am now able to make oil paint that is the perfect texture for what I need and bursting with colour."

Using Format