Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Maria Jürimäe. She is one of the leaders of our Silk Artist's Team on Etsy. It has been a pleasure getting to know her a bit over the past year or so and you are in for a treat with her story today.
I am an Estonian silk artist, I have painted on silk and taught silk painting for over 16 years. I am member of SPIN and one of the leaders of Silk Artists Team in Etsy. I also work at the University of Tartu in the field of education. I have two lovely daughters, 6 and 8 years old and sometimes they participate in my silk painting or develop their own creations.
Why silk painting?
Why silk painting?
I have painted with watercolors as long as I remember myself - my father is an artist, so painting was just a natural part of living. Watercolor didn't have a bad smell (like oil paints had) and the transparency and blends were enchanting. I also loved the thinking part - you had to plan your work in advance to get the dreamed result.
I discovered silk painting as a student and fell in love with it immediately - compared to watercolor it allowed even better blends, the color of steam fixed dyes was just irresistible! And silk had a distinct character – it was a living material and in the beginning it seemed to me that I have just two options – to let silk to whatever she wants (and just admire it and help the process by adding some dyes, water, salt, etc.) or to try to do what I want and end up with disappointment. Learning to accept silk and cooperate with it was really a rewarding experience. And eventually I have learned to think “the silky way” and am able to express even the most complex ideas on silk – not forcing my will over it, but with cooperation this wonderful material.
What inspires your paintings?
The nature, the God, the Angels, the music. . .
I love to be the medium. Most of my scarves just “come to me” from somewhere – I just have to let the brush to do its work, and sing my songs. It is a wonderful feeling.
I also love to make made to order scarves – to use the ideas of different people (even the craziest ideas can be expressed on silk) and make them alive on silk. People, their stories and their problem they would like to find solutions inspire me. Most of my clients have told me that the result is even better than they have imagined, so I have become quite confident in it ; )
What is your favorite silk painting you have painted?
It is almost impossible to pick one favorite. But because it is spring I will choose one of my signature scarves: Lily of the Valley.
Your favorite type of silk, dyes, resist, etc.
I love silk dyes fixed by steam. I have mixed the dyes by myself and used Pebeo, Marabu, Schjering. I just love those bright colors! Nothing can be compared to steam fixed silk dyes. My favourite guttas are from Marabu – they work well and don’t add extra texture to silk.
I love the softness and tender touch of silk. This material is perfect for feeling. . . so my favourite types of silk are crepe satin and ponge. I hesitated a long time before opening an Internet shop – because photos are just 2D images of my soft, shiny, living scarves. . . but it seems that the magic of silk can be somehow captured even via photos.
I have also loved to learn very thin and transparent chiffon silk – it is hard to paint because it is so transparent, but it gives a really rich and elegant result especially in evening wear.
I order most of my scarves, dyes, and guttas from Estonian resellers Vunder and Scanimpex.
Please share a tip for other silk artists or those interested in silk art
If I have to pick up one tip, it might be – cooperation with silk. I almost never pre-plan my silks in detail by drawing a 1:1 size paper with the design. I begin to play with colors on silk and adjust my design ideas according to results. This way every scarf or tie will be one-of-the kind (I have painted for over 1000 scarves) and the energy of scarf will be free-flowing, not forced.
If something goes “wrong” it actually is a sign to continue the work in (a bit) different direction – learning to read those signs takes some time, but it is surely worth of learning.
OK, this is more philosophy as tip. So something more practical too: to avoid the back-flow from pre-hemmed edges I suggest firstly to paint the right side of silk with quite dry brush (especially the edges – when the brush is wet the silk absorbs it and later it results with back-flow) and when the silk is ready, to add just very little paint with large, but dry brush to those areas of back side that have remained white.
And using a large, sharp ended watercolor brush (not too wet!) is helpful by filling tiny areas too ; ))
You can find Maria here: