Mugs

How to photograph a wool painting?

You’ve just created a beautiful wool paining, framed it nicely, and you want to share your creation with the world via a social media post on Instagram or Facebook. So, you take a photo and … it doesn’t look good.

Most people take a photo of their creation framed and covered with glass, but want to show it in their home hanging on the wall or standing on the table. And when they take photos with the glass they usually encounter a problem with the reflection of themselves or surrounding objects. In this case, the artwork loses it’s charm and it gets hard to see the real picture with all colors and feature of the texture. So, what to do?

The problem has a simple solution – take a photograph without glass. This is the best way to keep the volume, texture, softness, tenderness, and mystery of your masterpiece. But you should be very careful in handling your artwork without glass. The freshly made picture is very fluffy and the wool fibers are very mobile. Unintentional treatment of painting might cause harm. The best way to take a photo of the wool painting is lay it down on the table, stand on the chair, and take a photo above it. If you would like to take picture hanging on the wall or standing on the table, it better wait at least two weeks after you’ve placed the painting under the glass. During this waiting time, the wool fibers lie down and stack together.

If you would like to take good photos of wool paintings:

  1. Take a picture in the morning. Good scattered light is needed, not direct sunlight. For example, you have a table in the kitchen near the window. Open the curtains, so there will be more light, put the artwork on the table, stand on a chair, and take a picture from above.
  2. Turn off the flash, so there won’t be glare.
  3. The photo needs to be processed – your should at least crop out the excess edges, especially if the background is not very pretty. You can attend to this by taking a picture on a homogeneous background, such as using a white sheet of paper to create a neutral white background. You can also use a software to change sharpness, contrast, or color.
  4. Glass always reflects and when you take a picture from above, the camera and your hands will be seen, but not as much as in mirror. If you must take a picture with glass on, just find the position or angle where your reflection is minimal. For example, if you take picture from above, try to increase the distance between you and picture.
  5. If you take a picture which is hanging on the wall, it will be a little bit harder. You should find a wall with good light and neutral texture and find the position where you and everything else won’t be reflected or it will be minimum. Find a position where this is minimized.
Mugs

Twelve bits of advice for the novice wool artist

Where to begin? What to do when something doesn’t work as you want? These and other questions novice artists ask themselves, when they have a desire to start wool painting. So, what to do in this case? Here is some advice.

Advice #1. It is never too late to start painting with wool. There are many examples of artists whose talent bloomed during adulthood.

I give the example of myself. I never studied painting seriously; I don’t have an art degree. As with all children, I drew in daycare and in took drawing lessons from primary to high school. When my drawing lessons ended, I completely abandoned this craft. It was when I was almost 30 that I started to create pictures from wool and have now made this art form into my full time job. I create different paintings, take part in different art shows and exhibitions, teach classes, and write tutorials. Learning to create wool paintings much easier that it seems at first glance.

Advice #2. Painting is a creative and rather laborious process. So be patient and do not lose faith if you fail. Everything will turn out well in due time.

And drawing is nothing more than analysis. Every minute – analysis, comparison of their work with the nature; a comparison of their early works and those that are now, with those to which we aspire. The creative process implies a certain duration, and for many artists the creative process lasts a lifetime, modifying and improving. Remember this and do not wait for super-fast results.

Advice #3. The result is proportional to the effort invested. The more you practice making art, the faster you gain confidence and experience.

This advice smoothly follows from the previous point. If you become despondent when your results don’t meet your expectations, just remember the more you practice, the faster you gain confidence and experience.

Advice #4. Move from simple to complex. Don’t try to take on an obviously difficult task too soon, how attractive they would not look at first sight.

Don’t have enough experience and knowledge, you risk not to cope and this will only lead to disappointment. Start with something simple and, step by step, add more complexity to your tasks.

Advice #5. Everybody should begin with copying the work of others. Start and you!

It’s better to start to create wool paintings from lessons of an experienced master, whom you have chosen for yourself as a mentor. If you ask me who were my teachers, I tell you of three great Russian artists. I took several lessons from each.

Advice #6. Don’t buy a lot of materials to start, especially expensive ones. You will be shackled by the feeling that you are obliged to issue a “masterpiece” the first time and you don’t have the right to make a mistake in your work.

Advice #7. Don’t be too shy to ask for advice! After all, you are focused on the result, so ask your tutor for feedback.

Many of us are modest and shy by nature, we are afraid of disturbing people. We think that they are not up to hearing our stupid questions. This is not so; it’s just our fears and doubts. A coach or a teacher may have a shortage of time, but I’m sure that each of the teachers of wool watercolors will be able to answer your questions or give advice.

Advice #8. Increase your skill level. Learn about color, composition, air perspective, light-shadow pattern. It does not matter what you paint with wool or paints. For all fine techniques, laws are one.

Advice #9. You cannot embrace the immensity. Especially for one sitting. Do not overdo it, otherwise quickly burn out and will not achieve the desired result.

It is desirable to distribute the amount of information absorbed for some length of time. Even better, if what you have learned, you will be able to consolidate in practice. Note that a person well remembers only that information that he can use. That information that does not find application in reality, is quickly forgotten, even if it is very useful.

Advice #10. Filter the criticism of your work.

There are a lot of negative in social media these days. Reading too much negative feedback and your self-esteem may fall. But you can’t do without all criticism, we need it to improve our work and become more professional. That’s why you should pay attention only to significant comments and do not take the rest to heart.

Advice #11. Inspiration is always around us. Many artists who already have done a fair amount of work are sometimes still afraid to start their own practice. Perhaps, there wasn’t such an idea that would inspire them, swallowed them whole. And they would like to try to draw just this, because it came from within. Where to search the inspiration?

Little is born out of emptiness and this is a fact. The more we see, the more different ideas arise in our head. Fill yourself visual images and emotions. Get a creative notebook and write down everything that hooked you and worried, that you like, what attracted your attention or made you think, etc. One day all these thoughts will germinate and poured something which is yours.

Advice #12. Practice! Practice! Practice!

And finally: create, improve and have fun with the process!

Mugs

What benefits can we get working with wool?

Have you ever thought of why someone would choose one type of handiwork over another? I think the reason is part of our individual make-up and that each of us is looking for something to complete us, spiritually as well as physically. I won’t delve into the scientific jargon for the reasoning behind this, but will try to offer a simple explanation.

After a hard day of labor at the workplace, every craftsperson knows why they run to their crafting hobby: the idea of rubbing their hands together in delight and exclaiming, “I made this, my own beautiful creation!” They want to enter a different world and calm their inner self. The crafting process relieves everyday stresses; but exactly how does it function?

     

  • The brain is very complex and many scientists attempt to understand how it works. But even without a scientific degree, we realize that we get tired of keeping a thousand items active in our mind: home cleanliness, correct parenting, transporting kids to and from events, eating healthy food, exercising, shopping, paying bills, etc. We want to stop and exhale for a while. Hobbies are like a relaxing yoga session for the brain; they transport us into a kind of meditation. While in this condition, the brain disconnects from daily bustle and routine. We let our consciousness turn off from the endless race of processing external factors and turn our attention within ourselves.
  • The subjects and even the colors we choose for our creative works are not accidental. Through the use of color comes a restoration of our mind on a subtle level, on the level of the psyche. We replenish what we need the most. One manner of renewal, as you’ve probably already guessed, is art-therapy. With wool, it is a simple pleasure. If you use paints in your artwork, you will use very small amounts of the substance. But when you work with wool, you can take a large handful of red, combed ribbon wool and completely bury yourself in it. In other words, the color itself becomes the material. You can touch it, pet it, and burrow in it to receive more pleasure and satisfaction – it is tangible.
  • Another advantage of using wool is the incredible tactile sensation you feel when handling the fibers. In ancient times, the cat was recommended as a medicinal animal. When you were tired – you would just pet the cat and talk to her, then you would sense that life was getting better. Of course, petting a living animal can’t fully compare with touching wool; although it is a natural material, it is not really alive. But with one touch of sheep’s wool, you remember all the fluffiest kittens and lambs you’ve ever touched. This memory is invoked from the softness, tenderness, and warmth the wool gives to us. As an exact opposite, imagine that you are working with something stiff, prickly, and cold. What feelings will you have? Certainly not calm, peace or tranquility. Rather, more concentration is required to become relaxed when working with those materials.

Process of creating Wool Painting “Gold Autumn”

Thus, it turns out that any contact with wool, as part of our craftwork, affects us immediately on three main fronts, and we:  a) rest our eyes, absorbing and recharging with the energy of pure colors; b) calm our brains and senses, switching from routine to a world of beauty; and, c) literally treat our irritability and bad temper through tactile contact with the wool strands.

I love crafting images in wool and sharing my knowledge with others. I teach three types of wool painting classes: group, individual and online. I have also published several tutorial books on how you can create some of my works of art. So, if you would like to try to fashion something beautiful, I will be waiting for you in my workshop.

Mugs

What does painting with wool give for children?

Wool is pleasant to the touch; this soft and gentle material of iridescent colors is ideal for bring out creativity in everyone. Painting with wool is special way to express your emotions and to create your own masterpiece without using brushes, paints, pencils or water; instead laying out colored sheep’s wool, layer-by-layer, using fibers instead of paint and fingers instead of brushes.

Creating paintings with wool is both interesting and easy, even for those who don’t know how to draw. This technique gives the opportunity for each child to feel like a real artist and to a create picture to his mood and desires. Paintings made of wool are very warm, gentle, airy, and cozy.

Wool Painting “Crocodile In Love”

What does painting with wool give for children?

     

  1. Develops children’s ability to work with their hands, accustoms to precise movements
    fingers, they improve their fine motor skills, the development of hand-eye coordination.
  2. Develops artistic taste and creative abilities of children, activates their imagination, imagination, flights of thought. Wool gives the child ability to realize his dreams in an unusual drawing style.
  3. Stimulates the development of memory as child, in order to create a picture, must
    remember the sequence of its manufacture and the techniques of working with wool.
  4. Teaches concentration of attention and patience, since it makes the child focus on the process making pictures and teaches him to follow instructions.
  5. Improves labor skills, forms a culture of work, teaches accuracy, the ability to carefully and economically use the material, to keep the workplace in order.
  6. Encourages children to search for creative solutions.
  7. During the work, children get aesthetic pleasure from a sence of accomplishment.
  8. Develops a sense of composition, rhythm, color; feelings of texture and volume.
  9. Develops self-reliance and teaches them to not be afraid of making mistakes. A great advantage of using the wool is errors are not permanent and are easily fixed. The opportunity to fix the mistake allows the child not to be afraid of mistakes, to find the better solution, and to achieve the desired results.
  10. It’s fun and interesting. It’s opportunity to create and to make the real things with their own hands.
Mugs

10 reasons to like wool paintings

I think everybody has heard about the many benefits that artistic creation has upon our lives. The artistic process helps us to: develop our personal sense of ‘taste’ and creativity; activate our imagination, fantasy and flights of thought; acquire the ability to work with our hands, by mastering precise fingers movement and fine motor skills; and increase our ability to concente, since it requires focus during the process of making pictures.

Can you remember back to the days of your childhood? In addition to the normal school routine, many of us participated in different after school activities, such as: dancing, drawing, music lessons, chorus, etc. And during those sessions, we didn’t ask questions along the lines of “Can I dance?” Instead, we perceived the time as opportunity to try something new and interesting (and also because our parents brought us there).

Today we are adults and most of us are much wiser than when we were young. Many of us are parents and we are sorely lacking in time and energy. But let’s be honest; each of us still has the desire to reconnect with our childhood sense of wonder and the dicovery of miracles in our surroundings. And the creative process is composed of both miracles and discovery, and it always tells a story. Working with wool is just such a miracle, where you may discover things about yourself that you were unaware of. Knowing this, you don’t want to stop there, but instead need to express yourself in the creation of beautiful multicolor paintings.

So, why should you create a wool painting and what materials are needed?

  1. Wool painting is a meditative process, which, among other things, has therapeutic effects. This is due to the fact that when the soft, supple wool fibers are touched and manipulated, the artist involuntarily calms down, reaches a harmonious state and releases their soul in flight.
  2. To create a wool painting, it’s not necessary to be able to draw. Utilizing this magical fiber to create pictures can reveal artistic talent in people (who don’t know they have it). The Wool Painting technique can be learned by people who can’t draw, because wool is naturally a very grateful and forgiving material.
  3. Using wool allows one to embody the ideas of any artist. With this material, you can reproduce pictures by famous artists and create pictures based on photos. Or you can let your fantasy take flight and draw something special from your own imagination and life experiences. The more you like your own story and express it in your picture, the more beautiful the result and the more fascinating the process will be for you.
  4. A wide selection of material is availabile. There are a lot of shops where you can buy the wool roving in a variety of shades, some of which are breathtaking.
  5. There’s no need to purchase special, expensive and complex equipment and facilities. To create a wool painting you just need a frame with glass, fabric backing, colored wool, tweezers, and scissors.
  6. You have the ability to determine what method to use when working with wool: wet felting, dry felting, wool painting, or mixed technique.
  7. There’s an opportunity to correct your work at any stage of creation: remove an unsuccessful layer, take off or relocate details which didn’t turn out as planned, or even use scissors to correct the form of an object.
  8. If you’re not impressed with the background or some of the details in the wool painting, they can be reused in another piece of artwork.
  9. Once and for all, you can solve the problem of what to offer as a spectacular, unexpected and stylish gift.
  10. And, best of all, to feel like a real artist (creator)!

LEARN THE UNIQUE ART OF WOOL PAINTING WITH MY CLASSES AND TUTORIALS.
TRY OUT A NEW ARTISTIC MEDIUM TODAY!

Mugs

Painting with wool – everyone can do it!

I have been painting with wool since 2015. One common question I’ve been asked is “Do I need to know how to draw to learn the wool painting technique”? To answer this question let’s figure out what wool painting is.

Painting with wool is similar to the applique technique, something which does not require the ability to draw. For example, when we start learn cross-stitch or embroidery, we don’t say to ourselves “I can’t succeed because I don’t have an art degree”. Of course, we will succeed!

To paint with wool, you should learn certain techniques and develop some skills; but knowing how to draw is not one of them. Because wool painting similar to the applique technique, we consider the wool as a voluminous applique material in which put with strands and smears, layer by layer, which eventually creates a thick wool pie. Painting with wool also implements aspects of a glaze painting technique. When we create painting with thin wool smears, we emulate an oil painting or a multi-layer watercolor technique, but instead using an applique material. That’s why the visual possibilities of wool painting are so huge.

Because the wool is an applique material, there’s an opportunity to correct your work at any stage of creation: remove an unsuccessful layer, relocate details which didn’t turn out as planned, or even use scissors to correct the form of an object. You can remedy your picture very easily and any time; something you can’t do when you paint with oil or watercolor. The main thing I would like to impress upon people who want to learn how to paint with wool is that you need patience and perseverance; these are the most important qualities you need to master this technique.

If you need help keeping the shape of your image while you paint with wool, you can create a simple drawing template on tracing paper and use it like a coloring book to embellish your wool picture. Painting with wool is not about drawing; it is about putting colored applique material – wool – on several layers in the form of a picture. Don’t let the fear of drawing stop you, let the wool flow as your image come alive.


LEARN THE UNIQUE ART OF WOOL PAINTING WITH MY CLASSES AND TUTORIALS.
TRY OUT A NEW ARTISTIC MEDIUM TODAY!

Mugs

Framing options for your wool paintings

The first option is a standard photo frame with clips, which doesn’t have a framed edge at all. This consists of only the backing and glass, and uses clamps to hold it all together. You can place your wool painting in this type of frame, but no matter how hard you try to trim off the wool that extends beyond the edges of your picture frame, it will not be possible to remove everything. In most cases, a painting placed in this type of frame does not look very neat and the wool may “leak” out the sides due to static electricity, small breezes, or a curious pet.

The most common option is to exhibit your wool artwork under the glass of a standard frame. The best way to decorate a picture made of wool is to use a wooden or plastic picture frame. This type of frame encloses the edges of the wool artwork and the picture looks finished.

Wool Painting “Birds On Branches Of Lilacs”

Frame with mat. Connoisseurs of painting who visit museums often see small works of art exhibited in huge frames – but the open space between the picture and frame is covered with a plain sheet of cardboard. This is called a “mat”. The mat is not used to inflate the size of a small painting. Instead, this special method of décor is designed to protect the picture from external factors.

A mat is created using a large piece of cardboard, where a smaller “window” is cut out for displaying the image. The picture itself is then inserted behind the mat. The cardboard for matting the picture can be of different thickness, depending on the type of artwork. For example, with oil paintings artists use the thickest cardboard, so the picture does not come in contact with the glass and cause damage. But for wool paintings, the mat must be made of thin cardboard, or colored decorative paper, since the fibers have to be pressed against the glass.

The color of the cardboard mat also has a decorative function and allows the artist to underscore the seriousness of the picture. A dark colored mat visually “pushes” the picture into it, where a lighter color will “push” the artwork upward from the mat.

Wool Painting “Winter Landscape”

Mugs

Substrate materials for use in wool paintings

When I first started to create wool paintings, the important question of choosing an optimal base, or substrate, remained open for a long time. I tried different types of materials and found that each has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look what type of materials can be used as a substrate for wool painting.

Laminated paper is a smooth, glossy surface that has one big minus: the wool placed on it slips even from the slightest breath. That’s why, on my scorecard, I give this type of paper a big fat “0” because it will hinder the creation of a paintings more than help. So I suggest: don’t even try it.

Rough paper, can be used for watercolors, pastels, or pencil sketches. When using this as a base, the wool slips less. With this substrate you can sketch the picture before you start placing the wool – or even color it. In this case you don’t need to use a lot of wool for background and you can get an interesting effect. In homes where there are children, you are certain to find a watercolor painting or a medium-density piece of cardboard.

A plain natural fabric, like cotton, is another option. The fabric should be a plain non-patterned cloth, so that the print does not interfere with the wool layout. Cotton is generally very friendly with wool. Its small outer pile clings well to the wool fibers, preventing it from rolling off the cotton’s surface. For ease of use, you can glue the fabric to a surface, like the frame’s backing, so the fabric doesn’t move while working on the wool painting. A glue stick works best for this. If you use liquid glue, it will be necessary to wait until it dries before you can create the picture.

Flezilin. You can also use special materials so that the wool does not slip on the surface, such as non-woven fabrics. Women who sew, know it. When creating paintings from wool, specialty materials like this can work well, but they should be glued to the backing’s surface, before you start work on the wool painting.

Paper towels. Number one in my list. My go-to choice has always been use paper towels as a substrate for my wool paintings for following reasons. First, you can find them in regular grocery store, they are cheep, and are very economical. Second of all, it’s not necessary to glue down, but you can do it easily if needed. Another benefit, you can sketch your picture’s outline on it before using the wool. And the main advantage is that the wool fibers don’t roll down, even when the picture is stood vertically, without the glass placed over the wool.

Summing up the above, I enjoyed testing different materials that might be used as a substrate. The main consideration is that the wool fibers do not slip off whatever is used. Feel free to experiment with other materials not listed (tell me of your experimentation results), to find the perfect one for you. After crafting many pictures, I found what worked best for me and my choice was paper towels.

Mugs

Types of Wool

Sliver – combed, unpainted, and unbleached sheep wool, without fleece hairs. This type of wool serves as the raw material for making a tops (combed ribbon) and carded wool. Sliver is also used as a basis for felting (1st and 2nd layers), with subsequent applications of wool of other colors. Sliver is sold as strands (lumps) or in the form of a ribbon, and may be gray, brown, or the color of melted milk. It lays well and costs much less than dyed wool.

Tops (aka Combed Tape / Combed Ribbon) – wool which is carefully combed on a special wool combing machine. While in the machine, all of the fibers are stretched in one direction and laid in a ribbon. When felting tops wool, it must be laid out in layers perpendicular to each other, so that the hair clings well and lays properly. The raw material for the production of tops is a sliver of fine or semi-fine wool. Tops is perfect for wet and dry felting.

Carded – this wool has a loose texture, which is twisted in layers and is similar to cotton. Its fibers are short, retain their natural, crimped structure, and are arranged in a chaotic order; so the process of interlayer adhesion of wool begins almost immediately. Carded wool can be fashioned into the form of a blanket, but this is not the only option. The same carded wool can also be stretched into a ribbon (either by simply dividing the blanket into strips or drawing it out) – in this form it is called roving. The form of the ribbon does not change the underlying type of wool into roving, it still remains carded in its internal essence. The approximate thickness of roving is most often equal to the thickness of the hand. Carded wool is useful when laying out the background of the wool painting.

Ochet – short fibers of sheep wool, which did not get incorporated into the combed ribbon during the machine’s processing, generally because they did not correspond to the required length. As a rule, Ochet’s nap is soft and pleasant to the touch and can be sold as dyed. It is also much cheaper than carded or tops wool. Ochet is used for making felt, as a substrate for making rugs, and as stuffing for sewn toys.

Rovnitsa – this is untwisted woolen thread; something reminiscent of a very thin tops wool, which was collected into a loose tangle.

Prefelt – a “non-matching” felt, i.e. the wool fibers are adhered into a stable loose fabric. Masters use it as a basis for wet felting, for decorating products, creating delicate effects, appliques, shibori techniques, etc.

Mugs

Materials and tools for creating wool paintings

People often ask me, what materials and tools I use to create wool paintings. In this article, I’ll explain what’s in my toolbox.

  • Common picture frame with glass.
  • Non-woven fabric (non-slip, soft, with a small pile; you can use fleece, flannel or white cloth towel).
  • Glue-stick.
  • Wool of various colors (thin combed ribbon and cardos).
  • Scissors (sharp and comfortable to hold).
  • Tweezers (common type, such as used for the eyebrows).

Let’s start with the frame. I use an ordinary photo frame which can be found at any home or craft store or ordered from your local frame shop. Your average frame consists of a backdrop, clear glass covering, and the surrounding edges. I’m avoid frames with plastic covering instead of glass, because, they don’t look as nice in my opinion. But if you have special needs, like an area where it is likely to be broken, you can use plastic. You can also take an unpainted photo frame and paint it in the tone of the finished picture. There are many options for your choice in frame, but you need to use frame with clear covering as that protect wool fibers from coming apart.

In order to keep the wool from slipping and so it sticks better to the backing, I use substrate. It could be flezilin, plain natural fabric, rough paper, but I prefer to use a simple quilted paper towel. For convenience, you can glue substrate to the backing of the frame, so while you create the picture, the substrate won’t move. But I prefer to not do this, so that I have opportunity to put picture in different frame if necessary.

To create a picture, I use two types of wool: combed ribbon and cardos. I try to have a lot of varieties of colors available, because the more color shades I use, the more vivid and picturesque the wool painting will be. Sometimes, to give shine to the picture, I use fibers of silk or viscose.

When it comes time to work directly with the wool, I use a sharp pair of good scissors. When you first start making wool paintings, use the scissors that you already own. But as you continue the craft, invest in a nice pair. I experimented with many different types of scissors before I found the most comfortable to work with. When you create a wool painting, you use scissors a lot and not just to cut the wool, but also move the wool around or stab it. You use scissors as a brush to create a wool painting and I discovered that scissors with the sharp point on the end work the best for me. I also suggest to use scissors with a comfortable rubber handle which will protect your fingers from slipping.

To lay out the small details of the foreground on the picture, I use tweezers; but other artists just use fingers; everything here is up to the individual and depends on practice.

The main tools required for making wool pictures are hands. To work with wool hands should be clean and dry. Also, avoid getting small debris or water on the area where you work.

For my workspace, I work over a big table with enough space on it so I can put all the tools and wool I need right in front of me to create the picture. When I craft it, I need to see the whole picture, otherwise I have problems constructing the image. That’s also why I bought a height-adjustable table, so I can work sitting and standing, which ever way my mood takes me.

I hope you enjoyed reading about what tools and materials I use to create wool paintings. I would love it if you shared your secrets for creating art with me!