Matisse printing experiments

After the marvellous Matisse exhibition I was keen to do something interesting. Here is one of the post cards I bought, showing Matisse using cut outs of sea-weed or coral type structures along with blue pomegranates, the mermaid and the parakeet (which looks more like a budgie to me).

Matisse,The Parakeet and the Mermaid 1952, Post card
The Parakeet and the Mermaid 1952 (PC)

I had in mind using heat transfer inks on cuts out pieces of paper and printing them at home using my iron. Recently, in Spain, I had got up close with a pomegranate tree.

Matisse painted (or got his assistant to paint) large sheets of paper, which he then cut out. As my heat transfer ink was quite expensive I  cut the paper first and then painted it. I used three varieties of red/pink, two greens, three blues, the yellow and mixed an orange. They looked quite nice, if rather subdued, drying off on plastic. With this technique the printed colours are much bolder.

Painting and drying the cut outs
Painting and drying the cut outs

But when I heat transferred them to a piece of polyester I found the results rather disappointing. Two of the pinks were very pale, whereas the blues and greens were robust. But with the deeper colours the edges were not sharp but bled quite badly even with the driest iron. So here is the result. I don’t feel this is a satisfactory outcome (I had been planning to make a Christening robe for Kit) so I will not use this fabric. I bought the paints on the internet from a company called Colourist. Compared to the brand I used at college (where the inks were not so watery) they are very inferior and I would not recommend them. I will have to do some more investigation.

Polyester printed with Matisse like cut outs
Fabric printed with cut outs

I  also kept the paper I used to protect my surfaces. I may try printing with these as the more abstract look maybe better than hoping for bright colours and sharp edges.

white paper with painted shadows from heat transfer inks
“waste” paper

I discovered many examples of designers using Matisse as an inspiration but here is a favourite, from Yves St Laurent. I think applique may be the only way to go to get the sharpness of line and strength of colour required, but I will persist.

YSL 1980/81 A/W collection
YSL 1980/81 A/W collection

Furthermore, while I was on holiday, my “Fabric Swap Buddy” Amandine was busy making me a piece of printed cloth. She bought a nice, heavy linen/viscose fabric in a neutral beige. She writes “I wanted a simple and minimalist design with a combo of blue and orange. Nothing too extravagant. Something that can be worn. I can picture it well as a Zinnia skirt from Colette Patterns.” This particular pattern has a full skirt gathered or pleated onto a waistband, with pockets. I think that is a nice suggestion and maybe something I will produce over the next few weeks. Here is the cloth.

Beige fabric with blue and orange printed motifs
Linen/Viscose mix printed by Amandine

Thank you Amandine of – nice work!

3 Responses

  1. amaryllislog

    This is really intersting and for a first pass not bad at all, there’s lots to love here. I know it’s not your vision but still the process and refinement will be rewarding I’m sure.

  2. Stephanie

    I’m always impressed with your vision and willingness to experiment. I’m sure you’ll land on something that you’re satisfied with. The YSL dress is very interesting – thanks for sharing!

  3. Joyce

    More adventures with prints…fun fun fun.
    I personally really like the practise sheets – I like how abstract they are . I am sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to see just what will be frabickated! :~ ) Good luck, lets see what happens.

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