Dandelion stems

This is a companion piece to Dandelion Seeds Step by Step.  Here’s how I paint the stems.

I start with lengths of ribbon. I buy it on small rolls from a dressmaking shop and cut it into 6-inch lengths.  This ribbon’s 5 mm wide but sometimes I use wider depending on the scale of the picture I want to make.

I always mix my paint shades from the colours below (cyan, hermes red, medium, primary yellow and ebony).  You can buy lots more premixed shades but I prefer to make my own.  The medium (white) doesn’t work as a white colour exactly, but as a dilutant for other colours. If you paint it on the silk, it appears clear rather than white.

Group shot of silk paints - Copy

Some dandelion stems are green, some red, and some a blend of both.  I like the blend.  Here I’ve mixed up a dark red to start me off.  You’ll see from the dirty state of my “white” that I’ve diluted the colour as well.  I want it nice and liquid so that it flows easily along the ribbon.

Red colour for dandelion stems

Silk paint dries fast, so you have to work quickly. If you don’t, sections of the paint start to dry and you get tidemarks.

I apply the paint with my little brush, starting at the end of the stem and working towards the middle.  Every few strokes, I dip the brush in the white and stir it into the mix.  This keeps it liquid, and the colour becomes lighter as you do this, which helps create the blend between the red and green shades. Painting a brushful or two of white onto the faded end of the red colour will blend it into nothing.

Red on stems

Then do the same with green on the other ends of the stems. Where the green and red overlap slightly you get a soft brown.

Green on stems

Here my brush is loaded with slightly drier paint and I’m running it down the edge of the stem.  The resulting darker edge helps give the illusion of a cylindrical stem.

Painting edge of stem

Then I paint over the stem with the same colours, still nice and wet, anywhere I want more intensity. You can do this as many times as you like.

Extra shading on stems

I deliberately paint lengths of ribbon that are longer than the stems I need.  This way, I can choose the part of the stem I think came out best to use in a picture.

In the same session I paint some ribbons different shades of green, and some a golden brown. No need for any shading on these.  They are then cut into narrower strips and used in place of thread to create sepals and seed pods.

Extra painting

Once the ribbons are dry, don’t forget to iron them to fix the paint.  I do them on high for three minutes.  You can always paint over them again if you need to, as long as you re-iron the painted area.



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