How to Paint on Fabric with Inktense Pencils

Have you tried Inktense® blocks or pencils? These little miracles of pigment can be used dry for rich, intense color or washed out with a little water to create a vivid translucent effect. Once dry, the color is permanent and can be worked over with other media.
leaf painting on fabric with inktense pencils |
Ana Buzzalino used Inktense pencils, water, and textile medium to gradually intensify the color on these leaves.

You can use them in your art journal, collage painting, and with other mixed-media painting techniques. But did you know Inktense colors also work beautifully for painting on fabric? The pencil or block form gives you more control over where you place the color.

You can also make the fabric painting effect look more like watercolor, acrylic, or ink depending on whether you activate it with water or textile medium and the amount you use of either.

In a recent issue of our sister publication Quilting Arts Magazine, fiber artist Ana Buzzalino wrote a comprehensive tutorial on how to use Inktense pencils to decorate a wholecloth quilt. In her article, she offered these tips on how to paint on fabric:

  • The harder you press, the bolder the colors will be.
  • Color can be applied to dry fabric and then blended with textile medium, or to fabric that has been moistened with textile medium. Try both methods to see what works best for you.
  • Wash over dry color with a little water to get an ink-like effect.
  • To keep the colors fresh, clean the tip of your brush when changing colors.
  • Dampening the colors with a layer of textile medium makes them pop.
  • Layering colors while the base color is still damp makes the colors more vibrant.
  • Some fabric mediums require heat-setting to make the color permanent. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid disappointment. If there is any doubt, make a sample and test it to see if the color washes off.
fabric painting on wholecloth quilt by Ana Buzzalino |
Painting on fabric (wholecloth quilt) by Ana Buzzalino.

I find painting on fabric intimidating as I’m afraid I’ll ruin the project. But the many expert articles on fabric painting and surface design in Quilting Arts always guide me through. In my book, anyone whose mixed-media or collage art includes fabric should take advantage of a subscription to Quilting Arts.

P.S. Have you used Inktense pencils or blocks on fabric? What was your experience like? Share your own tips in the comments section below.


Blog, Fabric Art, Mixed-Media Painting Techniques, Mixed-Media Techniques


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