Talk like an Art Head: Felt Paintings

Mackay

“Andrea, I’m sure you’ve noticed the new felt paintings we have in the gallery.”

I looked at Sandro blankly.

Yes, I had noticed the lovely, new paintings that had just arrived to Eduardo Alessandro Studios, the contemporary Scottish art gallery in Broughty Ferry, but I had no idea what he meant by felt.

In these situations, I always fall back on the good old motto: “Fake it till you make it.”

“Yes, of course, the Moy Mackay’s,” I said smoothly, joining Sandro beside the paintings.

“Amazing, isn’t it, how she’s reinvented the medium, using fleece fibres to ‘paint’ as it were.”

My eyed bulged. Now that I was looking closely, I realised that these paintings were indeed made out of felt! I had already thought they were lovely, admiring their colours and texture that seemed to intimate an almost magical fairyland, but now I was head-over-heels for them.

Felt paintings? Really?

Go to our website, take a look at these beauties, and then come down to the gallery and see them in the felt. I’m not the only one who was fooled.

I’ve approached many a gallery visitor, admiring Moy’s work: “Amazing, isn’t it, how she uses felt to make her paintings?”

So far, no one has been quite as good as faking till they make it as I was.

“Felt? What do you mean?”

Well let me tell you.

Moy’s studio is decorated with a wall of hand dyed and carded merino fleece, creating a rainbow of colour for Moy to pull from. After selecting her colours, she builds up layers of merino, just as though she were painting. (And the good thing about working in felt and not paint is that if she doesn’t like something, she doesn’t have to wait for the paint to dry – she can wipe off the felt and try another shade!)

Once the colours are built up, she then felts the fleece, using hot water and soap to work the fibres together. Finally, she uses a freehand machine to finish the pieces, as well as hand embroidery to add finer detail.

Sound hard? Well, Moy’s actually written a book, taking readers through the process and providing lessons to make your very own felt painting. She also offers workshops to learn first-hand what felt painting is all about.

As for myself, I will continue to approach the unassuming gallery visitor, unaware of what new insight she is about to gain. “Isn’t it amazing that you can actually paint with felt?”

And now you know the answer: Yes, it truly is.

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