How I Created a Silk Jacket from My Painting

I’d forgotten about all the clothing I created in high school. Working on this jacket design, the memories came tumbling back to me. Sitting at Mom’s 1960 Pfaff I heard her voice again ~”you can do anything you want to do!”

Imagining a Dream Jacket

Painting the design for the fabrics with oil paint, I’d photographed them and thought about how them might look on a jacket.

Cascading Flowers, oil painting
Cascading Flowers, oil painting

How to Create a Silk Jacket from a Painting

Looking at the oil paintings makes it a little tricky to see how it will look on a jacket. There are questions of scale, color, and how the repeat works.

Garden Parasols, oil painting
Garden Parasols, oil painting

Sleeping on these questions for awhile seems to help. So does playing with swatches. That’s what I did with these. I printed an 8″ strip of fabric on the 44″ printer in my studio. To be honest, I thought the first couple swatches were pale. So I tried a few changes and printed more.

Testing Prototyes

To test the jacket design, I sewed several jackets with different fabrics. I tried several lengths, various collar bands and sleeve styles. For this one I made a new pattern on muslin that incorporated my favorite modifications from each prototype.

Garden Party Kimono Jacket
Loose and cool, this jacket falls like a shawl without falling off!  See purchase info>

Fusing Palettes

I really like the way the pastel tones of the fabrics soften the more vibrant color of the royal blue top and chartreuse linen pants. It would also look great with navy blue and white, or aqua palettes ~ as you can see by the beach painting behind me!

Garden Parasols Fabric
Garden Parasols Fabric is available in silky faille, chiffon, light-weight cotton twill, polyester matte jersey, linen-cotton, cotton sateen, faux suede, eco canvas, viscose challis, and silk. See Fabric Purchase Info>

What to Create?

Custom Jacket

The jacket is available in a hand painted version, highlighted with subtle metallic aqua, green, and soft gold on silk or viscose challis. And also on silky faille, which is machine washable. See Jacket Ordering Info>

Fabric for Apparel, Home Decor & Crafts

The fabric is available on a variety of fabrics by the yard for scarves, apparel, curtains, home decor & crafts. From silky faille, chiffon, and light-weight cotton twill,  to polyester matte jersey, linen-cotton, cotton sateen, faux suede, upholstery-weight eco canvas, viscose challis, and silk. See Fabric Information>

Bringing the Goddess Out of the Mountain

The first painting I ever sold was a pastel landscape in college. The abstract mountain stretched across 3 square pieces of paper. In it was a reclining woman.

Really! I’d painted her from a figure drawing class where we had a live model. In the painting, she was hidden under the mountain, you could hardly see her.

I’d forgotten all about this early painting until last week. Sketching a few dream scribbles in my journal, I saw a woman rise up out of the mountain landscape. OMG!

It’s her! On the pages of my journal, at first I saw her just peeking over the mountain. Then her heart came together in the center, and she raised her wings like an angel taking flight.

dream journal sketches
Thumbnail sketches from my dream journal

I recognized her awkward moves, like a stick drawing in a flip book. Animated stop actions, step by step she finds her heart center. She puts her hands together to pray. Then suddenly I notice she is standing.

Arms overhead, she’s no longer bound by the mountain! How could this be? Her heart open and sparkly stars raining down from the Cobalt Blue heavens. She is energized, courageous, resolved.

dream journal sketches
Sketches from my dream journal

In a flash, I knew I’d found my artistic voice ~ at last I could see the colors ~ brilliant Aquamarine, Deep Turquoise, juxtaposed with heart to heart Vermilion, Deep Cadmium Red, Quinacridone Rose, and Cobalt Violet.

Finally standing in a field of Meadow Green and Jade, my fertile dream is suddenly real, no longer a figment of my imagination.

I’d lost her decades ago, or so I thought. As life dished up its challenges, my mountain grew. (raising 3 sons, surviving an attack, losing my mother to cancer, life challenges particular to me ~ but hey, eveyone has them. How else would the Creator direct us to our creative voice?)

Goddess in the Mountain

Goddess in the Mountain
Goddess in the Mountain

But, what I want to know is how could it happen so fast, after all this time? How could my mountain vanish? And suddenly in its place is a colorful tapestry of goddess vestments?

How could my paint brush leap to hand, and in a flash my paintings transform from reality to abstract? Overnight, what I thought was reality (the landscape and mountain) is suddenly goddess with vividly colored vestments!

Her head rising like the sun above a gem-encrusted ridge. Footprints in the landscape, the only sign she’d passed.

Goddess Rising

Months later, the canvas a little larger, she showed her face.

goddess painting
Goddess Rising

 A Hat full of dreams …

See more Goddess Paintings>

3 Doorways to the Tuscan Lifestyle ~ Tuscan Retreat

A Question is like a doorway. Opening a question changes everything.

My Retreat in Tuscany did this. The question I opened was “how to absorb the Tuscan Lifestyle into my life and artistry?”

Three doorway paintings explore this idea.

verdigris door painting dorothy fagan
Verdigris Door, oil, 10″ x 10″

Doorway #1 ~ Verdigris Door

In Verdigris Door, I was initially fascinated with the iron scroll work above the door. My first study was this oil wash and line drawing. You can see how my focus shifted from the detail scroll in the study below to color, light and shadow in the finished painting above.

Tuscan doorways
Scroll Door, wash and line drawing, 5″ x 7″
Tuscan doorways
Verdigris Doorway oil study, 8″ x 6″

#2 ~ Vermilion Doorway

Struck by the wonderful vermilion color, I tried several times to paint it. This version where the color is framed by an open archway, seemed a way of playing with the color without letting it dominate everything.

Three arched doorways, one to the right, the next front and center, and a third through the passage ~ lead us through the painting. A slice of sky opens light on the tower, street, and the next doorway.

Like a dream, I wonder what it means? Just writing the question, I see how this painting is open doorways, while the door in the first paintings were closed.

The quest of my Tuscan retreat did open me ~ connecting heart and mind in a gentle, compassionate way.

Vermilion Doorway Dorothy Fagan
Vermilion Doorway, oil on cradled wood panel, 10″ x 8″

The figure gives scale to the doorway, small in relation to a larger structure. A silhouette suggests questions. Who? An aspect of myself? Someone ancient? Or a new way of seeing myself?

Experiencing the Tuscany lifestyle, exploring slowly, letting the colors, flavors, and laughter seep in DID give me a deeper appreciation of life. I feel amazed and privileged to be here. Every moment of every day is precious and colorful. You can see this reflected in these paintings.

Loro Cuifenna
Loro Cuifenna village

This photo of Jim was my inspiration for the painting. There is nothing extraordinary about the photo. It looks like any tourist photo, poorly lit with the person looking the other way.

And yet … Jim standing in the doorway was an invitation to explore something hidden inside myself. Looking back on it now, I can see how it sparked my dream, colors and shapes hidden inside me that I never would have seen.

Green Door Dorothy Fagan
Green Door, oil on cradled wood panel, 10″ x 8″

#3 Green Door

From the same village of Loro Cuifenna, this narrow passage called for exploration. Yes, that IS a figure down in the passageway!

At first I painted the figure distinctly. Then it seemed to feel better as I blurred the form. I thought about painting it out completely. Then reluctantly, I let the human form be suspended between the sky and earth tones of the village.

Writing this, I see myself the same way.

Tuscan doorway
Green Door, oil study, 7″ x 5″

Writing about a painting AFTER it is painted, opens another doorway. There are things we ‘know’ about ourselves innately. Playing with colors and lines is one way of exploring something inside. Jotting questions, writing a simple description of each painting, these simple journaling techniques open new understanding of the soul inside.

Another Doorway

I am taking a group on a Tuscan Retreat. Watercolor journaling like this, writing, painting, cooking, wine tasting, exploring the Tuscan Lifestyle ~ What would it look like to absorb and live it? Find out more>