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Article: Why I Started Painting on Fabric

Why I Started Painting on Fabric

Every since I could hold a pencil, I've been drawing horses. I was that weird girl in school with notebook margins full of ponies. The minute I pick up a writing utensil, they just sort of come out automatically. 

So, naturally, I wanted my little horses on fabric for Street & Saddle. However, the process of drawing, digitizing and then getting the graphics printed was frustrating. Colours weren't coming out the way I wanted them, and I had a weird aversion to actually learning how to do everything on the computer myself, properly. 

I had some success painting a horse directly onto a blazer (the night before our Vancouver Fashion Week runway show, no less), but it was incredibly labour intensive. The mosaic of perfectly uniform lines took ages. Multiple people who saw my sketchbook commented on the quick, bright eyed "messy" little horses I could draw in five seconds with my eyes closed. I dismissed them, thinking they were just doodles. 

Curiously, it was reading Steve Jobs' biography that made me stalk out of the studio to go buy some fabric paint. There was something in his insistence and perfectionism, about doing things in a very labour intensive manner, that made me understand why I was hitting a wall when it came to "putting horses on clothes." I could just do it myself.

I laid out a tarp over the cutting table, rolled out some linen, and spent most of a night crouched over, free hand painting my little "sketchy" horses - and trying not to think about how much money and fabric I would be wasting if I screwed up. It was liberating. The horses looked alive and full of energy, as if they could break out of their outlines and gallop off. It was the most satisfying project of my life.

Making those pieces of fabric into clothing is going to be a bit of a process. Figuring out how to essentially turn a painting into a dress is a little perplexing, but I'm excited. It's going to be art and fashion in perfect unison. Stay tuned. 

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