Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to paint on cotton!


I came across this green cotton, cap sleeve jacket at the thrift store the other day and instantly thought of painting an Ireland landscape on it. Ireland is very dear to my heart because almost 2 years ago, my husband and I went there on our honeymoon. It was the most breath-taking, beautiful place I had ever seen! Since then, I have wanted to live there, but since that is not possible at the moment, I have to settle for surrounding myself with things that remind me of it. Thus, I embarked on my painting adventure.


From 12 years of art classes, I learned to always begin by blocking in basic shapes of color. Don’t jump into detail or you will probably regret it later. My art teacher always told me to work the WHOLE picture and not just one little spot.

For the grass, it helps that the fabric is already green, but unless you add other colors to it, the grass isn’t going to look real at all. Here I use some yellow for the highlighted parts and brown for the shadows. My lamb is just a couple splotches of light blue paint. You can see that for the fields beyond the hill, I mixed a little yellow and white together and painted in the basic shape. In some patches, I didn’t put the paint on very heavy because I wanted the green to show through. I let that dry over night.

Note: I had never painted on cotton before, so I was surprised to find out that paint does not spread very well over cotton. It takes several coats and lots of patience before it gets easier to work with. I recommend putting cardboard underneath the article of clothing you are working on, because the acrylic paint, if layered on too thickly, will bleed through to the other side.

In the picture I am working from, there lies a quaint little village at the bottom of the hill, along the roadside. I used a light blue paint to figure out where the road was going to be and I used the same color to get some slight detail in the water. I went over the road with a light pink and added some purple in the fields, to map out the shapes of the houses.

The hill where the lamb is standing, I added some dark blue to the shadows; the same blue I used for the water.

Next, I blocked in the sky with the same light blue that I used to highlight the water and winding road. I let the edges fade, because I didn't want a definite edge where the picture stops.


Note: You can tell from this picture, that I don't use any fancy paint. Just basic acrylic paint that you can find anywhere. I have been very satisfied with the results!

I went through and added detail to the road, farm houses, and bushes with the warm brown shown in the picture. For details, I use a fine point brush.


Here, I added some white to the light blue (that I had used for the sky) to create clouds. I also added a little bit of light pink to the water. 


I finished filling in the clouds with the light blue and added a light pink for the highlights. Blending was necessary to achieve the fluffly cloud just took a while because the cotton doesn't allow the paint to spread very easily.


Almost Done! Finally, I painted the word, "Ireland" over the clouds. You can go to to see different styles of free fonts. I picked a celtic style font, painted the letters in yellow, and outlined them with an aqua fabric marker. 

There you have it! My first painting project on cotton and I LOVE it! 

If you'd like to see more pictures of this Ireland bolero, visit the listing here:  

Good luck painting!
Miranda Marie


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Ila! Maybe I'll paint a scene of Italy soon. ;)

  2. Hey, it was me that mailed you about doing my wedding shoes on etsy yesterday and I just came to check out your blog...guess what? I'm 23 with a fine arts degree also and, wait for it, I live in Ireland! Unbelievable! Keep up the good work and hopefully see you on the green Isle soon...!


  3. Hi Ruth! It's crazy how much we have in common! I certainly hope we will be able to meet on the green isle soon! Sigh...that's my dream. Are you wanting to live in Ireland after the wedding?


  4. This is soooooooooooo awesome!!!!!
    You're really talented.

  5. Wow, thank you! You are really sweet!
    This was such a fun project. I hope this tutorial helps if you decide to try painting on cotton! :)