Guest Post: String Pulling

I have a second guest post for you!  The lovely Del from Del’s Doodles posted some beautiful art last week and I just had to ask her to write a post about it.  It doesn’t have many in-progress pictures but you’ll get some in the next post when I have a go of my own.  Over to Del!



 

A friend recently shared a video to my timeline where a series of people are demonstrating the pulled-string-painting technique.  (Note from Colette: I did some snooping and found the video.)

This technique is a crazy simple method of creating striking, abstract artworks; it’s low-budget, low-maintenance, and low-mess!  It’s pretty much what it sounds like – you dip a piece of string in your painting medium (paint or ink), and then pull it either between two pieces of paper, or along one pre-painted piece of paper, to get a swirly, organic abstract shape.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

A piece of string – I tried sewing thread with ink, and thin crochet acrylic yarn with paint. The string made very fine, delicate lines, where the yarn held more paint and left thicker, bolder imprints.  You’ll need pieces of string around 2x the length of the paper you’re working on.

Paper – you can use any paper, and I’d recommend the cheapest paper you can get for practicing on, but the technique can get quite wet so for your ‘proper’ attempts, thicker paper like card or watercolour paper is better.

Paint/Ink – I started with acrylic artist inks because I didn’t feel like mixing down my paint into a more watery consistency.  Inks are good because they require less effort to get started, and you can even bypass the palette if you dip your string straight into the ink bottle.  Some inks of mine were better than others, with the cheaper inks drying a bit quick and the more expensive inks, like Lukas and Windsor & Newton, making nice pulls. For paint, you want something similar in consistency to ink, but not too watered that the colour isn’t vibrant.  If your paint is too thick it’ll ‘clump’ along the string, so you don’t want that either.

Some kind of poking device – I used a wooden chopstick and a plastic palette knife with a thin tip. This is for helping get the paint on (and off) the string.

A heavy-ish object, like a hardback book or a block of wood.

METHOD

Dip your string into your painting medium.  If you’re working with paint in a palette or saucer, use your chopstick (or equivalent) to poke the string into the medium and make sure it’s well coated.  Hold on to the tail end, and don’t paint the last few cm.

As you pull your string out, pin it against the edge of the palette with your stick and press it down lightly, dragging the string out between the stick and the palette – this will squeeze any excess liquid from the string so that it’s not too paint-laden.

For pulling between two pieces of paper:

Place the tip of your string near the top of your paper, and then drape it in loops and swirls down to the bottom, leaving the paint-free tail end sticking over the edge of the paper.

Place your second piece of paper squarely over the first so that it’s lined up, and then place your heavy object down on top.  The purpose of this object is to distribute even pressure rather than to press down; if it’s too heavy and you’re having trouble pulling the string out, find something lighter; if your string is stuttering as you pull it out, it’ll leave stutters in the paint lines.

Hold the unpainted edge of your string and pull it as smoothly as you can out from between the two pieces of paper.  Try to do this in one smooth action – don’t yank it out, but don’t take too much time either; you want to do it while the paint is still wet enough to smear all the way down the paper.

Lift your book up, carefully lift the top piece of paper, and you should see two lovely mirrored paint shapes! 🙂

For pulling along one painted surface:

Paint the surface you’ll be pulling along with paint that will stay wet for a minute or two, like thick acrylics. While it’s still wet, dip your string as above, and then drape it along the surface just like you would for pulling between two sheets. Make sure the string is touching the surface along its entire length; press it down with your stick if you have to. Then, take the tail end, and slowly pull the string downwards and off the surface. You should see it dragging through the wet paint and leaving lovely patterns 🙂

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.instagram.com%2Fp%2FBjkO-CjhFop%2F&h=ATMkCaSVPZJMgKGsbllKYZSQ4n0Q9VwdvqIBn4TBOddn6kqXAstgXob3N0PVxhnzR_0Ya1k4xBHuI2u02ZHlk4QAbDeVVGWnRrCMqZkTvLicgq7CUrM

That’s it! Experiment with different painting mediums and different strings to get an effect you like that you’re comfortable working with – and most of all, have fun! 😀


 

You can find Del on Facebook at Del’s Doodles, where she does all sorts of beautiful art pieces – including mandalas.  I intend to follow some of her tutorials soon.  She sells some of her pieces too, and they’re stunning!

Author: Colette Horsburgh

A 30-something creator/baker/writer/doodler/crafter living with several (but not enough) scatty animals.

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