Silk painting is almost the opposite of other types of painting. Generally, the artist paints by controlling the placement of pigment on a surface, usually through the use of brushes. In silk painting, the painter controls the movement of pigment within boundaries such as a resist on the silk. Brushes become much less important because the dye will move on the silk after it is placed there. Because the dyes flow so freely on silk, the job of the silk painter is to control the movement of the pigment on the silk rather than its placement.
Silk painting is quick, fun and easy. No experience in art is necessary. Painting on silk can be can be as simple as filling in the colors in a coloring book. On the other hand, an artist can create a beautiful original painting on silk. The silk seems to glow with vibrancy and a special luster, adding a wonderful animation to the painting. Even the simplest painting on silk is beautiful because of the glow and warmth of the silk shining through.
The sequencing of dyes is thought through carefully, because the lightest colours and tones must be isolated and the darker areas developed around them at each stage. I often work freehand, doing the gutta work without a pre-drawn design on paper but when the design is more complex, I use a full-scale drawing. Paper masks and templates are helpful in guiding placement of design elements, especially when a light or white area, such as the white of an eye, must be isolated in the correct place before any dyes are used.