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Deborah Younglao is a self-taught artist who uses the luxurious fibers of silk to portray her love of nature. Flowers, birds and undersea creatures come to life on shimmering silk painted with vibrant fabric dyes. A native of the Caribbean island of Trinidad, Deborah now resides in Cary, North Carolina. Painting tropical themes is one way of keeping in touch with her Caribbean roots.
Although her formal education was in Science (she holds a Bachelor's in Biology and a Masters in Oceanography), Deborah's creative side led her to express her fascination with nature in an artistic rather than a scientific manner. Deborah was introduced to dye-painting (painting with dyes instead of paint) on silk in 1997, and thus started a love affair which has grown into a full-time calling.
The art of dye-painting on silk has a long history, and traditionally it has been used primarily to create wearable art. Deborah prefers to see her creations hanging on the wall, where the softness and luminosity of the silk, coupled with her bold colors, add panache to any decor. Not satisfied with only two dimensions, she also adds extra texture to some of her pieces with machine quilting and beading.
Although basically self-taught and always experimenting, Deborah continues to develop her skills through workshops led by renowned silk painters. She in turn introduces the technique to others by teaching classes in her home studio. Deborah sells her work primarily at juried art shows and group exhibitions, where her work has won several awards. She also creates commissioned pieces for private and corporate clients.
I am constantly in awe of Mother Nature and the exquisite beauty that She presents us with every day. I paint simply to express this feeling. Silk is the perfect medium for this expression The movement of the dyes on the silk is like a mesmerizing dance, and the vibrant dyes echo the hot colors of the tropics. The silk itself becomes part of the process in that its texture, weight and weave dictate how the dyes interact with it. Since the dyes are impossible to control completely, the end result is quite unpredictable, but that's exactly what I love about it. Each painting is an adventure. I want people seeing my work to share that adventure with me... to smell my flowers, hear my birds... to revisit some exotic place that they have been, even if only in their imagination.
WHAT IS SILK PAINTING?
Silk painting is the creation of art using silk as the canvas and brilliant dyes as the paint. The dyes, which are painted on with a paintbrush, spread as soon as they touch the silk. They are transparent and this allows for infinite blending of colors. Because the dyes become part of the fabric instead of sitting on the surface like paint, the natural luminosity and texture of the silk show through and enhance the painting.
Movement of the fluid dyes is a characteristic feature of silk painting, and adding substances like salt, sugar, water or alcohol to the silk, creates spontaneous and often unpredictable textural effects. For clearly defined shapes, a resist is used to enclose the dyes. As the dyes move and merge on the silk, the result is a creation that can never be reproduced exactly, so that each piece is truly one-of-a-kind.
After painting, the dyes must be steam-set to make them permanent. The silk is rolled between layers of newsprint and steamed for several hours. During steaming the colors 'bloom' and become more intense. If a resist was used on the painting, it is now removed.