Portrait Artist Forum    

Go Back   Portrait Artist Forum > Studio & Equipment

Topic Tools Display Modes
Old 06-22-2005, 04:22 PM   #1
Mark Lovett Mark Lovett is offline
Juried Member
Mark Lovett's Avatar
Joined: Sep 2003
Location: Potomac, MD
Posts: 67
Where can I find backdrop fabric?

Can anyone tell me where I can find the best backdrops to buy for my studio to use as backgrounds for my portrait and figure work??

The only thing that I have found so far are the thin cheap canvas ones painted in gaudy broken colors.

I was looking for an attractive thicker, soft fabric material, in solid subtle grayed earth tones, maybe with ringlets in the top to allow for ease of change. I was hoping to get several different colors to work with.

What kind of backdrops do you prefer and recommend, and where can I find them without spending a fortune?

Thanks in advance,
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2005, 04:59 PM   #2
Enzie Shahmiri Enzie Shahmiri is offline
Associate Member
SoCal-ASOPA Founder
FT Professional
Enzie Shahmiri's Avatar
Joined: Sep 2002
Location: Laguna Hills, CA
Posts: 1,395
Mark, I would check with your local fabric store. They usually have a wonderful selection of heavier fabrics to choose from in all sorts of shades.

Another good source would be discount fabric stores. Check in your Yellow Pages.

At stores such as Bed Bath and Beyond or even Target, you can look for discounted bed sheets or even tablecloths in the colors of your liking.

At Target I also bought a clothes rack that comes on four wheels. The hight can be adjusted up and down and makes a great support for the fabric. Just pin the fabric to the pole and roll the stand behind your model.

I hope this information will help.
Enzie Shahmiri
Professional Portrait Artist
Founder of Southern California Society of Portrait Artists
World Market Portraits Blog
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2005, 05:12 PM   #3
Sharon Knettell Sharon Knettell is offline
Approved Member
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,730

I go to a store that specializes in upholstery fabric. It is usually 60" wide whereas clothing fabric is about 45" The best background fabric as far as I am concerned is velvet. It has a natural gradation from an overall light source and generally goes from light on the bottom to darker on the top. I buy about 3 yard lengths and either sew a channel or pin them over a backdrop photo stand. The one I have is adjustable and the 60' fabric fits on it perfectly.

I get the velvet in lots of basic shades of greyed greens, blues and blue grey greens for starters. I have also used bright magentas, yellows, mint , prints etc.
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2005, 05:56 PM   #4
Joan Breckwoldt Joan Breckwoldt is offline
Associate Member
Joan Breckwoldt's Avatar
Joined: Nov 2001
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 504
Try resale shops

Hi Mark,

I have found beautiful curtain panels at my church resale shop for next to nothing. I found some beautiful colors in great shape. I live in a large town and we have a number of large resale shops here. I suppose it depends on what kind of thrift/resale shops you have nearby.

The only downside to this is that it could potentially be time consuming, I was lucky and found some panels right away. Gotta watch out for those time eaters!

Good luck,

  Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2005, 09:33 PM   #5
Linda Brandon Linda Brandon is offline
Juried Member
Linda Brandon's Avatar
Joined: Jul 2001
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 1,734
If you want to go a little out on a limb, try rugs (Persian, handwoven, etc.), animal skins, kimonos hung by a dowel through the sleeves, giant platters, big scarves, windows, big plants, other paintings... my attitude is to push for something unusual and have the predictable background as your default setting instead of the other way around.

On the other hand, the two paintings I just started have dull neutral backgrounds, so don't listen to me.
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2005, 11:10 PM   #6
Mark Lovett Mark Lovett is offline
Juried Member
Mark Lovett's Avatar
Joined: Sep 2003
Location: Potomac, MD
Posts: 67
Backdrop fabric

Thanks to all who responded to my question. The responses were all very helpful and appreciated.
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-24-2005, 04:49 PM   #7
Sharon Knettell Sharon Knettell is offline
Approved Member
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,730
Right now I am using one of my stock grey green velvet panels, but I have overlayed it with a hundred year old hand embroidered pale celadon Chinese silk panel. There are all kinds of flowers and birds on it. Yummy!
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-24-2005, 05:43 PM   #8
Claudemir Bonfim Claudemir Bonfim is offline
Juried Member
PT Professional
Claudemir Bonfim's Avatar
Joined: May 2004
Location: Piracicaba, Brazil
Posts: 1,042
Send a message via MSN to Claudemir Bonfim
You should try different sorts and colors, sometimes two or three types of fabric might be used in the same composition.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2005, 07:58 PM   #9
Richard Budig Richard Budig is offline
Juried Member
Joined: Oct 2002
Location: Lincoln, NE
Posts: 260
I used to go to fabric stores (of all kinds) and asked for the remnants department -- the place where they have roll-ends, and random pieces of fabric.

You can find some really great stuff, usually new, for a few cents on the dollar (usually) since it may be in an irregular shape, or have a bit of off-color margin or stains showing. The slightly off color parts usually don't bother, any way, since it tends to go very soft as you look at your set up. I've bought yards and yards of new stuff for very little money this way.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2005, 10:49 PM   #10
Brenda Ellis Brenda Ellis is offline
Juried Member
Brenda Ellis's Avatar
Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 263
Send a message via Yahoo to Brenda Ellis
Things I've done

My local fabric store has a remnant and bargain outlet room and they have big bins of various fabrics for $1 a pound. Of course, it's best if I pick out lighter materials but I've gotten great fabrics there.
But my favorite all-time place is the local thrift store. Big indian blankets or curtains or king sized bed sheets or even props.

If you want something such as just a neutral toned background, go to Lowe's or Home Depot, buy a cheap canvas paint drop, get their $5 a bucket Oops latex paint (paint they've either mixed too much of or made a mistake on) and water it down and tone your own canvas. You can put grommets in yourself. (At a fabric store they should know how to and be able to tell you. It's simple to do.) And then get a little set of shower curtain rings at Target for a couple of bucks. You want to use thin paint so that the canvas doesn't get stiff and then you'll be fighting with fold lines and paint cracks if you ever have to fold it.

If you can find a white (or any light color) flat bed sheet at a thrift store, you can use Rit dye to get it a color that's useful to you. (As long as what you're dyeing is cotton. Some blends do not take dye well, but cotton always will.) You'll have to run your washer through a whole cycle with bleach and a few dust rags or shop towels after you've used it for dyeing.

Theoretically you could dye a canvas paint drop but my washing machine isn't that big. (If you happen to have a big witch's cauldron you could use the boil and stir method.)

If there is a local decent sized theatre near you, call the props department and ask if you can look through their soft goods and you can usually rent a few things for a nominal fee. They will even most likely have persian rugs you can rent fairly cheaply.

I don't know how much professional photography backdrops cost, but I'd bet any of the above described methods would be cheaper, although a bit more work.

Well, that's all I know.
"In the empire of the senses, you're the queen of all you survey."--Sting
  Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing this Topic: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Topic Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Topics
Thread Topic Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Charcoal with fabric Mike McCarty Drawing Critiques 3 01-31-2005 02:53 PM
How do you find a job? Judson Eneas Business, Marketing & PR 3 09-03-2004 07:14 PM
How can I make black fabric interesting? Margaret Port Techniques, Tips, and Tools 5 01-10-2003 02:52 PM
Fabric paint Jean Kelly Paints, Mediums, Brushes & Grounds 2 09-19-2002 03:01 PM
Trying to find painter named Therese... Susan Kuban Artists of the Past 3 11-12-2001 04:55 PM


Make a Donation

Support the Forum by making a donation or ordering on Amazon through our search or book links..

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 07:58 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.