To a textile or fashion designer, black velvet fabric represents the ultimate in luxury and good taste. The fabric itself was once reserved for the aristocracy and the color is symbolically significant to peoples from all cultures of the world.
To many people, black velvet fabric is one very big deal.
To a segment of the population, however, black velvet fabric is the canvas on which some really fun and unique artwork comes to life. The fabric has formed the backdrop for so many velvet paintings that it is now considered an art form all its own.
About the only element in common in velvet paintings is the black velvet fabric used as canvas. In spite of the fact that velvet is much harder to paint on than more traditional materials, such as canvas, paper, or wood, the art form flourishes.
Ancient Kashmir is credited with being the birthplace of velvet fabrics and it’s also the site of the first known paintings on black velvet fabric. Back then, the painters were priests from the Russian Orthodox faith and the theme, understandably, was almost always of a religious nature.
Once Americans started using black velvet fabric as canvas, the subject matter broadened considerably. Edgar Leeteg, dubbed the father of American black velvet kitsch, preferred subjects more bawdy and raucous, in keeping with his own lifestyle and interests. So interesting was Leeteg that elements of his life are included in “Rascals in Paradise,” a book by James Michener published in 1957.
Doyle Harden took the concept of painting on black velvet fabric one step further when he opened a massive factory devoted to the art form in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in the 1970s. Here, velvet paintings were cranked out assembly-line style, with themes ranging from the religious to the ridiculous.
Black velvet fabric is still the perfect way to portray all things elegant and luxe but velvet paintings bring a little fun to the fabric, too.