Dye Painting

Dye Painting

Posted by Ann Johnston on May 9th 2024

Hi, I’m Ann Johnston. This month I have been dyeing new fabrics for my presentation called Versatile Tool for Dye Painting for Creative Spark's Layered and Stitched event, May 18 at 11:30 am PT

I started sewing clothes in elementary school. After university degrees and Peace Corps Peru, we moved into a rural Oregon town where I learned about making quilts. I started dyeing fabric there too, unable to find the colors I needed, and I quit sewing clothes completely! By now, I have been putting dye on fabric and making quilts for almost 50 years. 

Image CaptionLayers of thickened dye on cotton.

Since I wrote Dye Painting! in 1992, I have continued to explore even more variations that work best with Procion MX dyes. I have also enjoyed giving workshops all over the world, seeing first-hand how people learn and develop their skills with dyes. My 1997 book Color by Accident: Low-Water Immersion Dyeing, describes a quick and easy method to create richly textured fabrics. (It is now downloadable, FREE from my website.) My updated online course called Color by Accident: Exploring Low-Water Immersion Dyeing is now used worldwide. I later wrote the companion to it: Color By Design: Paint and Print with Dye, a complete manual of techniques for surface design with the same dyes. It now has a companion video course called Beyond the Book: Paint and Print with Dye.

Image CaptionThickened dye on cotton.

As well as fabric dyeing, I have continuously explored quilt design. You can see some of the changes in my work in greater detail on my website and in my book, The Quilter’s Book of Design, Expanded 2nd Edition. Since 2011, I have been working on a series of large-scale quilts called The Contact. My quilts have been exhibited in various museums and venues in the US, as well as internationally, including over 20 solo exhibits. My book, The Contact: Sierra Nevada, Dyed and Stitched shows much of the work, inspiration and process. You can read more about my design ideas through links to my juror statements on my website and take a short quiz on You be the Juror, a video from The Visions Art Museum on my YouTube page. 

Image CaptionHand dyed cotton, machine quilted.

Come see me! Use this code for $20 discount using my code "art24ann" and this link.


Ann Johnston wrote and published Color by Accident: Low-Water Immersion Dyeing in 1997. Ann transforms fabrics into breathtaking quilts with artistry and emotion, drawing inspiration from the world around her. With each stitch, she infuses her artwork with a unique narrative that speaks volumes. Ann has produced several books and videos about quiltmaking, which you can see on her website and video platform.