About Jo May & Painting on silk


Silk Painting & Outdoor Garden Art by Jo May

Welcome, and thank you for liking my art.

I am an established New Zealand artist from Whangarei in Northland, New Zealand. I have been an artist all my life, in mediums ranging from pottery to jewellery, and have always painted – in the past I dabbled in acrylic on canvas, oil on board, and watercolours.

My originals are now totally handpainted on pure white silk. I have been painting on silk now since the year 2000 and it is my preferred medium – I just love it – I love the look, the fluidity, the style and the colours. My trade mark designs are always “Kiwiana” and super bright and vivid.

From these silk originals, we make outdoor garden art panels. These are printed onto aluminium (with a perspex core). These are bright and glossy and very durable, suitable for all weather conditions and immensely affordable.
You can view these one the “Outdoor Garden Art” page of this website, and purchase them by emailing me direct, or you can also purchase online through my international ETSY website which will calculate shipping all round the world for you & allow for secure online payment – just click on any ETSY link on this website to view the online shop.

One-off items & originals have to be purchased direct through me by email. Please go to my “originals” page to see what is currently available.

Everything we make is  totally 100% New Zealand hand made.

NZ Birds (10)

How Silk Painting is done

Firstly a design is needed, either in my head or pre-drawn on paper. The design is drawn onto the silk – a steady hand is needed as mistakes cannot be undone! Then I paint the black or gold outlines, working from the front of the scene to the back.

The silk is dried for 6 hours and heatset. Now I can add the colours, layer upon layer until I am happy. Another 6 hours drying, and then any touch-ups or special effects can be done. I usually let the silk rest for at least a day or two, and then it goes into a commercial steamer for half a day to set the colours& prevent fading. Then the silk is washed to remove any residual chemicals, and pressed, and is now ready for stretching &framing in its mount.

The silk is super strong and durable; it’s not the loose woven flimsy silk you may have seen in old clothing. This stuff is pretty robust!

Commissioned pieces and originals

Have a look at my website here for a small selection of originals available –there are always more. Just use the tabs above to navigate the pages. Please contact me direct if you are after something in particular. I often paint special scenes for each area I sell in, making the images relevant to the area, and to the local customers.

I also do paint commissions, as long as I am given reasonable artistic license, but happy to base anything on your own ideas or photos or perhaps one of my own designs as shown on this site. All production rights are fully reserved and the copyright of each image is fully retained by me, whether commissioned or not. I may make prints and cards from a commissioned piece, at my discretion. A commissioned piece does not cost any more than a regular original, but do look at my print page here first and get an idea of what I do and don’t paint – I don’t paint pets or people or cars for example.

You are welcome to select any image off my site and ask me to paint something similar. I am limited by the size of the silk and the frames I stretch it on for painting, so I can only paint up to 88cm wide.
Have a look at my “Originals” page ( tabs are at the top of this page) for options or email me to order something special, or mayne the “outdoor garden art” page for something different?

Enjoy my site and your shopping!
Jo May