Kennewick Christmas Addendum

Kennewick Christmas
Christmas Manger alter parament, silk dye on silk, 33″ x 22.

Now  all the pieces in the 13-piece set Kennewick Christmas are finished. It took me a lot longer to sew each piece, some by hand, than I thought it would!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Syrian refugees as paint this set, and how, to a refugee in a stranger’s land, any space that is warm and dry can seem fit for a king. Even a manger meant for a place to hold food for farm animals is desirable if it’s the best place available. And that was the best place Mary could find to set her King of Kings, the baby Jesus, the night he was born. 

Joseph and Mary must have been worried, anxious, tired and dirty from their travels and from the emotionally exhausting process of bringing a baby into the world. Yet I’ve depicted them both as shining with halos, basking in the sacred Light of God.

Kennewick Christmas

I Iwonder if you and I can see the sacred Light of God reflected from the homeless strangers we encounter in our daily lives today?

It was fun to work with the idea of light shining onto the manger, and illuminating the straw. And to carry the theme of sacred golden light throughout the banners and paraments. And  to depict the Light of God shining on all of us through the halos on the stoles.

I thought I’d get a few pictures of how the stoles look when worn. Unfortunately the only model available was me. So here they are:

Deacon's-stole2
Kennewick Christmas Deacon’s stole
Pastor's-stole2
Kennewick Christmas Pastor’s stole

 

Kennewick Christmas
Kennewick Christmas Scapular

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kennewick Christmas

Getting Ready for Christmas

Kennewick-Christmas--8

I’ve been working on a commission for  Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Kennewick WA. It is a set of banners, paraments and stoles to celebrate the Christmas Season. The colors of the season are gold and white…I chose to use varying golds from darker to almost white, to represent light streaming down from the Star of David onto the Christ Child, Mary and Joseph.

Here you will see pictures of the finished paintings on silk. The fabric to decorate the font and the lectern have not been cut and hemmed yet, but they’re on their way.

First the stoles:

Kennewick-Christmas-
Pastor’s Stole
Kennewick-Christmas--2
Deacon’s Stole

 

 

Kennewick-Christmas--3
Scapular

 

Kennewick-Christmas--4
Detail of Scapular

Following are two wall banners, to be placed at either side of the altar:

Kennewick-Christmas--6    Kennewick-Christmas--7

And two longer narrow banners to hang from the rafters, symbolizing the light of God within the sanctuary:

Kennewick-Christmas--10       Kennewick-Christmas--11

 

Material for the Lectern parament and Baptismal Font paraments, yet to be cut and hemmed:

Kennewick-Christmas--12

 

Kennewick-Christmas--13

The focal piece of the whole set is a simple manger upon which the golden Light of God is shining. I am unhappy with how this painting turned out and am in the process of re-painting it. I will add it to this post when it is finished.

Here are some other photos to give you a sense of the set and of them being created in my studio.

Kennewick-Christmas--14

Kennewick-Christmas--15

I am grateful and honored to have been asked to design and make these banners, paraments and stoles for Lord of Life. Thank you so much for the opportunity. I will do more writing on this post when I am finished with the whole project, so stay tuned until I finish all the sewing involved!

Kennewick-Christmas--17

 

Color in the Wild Silk Painting Workshop at Grunewald Guild

 

square-pic-color-chart

 

Last Sunday I returned from teaching a week long silk painting workshop at the Grunewald Guild, August 3-9 2015.  We had a wonderful week with 11 students, many of those returning students and a few brand new silk painters. We all learned from each other, pushed our own boundaries, made wonderful friends, enjoyed someone else cooking for us, and saturated ourselves with color.

student Becky with wings

2015 silk group portrait

Our class, entitled Color in the Wild, focused on seeing color combinations that nature provides and learning about these combinations with the help of a color wheel. We talked about complementary, split complimentary, and triadic color schemes, use of neutrals, and dominance, to name a few color thinking structures.

2015-silk-painting-Guild-2
Triadic color combos from nature

Each student was asked to choose a primary triadic “pallet” from colors they saw in nature, and reproduce it with the dyes we had available on the above grid.

You will see from the photos below how diverse each person’s work was. Whether a newby or a seasoned silk painter, I was very proud of the depth of challenge each person took on.

Lynn-painting-mountains
Lynn, a seasoned silk painter, pushes her limits.

Here are some pictures of the work we did last week. Be patient; it’s a slide show with 6 seconds in between pictures.

 

 

And here we are below, all working in the Fiber Arts Building.

One more tidbit for you: A short video that Susi Franco made for our class

We missed you Janell!!! , and all those unable to come. Hopefully you will be with us next year.

Thanks for a wonderful week everyone. Kristen

Kristen in the Guild Garden
Instructor Kristen Gilje collecting items for color theory lesson

 

 

Deacon’s Stole for Janet

© Kristen Gilje 2015 St. Marks Red Deacon's Stole
St. Marks Red Deacon’s Stole
© Kristen Gilje 2015

 

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church by the Narrows (Tacoma, WA) has lots of beautiful art in its sanctuary, including some great stained glass windows. My friend Janet pointed out her favorite part of the glass, a symbol of a dove. She asked me if I could make her a Deacon’s stole with this design on it, transposing the blues to red instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stained glass at St. Marks by the Narrows, Tacoma, WA Det.
Stained glass at St. Marks by the Narrows, Tacoma, WA Det.

 

Transposing the colors from blue to red, in watercolor
Transposing the colors from blue to red, in watercolor

To the left is a photo of the stained glass, which is about 12 feet high, and on the right is my watercolor rendition of the design in reds. I chose to add some purples and spring greens for spark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Janet's St. Mark's Deacon Stole
Janet’s St. Mark’s Deacon Stole

 

Janet's St. Mark's Dove stole modeled by a Bellingham friend.
Janet’s St. Mark’s Dove stole modeled by a Bellingham friend.

 

 

The next step was to use my red interpretation on a deacon’s stole pattern that I designed several years ago. I found two  asymmetrical black buttons in a fancy knitting store to help strengthen the joint between the two sides.   Can you see them?

 

I like how the blues and greens and dark black-reds add just enough contrast to the overall red.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Janet’s stole modeled by a friend here in Bellingham, showing the side view. Thanks Sharry!

Rooted and Grounded in Love

A Meditation on Ephesians 3

©2014 Kristen Gilje
©2014 Kristen Gilje, commissioned by St. Marks by the Narrows, Tacoma, WA

The Ephesian 3 text was chosen by St. Marks Lutheran Church by the Narrows, Tacoma WA for their 60th anniversary. This letter from Paul talks in part about the cosmic nature of God and paradoxically how God is also present with us in our earth-bound existence.

I chose a tree to represent the union of the vast, cosmic nature of God and the earthly nature of our local lives in community.   This tree is a version of the tree of life, an archetype that spreads throughout human culture. A tree reaches towards the sky and onwards towards the planets, while being rooted firmly in the ground. It is a reminder that we are indeed connected to the world and universe outside our daily and earthly routines, even though we often forget. Here it represents both the wood of the cross alive, and Christ as connecter of heaven to earth.

In my first sketch for  this design I made the tree stretch tall and strong, up to the planets. And I made a tap root that stretched down, down, deep within the earth and anchored by subterranean rocks. I sent this design off to the commissioning pastor, who wrote back asking me to please put a few more trees in the composition.

This pastor grew up on the coast. He knew that trees growing on the western coast of North America don’t have deep roots; they have shallow roots. And they grow in groves. The shallow roots of the trees intertwine with one another to support each other. A shallow-rooted tree growing alone would get toppled by coastal winter storms, but a grove of trees with an intertwining root mass can withstand all nature can throw at them.

So I put some more trees in, made the roots more horizontal and intertwining.

The houses under the central tree represent our human community, specifically the community of this particular congregation. Our relationships are like roots that reach out to one another in community, and hopefully out even further  to support those considered outside of our community, to support them too.

Kristen Gilje, Rooted and Grounded in Love Det.

And finally, the vast quantities of water that make the Northwest so great in this piece also represent the water of life in Rev. 22, flowing from the throne of God,  nurturing the tree of life which bears good fruit for all. My prayer is that this same Spirit of God, present in, with and through all things will nurture our communities with all its relationships, humankind and other, so that we bear good fruit for the sake of all humanity and all the earth.

 

 

Breaking Wave as Baptismal Image

Commission for a Seaside Church

©2014 Kristen Gilje Breaking Wave
©2014 Kristen Gilje Breaking Wave, 8 feet by 55 inches, silk dye on silk.

I painted this 8 foot by 54 inch banner, for a church in Manasquan NJ,  immediately after finishing “Zion’s Waterfall.” I had enjoyed being very loose with the dyes, letting them mix and make textures without much control at all, using hardly any resist. In “Breaking Wave” I wanted to preserve the free and uncontrolled feeling with a different technique: painting with wax. This involved using the resist, which usually I use to control the dye, in a free and easy way. I bought 5 different sizes and shapes of brushes to make varying textures and painterly wax marks on the silk.

The process was similar to making a layered print. The very first wax marks preserved the white of the silk, only where I wanted highlights. Next I put a light layer of blues over the whole piece. After that dried, I put another layer of wax only where I wanted this light blue preserved….then a darker blue, and more wax, until I had all the color values I wanted on the finished piece, from lightest to darkest.

The original idea for this piece came from the pastor who commissioned it. Her congregation had been devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and her idea was to  make a Hurricane Sandy Baptismal Banner. The idea was an intriguing challenge. I love to connect natural images with sacred rite and ritual. After researching photos of the devastation on the web, I came up with the following image. However, I could not find any hope in the subject at all, no sense of the holy.

©2014 Kristen GiljeHurricane Sandy
©2014 Kristen Gilje Sketch for Hurricane Sandy Baptismal Banner

Even though this piece was more about the destructive forces of nature than the transforming sacred power of baptism, the commissioning pastor liked it.  I also had gotten quite attached to the idea of making this piece, not because it represented baptism, but instead the awesome and fierce power of nature, and the challenge of making it. NOT the intended goal…

The idea was to somehow lift the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy into the hands of God, recognizing the sacred water of baptism even in the terrifying walls of water in the storm. This was definitely too fresh a catastrophe for the idea to work. And the image represents “My God, why have you forsaken us?” better than baptism.  We realized that this image was not what her people needed, and changed course.

 Challenging art needs to be appropriate for the congregation it serves, and needs especially a person to facilitate discussion around the art, to lead people into challenging ideas with purpose. The purpose is not the art, but the idea.  And the idea must be carefully chosen. The art is a tool for thinking about the challenging idea.

The pastor knows their congregation and what they need the most, and how great or small a challenge they need, and most importantly what they need challenging on.

 We turned instead to an image more familiar and less challenging but still powerful: A wave breaking over rocks. I could indeed find the Holy here in the awesome power of water to transform even a rock, but also to nurture life and bring joy. It is a good image of the transforming power of baptism.

Here are pictures of my own exploration of a wave….first on newsprint 9 feet by 55 inches just learning shapes and values.

2014 Kristen Gilje

next a “map” simplified version, Still got carried away by the detail. I put this one under the silk to help me place the dye and wax.

2014 Kristen Gilje

This wax process was new for me…it was fun to have the WAX make the mark, rather than the dye.

My driving emotion for this piece is awe of the sacred in nature, despair in its failure, and hope/faith for change.This is now in a New Jersey church, as a symbol of the transformative power of the waters of baptism.