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!

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.

 

 

Zion’s Waterfall Up and Hanging

At Zion’s River , Tacoma, WA

This large 3-panel banner which I call a silk mural, was hung this winter, and really makes a presence as you walk into the sanctuary. It is 36 feet long and 8 feet wide. My task was to design “an abstract waterfall”, leaving room for interpretation.

Zion's WaterfallThe wall behind and around this silk mural was painted a medium dark brown to echo some of the rock colors, and to help enhance their videos. Apparently darker colors are better than light ones for this.

This church pushed me in a very positive way, from my comfort level of more representational art to more abstract work. I chose a very limited pallet of blues, with a bit of the complementary dark orange/browns, used value  (lights and darks) to drive the design, and really let the silk dye do the work itself instead of controlling it with a lot of detail.

Originally the mural was designed so the cross would hang two-thirds of the way up the banner. This would be on  the lower part of the dark stream coming down from the top, and above the white waterfall streams that are hitting the rocks.  I hope someday they will do this, but we’ll see. When an artist makes a piece it’s a bit like bringing a child into the world: you have to let go when they leave home.

If you would like to follow the process of designing and making this project, scroll down to see 4 or 5 earlier posts about Zion’s Waterfall. You can see the project morphed quite a bit, before we settled on a final design.

 

 

Zion’s Waterfall Finished

Zion's Waterfall Det.

Almost ready for hanging

Zion's Waterfall Det.

It’s been a very busy summer, but the 36 foot by 8 foot abstract waterfall project is just about finished. This weekend I took the 3 silk panels back to the school gym floor and unrolled them to check finished size and appearance. I am very pleased with the final layers of dye, and think that the goal of a sense of “power” and “mystery” translates very well. I measured everything, and with cutting, rolling, painting, washing, steaming and shrinkage,  the panels are very very close to the desired size. The center panel is one inch longer than the other two (difference in shrinkage), and when the panels are side by side with no gap they measure 8 feet by 6 inches exactly, top and bottom, which is what we were shooting for.

The picture below shows the scale of this project, when you see the piano in the upper right hand corner.

Zion's Waterfall

I have hemmed the 216 feet of the side edges of the panels, and am about to make the 12 foot slit in the center panel so it can open for the immersion baptismal pool behind the panels.  Then I’ll take the 4’x 15″  rectangle out of the top middle of the center panel to make room for the beam in the ceiling, then hem both of those.

Also, all the tops of the silk panels will have sleeves for a rod, to be hung either from the wall or from the underside of the beam.  I will lastly put sleeves in the bottom of all the panels in casewe want to run a rod through those too, for stabilizing.

 

 

 

To see full pictures, click on one of the thumbnails below.

 

A Challanging Color Scheme

©2013 Kristen Gilje, Silk dye on silk, 6'6" X 4'6" for Artman Home, Ambler, PA

New Banner for PA Senior Home

The chapel at Artman Senior Home has a bright burgandy carpet and white walls.  The paraments that decorate the alter are changed seasonally, with a different color for each season. When I looked at pictures of the chapel with the old banner in place it seemed we could do more to integrate the seasonal colors of red, purple, blue, green, white and gold into the space by designing with a new color scheme to incorporate each seasonal color in a better way than before.

©2013 Kristen Gilje, Silk dye on silk, 6'6" X 4'6" for Artman Home, Ambler, PA
©2013 Kristen Gilje, Rejoice in the Lord, silk dye on silk, 6’6″ X 4’6″ for Artman Home, Ambler, PA

The chapel at Artman Senior Home has a bright burgandy carpet and white walls.  The paraments that decorate the alter are changed seasonally, with a different color for each season. When I looked at pictures of the chapel with the old banner in place it seemed we could do more to integrate the seasonal colors of red, purple, blue, green, white and gold into the space by designing with a new color scheme to incorporate each seasonal color in a better way.

rejoice-old-banner
Artman Chapel with old banner

I purposely put all the traditional seasonal colors of the Christian church into this design, so that in any season the paraments would find an echo in the banner. Look closely and you will see that green, blue,  purple, red, white, and gold are all included in this painting. And of course we could not forget the burgandy of the carpet!

©2013 Kristen Gilje, Rejoice in the Lord, Silk dye on silk, 6'6
©2013 Kristen Gilje, Rejoice in the Lord, Silk dye on silk, 6’6

It took me quite a while to figure out how to do this. But I remembered a design I made for a stained glass window, installed in North Seattle, that I had always wanted to re-do in silk. It had a yellow-green base color. Yellow-green is the complementary color to magenta (close to the burgandy color) so I chose to go with that same color scheme: Yellow-green, magenta, gold. and I threw in some  cerulean blue for good measure. I think it worked!

Of course I have to give credit to friend and calligrapher Laura Norton,  Bellingham WA, for designing the beautiful lettering that I painted on the silk. You can reach her at [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

Zion’s Waterfall 3/4 done

Unrolling the Silk to See the Whole Painting

Working on a project that is 36 feet long when you only see 9 feet at a time can be tricky. I’m working on 3 wooden frames that have rollers on each end, so when I’m done with the first 9 feet I roll the fabric down to the next 9 feet.

©2013 Gilje "Zion's Waterfall" det. 3/4 finished
©2013 Gilje “Zion’s Waterfall” detail, 3/4 finished

Today I got a chance to roll it all out, all three panels side by side, on a big floor at a school so I can see it all at once. This is the only way to check on how it’s going and what changes still need to be made.

Zion's Waterfall Right side up
Zion’s Waterfall, 36 feet x 8 feet, silk dye on silk, 3/4 finished

It’s hard to get a good picture of something so large. In both of these pictures you can see that the perspective is foreshortened, so it is hard to see the whole thing properly. Even when the panels are hanging vertically on the wall where they belong it will be challenging to get a good photo.  Guess you will just have to see it in person!

©2013 Gilje "Zion's Waterfall" det. 3/4 finished
Upside down “Zion’s Waterfall, 36 feet by 8 feet, silk dye on silk, 3/4 finished.

See how different it looks upside down? The white area will be the very top of the painting. The piano is at the bottom of the piece.

In the next picture you see the very top of the piece, and I’ve selected some shots that take you down the whole length, so as you scroll down you can see some more of the detail. Remember that it’s not finished yet…this view of the whole  has left me with a list of things to take care of.

©2013 Gilje "Zion's Waterfall" det. 3/4 finished
Top of painting

 

©2013 Gilje "Zion's Waterfall" det. 3/4 finished

The area in the picture below is where I will be doing the most touch-up work, as far as fixing things go. This area needs some simplification and unification. I have a plan (check back to see how I do this).

xzions-waterfall-3-4-finished

Below you can see that the rocks, and the waterfall below the rocks, are the least developed of the project, since I am working from the top down.

©2013 Gilje "Zion's Waterfall" det. 3/4 finished

Can you see that the colors and textures are not as rich in the lower areas? It’s amazing what just one more layer of dye will do, to add variation and saturation. The rocks will be darker in value, maybe as dark as black, but I want to keep some of the color variation in these rock shapes.

©2013 Gilje "Zion's Waterfall" det. 3/4 finished

©2013 Gilje "Zion's Waterfall" det. 3/4 finished
Detail, Zion’s River

And the water in the lower waterfalls will be rich too, with more interesting lines and textures, sort of like what you see below.

I really like making good use of what the dyes can do. It’s a matter of knowing your materials very well, and what happens to them in different circumstances. I’ve used layered dyes to make interesting  lines, painted with water to push the paint around, used a watercolor technique of transparency, and blended colors to make soft edges. I’ve used some gutta resist for sharp edges and keeping one section of dye from another, lots of salt, and lots of prayer.

And finally, here I am in my studio-to-be, with the silk on the frames.   Now that all the silk is covered at least once the major decisions are done and the great share of the work is over. Now comes the very most important part of the painting: Tuning it up to make it just right.

Kristen in studio with Waterfall