Tag Archives: silk painting

“All Creation Sings”, Finished!

I so enjoyed painting this set of banners for Easter Lutheran Church in Eagan, MN.

Birch Forest Fox horiz

The goal of these banners is to lift up the natural habitat near this St. Paul suburb as God’s sacred creation. In order to do this I had to remember back to my childhood and early adulthood roaming the beautiful hardwood forests in eastern Iowa and the more northern birch forests of Minnesota. I am sure my first experiences of the sacred occurred from early childhood forrays into Grandma and Grandpa’s woods near Decorah, IA.,  later as a teen and young adult  canoing in the Boundary Waters of northern MN, and then during collage years taking refuge from aceademia in the Nerstrand Woods near Northfield MN, a last remnant of the historic Big Woods of Wisconson and SE Minnesota.

All Creation Sings the Glory of God: Oak

“All Creation Sings the Glory of God: Oak Forest,” silk dye on silk, 12 feet by 54 inches.

All Creation Sings the Glory of God: Birch

“All Creation Sings the Glory of God: Birch Forest,” silk dye on silk, 12 feet by 55 inches.

 

As a full-fledged adult living rurally in North Idaho and remotely in the North Cascades Wilderness at Holden village, and still today near Bellingham WA I search for peace, for life lessons, for beauty and awe-inspiring power and inevitable change of everything, even rock. I search for that which is greater than me in the forests. If I’m really lucky, very still, or completely dumbstruck by what I  experience in the wild, once in a while I can sense the God of Martin Luther, in, with, and through all things.

 

All Creation Sings

 

If I am very, very lucky, God’s  creation is a door that leads me to Tielhard De Chardin’s Sacred Millieu, where the veil thins and I glimps the sacred.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

From St. Patrick’s Breastplate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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

A Challanging Color Scheme

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]

 

 

 

 

 

Solo Show at Brandywine

I am showing my “Butterfly Collection”through July and August 2013, at Brandywine Kitchen, 1317 Commercial Street, Bellingham, WA Come and see for yourself! It’s a wonderful sunny place to enjoy a gourmet sandwich or nice locally-sourced dinner, and to see some of my silk paintings.

brandywine-show-2013-3

Kristen Gilje showing her work at the Brandywine Kitchen, Bellingham, WA.

Local  butterflies are inspiration for these paintings. I love how the geometry of their wing design is echoed in the circular patterns of labyrinths and Celtic knots.I started this series of silk paintings after taking a field class in butterflies with famous Northwest butterfly expert Bob Pyle at North Cascades Institute, near Newhalem, WA.

 

brandywine-show-2013-4

New way of displaying my silk paintings, letting the silk fabric move.

I made three new paintings for this show, and am displaying them in a new fashion. Instead of stretching the finished silk paintings over stretcher bars, like  a canvas is stretched over a frame, I hung the paintings from a rod at the top, and one at the bottom. This enables the silk fabric to move, which is a quality I really enjoy.

© 2013 Kristen Gilje,

©2013 Kristen Gilje, “Caterpillar Patterns,” 30 x 33″. hand painted silk.

 

©2013 Kristen Gilje, California Sister and Friends 2, 35 x 26

©2013 Kristen Gilje, California Sister and Friends 2, 35 x 26, hand painted silk.

 

© 2013 Kristen Gilje,

©2013 Kristen Gilje, “Buckeye and Melissa’s Blue”, 35 x 26, hand painted silk.

Besides the silk paintings I brought a pair of framed pen and ink drawings, a framed watercolor, both with the butterfly theme, and my silk painting “Gratitude Bouquet.” All artwork in the show is for sale. You can contact me at [email protected], or purchase from the Brandywine in person.

brandywine-show-2013

Set of two pen and ink framed drawings, one framed watercolor, and silkk painting “Gratitude Bouquet” at the Brandywine.

 

Brandywine Kitchen’, 1317 Commercial Street, Bellingham, WA 98225

 

 

 

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