Wild Journaling in the North Cascades

Drawing and Painting the Wild Journal at North Cascades Institute


Amidst the perfect weather of late summer our Wild Journaling workshop went out into the field to immerse ourselves in the grand mountains, meadows and valleys of the surrounding North Cascades.

The mornings were sweater-weather cool, and we hunkered down in our classrooms to practice our drawing and watercolor painting techniques.  These skills supported our primary purpose of immersing ourselves in nature and recording the experience in our journals.

Thursday afternoon, our first day, we journaled on the short Peninsula Trail on campus, to test out our resiliency. The next day we traveled by bus with our journals and art supplies 15 miles away to Canyon Creek, rich with mining history. We crossed several foot bridges along a rushing creek to find an old miners’ cabin and barn deep in the forest, and spent the whole afternoon out there. Click on any thumbnail picture below to expand, then follow the arrows:


Sunday was our longest day in the field. We packed into the vans again and drove to a large meadow just under Washington Pass. The day could not have been more beautiful.


My students saw me go nuts with the camera. Here are some of the results. Click on a thumbnail, then follow the arrows. When you get to the end of the first batch, go to the second!

We had spent the 4 days of the Creative Arts Retreat with basket makers and artful mapmakers, and at the end of our time together we laid out our work for others to see.Here’s what our art show looked like:

What a wonderful time! Thanks, everyone, for such a great workshop! Hope to see you next year.










Stained Glass Doors at Grunewald Guild

Kristen Gilje, Grunewald Guild doors from inside

I’ve always liked the idea of the Grunewald Guild as a “sanctuary for art and faith”. When designing these doors for the Guild, I used the Butterfly as a symbol of creation, of creating and re-birth, and of the Creator and all of us creatives artist-types. I used the symbol of the Celtic knot to represent community,  and how we create a safe place, or sanctuary, together. The labyrinth is a symbol of the spiritual journey we are all on, in one way or another.

Kristen Gilje, Grunewald Guild doors from inside
Kristen Gilje, Grunewald Guild doors from inside

This idea fairly presented itself to me as I was at a loss for some sort of direction for this design.  These three symbols, the butterfly, labyrinth and Celtic knot,landed on top of each other on my desk as I cleaned out a file full of used and unused symbols and sketches.  It’s one of those things that you recognize when you see it; something coming from outside yourself, something unexpected.  I used a version of this design originally for two 30-foot long banners for Plymouth Congregational Church in Seattle. You can see that project by clicking here: Plymouth Metamorphosis  .

And here is the original silk painting that these ideas grew from:

Kristen Gilje West Coast Lady Becoming II, 28x22, hand painted silk.
©Kristen Gilje, West Coast Lady Becoming II, 28×22, hand painted silk.


Kristen Gilje Glass doors make color art on entryway walls
Glass doors make color art on entryway walls

Sun shining through the glass makes the entry space joyful with color. It will be even better when the tools are put away!

Below you can see where the doors are located. A porch the height of the doors will be built this fall, with stairs on each end. This porch should make a nice place to hang out, to find summer shade and shelter from snow and rain in winter.

New Grunewald Guild Entry
New Grunewald Guild entry, under construction


Grunewald Guild Doors day
Doors from the outside looking in: Daytime


Kristen Gilje Grunewald Guild Doors from outside
Grunewald Guild Doors from outside
Kristen Gilje, Grunewald Guild doors at night
Grunewald Guild doors at night

Joe Hester and I collaborated on several stained glass projects, some of them very large. This is one of my favorites, perhaps because the project was really a gift to Grunewald Guild from Joe, before he died this year.

Joe Hester was a friend and teacher of mine for many years at the Grunewald Guild. Joe died unexpectedly this year, from a brain tumor. Before he died Joe encouraged me to enter stained glass design contest, several of which I won, and collaborated with me on other stained glass projects. I miss Joe. Thanks Joe, for everything you gave to me.


Joe Hester working with sketch for the glass doors
Joe Hester working with sketch for the glass doors