Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Silk Painting

North Cascades Waterfall by Kristen Gilje

Just completed a new silk painting 7 feet by 55 inches for a Canadian couple in Vancouver. It's for their entryway. I took a design I made maybe 10 years ago and revamped it...It turned into a project I really enjoyed.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Plymouth Group: Painting by Consensus

Ever think about painting by consensus? It worked pretty well this fall at Plymouth Church in Seattle. 14 of us painted 16 banners all in one day. Yes, there was a lot of planning beforehand, and that helped it go very smoothly. Now Plymouth has Advent banners adorning their worship space that they have helped design, and have painted themselves.
 I gave general color suggestions, and expected that great variations would happen as individuals put themselves into it. People need a frame of reference, but then it's important to back away and let them take off in their own directions. Following are some results:

Plymouth Group Project: Advent 2010

"Magnificat" Kristen Gilje

This fall was time for Plymouth Congregational UCC Church in Seattle to get all their art-types active in a project for Advent. We made 16 banners, 7.5 feet by 22", together, with their involvement from the conception to the hanging. This post describes the project development. In the next you'll read about the actual workshop.

The first step was to do some heavy duty text study for this Advent season. I selected 4 of the 12  texts that will be used, and facilitated conversation about each one. After taking notes on our conversation I went home and did some drawing. What you see following are peoples' comments on the texts, and final preparatory sketches. When we all agreed on the designs I put only the lines of each design on the silk. I made four copies of each design so we would have 16 total banners.
We sellected a date to get all the painters together in Seattle, and spend one full day painting. It was a lot of fun, and we got them all done with some time left to clean up really well.

"Swords into Plowshares
Isaiah 2:1-5
Week 1
     Our discussion group the first Sunday we met gravitated more than I expected towards this text. We spent a long time talking about it. We visualized a path up the mountain, leaving the swords in a pile at the bottom, and returning to the plows at the top. We talked about letting go of swords, which is risky. We talked about going to the people who use the pruning hooks to be taught by them, about war machines and shepherds. It became apparent that no one knew what a plowshare was or what it looked like. 
   By the second week I had found pictures and definition of "plowshare." It is the steel blade that cuts the earth on a plow.

     My vision is the sword twirling and falling in space, changing form until it becomes a plowshare. 

"Swords into Plowshares" Kristen Gilje
Magnificat Luke 1:46b-55 Week 3  Words I heard from people regarding this scripture passage last Sun. were: comforting, not about being privileged, available to everyone, Soul magnifies the Lord, Magnifying glass, rejoicing because a teen girl is pregnant, counter-culture, blessed, hope, positive, Mexican Guadalupe image, refugee, immigrant, life is hard, lovely, universally ordinary lovely, joy, humble, culture of dance, revolutionary

John the Baptist
Matthew 3:1-12
Week 2
 For the second week in Advent we have been looking at the proclamation of John the Baptist,  especially verse 10, "Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees: every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." John's proclamation seems at odds with the chosen theme, "Visions of Peace", but we had been talking about Martin Luther King saying "no peace until there's justice", and from our own people, "how burnt do we have to get, to change?"

"Pruning the Tree" Kristen Gilje
 Feedback: Sally saw the tree as a  a path, a path of our lives, and how parts of our own lives need pruning. Someone suggested using pruning shears instead of an axe, as people are more familiar with pruning than with using an ax.This is a less brutal way of saying a similar thing, though I think John the B. would say it is a bit watered down.

Joseph and the Angel
Text: Matthew 1:18-25 
Week 4

"Joseph and the Angel" Kristen Gilje
Comments on text and image from Sunday:
Extra-ordinary preciousness of moments (like when angels appear!), preparation for Baby, and how necessary Joseph's participation is, Joseph named Jesus in the text, pregnant with ideas, do we follow? Right direction? Reminder of lineage: "Joseph, son of David"
Great cloud of witnesses, Jesus: the Now of all the past lineage, Magnifying.

Feedback: Joseph more prominent. What is angel's touch like? Simplicity, earthiness of Joseph is desirable.

Plan: Wings will be more defined, Importance will be on Angel touching Joseph, Joseph will be more visible.

 Here it is! The most detailed part, the wings, will be done in gold lines before everyone paints on it....All that's required  is a light blue wash (easy). The faces will take a bit of direction but I think we can do it together. I used the same colors as we're using in the Dancing  Marys.

Puyallup Advent Banner

"Herald of Change"  9 feet by 55 inches Kristen Gilje

For this piece I altered a design already used for another banner, "Summon Out What We Shall Be: Annunciation", adapting it for Advent. I wanted to include natural signs that Advent is here. These signs are the bright jewels of the winter constellations, the dark blue of the night sky, and the bright moon are all natural signs that Advent is here.. Especially on cold clear nights I am reminded we are in the season of waiting, anticipating, regrouping, in the creative dream space of long dark nights under blankets of snow. 
Listen into the deep for the angel to awaken us to new change in these hinge times. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Grunewald Guild Silk Painting Class 2010

     Grunewald Guild near Leavenworth WA is a favorite place of mine, one I enjoy teaching at every year.

Grunewald Guild Core Purpose
To be a sanctuary for experiencing the Diving through art.

This year three classes were structured around a theme "Welcoming the Year," exploring the church calendar.  Gilly Sakakini from England concentrated on Holy Week, Laurie Clarke from western Washington taught  myriad aspects, historical and cultural, of The Tree of Life for the long green season, and I taught/facilitated "Advent and the Creative Void." Author and ordained Methodist minister Jan Richardson was our keynote speaker and the glue holding all the classes together.
Jan Richardson glues us together

     My students and I explored how many ways the creative process was like the season of Advent, a season of entering the darkness to create something new. Kind of fun celebrating a time of darkness and cold in 95 degree weather and long sunlit evenings.

We explored silk painting as an incarnational activity, birthing intangible ideas from our imagination into the physical realm in order to communicate them to ourselves and to others.

Student Work


We were thirteen students and one teacher/facilitator. Sometimes it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, and once in a while someone would break into song. Joyful duets and full choruses accompanied our painting.



Jamie's pieces
But mostly people worked. Class time was 9:30 to noon, but many were there before breakfast, all afternoon and when I came to check on things late at night.They produced a lot of work.
Student work
Finished scarves ready for the steamer

Ready to roll

When the scarves were all painted we rolled them up in paper, hung them inside the above contraption, lit a fire under them and steamed them for 4 hours. This sets the dye to bond it permanently to the silk.

Unrolling the silk after it has been steamed is like opening Christmas presents after Advent. Also like opening a kiln-load of freshly fired pots...a very joyful occasion. 
.Well here they don't look quite as excited as little kids, but really it was fun.

On the last day we celebrated! Our pieces were finished, real, and done, after waiting for inspiration,  struggling with the materials, a bit of muse-whisperings and a lot of hard work. Merry Christmas!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Two Summer Silk Classes

Diablo Creative Arts Retreat

North Cascades Institute
July 8-11,2010


Take advantage of this state-of-the-art green campus in the national park, right on Diablo Lake, with comfortable accommodations and terrific food. The view of lake and mountains over morning coffee or the first stars at night on a walk to Diablo Dam will awaken the creativity in you. I will be one of three instructors at "Diablo Creative Arts Retreat." Come express yourself in color on silk!


Liturgical Arts Week
Grunewald Guild
Leavenworth, WA

July 26-Aug. 1, 2010

My second workshop will be part of "Liturgical Arts Week" at Grunewald Guild, near Leavenworth, WA. July 26-Aug.1. Do you make art for churches?  This will be a time to exchange information and ideas, as well as to design visual themes for a chosen season. My focus will be on the Advent season, and from my sessions you will leave with finished silk pieces and a notebook full of ideas for Advent, as well as new support from others doing the same thing.

Four people are facilitating this week-long workshop:
Author Jan Richardson will be our keynote speaker, http://www.janrichardson.com
Gilli Sakakini from England "The Holy Week" Lent and Easter
Laurie Clark: The Tree Of Life" for the long green season
Kristen Gilje: "Advent and the Creative Void" Advent moving to Christmas

Come join me this summer to make colorful silk pieces together!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Art for Change, Through the Church

I think that cultural change often happens first through ritual. And that art can address what is yet unspoken, before we have words for what is. Ritual and art can work on an intuitional, preverbal level, and together they can birth a new idea onto a more conscious plane, even into a physical reality.  Art in the church can birth new ways of living. 

In the next two weeks I'll be speaking in 3 different cities about the power of art to change the world. The locations are all in churches and one seminary.

The first workshop is April 31-May 1 at 1st United Methodist, Tacoma WA, with keynote speaker Jenny Phillips. Jenny is the founder of  Creation Change, and has been trained by Al Gore to teach from
An Inconvenient Truth to faith-based organizations.

The second event, May 8, 1-4, at St. Marks Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle,  is with several other Grunewald Guild faculty. The workshop is entitled "Greening Hearts and Minds with Art", and we each will be doing sessions on how we use our art to enhance and support change in the church. Here's who's speaking:
  • Ron Skylstad, eco-theological speaker "Connecting Micro & Macro in our Living Spaces as Points of Meditation"
  • enamel artist Jean Tudor,"Endangered Species Project: The Bestiary"
  • Artist Laurie Clark "Caught Green-Handed: Using Discarded Items for the Creation of Art for the Church" 
  • and myself, "Art, Community and the Word: Living Art in our Sacred Spaces" 
The third event is also with Grunewald Guild, at  Regent College, Vancouver BC.  Several of us will participate as visiting artists in a week-long seminary class entitled "Heart, Hands and Head: Crafts, Creativity and the Spiritual Art of Making Things." I'll be speaking again about how art can be used as a powerful tool to help a community shape itself.

Things are happening for the "greening" mindset in our culture.  Often unseen and unnoticed, often on the edge of things, people who have never met each other are working in concert.  Should we be surprised? Isn't this how nature works?



Thursday, April 22, 2010

Making some Connections: Credit where Credit is Due

You may have noticed that the look of my blog has changed. I am taking an online blogging class this month called Blog Triage: Maintaining a Healthy Artist's Blog so you will notice lots more changes, hopefully positive ones. Let me know what you think.

Guess what today's class is on? LINKING! I will gladly link you up with teachers Alyson and Cynthia.

Alyson Stanfield's ArtBizBlog is a mainstay of my art business life. Every Monday like clockwork her posts appear, with something relevant and useful each time. Her partner in crime is Cynthia Morris, who has two intriguing blogs, Journey JuJu: Adventures of a Creative Nomad, and Original Impulse. Cynthia is a writing coach and a life coach. The two teachers make a good combo.

I found ArtBizBlog through Fine Print Imaging, who specialize in making fine art prints. I started with Fine Print Imaging while selling prints at Holden Village where I was Artist in Residence. Their quality is impeccable. I would hold one of my original watercolors up to a new Giclee print and it was hard even for me to tell the difference. Making prints from originals was a way of keeping art at Holden, a not-for-profit organization, affordable for everyone. The prints are also good advertising for Holden.

Fine Print sends out an e-newsletter full of wonderful stuff. Besides ArtBizBlog I found Working Artist: The Artist's Business Tool through Fine Print. I use Working Artist software for storing all the data about my artwork, show history, addresses and mailings.

OK I learned a lot about how to make links just now. And I hope you found one or two good connections!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What Shall We Talk About?

I am thinking about you people who signed up to follow this blog, and wondering what I can do for you! What would you like to hear about? What would you like to see? What can we do together as a community for each other? I've come up with a list of ideas, and had a hard time stopping at 30. What ideas do you have? Leave me a comment.

1. How did I choose my current medium?
2. What other mediums do I use and how they relate
3. Pros and cons of having many interests
4. Power of art to transform a culture
5. Interview with Michele on Mexican Indian protest art
6. Picasso’s Guernica
7. Diego Rivera
8. Environmentalism and art
9. Series on The life of a work of art
A. Artist asks questions of the art during creation
B. Audience asks questions of the work of art
C. Death of the work of art
10. What is the Sacred in a work of art?
11. Why work with churches?
12. Why work with galleries
13. Why show in local cafes?
14. Why make landscapes?
15. Why make portraits?
16. Why experiment with new subjects and media?
17. What is style?
18. Why limit yourself to one style?
19. Why liberate yourself from one style?
20. What is my studio like?
21. What is it like to move to a new studio?
22. What is your ideal studio?
23. What is your studio like?
24. Series on how silk painting is done.
A. Tools and supplies
B. Transfering watercolor techniques to silk
C. Steaming
D. Displaying
25. Series on Watercolor painting
26. Series on Oils
27. Series on Acrylics
28. Class descriptions and announcements
29. Show announcements
30. Speaking engagement anouncements

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Plymouth Design: In Its New Home!

Got the banners all finished and ready to deliver a few days before my Easter deadline. Plymouth Congregational Church UCC is right downtown in Seattle,
and the building itself is a cathedral-sized affair. I think the ceiling is about 50 feet high. That's why the silk paintings had to be so big. In fact, I took my proportional cues from the panels in between the glass windows, which are 30 feet by 6 feet.

I like the way the columns of windows frame the banners, just as they frame the solid panels. Apparently this church was originally designed for stained glass where all the panels are! What a jewel box this would be. The silk will give just a taste of what the stained glass could be. Maybe in the future?

Here is the inside of the church, and the banners hanging in front. Hopefully now the banners will do their work, reminding people of the sacred nature of our local creation, and the story of transformation and metamorphosis that the butterfly teaches us.

The butterflies that inspired these designs are all local to our Northwest area. Here are their names in the order from top to bottom of the banners:

Banner 1
Western Tiger Swallowtail
California Sister
Western Swallowtail (again)
West Coast Lady
Melissa's Blue

Banner 2
California Sister
Painted Lady
Anise Swallowtail
American Lady
Lorquin's Admiral
Great Spangled Fritillary

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Plymouth Design: Making Some Changes

When I was done painting the second 30-foot piece of silk I took both long banners to the Ferry Terminal to see how they looked together. Again, I could only see two-thirds of them at a time, so had to imagine them fully in view.

After seeing the second banner from a distance I decided to follow my instincts and add some darker values in the background.

I added some purples on top of the greens in the background behind the top two butterflies ("California Sister" and "Painted Lady")

And at the bottom I put a dark red on top of the greens. I like the earthy background for the chrysalis. Looks like the ground from which it all arises.

I had wanted to make these changes before I had seen it all from a distance, but leaving it with the same colors as the first banner was the "safest" route. Once I got it back on the frame it felt great to follow my instincts instead. And I am much more pleased with the whole piece because of it.