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.