Art meets fashion in my original designs. What we wear can be one of the most vital art forms of daily soulful expression. Clothes can convey our creative spirit, and allow us to shine our light in a way that reflects our mood, enhances our groove or declares our philosophy of living.
After a lifetime love of style, I began exploring painting in the mid-2000’s as a way to infuse my creativity into this daily adventure. Passionate about color, fabrics, and clothing as a means of self-expression, I create my own textiles by playfully exploring color combinations, textural qualities and movement.
Once I’ve created the fabric, I layer the colors, fabric designs and sensuous textures with unexpected elements such as grommets, leather or a hood to capture something exquisite – in a fresh yet understated way. Whether painting or transforming my fabrics into clothing, I let the colors lead the way, guided by an eye for modern style, beauty and sophistication.
My influences, are well, everywhere.
I look to many cultures and tribes for their rich color palettes and glorious textiles. I admire the women on the streets of Paris and Milan who transform a simple outfit with a single stroke of fabric, dramatic color or unexpected design. And I also love the painterly light, natural forms and lifestyle of the West Coast. Here, silk and jeans are a modern expression of elegance with ease — where something can be beautiful to look at but also easy to live in.
Creating ‘wearable art’ is joyful – from the first brushstroke to unexpected pieces that give each woman her own paintbrush for sharing her vibrancy and style with the world.
Approach to Painting
I start by stretching the white silk tightly between two sawhorses. I then choose a subject, an intention or a color direction. I love the surprise and mystery of just grabbing a cup of dye – without knowing its exact color — and jumping in. This element of risk and playfulness is something I value – I don’t quite know how the color and design will emerge. This sets the tone for everything that unfolds.
Beyond brushes, dye and silk, the blow-dryer is my most often-used tool. It helps to slow or stop the dye from spreading, although never quite as I envision. I make spontaneous decisions and move quickly. There are always multiple layers. Without the traditional methods of wax ‘resist’ to create forms and outlines, I both challenge and inspire myself to let the dye take shape and ‘transcend’ control.
Experimenting is paramount. Acrylics, salt, alcohol, water and various kinds of silk lead gestures and surprise, or add drama, depth and focus. Each piece is steamed for several hours and then rinsed, ironed and transformed into its final art form. It may be artwork for the wall or ceiling; it may be used in home decor; it may be converted into apparel and accessories or printed onto final silk fabrics in limited editions.
My approach to transforming fabric into clothing or ‘designs’ is a playful exploration– from layering colors, textures and designs in unexpected ways to re-purposing pieces that ‘weren’t supposed to go that direction’.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
1. What color is the silk when you start?
It’s completely white.
2. What kind of dye do you use?
I use a French dye that is specifically formulated for silk and wool. After painting, I must steam the silk for several hours to permanently set or “fix” the colors–this dye bonds to the silk proteins during the steaming process.
3. Is this art form like batik?
No, I paint while batik is a method of dying. While “dye” is used in both methods, I paint the dye onto the silk using a brush rather than dipping the material into vats of dye as in batik or tie dye.
4. Is painting on silk similar to working in any other medium?
It’s similar to watercolor, where layers of color are built up and where the artist must work to preserve the white or lightest colors as layers are added. Plus I must steam the silk, followed by a process of rinsing, ironing and final assembly. Sometimes I repeat the entire process to produce more complexity and richness.
5. Is painting on silk difficult – how do you control the dye from moving or bleeding?
It’s a very challenging medium because the silk is so absorbent and the dye moves rapidly and unpredictably. This leads to the distinct possibility of ‘losing’ the painting at any point. I can never go back or undo what I’ve done. “Letting go’ is a key principle in my work — I proceed with what is happening in the moment, which can lead to either happy accidents, or alternatively, it can result in a piece that no longer works. I prefer to push pieces to their limits and take the risk of losing the piece in order to obtain the right feeling, effect and color story. I am always playing with that balance.