This set of three dyed silk pieces by Marilyn Cooney makes up part of the Vancouver Island Silk Painters’ exhibit at TOSH until Jan. 27. — Adam Kveton Photo

Precision and freedom show in silk paintings in Qualicum Beach

Artist discusses the styles of controlling dyes on display at TOSH exhibit

In Nancy Korman’s own style of silk painting, there’s an element of spontaneity and chaos that she lets happen and capitalizes on.

And while silk painting — where colourful dies soak into the strings of silk and spread out into unique patterns and shades — seems to lend itself to that style, it’s by no means the only way to do things.

The Vancouver Island Silk Painters exhibit (on at TOSH until Saturday, Jan. 27) shows a spectrum of possibilities and styles, ranging from Korman’s use of what she calls “unexpected gifts” to the stunning precision of artists such as Maureen Walker.

That the final product can be so different is all the more surprising when you find out that not only do the Vancouver Island Silk Painters use the same six dyes to create all their colours and shades, they are almost all taught by the same person — Walker.

But that’s the mark of a good teacher, said Korman: someone who can share their knowledge and skill without hemming in their students’ creativity.

The Vancouver Island Silk Painters’ current exhibition at TOSH includes more than 20 pieces of dyed silk art, ranging in subject matter from animals to landscapes to portraits, plants and more.

The silk painters group has been around since 2000, said Korman. Over that time, TOSH has seen it grow from a hobbyist group into a highly skilled group of artists, said TOSH’s executive director, Corinne James.

Transitioning silk painting from its thousand-year-old roots as a textile process for dying material for clothes into standalone art is just what the Vancouver Island Silk Painters and others have been aiming for, said Korman.

“We look at silk (and think) ‘well, that’s a material,’ but people forget that canvas is cotton,” Korman said. That sentiment was expressed by Walker at the exhibit’s opening event earlier this month, Korman said.

The variety that can be achieved with the medium is another mark in its favour.

Though dying material may seem like a process that yields mixed and uncontrolled results, highly detailed and precise pieces by Walker and Marilyn Cooney certainly show the level of control that is possible.

Korman explained that, in silk painting, the silk is first lined with a resist which keeps your chosen dye from spreading past the edge of the resist. In that way, you can corale colours into a certain area.

Some pieces, like Cooney’s three-piece series showing peeling birch bark are heavily lined before the dye is painted on, said Korman.

“She probably takes a week just to put the resist on,” Korman said. But then, within those resist lines, the various dyes are carefully blended, giving the peeling bark depth and shadow and vibrant colour.

The pieces in the exhibit give an idea of what can be done with silk painting when artists exercise various levels of control, and allowing the dye various levels of freedoms to mix and create those “unexpected gifts.”

“We can go from total control, which you can see in Maureen’s work… to very open and free,” said Korman.

The silk painters’ exhibit continues at TOSH until Jan. 27.

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach society goes to bat for insect eaters

Two bat houses built to monitor population in Heritage Forest

Parksville reopens portion of wetland

City undertakes review, remediation of liability concerns

Is Steve Nash Vancouver Island’s best athlete of all-time?

As Captain Canada gets ready to enter basketball’s Hall of Fame it’s time to debate his legacy

Who is Vancouver Island’s greatest athlete ever?

We want to know, you get to choose in a 64-athlete tournament bracket

Vehicle knocks out Parksville power pole

Traffic single lane heading southbound

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

Central Vancouver Island man dies in single-vehicle collision

Pickup truck with three occupants went off the road near Port Alberni

UPDATED: More than half of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Most Read