Work inspired by an ancient art style from Southeast Asia still lives on to this day — and it’s on full display at the Crealdé School of Art.
Maitland painter Marianna Ross will be giving an art demonstration on silk painting on Sunday, June 24, at Crealdé School of Art’s Showalter Community Gallery. The event will offer an opportunity for attendees to learn about the unique craft.
At the demo — held within her current exhibit on display at Crealdé through July 28 — Ross not only will be showing some of her techniques and sharing the history of the art form, but also she will give guests a chance to try it themselves.
“It’s fun — just hand them a brush and say, ‘Here,’” she said.
The creative process for Ross all begins with ink wash sketches of something she sees in her daily life — maybe a piece of bark she saw during a walk or a root dug up from her yard. Ross then replicates the sketch on a larger scale with charcoal, stretches China silk over that drawing and traces it in charcoal onto the fabric. Then, areas of the design are painted with a resist — a water-based wax equivalent that slightly alters the shade of the paint. That’s when the watercolors come in — combining earthy tones with brilliant, vibrant color.
Ross’ art is inspired by the Indian art form of Batik, which is when fabric is covered in a resist and dipped into a dye to change the color. Indonesia also has been known as a hub for the craft and developing it further, Ross said.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
Ross first fell in love with art during her years in college at University of California at Santa Barbara.
“In my first art class, we had to draw the spaces between the leaves of a tree, and I had never even looked at the negative spaces,” Ross said. “It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, a whole new world.’”
She went on to attend art school at the San Fransisco Art Institute and eventually discovered Batik in 1970 while she was teaching at Eastern Washington State University.
About 10 years later, she took a workshop on silk painting at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In this technique, the paint was applied with a brush instead of dipping the fabric in dye.
“I always liked fabric, and I always liked watercolor, and I also like to draw, so it all came together really beautifully,” Ross said.
Ross’ work has been featured in numerous hotels and buildings across the country, including the Embassy Suites Hotel in Silver Springs, Maryland; the Renaissance Hotel in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands; and just a stone’s throw away in Walt Disney World. She’s done several large panels for commercial and residential buildings, and for one building even painted a 840-square-foot silk sculpture.
Ross said she hopes the demonstration on Sunday gives visitors an appreciation for color.
“I’m hoping that they’ll try something different in their art,” she said. “I want them to enjoy it.”