KATHLEEN ALAKS/Daily Courier
Judy Elliott hangs her painting of Hawaiian sea turtles at Gallery One in preparation for a reception on Friday.
By Kathleen Alaks of the Daily Courier
Grants Pass artist Judy Elliott can trace her appreciation for art, her interest in exotic cultures and her love of nature to a childhood spent in Hawaii. "I grew up on a sugar plantation in Ewa," a town on the leeward coast of O'ahu, Elliott says, "with people of so many nationalities. "My dad had a passion for wildlife and he used to take the family on outings. He would tell us the genus names of things when all we wanted to do was play."
Art, culture and nature are reflected in Elliott's delicate, Asian-inspired silk wall hangings and painted silk scarves, which are now on display at Gallery One in downtown Grants Pass. An artist reception Friday at the gallery, 229-B S.W. G St., runs from 5-8 p.m. Friday, with Elliott doing silk painting demonstrations.
"My passion is to emphasize endangered species and make the public aware of how we should make an effort to protect them," she says. "My latest focus is on birds." The birds in this exhibit include sage grouse, herons, egrets, frigate birds, cranes, red-footed boobies, a red crested flicker and a kestrel.
There also are depictions of Hawaiian sea turtles, trigger fish, dragonflies, hibiscus and other sea life. "The ocean always draws me," she says.
Elliott, 76, has long had an artistic flair. She got a degree in interior design from the University of Hawaii and worked as an interior designer on the islands in the 1970s. She moved to Grants Pass in 1991 and 12 years ago, she started making and selling aprons with her sister. She then went out on her own making and selling happi coats and kimono jackets. It was while on tour in Turkey in 2011, visiting a silk carpet factory, that Elliott's interest in painting on silk was piqued. Elliott taught herself how, working from an educational DVD.
"It took about two years to perfect what I could do with it," she said. "But I've never looked back."
She starts with a piece of white silk, stretched on a frame. After hand drawing the image on paper, she transfers it to the silk using a quilt marker. Then she uses Resist — in gold, silver or black — to outline the drawing, then uses a applies silk fabric dye with a paint brush. Rock salt, applied to the painting while it's still wet, adds texture and movement by pulling the dye toward it.
The finished piece is mounted onto a white board that is then covered with a wooden frame. Her husband Jonathan, a furniture restorer and life coach, builds the frames. "I find painting on silk very relaxing and rewarding," she says.
An artist reception Friday runs from 5-8 p.m. Friday, with Elliott doing silk painting demonstrations. Gallery One, 229-B S.W. G St., is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Elliott also participates in the Saturday Artisans and Crafters Market on Fifth Street. The next time she will be there is July 17.