Shirley Jane – Silk Artist

Black Hills native, Shirley Jane, has been in love with watercolor since a few days before she took off for a backpacking trip to France in March of 1973. She happened upon an afternoon watercolor workshop in the commons at Colorado State University where she had just graduated. She went straight to the bookstore and bought one great paintbrush, 5 tubes of paint and 10 pounds of heavy water color paper which she cut into 5X7 squares and put into file boxes and filled her back pack with water color paper and one change of clothes. Four months later she came home to the Black Hills to live with 2 file boxes full of pictures. She's been watercoloring since and has taken classes from many local artists.

October 2006, 33 years later, now living on the high plains surrounded by the rocks and forests of the Southern Black Hills, she began to follow a 15-year dream to paint on silk. Contemplating the human relationship with nature, she wanted to absorb and express the beauty around her. She has found that possibility in silk painting.

Shirley Jane begins her silk paintings by choosing the type of silk she wants and stretching it onto a frame which holds the silk taut and above the table.Sometimes she prepares the silk with resist lines, or a no-flow solution to facilitate definite lines in the painting. And then with a water color brush, the painting begins with French silk dye, using lots of color and painting quickly. After the initial painting is done and partly or completely dry, detail is added with alcohol and water brush strokes. Then the painting is allowed to dry for 24 hours, taken off the stretcher, wrapped in newsprint and steamed for about an hour to set the dye. This steam setting leaves the color brilliant to be enjoyed for many years.