With 20 years of silk painting experience, WNC-based artist Kathy Goodson uses poncho jackets, scarves and framed wall art as part of her exhibit, Dream Silks, on display in the Education Center daily January 13 – April 22, 2018. Using a multi-step process, Goodson applies French dyes to crepe de Chine using various techniques that are often layered, creating vibrant, rich colors. Inspired by natural beauty, Goodson primarily focuses on plants, flowers and leaves in her work.
1) Did you always know that you would be a painter?
I always knew that I would follow a creative path, but I did not begin my creative journey as a painter. As a child, I liked creating stories, so when I went to college, I majored in theatre. After college I wrote plays, but it always felt too restricting. It was only later that I discovered silk painting.
2) What attracted you to silk?
My love of silk painting began as an adult when I purchased a child’s kit for painting a silk scarf with dye. I decided that if a child could do this, then surely I could, too. The whole time I was painting, I was laughing and smiling. That’s when I knew I had been given a beautiful gift.
3) What challenges does it present?
Silk painting is much like working in watercolors, except there are two important things I can’t control: how the fibers will take the dye and what direction the dye will move on the fabric. Because white is created by leaving the crepe de Chine un-dyed, I often have to think in reverse in order to protect those areas. Framing and mounting can also be a challenge. Over the years I’ve learned that the best way to mount my work is on canvas using varnish or to staple the cloth onto canvas and then float it within the frame.
4) What fuels your imagination and provides you with inspiration?
I am inspired by the beauty of forests, the vibrant hues in my garden and the sweeping panoramic views of our spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains. The textures and hues of nature are a constant fascination. I can lose myself for hours painting these subjects.
5) How long does it take to produce one of your pieces?
It can take days or months, depending on the design. Once that is established, I decide on the techniques I’ll employ and the dyes that will be used. (My work is executed using the best French and American dyes.) Once the painting is done, it goes through the final step of steaming the fabric. This is necessary to set or adhere the dyes to the silk.
6) Why exhibit at the Arboretum?
The North Carolina Arboretum holds special appeal. I wanted to exhibit there for two reasons. First, native botanicals are favorite and frequent subjects of mine. Many of these can be found at the Arboretum. Second, I teach a silk painting class (Painting Botanicals on Silk) as part of the Arboretum’s adult education program.
7) What do you hope visitors will take away from your exhibit (aside from a work of art)?
I hope visitors will see Western North Carolina through my eyes and see the inherent beauty that is around us, whether it is dying leaves or vibrant summer flowers. And I hope they will take to heart the words of British philosopher and writer Alan Watts that have come to mean so much to me. “I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.”