Monday, October 25, 2010

Refined Beauty-The Artistry of Morgansilk

Welcome back to the ARTSYTYPE! blog where we continue to explore the creative spirit.

In this week's edition, I was lucky enough to interview one of my favorite artisans on, Morgansilk. She makes beautiful, handpainted silk items, all inspired by the colors and patterns that occur in nature. As I wandered around her studio, I discovered this photo in her biographical material.  She was in an article in U.S. News and World Report! If you look at the photo, you will notice that she is holding a flower in one hand and painting the image of it on silk with the other. That she paints from the actual live subject is one of the reasons, I believe, that her work is so vibrant and alive.

I asked Morgansilk a few questions about the foundation of her creativity. This is what she had to say:

Artsytype  What is your biggest inspiration?

Morgansilk   Color, color, color and their juxtapositions. I spend a lot of time scrutinizing natural patterns and negative space. Almost anything that has interesting negative / positive space catches my attention. I am less interested in replicating nature, but I love using the colors and textures found around and about as a starting-off point.

Artsytype      What, if anything, did your family do to foster your creative spirit when you were a child?

Morgansilk    I grew up in a very small college town, and there was a local art center and lots of interest in the Arts. I started taking drawing and painting lessons there when I was twelve-- all the rest of the students were adults. I was a sponge. Both my parents encouraged me; my Dad told me just a few days before he died that he wished I would paint more. I don't think he really thought my fabric design was quite the same thing as painting a scene to hang on the wall.....Lots of people have that point of view; I don't. How much wall space can you have, and there are a plethora of gifted painters out there.
I do have to say that no matter what your art, a person should study drawing and painting in a traditional manner, including emulating the dead Greats. It takes a long time to develop a style. I spent a lot of time wandering around the landscape with my watercolors and paper; a strange little hermit a lot of the time.
I used to play the piano, too, but am completely without natural ability. I should also mention that I am left-handed; lefties will understand that the world is a bit skewed for them, and there is a certain pride in being different that bleeds over into other things. 

Artsytype     Why were you initially attracted to your preferred medium?

Morgansilk    I was taking a required  undergraduate Design in Fiber class in college, doing loom work. My professor, the Great Nancy Belfer, used her free time in the college studio to experiment with dyes. She was very secretive because she was writing a book, but I eavesdropped when I was supposed to be stringing a floor loom. I took an advanced class from her, but we did nothing with dyes-- I just wanted to sneak around and see what she was up to. We became friends and traded artwork, and are still friends. She is still creating some of the most amazing work in the field of Surface Design. ( as an example. Her book on fabric dye was the definitive at the time in 1969. She has also been featured in Surface Design Magazine and sells to mostly corporate clients and galleries)

Artsytype      How do you address those times when you are experiencing artist’s block?

Morgansilk    I hate to sound phoney, but I have never had that problem. I work constantly on new designs. I get ideas walking around the block or in my dreams. Nature is a never-ending inspiration: all our color preferences come from what we see created around us naturally, so I get ideas every time I look outside. Going on a prolonged trip gives me weeks of thoughts to work through. I also like to experiment with unusual color combinations, and they give me spurts of direction as well. I like to take two opposite colors and play around with their tertiary colors in contrast to each other.

Artsytype          Let’s say that the earth is going to be hit by a rogue meteor. And stretch your imagination to the point that you can even pretend for a moment that humans have their shit together well enough to find a way to evacuate the planet. But each person can only take three items that must weigh in at less than 20 lbs. collectively. What three items would you take? 

Morgansilk    Twenty pounds is not enough! You can't take people, and my dog weighs too much. Probably photos of my family......not my artwork, because everything I would see after that event would make everything I had done before obsolete. Which reminds me, I am fascinated by nebulae, but am not ready to attempt making one on silk......  Maybe if we had our shit together we could all shrink ourselves first........

Here are some photos of the incredible handiwork from her new fall line.

And here is my favorite from her studio, this lovely spin on my favorite plant, the coleus.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Morgansilk as much as I did. Here is her contact info so that you can visit her studio and pick up a piece of wearable art for yourself or someone you love.

Morgansilk's Website

And while you're at it, please stop by and visit me too!
Wendy Adams

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading all about another ARTSYTYPE!

Next time join me while I talk a little about artistic confidence and change, from a personal point of view. Until then, remember, the world needs art and music more than ever!


  1. I so enjoy Morgansilks use of color, her craftsmanship and artistry and her no-nonsense

    Tough question on what to take with if you're only allowed 20 lbs. :)

    Good interview.

  2. Thank you so much for letting me shoot off my mouth and show off my work! I am honored to be the first to be interviewed for your new blog. Beautiful job!

  3. I hope that this shows my correct blogger profile!
    I added this blog URL to my website. I am very proud of this interview!

  4. Holy crap! All that is hand painted? You go Morgan!
    (Bows down "I'm not worthy!")

  5. Morgan is a really talented artist. And the Scarf dyed with corn? It actually looks a reptil skin! It's amazing!

  6. This is such an interesting interview! I love her work and inspiring story.