Central Coast silk painters display their work in Paso Robles

'Riverbench Moon' by Jill Targer at Vina Robles in Paso
photo jayson mellom 12-4-11
'Riverbench Moon' by Jill Targer at Vina Robles in Paso photo jayson mellom 12-4-11

Silk is difficult to cut and sew, and some find the slippery material a challenge to paint on. For Stephany Andrews, however, it’s as smooth as the fabric.

She didn’t even bother with a sketch for her painting, “Afrasia,” for example. Rather, she just used her imagination on a blank piece of silk.

As one of dozens of artists in the Silk Painters of the Central Coast exhibit, Andrews won the blue ribbon for “My Favorite Things,” a wine bottle and a pear on the beach, appropriate to the venue: The Gallery at Vina Robles.

The Orcutt resident formed the Central Coast Chapter of Silk Painters International last year. It now has more than 20 members.

Living on borrowed time for 37 years since being diagnosed with a serious illness and given six months to live, Andrews began painting after her doctor asked if she’d ever done anything in the creative arts.

“I think it would be good therapy for you,” he told her.

Until then, she’d not done any art, splitting the first half of her working life between teaching middle school and working in the computer industry.

Learning to paint was just what the doctor ordered. She took up silk painting early on and recently studied Chinese brush painting at the Chinese Art Institute in Hangzhau, China, where she was invited to exhibit in 2010 and 2012.

Andrews said she gets her ideas for art from traveling all over the world.

“I’m a gypsy anyway,” she said.

Sandra Kay Johnson, a renowned local artist whose works are at the San Luis Obispo Airport and other public sites, selected the entries and judged the exhibit. She selected an Oriental-type hanging screen with a bamboo motif by Pamela Rivas for second place.

Johnson was invited to show many of her own works in silk, such as her koi, and her collage “Rippling Silently.”

Others in the exhibit depicted grapes, wine bottles, florals, figures, scenics, dolphins, and butterflies. Most of the artists are showing two or more works.

Another traveler in the show, Jacqueline Bradley, Belgian born, lived in the Congo in Africa where her father was a doctor and spent many years in Quebec.

Although Bradley studied classical art in Europe, her mother urged her to become a nurse for job security. Bradley obliged, putting art aside until the late 1990s when her children were grown.

She and her husband of 40 years, whom she met while traveling the United States one summer, moved here in 1973. She’s had a gallery at the Creamery, gives silk painting workshops in New Mexico and at Live Oak Music Festival. Live Oak chose her work for its 2005 logo.

Bradley, who also draws, does water media, and 3-D work, has two approaches to her silk painting.

“There is the part that I call the fun art,” where she cuts loose to see what happens, “and then there is the fine art.” “Rancho California” falls under that category, she said.