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Artist of the Month - February 2001

Juliette Langenour - Silk Passion
By Carol Wells

The medium of painting images on silk is not a new idea. Indeed, as early as the Six Dynasties period, Gu Kaizhi (344-404) one of the greatest artists of Chinese antiquity, was painting on silk.
There is something about the quality of silk itself, combining a luminescence and transparency while maintaining a fluid motion that the paint of the painting on it, once had.
I’ve been intrigued with Juliette Langenour’s art, especially on silk because it takes on both an earthy and ethereal quality, combining heaven and earth to make her silk scarves, shawls, and umbrellas.
There are recognizable patterns from the animal and plant world, even the stars. But she combines them in unusual and inspired designs with alluring colors that repeatedly capture your gaze, and make you want to touch them. But Juliette has also had success using her techniques on non silk items such as duvets and pillow cases, as well as on cut and straight velvet.
Though Juliette has only been working with silk for the past year, she confesses she’s always been working in art, and it really took off in junior high and high school. In fact, when I asked her what the most unusual thing she’d done artistically, she told me that aside from painting an entire bathroom in pointillism, it was a life size drummer made out of paper maché that was entered in the regional art show during high school
She began her artistry with drawing, oil painting and some watercolors. Juliette told me that she enjoyed realism in painting but from unusual angles. That idea still comes through in some of her silk paintings.
I asked Juliette how she got interested in painting on silk, and she said it was something that always had fascinated her, and so she took a class offered at the Moab Arts & Rec Center. However, Juliette uses a different process called “Deka Silks.” Though it still uses a “resist” method, there is no mixing the paints and they lend themselves to silk salts which achieve a nebula effect that Juliette enjoys producing.
The fact that silks were more like watercolors, attracted Juliette; and though they took time to get used to, her experimental results were good enough that she could keep most of the items.
“The most challenging pieces in silk, are the umbrellas. They are difficult and time consuming because of the shape,” explains Juliette.
Juliette grew up in Indiana and at the age of 19, moved to Wyoming for a time. From there, out of her love for the desert, she picked out Moab from the map because it looked a little more isolated. She moved to Moab in May of 1998.
Though Juliette is focusing her time on silks because of her show at Red Rock Bakery from April 1st through May 31st this year; she finds her time equally divided between her bead work and silk painting.
Juliette found her bead work was born out of the need to find what wasn’t available where she was living in Indiana. True to form, her bead work is as exquisite as her silk painting. Her beaded bracelets, and choker necklaces are finely hand crafted and showcase the same elements of original design and color that she employs when she paints on silk.
When asked what gives her the inspiration that infuses her art, Juliette replied, “The native plants, the sky, the rocks, our incredible sunset colors. Hiking alone in winter provides my spiritual renewal. Along with container gardening, I like to bake and figure out my own recipes.” All these fill the artist’s well that she must draw from to complete her creative endeavors.
I was curious to find out if Juliette sketched her ideas before she implemented them.
“Sometimes I pre-draw a plant to get the feel for it, but mostly I write down ideas. I pretty much use the image straight out of my head, or at least part of the image. Once part of the image is done, I can usually see where it’s going to go to complete the design.
Juliette dyes most of the silks a specific color that she has in mind to go along with the design that will be painted on later.
Juliette creates a richness of colors and patterns in her artwork that promises a long and talented career as an artist.
Aside from her upcoming show at Red Rock Bakery in April, Juliette’s silk items and bead work are always available at Cave Dreamer’s Gift Shop on Main Street, Moab, Utah.

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