Mariotti’s magic flows onto Tryon art scene

Published 9:28 am Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The delicate silk ripples slightly, and Christine Mariotti tightens the frame with

Christine Mariotti leads a silk painting class. (photo by Kiesa Kay)

Christine Mariotti leads a silk painting class. (photo by Kiesa Kay)

a careful twist. Soon a garden of purple wisteria vines will blossom on the delicate silk scarf she’s painting. The brush hovers, straight and true. After she’s painted the scarf, she will steam it, setting the colors so this silken slice of springtime will be washable.

“I knew when I was in first grade that I would be an art teacher,” Mariotti said. “From age 7 to 67, I never veered from what I wanted to be and do. And an artist’s skill and work continue to improve constantly throughout life, so it’s a wonderful field.”

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Mariotti adapts traditional silk painting techniques to fit her own style. Whereas many artists outline with glue and then fill, Mariotti paints free hand on the silk.

“Each piece is totally unique, a one-of-a-kind original,” she said.

She has established a strong reputation as an artist specializing in textiles and unique dyeing techniques, and she’s taught fashion illustration and more. She has studied Chinese painting with Ning Yeh, master of Chinese brush painting, and traveled to China to learn with him.

“During a trip to China, I began to see the roots of the styles that I like, and with a good teacher, I could sense the direction of the work that was to come,” she said.

Her teacher provided analogies, saying that leaves were like many minnows rushing toward the same food, and a blooming flower resembled Marilyn Monroe’s skirt flying up.

“The analogies put something into students’ minds to help with remembering concepts and to get the energy flowing,” she said.

She practices the brush strokes, again and again, with an intense concentration that stills the wandering mind. The thin rice paper tears easily, and must be mounted and sprayed to last.