How This Colorado Artist Creates Ethereal Creations On Silk Canvases


Portrait of artist Courtney Griffin

Not long ago, Westminster-based illustrator and muralist Courtney Griffin took a fiber arts class at the Art Students League of Denver, where experimentation with thread, paint and fabric led her down a new creative path. She had recently discovered abstract painting (“I loved the sense of freedom I felt as I created shapes and textures that didn’t exist in real life,” she says.) but textiles, particularly silk chiffon, felt like the perfect substrate for her loose brushstrokes and embroidery stitches.

An artwork made on a silk canvas by Courtney Griffin

Multiple artworks on silk, including a round-shaped one, by artist Griffin, stacked against a wall

An artwork on silk by Courtney Griffin depicting flowers

“I first perceived silk as being really delicate to work with. Over time, this material’s shown me otherwise,” Griffin muses. “It always maintains its prowess as I pile dense puddles of water and paint on its surface or puncture it with embroidery needles. Silk reminds me to stand in my power and feel my strength—when my default has been to become small when faced with fear.”

The artist’s journal is filled with notes on the shapes, colors and textures that come to mind when inspiration for a new composition or collection strikes. “I’m inspired by the simplest beauty around me, like the silhouettes the setting sun creates on my walls and the breadth of emotions we experience as humans,” she shares. Among her inspirations are also the colors one witnesses in nature. “From the rich brown of a tree trunk to the electric orange of a poppy petal, I love to incorporate the hues I see on hikes and in gardens.”

The sensory experience created by Griffin’s collages of paint, thread and fabric on soft silk chiffon is heightened when a piece is hung on a wall. “When the sun hits my painting just so, the opaque detailing creates a shadow on the wall that feels magical and mysterious. You just can’t get that experience with a canvas painting.”