Sidewalk Art Festival continues today on greenbelt

Photos by Pat Sutphin / Elise Wilding discusses the process she uses to create her resin silk paintings. Wilding was one of nearly 50 artists who participated Saturday in the Eagle Rock Art Guild’s annual Sidewalk Art Festival on the Idaho Falls greenbelt. Wilding can spend anywhere from a week to a couple of months working on a painting. Pat Sutphin /

The secret behind Elise Wilding’s style is found in her welcoming smile.

Hers is a smile that reflects positive energy — the same positive energy that leaps from her colorful, resin-coated silk paintings.

“There are certain things my art has to have … beauty and power and love,” Wilding said.

The artwork of Wilding and some 50 other artists was on display Saturday at the Eagle Rock Art Guild’s annual Sidewalk Art Festival. The festival continues from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today on the Idaho Falls greenbelt.

“There’s a lot of symbolism in my work (and) sometimes, I paint dark,” Wilding said. “But I don’t (usually) let myself go there.”

Hers is an empowering message warmed by brilliant colors and built upon intimate relationships, such as those between husband and wife or mother and daughter.

For Wilding, humanity seeks a partnership with natural and spiritual forces rather than domination over them. Many were drawn to Wilding’s work Saturday afternoon.

“I like the vibrant colors and how she incorporates people in the trees. It’s awesome,” Matthew Winterbottom said.

The Idaho Falls man said he tries to come to the festival every year.

“There’s a lot of variety. It’s amazing,” he said.

Diane Key, her niece, Libby Hercher, and Libby’s friend, Breanna Mills, all of Idaho Falls, also were wandering among the art booths Saturday afternoon.

Key was hoping to hook up with friends who were showing their artwork at the festival.

“I like to support the community and you always see people you know,” Key said. “People don’t realize (how many) talented people we have right here in Idaho Falls.”

No one was more surprised than Wilding when she put down roots in Idaho Falls and became a part of the local arts community. She’s been a member of the Eagle Rock Art Guild for about 10 years.

As a child, Wilding said she led a nomadic existence — constantly on the move with her artist mother and siblings. They lived everywhere and nowhere.

“I lived all over — Alaska, Central America. We had some rough times,” she said. “I moved away from my family when I was in high school. I hitched a ride to Alaska and lived with my grandparents.”

In Alaska, she took classes with artist Ray Troll — known for his “fin art.”

“He’s a fish guy,” Wilding said.

Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, who died in 1918, also influenced Wilding’s style. He perhaps is best known for his painting, “The Kiss.”

But the Ammon artist’s approach is very much her own.

Basically, she uses silk dyes to create her images. Once the painting is completed, she fuses the silk to canvass and then coats it with resin. The resin not only protects the painting, it makes it sparkle. While painting, Wilding uses multiple layers of dye — working from light to dark. During that process, she also steam-heats the silk to set the dyes and enhance the colors.

Wilding said she started coating her works with resin about two years ago. Before that, she encased them in glass, but the self-described “klutz” said she broke too many of the glass frames moving them to and from art shows.

Every year, Wilding sets a theme for her work.

This year, she’s focused on relationships, couples and intimacy. She draws her subjects from her own life, she said, as well as her dreams. Her contemporary style may depict mythological stories or biblical stories or intimate moments.

But above all else, “it’s got to be positive,” she said.

Despite her wandering childhood, Wilding is very much settled into the role of stay-at-home mom. She and husband, Matt, have four children, ranging in age from 8 to 18. And the only wandering she does these days is when she travels to art shows or vacations with the family.

Wilding credits Matt for helping her stay rooted.

“I’d be like a kite without him,” she said, “crashing around all over the place.”

Assistant City Editor Mike Mooney can be reached at 542-6764.