Thursday, 21 August 2014

Sun Printing Continued

Last Friday started out cloudy and cool but by 3:00 pm the sun was intermittently shining between fluffy white clouds. So I decided to try the sun printing. Working quickly, I saturated a few pieces of fabric with dye solution and brought them outside. Because it was windy, I had to utilize a couple of pieces of glass to sandwich my fabric and toppings in between so they wouldn't blow away.
As I was beginning on the second piece of fabric, the sun was already starting to develop the dye in the first one. It had begun to turn pink and then purple and the longer the fabric was exposed to the sun the darker it became. It was really neat to watch.
On the first piece I placed buttons and safety pins, the second piece was covered with feathers and the third with plant material.
You can see that the top left was placed first by the
different grades of colour on each piece.
 I did three sets of fabric that took me about 1.5 hours to develop.

Plant material

Lace, stencils, string
Once the fabric was developed well enough the glass top was removed as well as the toppings of plant material, lace, buttons etc. The fabric was taken out of the sun and placed in the washer and washed to remove the left over unexposed dye and set the dye in the fibers. As you can see below the finished colour is blue.

Most of the toppings worked well. The feathers didn't work.
I think this was due to the fact that the feathers were not flat
against the fabric and didn't block the sun's rays effectively.

 I love the designs the plants left behind. I learned that if the plants are moved during the development stage you get little shadow-like shapes. I kind of like that effect. I will most certainly try this technique again.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Sun-inspired Fabric Printing

For a long time I have wanted to try "Cyanotype printing". This is a method of printing or dying fabric with sunlight. The effect is quite unique and I think it would be a really interesting background for some of my fabric cards.
I found some of the dye chemical in an art store not long ago and it looked like an easy, mess-free way to try this method. The brand of dye I bought is called Inkodye and is a water-based formula, designed for household use. What I liked about it was that it doesn't use PVC, toxic solvents, iron or silver in its formula.
Basically, Inkodye is a range of mixable, water-based photosensitive dyes that develops when exposed to the sun.
So, naturally, I needed a sunny day to do this. This method works best on natural fabric such as cotton so I prepared some white cotton I had by washing it in a soda ash bath which helps to accept the dye and bind it to the fibers of the fabric.
Then I gathered some items that I could place on the fabric which is saturated with dye solution. These items include feathers, plant material, buttons, ribbon - anything that can be laid across the fabric to create a shadow. Where the items cover the fabric, the sun cannot expose the dye so those areas remain the colour of the original fabric.

Much to my dismay, the sun has disappeared and I am not able to try my sun printing today. Hopefully, tomorrow will be sunnier and I can try it then. Stay tuned for the results of my experiment.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Passing on Inspiration

My children and grandchildren all know that my studio is never off-limits. I love to have company in there and I love them all to take an interest in what I do in there. My grandchildren have a special drawer in the studio that holds their paper, paint, playdoh, markers, craft items. I will soon have to give them another drawer because this one is overflowing. I also have an easel set up for them so they can paint and this is what they most love to do when they visit me.

I love the carefree way they paint. They don't worry about which colours look well together. They just plaster the paint on the paper. Sometimes the paintings end up rather dark and muddy but most times they are colourful and playful. I love to photograph their paintings and use the computer to print the designs on fabric or I will cut the paintings and use them as background in the journals I am making for them.

When they join me in the studio, there is stuff everywhere and paint in places it shouldn't be but we have a great time. It is amazing that they often inspire me!

I am introducing them to creativity and I hope they will continue to be creative throughout their lives. They are still very young but I can't wait until I can teach them to draw and sketch.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Canoe Trip Postcards

Ever since coming home from my canoe trip, I have been making a postcard for each of the participants as a memory of the trip. This has taken me a while due to the fact that I have been doing them between the projects I am currently working on. I finished them finally last night and haven't yet distributed them but thought I'd post them today. Other years I have used watercolour pencil on watercolour paper but this year I just used watercolour paint which gives them a bit of a different look. I do like how they turned out. Enjoy!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Painting Canoes Again

Having completed some textile art, I had the urge to get my acrylic paints out again. I started a new painting in the last few weeks having been inspired once again by my recent canoe trip. Yes, I'll be painting canoes again. I am working with tube acrylics and I seem to be getting more comfortable with it. Because acrylic dries so fast, it doesn't give me a lot of time to blend the paints and that was frustrating for me. I've tried using retarder which is a gel medium I mix with the paint that keeps it wet longer but I don't like working with it. Acrylic paints now come in different formats. There is heavy body paint, soft body paint, fluid, liquid. I've tried them all. Presently I am painting with a mixture of all of these in search of what I feel the most comfortable with.
I chose a long narrow horizontal format for this painting and it will be done from a photograph of last year's canoe trip.

Drawing of my subject done in gray watercolour pencil


Blocking in colour

Working on the background forests and the mist rising from the water.

I don't always have all the details worked out in my mind when I begin painting and often ideas come during the process of painting. At the moment, I am thinking about the canoes and what colour they should be. The canoes we used were white. I have painted red canoes in my paintings when they are the focal point. Red and green are complimentary so it works with the green of the forests. I also like green canoes, however, there is already so much green in a painting like this, I hesitate to use it here. This painting will be more about the early morning light and the mist on the water than the canoes, so green might blend them into the scenery enough that they don't steal the show. Then again, white canoes may also work. I am in a quandary. If you have any suggestions, send me a comment.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Putting Myself "Out There"

Last week I shared with you that I was accepted into a show at the Art Gallery of Burlington and was trying to get into a Juried Show called Impact 2014 at the Neilson Park Creative Centre. I`m happy to announce that I was also accepted into that show. The opening reception was on Tuesday night where they awarded prizes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Honourable mention. I did not win, however, I haven`t entered any shows for several years and have never entered shows with textile art. I was quite pleased to be accepted into Impact 2014 because mine is the only textile art on display there.
It was strange being at the reception because I felt really out of I didn`t belong there. I walked through the gallery looking at all the artwork. There was a variety of media; watercolour, acrylic, pen and ink, collage, photography, collagraph, monoprints. They all looked so much better than what I produced. I believe that is my inner critic speaking. More than 100 pieces of art were entered and only 59 were chosen and mine was one of them, so it must have been up to snuff.
I`m not saying my art is bad; I really like what I produce. However, I do think there is some truth to the saying, ``Beauty is in the eye of the beholder``. It does have a lot to do with what people like. Yes, technique and composition and colour choices also come into play but textile art isn`t everyone`s cup of tea. I`m really putting myself "out there" when I enter shows and that is scary to me.
I am not entering shows to become famous or to get teaching gigs or even win prizes (although that would be a nice perk) but simply to assess my talent; to see if I stack up to other artists as well as to learn what it takes to be a good artist.
For a long time I was content to create art at home on my own and share it only with friends and family. That is the safe way. Rarely will friends and family tell you your art stinks and if they do, at least you haven't shown it to the world. But lately, my attitude has changed about sharing what I do. The Bible says we have to grow our talents and share them with the world. I do believe this talent is from God and I need to nurture it and become better at it so that it produces quality work that the world can benefit from. Now this is where I struggle. How does God want me to use this talent? How can this talent benefit the world? I've decided that if God has given me this gift, He will make sure it gets used. I just have to continue to learn and grow and use it, not for my glory but for His.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Inspired by the North Country

I just spent four physically challenging but wonderful days in Algonquin Provincial Park with 9 strong, brave women. It is an experience that leaves me awed by God's creation and providence and also gives me a real sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
My small sketching kit came along with me and it always takes me a day or so in my new surroundings to feel comfortable enough to sketch. One afternoon, I walked down the trail from our campsite to a spot by the water where we rested our canoes and attempted to sketch a small portion of our surroundings. The predominant colour was green which is calming but challenging to alter the greens in order to see any detail in the sketch.
I was able to get the sketch finished and a light layer of watercolour paint on it before the black flies drove me away. It's really difficult to sketch and slap bugs at the same time.

This sketch was done on a watercolour pad with a Uniball Pen with waterproof ink and some watercolour paint. When I got home, I finished painting it and am really pleased with the finished product. It measures 10 x 4 inches.

On another day, we canoed to a place called High Falls which was an area of small waterfalls and deep pools surrounded by smooth rocks and forest. We were able to slide down one of the chutes, jump off the rocks, and swim in the pools. It was quite entertaining to see these adult women do away with convention, ignore that they were professionals, mothers and grandmothers, and behave like children for a time. I took the opportunity to do another sketch of the area, this time without the nuisance of the bugs. 

This sketch was done in a moleskin sketchbook measuring 11 X 3.5 inches. I took a photograph of the same scene to help me with the colours and sun and shadow areas so I could paint it once I got home.

Much to my great pleasure and surprise, when I checked my emails upon my return home, there was one congratulating me for having my Art Quilt "Algonquin Rapids" ACCEPTED into the Fibre Content 2014 Show at the Art Gallery of Burlington! The Show runs from September 9, 2014 to September 16, 2014. The Art Gallery of Burlington is on 133 Lakeshore Road, Burlington.
 For more information check: or

AND for something a little closer to home, I will be entering the same Art Quilt in Impact 2014, a Juried Art Exhibition at the Neilson Park Creative Centre right here in Etobicoke. If accepted the work will be displayed July 14, 2014 to August 7, 2014. I'll find out July 14 if it has been accepted and let you know in case you'd like to visit the show.