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Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Baby Portraits are Keeping Me Busy

I went through the book that records the artwork I've done and flipped to the baby portraits. Since November 2015, I've finished 5 more portraits. I can post 4 of them for you to see but the fifth hasn't been given to the parents yet so I won't post a photo of it.

I will have another one to start on in a week or two.












Thursday, 14 April 2016

A Year of Neighbourhood Drawings

Today I sketched on the last page of my neighbourhood sketchbook. I flipped back to the front of the sketchbook and noted that the date on the first page was April 16, 2015. Today, being April 14, 2016 means it took me a full year to finish this project. Now when I go through the sketchbook I can see how the seasons developed, when certain plants bloomed, what the weather was like on certain days, when we had snow and what wildlife I saw. It is not a comprehensive record but it is pretty to look at and it was a way for me to practice my live sketching or sketching from photos. It will also give me inspiration for other things such as my fabric cards, paintings or journals.

Last week I sat in the local Tim Hortons and sketched the interior of the store. It is still difficult for me to do this in public but no one bothered me and I enjoyed the challenge.



This week I drew a Smart car I saw sitting in someone's driveway. I think they are so cute but I don't think I'd ever ride in one.


If you are interested, I've posted a short slideshow of some of the pages in the sketchbook on Instagram.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Two Art Quilts Mailed Out

In the last few weeks, I have mailed out a couple of Art Quilts. The first was the SAQA Benefit Auction Quilt that I blogged about a while ago. In that blog I posted a picture of my plan.



I worked fairly closely to the plan but changed the leaves and put 3 in instead of 2. I started first to quilt the boards of our deck which are weathered and most of the paint has come off except for some small spots.



This background is just gray fabric that I quilted with lines to mimic wood grain and screws and boards. I then fused the blue gray "paint" on top.


Here, I am playing with the placement of the leaves. These are the base colours of the leaves and the shadows under the leaves are black organza.


 Here, I have fused other fabrics onto the base leaf fabric to give the leaves form and dimension and then I quilted them adding veins. I felt that the composition was a little heavy on one side but I didn't want to add another leaf. Suddenly, I thought of something I always see on the deck along with the leaves and went outside in search of snail shells. I found 3 and made sure there wasn't anything live in them by pouring boiling water over them. When they were dry, I used my glue gun to attach them. When I was satisfied, I put a narrow border around it and called it done. It is 12" X 12" and is called " First Fallen Leaves". It is posted on the SAQA website and if you want to see it and all the other beautiful quilts that have been sent in, go to saqa.com , and on the menu line click on Artwork, then Benefit Auction and finally View the Quilts.


The other art quilt I mailed out is the "Reflections of the North" which was accepted for the SAQA Show "My Corner of the World" being held in the Stratford Perth Museum in May. I thought I wasn't allowed to post photos of it but when checking the mailing instructions, I noticed that there was no restriction on posting so here is the finished quilt.




Thursday, 31 March 2016

Convergence Quilt Top Completed

As today was another rainy day, it was perfect to finish the Convergence Quilt top. Last week you saw the fabric dying process and this week I'll show you how it was all put together.

I cut 2 13" X 13" squares from each of the two pieces of dyed fabric and then stitched 2 squares together ending up with 2 longer panels. Then, for each panel, I cut strips of different widths. 1 inch, 1.5 inches, 2 inches, 2.5 inches and 3 inches, leaving the left over strip as it ended up.


Then I mixed up the strips, taking the 1 inch strip and placing it between the last two strips of the other panel, then the 1.5 strip in between the second last and third last strips and so on until all the strips were intermingled. Then I stitched them all together.


Now, turning the completed square a 1/4 turn I cut it into strips again the same widths as above, mixed up the strips and stitched them together again.


This gives you an idea of what convergence is. My colours were not vibrant enough to make it pop but this, I thought could be made into a nice crib quilt.

I found some flannel that I had used for another crib quilt I made and used it to put a narrow border around the convergence square. Then while measuring for the wider outer border, I realized I didn't have enough fabric. So I dove into my fabric stash cupboard and found a plain piece of green that matched the fabric I had dyed and put a piece into the wider outer border.


This is the finished quilt top. This photo is truer to the colours because I photographed it with a spotlight on it. Now I just have to find a backing and place batting in between and quilt it to complete the whole quilt. I could even applique the baby's name onto the plain green fabric strip. For an experiment, I think it turned out pretty good. Now that I know how to do it, I can buy a little more expensive fabric or dye some cotton in brighter colours.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Inspired by a Book On Convergence Quilts

Once again, when we think winter is over, it hits us with another icy storm. It's a bit treacherous outside so I decided not to go for my Neighbourhood walk. Instead I'll spend the extra time in my studio and it's a great day to experiment.

I picked up a book at the library on Convergence Quilts. I had never heard of them before and they looked really interesting. From the book, the definition of a Convergence Quilt is a quilt which features two or more designs that are cut into strips and then merged together by mixing up the strips. Many of the designs in the book are made from hand dyed fabrics.

I really like dying fabric so I thought I would experiment with that today. I bought 2m of cream coloured 100% cotton fabric. Dyes take much better on 100% natural fibers. I decided I wanted to use spring colours so I got out my yellow and blue Createx Permanent Liquid Dyes.


I first hand wash the fabric in the sink with Synthrapol which is a special soap that removes the sizing that is put in fabric and any other impurities so that the dye will take better. Then I dry it in the dryer.
Once the fabric is ready for dying, I fill a bucket with uniodized salt and water and soak the fabric in that squeezing out the excess water when it is completely wet. The uniodized salt also helps the quality of the dye.


Then I arrange the fabric in a single layer in another large bucket or rubbermaid container scrunching it a bit to get interesting patterns in the dye.


Then because the dye is concentrated, I have to dilute it and I mix soda ash in with the diluting water. Once that is done, I start pouring the dye over the fabric lying in the container. I wanted to have yellow, and green so because I didn't have a prepared green, I had to mix the blue and the yellow.


It is exciting because you really do not know how the fabric will look until it's done. I let it sit in the container for one and a half hours and then rinsed out the leftover dye. I could then see how it turned out and was surprised that it was lighter than I expected.
So now I had to dye the second piece. Knowing how the first piece of fabric turned out helped me make a decision about the colours of the second piece. I decided to make one end a bright or darker yellow and the other end a darker green so that when I converged the two pieces of fabric for the quilt it would look interesting and not boring.


After rinsing both pieces, I machine washed them again with Synthrapol to remove any loose dye in the fibers and then dried them in the dryer which will heat set the dyes.




These are the two pieces. I got a little more blue in the bottom piece than expected but it could work as an interesting convergence quilt.

The experiment was not without its little accidents. As I lifted the container to take the dyed cloth to the sink to rinse, I knocked over a full cup of blue dye all over my counter. I had to stop to mop it up and as a result I now have a blue counter cloth instead of a white one. I was actually smart and wore gloves for the process so at least my hands are the regular colour.

When I have the convergence quilt done, I'll post a picture of it so you can see what it looks like.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Strange Winter Weather

The last three weeks have been an example of the kind of winter we have experienced here in Toronto. Three weeks ago when I wanted to go for my neighbourhood walk we had a dumping of snow. Two weeks ago it was raining and today the temperature was nice and the sun was out long enough for me to go on my walk and now it is raining/hailing/snowing outside. So bizarre!

This morning I could hear the birds again and saw my first Robin. In front of many houses, furniture stood at the curb. It looks like Spring is a season of new beginnings in more than one way. Not much is growing outside yet but I am sure that in a few weeks we will see the buds starting to appear on the trees again. It is about this time of year that I started my Neighbourhood Journal and I still have a few pages left to fill. It has been a really nice project and has gotten me out to walk each week throughout this year. I've come to know my neighbourhood a lot better and have discovered some places I would like to go back to for a closer look.


My car covered with snow





Thursday, 10 March 2016

Inspired by Artists of the Past

"As a painter, I rank green as one of my least favourite colours. But as a naturalist, I view green as soothing to the eye, especially that chlorophyll-laced green of the first leaves in spring. I liken this luminous lime-yellow colour, which the French call chartreuse, to a warm bath for the soul. And when I see that shade of green, I think of the ravine behind our Toronto house on Chaplin Crescent, in what was the village of Forest Hill. The first forest I came to know, my own private woodland, my own The Wind in the Willows world. Would I have become a painter and a naturalist had I not lived where I did as a boy? Hard to say, but that ravine enchanted me and drew me in from the time I could walk."

So begins the new book I picked up at the library yesterday. If you are familiar with Canadian Artists, you may have concluded that the painter who wrote the paragraph above is none other than Robert Bateman who was born the same year as my father, in 1930. Bateman was born in Toronto General Hospital and grew up in Forest Hill which then was a much different place than it is today. Chaplin Crescent is in the Yonge and Eglinton area and his house backed on to a  small ravine which once had a railway running through it but which is now a walking/biking trail. Bateman spent much of his time in the ravine sketching and trapping small birds and animals to research.






The book is called Robert Bateman: Life Sketches, A Memoir. I love to read the stories of artists and this one is especially interesting because he is Canadian, having grown up in Toronto and he is still alive at 85 years of age. Bateman is a wildlife artist and naturalist now living in Saltspring Island, British Columbia. He paints very realistically and I admire his work very much.

The book is filled with his sketches and photographs of the author's life and experiences. It is also a very interesting historical description of Toronto as well as cottage country where Bateman spent many summers.

Some of Bateman's Sketches
A Bateman Painting

I find it a nice break from actually making art to reading about how others make or have made art and what inspired them or what their favourite mediums were and how they used them. I honestly think we can also learn much from those who have gone before.

An Important Note

I wonder if my blog followers could let me know if they received an email alert about this blog. Some people have stopped getting these email alerts and I wonder if others are missing them as well.
If you did get the email alert for this blog, could you let me know?

Thanks so much.