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.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Art and the Holy Spirit

This recent piece that I have been working on is, I think, starting to get away from me. Rarely do I start a project without any idea as to the finished product or how I will approach the piece. So the way I am working and they way it is developing is a new experience. I guess that is what experimentation is.

As you saw in last week's post, I am using the fabric I dyed with Irises and I am using stitch or thread painting to bring out shapes and colours. It is very meditative work and so many thoughts about the piece go through my head as I am stitching. What does it look like, what colours should I use, what is an appropriate title, how much do I do to it, when will I know it is finished? This is where the thing seems to have gotten away from me. Every time I add more stitching, the piece, tells me to use a different colour, add even more stitching; so much so that I am almost covering the dyed fabric that I thought was so beautiful. Well, I thought, I'll just go with it and see where it leads. I did use the fabric patterns and colours to help in my choices of shape and colour of the stitching.

Detail of some of the stitching
I have recently read a couple of books which reminded me how important and real the work of the Holy Spirit is in the lives of Christians. Often we don't think about being filled with the Holy Spirit or we quench the Spirit as the Bible says. This morning in my daily devotions, I read in Romans 5:5 the following: "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." It occurred to me as I look at the piece I am working on that it gives me a sense of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on us. The flowing, flame-like shapes seem to be moving to the lower left roundish shape which I interpret to being the Christian. The Spirit is likened to flames in the Bible. The flames are richly and royally coloured with purple and gold which shows that we are made royalty by our adoption into Christ's family. As the Spirit enters us our lives become more colourful, more beautiful, more hopeful. I find it amazing that these ideas were not in my mind at all when I started the piece.


This is as far as I got today and I still don't think it is finished. I will leave it for some time and come back to it later when hopefully, it will let me know what it still needs.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Garden Inspiration Continued

Every few weeks something different is happening in the garden and I just love that. Last week I used the Iris and Rhododendron as inspiration. The Irises are just about done and I had taken a few of my purple ones into the house to enjoy.

 As they were dying off, the flower would drop onto my counter and I noticed that it left a deep purple liquid that was hard to remove if I left it too long before wiping up. I wondered if I could dye fabric with these wilting flowers. I got out some fabric that I had prepared for dying, moistened it and took it outside on my deck where I placed the wilting irises on it and squished them a bit to get the liquid to penetrate the fabric. Then I left it outside to dry.

 I was really happy with the result. The purple from the flowers was quite vibrant and even the green parts of the flower dyed the fabric. This was truly an experiment because I wasn't sure that the dye wouldn't just run completely out of the fabric when I rinsed it under the tap to get the dried plant pieces off of it. To my pleasant surprise, the colour did not rinse out. I then took the fabric and ironed it, hoping it would heat set the colour.

 I was not able to work with it for a few days so I left it sitting in my studio and noticed that some of the colour had faded when I got back to it. I brushed on some fabric medium to help keep the colour that was left and let that dry.

You can see the difference. I still liked the designs the colour made and decided to try to make a small quilt from it. I placed my thick felt underneath it and a piece of backing material and started to just stitch a design to bring out the shapes. At this point I had no idea where I was going with it.

In order to stitch it I use a sewing machine foot called a free-motion foot or a darning foot. I allows me to sew in any direction as opposed to just straight forward or backward.

At this point it looks a bit like and amoeba or outer space. I just kept adding stitching as the piece "spoke" to me.

I used various shades of purple for the stitching and then decided to bring some darker and more heavily thread sketched areas into it. It now has some flower like qualities to it. This is as far as I got today but I will keep on adding stitches to bring a focal point into play.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Garden Inspiration

I love this time of year when there are so many wonderful flowers blooming of all styles and vivid colours. My garden is fairly shady but I have a few areas of sun where I have planted Iris and Monarda, Daisy and Climatis and Peonies. Every year they inspire me and I photograph, sketch and paint them.

Today, I used the fabric I printed with my grand daughter's painting as the background of a quilted postcard.

I also still save teabags and I drew the outline of flowers onto the teabag and then painted it with watercolour paint. I let it dry and then went in with more colour. I then placed the painted teabag on top of my background and stitched around the flower design with coloured thread which also quilted the fabric. Once the flower design was sewn to the background, I tore away the excess tea bag so that only the flower design remained. Then I went in an stitched the design again to make sure the rest of the painted part of the teabag did not come loose. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Inspired by a Pair of Jeans

I'm sure you all have had that pair of jeans that was just sooooo comfortable that every chance you got, you wore them. I have a pair of jeans like that. I'm not sure they are even flattering but Oh! they are comfortable. Of course they are my oldest jeans and so the other day, when I was wearing them, my grand daughter said to me," Oma, you have a hole in your pants!"  I did.  In fact, I have holes in both knees and a few more forming on other parts. These pants were relegated to days when I didn't have to leave the house and so they became the ones I put on for Art Days.

I realized that I am not setting a very good example for my grandkids by wearing holey jeans and it was time to get rid of them. I have a hard time throwing out any fabric and this instance was no exception. I looked at those old jeans and noticed that it wasn't just the comfort I liked but some of the details I found on them. The back pockets had a design stitched on them and a white piece of leather as well. I liked the rivets adhered in various places on them as well as the way the pockets were sewn. So I started to take them apart to save the good bits.

The Favourite Jeans

The little rivet above has a buffalo stamped into it.
While I was taking apart the jeans, I was inspired to use the pieces to make a small art quilt with them.
I have been experimenting with using a thick felt as the layer in between my quilts instead of quilt batting. The felt works better because it is thicker, more rigid and stabler so it helps wall quilts hang straighter and the edges of the quilts finish nicer. This wouldn't work for a quilt you would use on your bed or one you would use to wrap around you, or even anything you would want to wash. But it still allows
me to machine quilt with ease.
I have also been experimenting with a fusible web. This is basically an adhesive that is spun into a thin, lightweight fabric. I fuse it to one side of my fabric (using a silicone cloth, so it doesn't stick to my iron) and then I fuse that fabric to the felt. This keeps the fabric from shifting when I am quilting and makes for a crisper finished product.

Felt layer
Fusible web
The web is fused to the fabric
Once my background was completed, I sewed my jean pieces into place on the top and machine quilted as they were added. Although the felt is easy to sew through, the denim was giving me a hard time and I broke to sewing machine needles in the process.  I really like the finished product. I added a hanging sleeve to the back with some of the left over denim. Then I tucked a photo of me wearing the jeans in the pocket. (Thanks, Grace H.) Now I don't have to totally give up my favourite jeans. They will be hanging comfortably on the wall in my studio.
Favourite Buffalo Jeans