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Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Value of the Sketch

I love to start right into my art, that is to say that I want to start right into the final product. However, most times I have to plan what I want to do. I use the sketch to do that. It would be a shame to start right into the final product with expensive materials and find that it doesn't work. A sketch will tell me where to position things, what my focal point will be, how to enhance my focal point, what values will look like. It will generally tell me if my plan will work and if it will be pleasing to the eye, a good composition.

I take a small sketch book along with me to most of the places I visit. I have several sketch books that document places I have been and I often leaf through these books seeking inspiration for paintings or other artwork. Many of my fabric cards were inspired by some of these sketches.

A colour sketch of the Humber River Valley near my house.
This sketch was done in a 5"X7" book.

I will also sketch ordinary everyday things.

I also sketch to keep up my drawing skills. If you want to draw well, you need to practice and the sketch is good for that. A sketch helps me to observe my subject and observation tells me things about how something is put together, about the colour, about the values. It helps me to draw the illusion of 3-dimensions on a 2-dimensional piece of paper.

Sketches can be very quick and linear with very little detail or they can be very detailed depending on what your goal is. I have sketched with pencil primarily but I also use fine point permanent ink pens if my goal is to record value or watercolour pencils if I want to record the colours I am observing.

A quick pencil sketch to determine composition.

A sketch of a rural Ontario farm, many of which are slowly
disappearing from the countryside.

A more detailed sketch of the Northern wilderness.

This sketch was one of many, each was a different
view of this house that I later painted with watercolour for the owners.

This sketch was done by combining two photographs
I had taken. The final product ended up a little different
than the sketch due to the fact that as I was painting it,
I felt the left side drew my eye right out of the picture. So
I added a dark tree to that side to keep the attention inside
the painting.

These last two sketches were done in permanent ink pen
so I could determine the values of the overal work and the placing of the canoes.

They are slightly different but I get a different feel from
each of them. The top sketch makes me feel like getting
into a canoe and exploring the large expanse of lake
behind them and this second one gives me the feeling
that someone has just returned from a paddle and is now
resting by the fire overlooking the beautiful and quiet

Sketches are not meant to be finished pieces of art but I love the look of sketches and feel that they could be framed and displayed. The fact that they are done quickly gives them a spontaneous feel that appeals to me.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Thread Painting

In past blogs I've used the term "thread painting" a few times. What is thread painting? Well, it is exactly what it sounds like. Painting with thread. Thread painting is done with various colours of thread and can be used to outline an image or fill an image in with colour. It is done with a regular sewing machine but instead of using a regular presser foot, I use a darning foot. With the darning foot, I can free-motion stitch which means I can move my fabric in any direction under the needle. I use the thread to show value or I'll mix threads to make other colours or tones.

I have a full pallette of thread colours and types. I have some embroidery threads, regular threads, varigated threads as well as some metalic threads to give a bit of glitter.

Closeup of a thread painted tulip. Here I filled in the entire flower with colour that goes from burgundy to red to orange with a tinge of yellow on the tips.

In this Peony I outlined the petals and then thread painted only sections of the petals with yellow, pink and rose.

In this Pansy I layered a dark fabric over some of the petals for the deep purple heart and then thread painted most of the rest of the flower leaving the edges of the petals without stitching.

Thread painting takes more time than actually painting but I find it adds interest to my quilts and fabric cards and so the time spend is well worth it for me.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Inspiration that Grandchildren are.

I have gained another source of inspiration for my art in the last 18 months and that is my grandchildren. New life never ceases to amaze me. When they are born, they are so small, and it is a miracle when all their parts are there and everything works the way it should. I didn't have the joy of knowing and having a relationship with my grandparents due to the fact that I immigrated to Canada with my parents at a year of age. Initially I didn't really miss those relationships because I knew nothing else, however, when my children were born, they did have relationships with my parents and my mother-in-law. My father-in-law passed away when our oldest son was 5 months old. They loved their grandparents and those relationships brought a richness into all of their lives. We know all too well that illness and accident or other circumstances can cut those relationships short and so when my grandchildren were born, I decided that they were going to know how precious they were to me from day one. I am attempting to do this the best way I know how and the most enjoyable way and that is through my art. Each newborn in our family, and not only my own grandchildren but also the children of my nieces and nephews receive a graphite drawing of themselves at a few days old.

This is our youngest grandchild, born just over a month ago.
I have also started small sketchbook/journals for each of my grandchildren in which I make note of my feelings for them, milestones, special dates, sketches of them as they grow. When they are older they will receive these books from me as a keepsake and witness of their uniqueness and preciousness to us and to God.

A spread out of our first granddaughter's journal

A spread out of our first grandson's journal
When our children and grandchildren know they are loved unconditionally and are special in their own way, they can go into the world and its experiences with confidence.