Friday, April 3, 2020

Two days in an Artist's Life

Two days in an artist's world. Yesterday I was location sketching from the car as it was much too cold to be outside. Today I interpreted two of the tree sketches onto my hand-dye painted fabric using thread sketching. 

I was looking at the tree sketch on the upper right. When I was sewing, I kept moving the sketch right-side up to upside-down depending on which way I was stitching.

 This sketch was done very near where I live. It is one of two remining apricot trees from a very old orchard. There is an apricot tree in one yard and one in the next yard. They are very much appreciated in our neighbourhood as they are beautiful for their shape, blossom and apricot coloured fruit.

Fruit trees are pruned to have a spreading nature. The straight up new growth on top could use a little pruning. The size of the trunk gives us an idea as to it's age. I know some pear trees I painted in the same area were a century old. Looking forward to the blossoms next month!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Mauve Textile Cards

In my neighbourhood, a young couple have taken over from an elderly lady who has moved. She so loved to putter in her garden and on a walk last week I was delighted to see her snowdrops coming up. I little reminder that spring is nearly here. It's nice to think of the continuation of perennial plants through generations.

Below are few of my newest Textile Cards that are painted with dyes and detailed with stitching. All of these ones contain a little mauve.

Snowdrops: When I think of spring, I think mauve. Growing up, Easter seemed so much more mauve and yellow than it is today.

Columbine: Although this is called a Blue Columbine it is a periwinkle colour. I saw it with my friend Kim on a walk around lake at Stagleap Park. In the Kootenays we also see a Red Columbine and a Yellow Columbine

Originally this piece was simply the orange flowers. I decided to repaint it with another layer of dyes and added the purple Harebells.

Gosh the sunsets can be spectacular here. I've used my artistic ideas to add the orange to our more typical pink and mauve skies. 

Fox are rare here in the Kootenays but I do love their colour so much. I've been fortunate enough to see them a few times while visiting Alberta and the Maritimes.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Dye Painting on Fabric: Local Scenes for Cards

Painting with dyes onto cloth has so many variables. Below you will see two ways of painting. One where the image is very specifically painted onto cloth, cured, rinsed, ironed onto interfacing and then free-motion stitched. Note the next three photos for this technique. 

The last two photos depict somewhat randomly laying down of colour. Then after the curing, rinsing and ironing the fabric onto interfacing, an image is sketched in thread. 

Grain Elevators in Creston, BC. 5 X7" Textile Card top.
The grain elevators, foreground roadway and the midground fields were painted with dye thickened with a seaweed base that makes for easier control of the dyes. Oh, the seaweed thickener gets rinsed out after curing the cloth. The mountains and sky were painted with Procion fibre reactive dyes that were painted in their thinned state which works well for a dry brush technique and the flowing nature of clouds.

5 X 7" images are painted for making textile cards. After curing overnight the backgrounds and foregrounds were added.

The 100% cotton fabric has been cured and rinsed. I love the ironing part when I can really examine how well the dyes adhered to the cloth. It is always a guessing game as you must paint brighter and darker than you want the final image to be.

A 22 X 25" painted piece of fabric. I often do this at the end of the painting session to use up the dyes that have come out of the fridge to be worked with that day. In this particular piece the dyes were NOT thickened but rather thinned with urea water for lighter tints and darkened with black for darker shades. 

This 5 X 7" piece was cut from the above piece of fabric. Can you see where? Look to the lower left of the previous photo. It is so much fun to look at a piece of randomly painted fabric and imagine what it might become. Often our Creston valley is bathed in a colourful sunset which I've depicted in this scene of our grain elevators with the fields and distance Selkirk Mountains behind.

My textile cards can be found locally in Creston, BC. If you want something specifically painted for you onto cloth, let me know as I do commissioned work. email me at

Saturday, January 25, 2020

January's a Great Month for the Studio

Dandelions and Clover can be pretty, right? Here is what I've been doing this January - painting with dyes. This Kootenay Wildflower series is new for me this year.

January is quiet and a perfect time for experimenting. This landscape was one I had done quite sometime ago. I decided to try dye painting on top with darker colours.  As I often make Textile Cards I divided it up into 6 sections across and 2 high.

Here is what it looks like after painting but before curing and rinsing. This piece will be cut up for Textile Cards. I like to embellish each one with a bit of free motion black thread stitching.

Here is a close up of 3 of the painted 5 X 7" areas. The plastic is on top so the moisture is retained as it cures.

This is a piece of cotton lawn fabric and I dye painted it with dye concentrates that weren't thickened. There are 4 layers of skies with a bit of foreground. Working with the dyes this way reminds me of working with watercolour paints.

After curing overnight I painted images on top. 

The fabrics are getting rinsed. I painted these chickadees after returning from a walk where the birds were flitting around on the snow laden branches. The whole scene was GORGEOUS.

Each type of fabric needs to be treated a little differently I find. If you are painting on rayon, one better be sure to give some extra long soaking and rinsing or the red dye will continue to bleed into the adjoining area. Sometimes though, that gives a very lovely watercolour look. That is just what happened to the red Columbine in the first photo after it was rinsed. With all this new fabric it is time to get the sewing machine out. 

Have you been enjoying January as much as I have?

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Watercolour Paintings Find New Homes

Watercolour Series: Red Rock

These five paintings were painted on location this spring in Utah and were shown at the recent Images Art Show that I participated in. What wonderful country to hike in. I so enjoyed trying to capture the essence of a different landscape than what I am used to. It required some different coloured paints than my regular palette.

'Devil's Garden'
watercolour by Eileen Gidman 
 Off to it's new owner. This was a smaller area of red rocks that made it all the more special. Lots of families were visiting as it was easy for children to walk right up to the rock formations.

'Red Rock Canyon'
watercolour by Eileen Gidman
 Off to it's new owner. This was painted near the Visitor's Centre of Red Rock Canyon, near Bryce Canyon. What an amazing park that was. The spires to the left were called the 'Salt and Pepper'.

'Snow Canyon'
watercolour by Eileen Gidman
Off to it's new owner. A chance encounter lead us to this lovely little park where we enjoyed our first hike. When I look at this painting, I can still remember how solid that red rock felt to walk on.

watercolour by Eileen Gidman
Am I ever glad we ventured forth to this park. The afternoon hike, which I participated in, was through a slot canyon. Just wow!

'Grand Canyon Ranger'
watercolour by Eileen Gidman
This was my second time to the Grand Canyon but only my first time really seeing it as the first time the canyon was filled with fog. We had a very special tour guide who pulled in at every view point and gave us lots of time to explore.  

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Art Show - Images in Creston, BC

Images Show, Creston, BC
While the core group of artists has changed throughout the years, this is the 22 consecutive year of this much anticipated show. Elaine and Andy Alfoldy are the longest attending members and the Images Group is happy to announce its newest member, Jenny Steenkamp. This show also features Eileen Gidman, Laura Leeder, Sarah Miller, Jim Smith and Howard Smith. If you are in our area, I hope you can visit.
Images Art Group Facebook Page

When framing for two days last week, I realized that all of the 22 new paintings I am showing this year were painted plein air with finishing touches in the studio. Wow, I had a goal this year to plein air paint more and I guess you could say I achieved that. It was an exciting year with painting locally in the valley, including weekly in the summer at Kootenay Meadows Dairy, painting in Utah on a spring hiking trip, in AZ, and on Quadra Island. 

watercolour by Eileen Gidman
16 X 20" (framed 22 X 28") 

The colours on these pear trees were jaw-dropping stunning this year. After walking up to admire them, several times, walking back I noticed this vista with the Purcell Mountains in the background. The very next day I spent an afternoon painting them. This old orchard is near my home and I've been researching the history of the trees. I believe them to be over 100 years old and I want the title to reflect the historical significance somehow. Ideas?
And yes, that cat did walk into my view.

watercolour by Eileen Gidman
Series: Hulls of Herriot Bay

More boats. I do not have a title for this one yet either but the series will be called 'Herriot Bay Hulls'. The heron on the left side of the painting would often stand in the shallows when the tide was low.

watercolour by Eileen Gidman
View from Gramma's Clothesline

This is this year's painting for my Clothesline Series. The significance of the series is to draw attention to energy conservation. It is the first clothesline painting without clothes drying on it but the view was so amazing that I wanted it to shine. When showing the painting to the home owner, her grandson was there and his eyes just lit up when he recognized the familiar scene, hence the title. 

Friday, November 1, 2019

How Do You Choose Where to Set Up On Location?

Choosing Where to Set up for Painting on Location

Watercolour by Eileen Gidman
'Getting Married in a Month' 

To give you an idea about how a painter chooses what to paint, the above painting was the last painting I did on an artist retreat that I, Eileen Gidman took to Quadra Island with a fellow artist, Karen Arrowsmith. That Friday morning, I hoofed my suitcase of painting supplies and my folding chair with side table about a 1/2 kilometer up the hill to the top of the road from us. I had been getting a view each time we drove back to our cabin that was above the bay looking through the houses to the marina. After looking for just the right place, for whatever reason, it just wasn't what was in my heart to paint that day, so I hoofed it a little farther up the road. I could see the store by that time so I hoofed it a little farther there to pick up some bread for lunch. I probably looked like a homeless person by that time as I carried my case, loaf of bread and chair with me.

In order to find that perfect stop, I decided to head down by the Herriot Bay Inn and look at the bay from there. At that time, I was still thinking of capturing a beachside cabin with the bay view. As I limped along the path above where the tide comes in, by that time using my chair like a cane, I paused at a bench and surveyed the scene below. There were these two small, new, and colourful watercraft amongst all the big sailboats and older dories.

The colours and water reflections grabbed me. The story I was trying to convey with this painting became even more special when a young man that had obviously been watching me paint, as he walked back and forth on the ramp beside me, stopped and said to me, "They are getting married in a month." At my puzzled expression, he said, "The owners' of those two boats are getting married in a month." I liked to think the specialness of that scene was what had me stop, after hoofing it around for so long, looking for the just the perfect last painting spot.