Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Meeting Artisans in the Maritimes

Meeting new artists is the best. I don't mean talking about techniques, so much as just the sharing of what each other does, and how they got to be creating in the way that they do.   Recently I had the pleasure of spending time in Anne Morrel Robinson's studio on Cape Breton Island. I don't have my photos sorted yet but you can click here  to see Anne's Kingross Quilts website.  Also if you 'like' her facebook page, you can see a photo of us in her shop. I promise to take a photo of the felted brooch I got there and post it. Absolutely lovely. 

Meanwhile here are some photos of the 'mug rugs' I did this summer using the hand painted fabrics I created after taking a Oriental painting class from Linda Lashbrook. That reminds me I must also post a picture of a hooked mini rug I bought on my trip to the Maritimes with pussy willows on it, created in the Acadian tradition, by a 93 year old artisan. How inspiring is that.

Pussy Willows
Mug Rug

Mug Rug

This mug rug has gone to a new home. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bee Hives in watercolour

What happens when you paint on location? Well on this one morning, four artists headed out by 9 am in two vehicles because we had a lot of art stuff, including a very large dog. After a short drive to our first potential spot we all got out and after a very short time decided we all could find something to paint there. 

Our setups are surprisingly different. E painted out of the back of her car while she perched under the hatchback; K painted standing at an easel or sitting down on the bank of the ditch with the easel lowered if it was too windy; this morning B had a sketchbook and a chair; and I had my trusty small travel chair with my metal case with all my art supplies. An additional backpack held water for drinking and painting, a jacket, hat, sunglasses and it should have contained sunscreen. After I have my paper, backing board, drawing tools, brushes, water container, and paint palette out, I close up the case, set it beside me to lay out my artist supplies for easy access. I paint with the board resting on my knee and tilted up. 

I chose to move my self down a few hundred feet from the beautiful landscape view the other artists selected, as some wonderfully coloured beehives had caught my eye.  As I have a great concern for the honey bee, as they struggle with toxins in our environment, this collection of hives just drew me to come and paint them.

When B wandered up to first see what I was doing, she was surprised to see only dobs of colour where the hives were to be. On her second visit she was intrigued to see they had taken shape into boxes. Note not all the hives are represented clearly but the others have enough details, shaded sides and box handles that the grouping of them becomes believable as beehive colonies. The trees were not yellow yet but I was tired of green so I painted them in autumn colours. I did these after I painted the sky and the mountains. After painting the yellow leaves of the trees, the top edge was lightly sprayed with water to soften the edge.

Not all of the fence wires were drawn in as when I take in the view, my eyes don't focus on every line that is there. Although the fence was straight, I chose to tilt one post in, for variety. Sorry to the farmer who obviously took pride in a truly straight fence. Before I say it is done, I think I will add a little more detail to the trees and the two fence posts on the left. Then who knows? Anyways back to that morning, after about an hour and a half or perhaps two of pretty much silence, someone started shifting around and soon we are all noting we are feeling hungry. After a snack and tea we spent another half hour or so finishing up or starting new sketches before we all headed back to home base for lunch and in my case a quick nap. In the afternoon, we pretty much repeated the same routine. What a wonderful life. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Step by step completion of a plein air painting

Plein air painting in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains recently, I was able to spend a lovely afternoon along the side of a country road painting this amazing vista. There was only room for two of us artists as the road was a bit narrow down in a dip in the road but we got set up quickly to take advantage of the light. Unfortunately there was a curve in the road one way so the traffic didn't get much time to slow down once they saw us, which made for some dust rolling over us. Oh well. For a photo of the scene click here

Completed Watercolour Painting

About 90 % of the painting was completed on location, and this is the painting I came home to the studio with. Plein air paintings have a freshness to them which an artist must struggle to maintain when finishing them at home. I will give you a step by step account of the decisions I am making as I complete this painting under idea conditions in the studio.
 I darken around the aspen tree trunks in the middle ground to focus the viewers eye there. The front aspens seem a bit bare to me so I add some leaves. The blue sky colour appears too isolated so I brought some of that ultramarine blue colour into other parts of the painting including to the shade at the base of the middle ground aspens and into the shadows of the grass in the foreground.
The middle row of trees were given more form to their leaves by darkening the bottom with dark green and strengthening the middle green while taking care to leave a little highlight along the tree tops. As well dark green was added behind the highlighted white tree tops to make them stand out.
The foreground was given stronger colour by adding burnt orange especially around the left two trees.

I lightened the middle ground tree tops by lifting out the paint. The trunks of the three trees in the front are toned from bright white to focus the attention on the whitest white of the middle ground aspens.

I deepened the blue in the shadows of the middle ground aspens and added some blue in the shadows between the trees. Lime green is added on the right side in a line behind the warm golden and burnt orange swath.

More branches were added with a palette knife as details to the front trees with some of the branches pointing to that little grove of aspen in the middle ground.

An opaque lemon yellow was added to fill in between leaves to better group them which is what you see when you look at a leaves on a tree.
I thought a little more lime green was needed on the right side to balance the same colour on the left foreground. It seems important to stop before the looseness of the plein air painting is lost.

Another watercolour painting  that is 90 % or so completed on location. This is the middle ground group of aspen from the painting above. I really would have liked to get up closer to them but there were two barbwire fences in between and also private property. Where to go from here with this painting. I love the looseness and brightness of this little sketch that was completed in about fifteen minutes after the first one was painted in about an hour and a half.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

For Fall: Textile Cards Ready for the Stores

For Fall: Textile Cards Ready for the Stores
A new selection of textile cards will be available tomorrow at Creston Card and Stationery and at the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce. The cards are painted with dyes onto natural fibre fabrics then details are stitched by free motion thread sketching. All are my original designs and all are created by me.
If you don't live in my area and would like a textile card, email me at

Yesterday, I free motion sketched 3 different poses of a blue heron. In the morning, (Don't you always check your yesterday's creations first thing?) I realized the two on the right required more substance to show over the background.
 More stitching to the wings and the addition of breast feathers let the viewer know this guy is here! Much better, I think don't you?

Adding the suggestion of feathers to this heron's back help to provide form to his shape.
No additional stitching is required as the background is light and therefore his outline stitching is enough.
Mountain Ash
The berries will soon be ready for the birds to swoop in on mass and eat them. Hope to see some Grosbeaks.

Golden wheat. Thinking of harvest time.

The pears are ripe and our neighbor brought us some from his very own tree. Precious pears!
My personal favorite. The pinkish beige is just such an odd colour on it's own that I am enjoying it in this fall landscape. Note that just a few meandering stitches give the tree leaves definition.
 I plan to be painting with red soon. What are you doing to celebrate the beauty of fall?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Painting Hollyhocks on Antique Cabinet Door

Painting Hollyhocks on an Antique Cabinet Door
The door when it came to me was painted this lovely shade of golden. I describe here how the colour palette was chosen to work with the background colour.
To get started with the floral painting, first I searched high and low to find a piece of chalk in my house. Finally I resorted to my tailor's chalk. It worked perfectly to sketch in the position of the three stalks and their flowers.

The painting in acrylic began with titanium white (opaque). With the greenery lightly identified with a light golden-green. Note the blue painter's tape to mask of the cross bar ledge to avoid paint drips. 

Adding colour to the blooms in successive layers from lighter to darker closer to the centers. The leaves required some back and forth with light and dark values of greens to identify their positioning.

Focusing on the blooms for a bit, the individual blooms were arranged in a pattern of randomness. The two outer hollyhock blooms were painted with a muted orange-red palette to push them behind the center of interest, central stalk. 

The hollyhock blossoms are close to completed.

With the blooms close to done, time to switch to the greens. The paint palette is sitting on a trial piece that I first did on paper. Working there I discovered NOT to go with cool reds but rather the warm Scarlet and Cadmium reds that harmonized with the golden cabinet door.

You can't really see it but an orange glaze was added to parts of the leaves closest to the center of interest.   Okay, I went back and took a picture for you.

Completed 'Hollyhock' painting.  A 'stopper-by' in the studio yesterday said that hollyhocks being a flower often grown in gardens in the past suits the antique shape of the door. Nicely put, I thought.

Technical detail: A top coat over the painted hollyhock section with Krylon's Crystal Clear acrylic coating will provide the painting with protection for when the door is reinstalled in the client's newly renovated kitchen.
I'll try and get you a photo.  Thanks for stopping by and thanks to those of you who comment. I love comments.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How Do You Choose Colours to Accompany Orange-Yellow?

How do you choose colours to accompany a 'mother colour'?
In this case it is a long, narrow antique cabinet door painted golden that I am painting a floral on. I thought I would share with you how I go about choosing a colour palette. You may have your own ideas and I would love to hear about them. Joen Wolfrom's 3in1 Color Tool is shown in the photos.

Watercolour Painting - Clothesline Series: 'Kaslo Campground' is off to it's new owner!
A complementary colour scheme was used primarily here with much of the painting having  a variety of greens along with the pop of the red here and there.

Antique cabinet door

Identifying the colour. 23-5 on the orange-yellow colour swatch. It shows it having some white added to the pure colour.

Complementary colour scheme.

Triadic Colour Scheme. Note the three colours that have the number 5. 25-5, 15-5, and 7-5. They all have white added to them. Wouldn't they be lovely in a quilt. Amounts of each colour? The 'daddy bear', 'momma bear', 'baby bear' guideline works for me. Have mostly one colour with a medium amount of another colour and a small amount of the last colour.

The Orange-yellow is central and for a harmonious colour scheme the colour on either side of it are added. 5 colours makes a nice combination so two others in succession could be added.

Split complementary identifies the colour opposite on the colour wheel which is the central blue. Leaving it out, the 2 blues on either side could be included.

This is the colour scheme I have choosen, a harmonious run of 6 colours that are side by side on the colour wheel. Note that the yellow and chartreuse, when black or grey is added, give a variety of greens.  

Can you see the new green-gold tube of Golden's acrylic paint? I can't wait to try it!
I best put blogging aside and get started. How do you choose your colours? Many people describe using an intuitive style and some people say their spouse picks out the colours!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Do You Ever Do Something Just For Yourself?

Have you ever done something just for yourself? Recently I went to the Rocky Mountains to plein air paint for 5 days. Wow, the whole experience was enriching, from:
  • meeting a very generous couple who hosted us,
  • meeting the farm couple who invited us to their ranch to paint,
  • witnessing the changing autumn colours throughout the week,
  • being in the company of dedicated plein air painter friends,
  • to experiencing the vast views of the foothill area of the Rocky Mountains.
This will be a week to remember for life. If you can organize something like this for yourself, I would highly recommend it.

One of several watercolour paintings that were 90 percent completed on location

The view that was my inspiration

Thread & Fabric. A textile person couldn't resist that sign! Although I didn't have time to paint this on location, I still might paint it.

Blue and yellow, big sky prairie sunrise.

Yes, this is a REAL photo. Those wind-tortured tree trunks made intricate patterns. I did two paintings at this location which will need some details added in the studio before showing you.
Textile Art: Can't wait to paint this image on textile with dyes. Can you imagine it?

Check later for the rest of the paintings from the trip or you can follow my Eileen Gidman, Watercolour and Textile Artist, Facebook page by going here and clicking on 'follow'. If you prefer email notification of new posts, enter your email on the upper left near the top of this blog. Thanks for stopping by.