Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hand Dyed Fabrics Embellishing Textile Cards

Recently I tried embellishing my textile cards with additional fabric. Creatively invigorating! It was a technique I tried for the first time over the last three weeks. Why did I do it? Perhaps it was that large box of beautiful, hand dyed fabrics that are either too small or not quite suited alone for a card top. Or was it just time, after years of  free motion stitching details onto my hand dyed fabrics, to explore another method of adding details? Possibly a little of both.

Exploration is fun and sometimes frustrating but it always begets more ideas. I can't wait to dye some additional fabrics specifically for embellishment. More rayon velvet in different colours for sure and I know I have a piece of cotton velvet PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabric that I have never even tried dyeing. The cotton voile purchased from Dharma Trading  should be perfect for adding fabric in a small tube as in the third photo. 

Silk Organza and Silk Chiffon, on the Dharma Trading website, look like they would manipulate well for flowers and foliage. Did I tell myself I need to work through the fabrics I have before purchasing anymore? Hmmm...….

This was my neighbour's favorite card. She described the little bits of fabric to the one flower along with the purple colour itself as being what drew her to this card top. Those tiny circles of fabric were a challenge to cut out but more challenging to just catch the back edge of the center of the circle with the stitching. Worth it though, don't you think?

I know this one isn't too fancy but it was one of my personal favorites. The card looked alright with only the free motion stitching on it but when I added the three purple leaves on top, 'colour' took the center role of this little composition. That particular purple was achieved by over dyeing, in a low immersion dye bath, a peach coloured fabric. One never knows what will produce just the right shade.

Foliage detailing. I can see using this technique a lot in landscapes.

This hand painted fabric was a favorite of one of my neighbour's daughters. She stated she liked the lively nature of the many colours of this hand painted fabric. Yea! That is what I was going for when a painted this cotton cloth. The background is fairly watercolour like so that the solid colour of the added maple leaf really stands out. How very Canadian. 

I have had this piece cut out for awhile as a card top but could never figure  how quite to use it. Allowing myself to add a red piece of hand dyed fabric for a canoe brought life to this piece. When I asked my neighbour's other daughter what image she thought depicted autumn, this was the one she chose. It was so great to have a visit with my neighbours and getting their feedback was so very helpful.

Watch for two more posts about embellishing textile cards. One is about the addition of hand dyed velvet and one is about adding freeform yoyos. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Life with My Human Watercolour Series: 'Behind the House, Across the Street'

The Images Art Show is in November in Creston, BC and I am working on a dog series for it called 'Life with My Human'. The watercolour painting below is the sixth of this series. I am happy with it not only as a part of this series but also as it showcases a trail our Creston Trail Society  has recently developed. 
Life with My Human Series: 'Behind the House, Across the Street'
watercolour 10 1/2 X 13 1/2"
by Eileen Gidman
My neighbour and her dog faithfully walk in our neighbourhood twice a day at least. I meet them quite often and the little dog always wants to stop and greet me and then is happy to continue on. Truth be told I love the meet and greet as much as the little pup does I think.

With this painting I tried to capture a moment in time on one of their many walks. A time of sharing that makes the owner and pet bond ever stronger to say nothing of the health benefits of the regular walks.

Here is the piece well started. At this point there is a lot of masking to save some whites highlights in the foreground field of flowers as well as there being some masking on the first light layer of blues, pinks and yellows so that darker flowers can be easily painted in around them. The person's arms, legs and hair as well as the dog are also masked. 

The top third of the painting is mostly been done in a wet in wet technique. Whereas the trees in the mid ground are painted with successive layers. This gives a crisper look to the trees in front and a softer, farther away look to the trees in the background. 

The pathway in the foreground ended up being splattered with layers of paint onto a dampened paper.  I didn't want the viewer's eye to stop at the foreground path so I kept the pebbles soft and muted. 

You might notice that there are some changes between the photo and the painting. That is the beauty of painting. I removed some of the trees in the background to allow more of a view of the valley floor and the mountains across the valley. There is more colour in the hillside as the week before it was ablaze with blue chicory and pink poppies. The dog became dark in order to see her better and the person's shirt became white so as to keep the viewer's eye carrying forward down the pathway.  I hope that all worked but mostly I mention it to let you in on a painter's decision making. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

New Watercolour Series: Life with My Human

Thank you everyone who gave me suggestions for a title for this Dog Series I've been working on since January. All the ideas resulted in the title, 'Life with My Human'. It is a watercolour series which attempts to show the bond between a dog and it's owner, by painting a specific activity they do together. 
At my friend,  Win,, suggestion I left the title without the word dog in it so I can branch out to other pets too. 

The photos I saw of this dog, made me think that 'Bruce' is game for any adventure with HIS human. Even though you can see he is a mature dog, Bruce is still willing to try something new. Here is Bruce, this summer, co-piloting his owner's new sailboat! I wonder what he is thinking? "Where's the breeze?"

Series: Life with My Human
'No Breeze'
7 1/2" X 10 1/2"
watercolour by Eileen Gidman

When I painted this owner's dog earlier this year I vowed I would paint one of her other dog who is just as sweet. It is a small painting but I just love the colours. 

Jojo is always looking for loving with everyone she meets. Showcasing her in a pile of autumn leaves seemed so appropriate. You know she is just waiting for a tummy rub!

Series: Life with My Human
Title - 'Love Bug'
5 1/2" X 7 1/2" NFS
Watercolour by Eileen Gidman

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Dog Series: 'We Walk the Beach'

'We Walk the Beach'
10 1/2" X 14"
by Eileen Gidman
We walk the beach, my Mom and I. Some photos of me, the dog, were sent to artist, Eileen Gidman  of the lovely places my Mom and I go walking and running. I am especially fond of the one below, with me fetching sticks in a creek.

Here is a close up so you can see how happy I look.

Also there was a photo of me silhouetted in front of a lake with some coloured trees in the background. My Mom especially liked this one and I do have a handsome profile. In the painting colour study though, Eileen was not liking the orange and black combination.

So this one of me in front of a stunning ocean scene was selected. I think I posed quite nicely.

Below is a photo of the artist's studio. Kind of messy don't you think! However there are three pictures of me (a black and white copy, one on the screen, and the started painting) so that helps.

 Sometimes the artist has to search for just the right yellow. 

 There is something put on the painting called masking that covers all the areas that are to stay white.

Completed painting. I was told the artist painted my collar a brighter red (a complement to the green) to draw the attention to me in this painting. Did it work?

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Adventurous Dogs


A small portion of the final painting.

2018 has me starting on a new series about dogs and their lives with their humans.  Animals enrich our lives in so many ways. Through my paintings I want to honor that bond.

These dogs are living a life many of us dream of. I thought this photo was a perfect depiction of the adventurous life they lead. And by they, I mean the dogs and their owners!

Transferring Photo to Watercolour Paper

I understand now there are even computer programs that take a photo and create a sketch for you. The following way has always worked for me and allows me flexibility in the placement of the elements. To transfer a photo to your watercolour paper the old fashioned way, you can draw it on the same size sheet of paper as your watercolour paper and transfer it on using an artist carbon paper. This is better than drawing directly on the watercolour paper as any erase marks can affect the way the paint lies on the paper. To assist myself regarding the placement of the dogs and person in the boat, I have folded the paper to get a grid of 8 both ways. Note I only made the smallest grid throughout the center of interest. The other elements can then easily be placed. 

Always check the size of the watercolour paper you are using against the photo size. Otherwise if you draw what is in the grid of the photo onto the paper and they are not proportionally the same, your drawing will be wonky. For this painting, I added additional sky. When working your sketch be sure you are happy with the composition before transferring the outline to the watercolour paper. For me, I don't want my paintings to be a copy of a photo but rather an artist expression of what I see in life or from a photo.


Raw sienna is the natural golden colour of the environment and I felt a must for this painting. The Quinacridone Gold I keep in my palette will just not do for this painting. As for a colour scheme for this painting, I decided on an harmonious colour scheme from yellow green on the colour wheel to primary blue. The neutral greys and browns would have variations within that range of the colour wheel. 

The Studio

Here is the studio set up. The computer screen is set up with various edited versions of the working photo. Lightened in some areas, darkened or decreased clarity in others etc. For my studio I often work in silence but I also enjoy a little gentle music. Today it was Calgary's County Station. Almost always there is a 'cuppa' that is kept well away from the rinse water! Note the bottle of masking fluid. Hint: be careful about getting too much water in your brush when using misket. I find that between dips, if water gets mixed with the masking fluid, it adheres to the paper harder and is more difficult to remove later. Just ask me if I have any finger prints left! 

Working the Painting

Masking was applied with a small brush and a toothpick everywhere I wanted to save the whites. That way the sky and background colour can be laid down with a consistent brush stroke. Remember too much dabbing results in the loss of luminosity with watercolour painting.

You can see on the left where the trees are, I painted around the bottoms of the trees leaving them white to match up with the masked areas. I included some cerulean blue and burnt sienna in the water in case I needed to lift off some paint later. These are granulating pigments and have that quality to them. 

I like to work a little bit all over the painting, laying down the lighter colours and sometimes the second layer too, ie the jacket and the dogs.

Below are the completed four corners. I don't want to show the painting in it's entirety until the owners have received it.

 A couple more details of the painting.


The older dog admires the scenery? Smells for fish? The younger one has eyes only for the photographer following in the other boat.  Being so young, I think he has many lessons to learn from his more experienced and what I am told, very tolerant dog mentor. I'll be sure to post the completed painting soon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Painting on Location at Valley of the Swans

The Creston Valley has also been known as Valley of the Swans. Fortunately a friend alerted me that there were Trumpeter Swans feeding in the farmer's fields on the 'Creston Flats'. This was the first time I was able to see them so close. The first day I went to see them, it was sunny and the water sparkled and the geese appeared so very white.

Watercolour by Eileen Gidman 7 1/2" X 10"
The next day, I went back and set up for painting on location. It wasn't as bright but I wanted to capture what was still in my mind from the day before.

Trumpeter Swans, Canada Geese and Northern Pintail Ducks

My set up. Still a bit chilly for plein air painting.

This is what I accomplished on location.  More darks and details are needed  but there is a freshness that is, for me, often best achieved with location painting. 
I puzzled for some time, days in fact, what made the swans appear so white. The snow was a similar white but it didn't pop out like the swans. I knew I would have to sacrifice some of the whites to draw attention to the swans so I glazed the snow on the mountains with the blue of the sky. As well I toned down the geese on the left and the snow belt between the geese and the trees. 

Those geese still weren't standing out the way I wanted. By chance in the studio, as I was working on final details from photos, I enlarged the one below. Then I could see that the swans were not only greyed on the underside but the were also shadowed with the blue sky colour. Adding that blue made all the difference for me achieving what I had in my mind.

Additional note, even though the geese in the foreground on the left are closer, I kept them soft (soft edges) so that the focus would be on the geese behind the white reflections. The reflections were also glazed very lightly with the sky blue. 

Zooming in on this photo, I could see there was a lot of blue sky colour shading those geese. 
I hope I get some more opportunities for painting swans this spring. Click here for more information about these amazing travellers Trumpeter Swans . I am thankful our valley has the food they need to replenish as they make their journey north. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

'Painting Miss Daisy'

'Miss Daisy'.  I've tried to capture the personality of this very loyal dog. A few of the characteristics I've tried to portray is her love of adventure; her intelligence; and her keen awareness of her owner's whereabouts.  
'Miss Daisy' watercolour 10" X 11" by Eileen Gidman

Miss Daisy and owner receiving their painting.

Checking it over for details.

"Hmmm, is that me?"

"Yes, that good looking dog is me!"

I am happy to see my latest completed painting going to it's new home. Stay tuned for more dog paintings in upcoming posts.