Saturday, August 29, 2020

Painting with Dyes for Textile Art Cards

Bear cub in the wildflowers

Coral! What a delightful colour. As I mix my colours from the 3 primary dyes, (fuchsia, turquoise and lemon yellow) repeating a colour can be challenging. Nonetheless I found myself mixing various shade of it often in the marathon of textile painting I've been doing. 
This piece will include some stitching details before it is made into a card.

You can find my textile cards for sale in Creston, BC at Creston Card and Stationery  or at Cresteramics (and Gift Store) Contact me at if you are looking for something specific. They are a gift, as well as a card as they are signed and fit in a 5 X 7" frame or mat. 

This is how I start on a piece of soda ash soaked and dried, natural fiber fabric. In this case it is an excellent quality mercerized cotton. Note the mixed dyes on the far end of the table. 

Painting with thickened dyes using a watercolour brush. Even though the bike and bear images will be cut apart into 5 X 7" size, I sometimes paint a few skies together.

The foam plates are used over and over and make good palettes for the dye colours I mix.

If I am wanting some detail in the images, I paint them first, cure them overnight and then paint in the backgrounds. 

For this style, I paint on a fine lawn cotton. Although I can't get as much detail as with the mercerized cotton, this fabric is most like painting on watercolour paper. I might paint with the dyes without thickening them and allow the dispersion of the pigment as with the clouds in this piece.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Textile Art on Small Tote Bags

Textile Art Tote Bag (sold)
by Eileen Gidman

Some new textile art coming out of my studio. They are currently available at Cresteramics Gift Store in Creston, BC and by emailing me at or private message through Facebook

A small tote bag is very versatile! Here are some things people have told me they are using their bags for:
  • snacks
  • mask and hand sanitizer
  • a book
  • knitting
  • sketchbook
  • water bottle
  • Ipad
  • sudoko puzzle book
  • snacks for birds
  • gift giving
These small and light tote bags are decorated with hand painted (with dyes) textile art making them all original. Yes and they are also washable.

There are many, many patterns for tote bags and I have previously made ones using larger pieces of textile art but I think what makes this tote bag unique, other than the artwork, is the fact that it is so light. It is not made for heavy items being one layer of material but when one only needs to carry a few little things and lately that seems like it is always the case, it feels great to be toting only a small bag.

Chickadee Small Tote

Small tote sewn from batik fabric and decorated with a hand painted landscape.

A friendly bear walking in a flower filled meadow.

Fireweed decorated small tote.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Watercolour Painting at a Farm

Scheduling a day for painting on location with others has been the best motivator for me to get out regularly. As it is continuous throughout the months when the weather is favorable, your paints are always at the ready and I find you often get out painting at additional times too.

This painting was completed in 2 sessions. Very few adjustments were made to the composition of the scene from what was there. I chose to leave out an additional portion of the roof to the left of the building as it would be distracting. I also moved the sign on the fence from around the corner to being visible in the painting. Most of the lettering is not legible purposefully so as not to distract from the center of interest, the little building. However, the farm's name can just be made out in the painting if one looks carefully. 

I've been painting those mountains, the Skimmerhorns quite regularly for over a year and I try to experiment a little more each time. My next painting (below) is started with a different colour selection. Brown shades on the top portion with shades of green dropped in the wet but drying paint. And an ultramarine blue to the base of the mountains where the many rock slides are. 

The horses were out where I could see them this week so they got into the foreground. There were actually five horses and I know in the painting just below, there are six horses, however horses move around so much that I couldn't say if I have painted each of the horses at least once or rather painted one horse over and over in different positions!

Watercolour Beginning 11 X 14"

Where will I go from here? I know for sure I will be simplifying the foreground so the horses don't get overshadowed with surrounding detail.

Watercolour Started 5 X 7"

This week was the first time painting the horses this year. It is so much fun and so challenging. The sun was shining hard on their velvety black coats so the highlights were very evident. Some paints you can lift back a bit and the black I mixed on this one wasn't easily lifted so before next week I will experiment with some mixes of black colour. That will make defining the lights and darks easier. For the darkest of blacks I applied a layer of indigo on top of the already there black. I am pleased with that technique I just happened to try. 

Could I possibly just leave the mountains depicted with the dry brush technique. For me it is important to experiment so we will see. 

I hope this inspires you to get out painting, sketching or just observing the vistas around you. For instance how many tones of a dark object can you see?

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Painting My House Plants

I finally finished this painting that started as a demo this winter for a group of dedicated watercolour students. Some watercolour paintings of the potted poinsettia were done in red and green and I know one of the backgrounds was a heavily salted beautifully vivid yellow. I had the turquoise leaves and a few of the petals in 'Naples Yellow' (Windsor Newton paints) and the gold background done the day of the demo. Now it is May and in deciding the colours to use to finish it, I pulled out Joen Wolfrom's 3-in1 Color Tool. A triad of Golden Yellow, Aqua Blue and Fuchsia were chosen. The dominant colour is the Golden Yellow so I used a variation of that on the pot and table. The fuchsia was used in smaller amounts directing the eye to the top petals. 

I have misting this house plant daily this winter and it set these lovely mini oranges. In the watercolour group we finished up doing botanical type watercolour paintings. So I've attempted to capture the essence of that orange bush in my own expressive style of painting.

For this one I set it out in a + compostion. I used a harmonious colour scheme with the orange, yellow and green. Then I slipped across the colour wheel to the complement of the orange to a warm blue and placed that behind the two 'center of interest oranges' and scattered more blue throughout.

The techniques I used were to start with a loose 'wet in wet' background. After it was dry I lightly drew in the leaves, stems and oranges. They were painted positively and some were painted around in a negative painting technique. A bit of blue glazing was used on top of two of the oranges near the center to push them farther back. 

The magnolia trees are blooming. Hmm... will I get out to paint them?

Sunday, April 26, 2020

A 'Normal Day' during Covid Social Isolation

Painting on location last week was the first time life felt normal in weeks. The social isolation due to Covid 19 has perhaps been easier on us creative sorts than others but still I find there is a feeling of unease and I've been finding it hard to settle to my normal amount of painting. However that day, sitting in a farmers field with 3 other artists, spaced well apart, getting lost in painting, life felt normal.


What else has been happening? I had been looking for a small comfortable chair for my studio for many months. I was able to purchase this beauty a few months ago off our local Buy and Sell.

Wanting to be a part of redoing the chair, I chose the fabric and I refinished the wooden parts. Bill from Treasure Upholstery here in Creston, BC, a master craftsman, upholstered the chair for me. He also took the squeak out of it! I could not be happier with it. Thank  you Bill!

Other things this week: A fair bit of time was devoted to sewing masks for people I know that might be needing them. I settled on this 3 fold pattern with a nonwoven interfacing inside for additional filtering. Fortunately I had some of the tightly woven batik fabrics in my 'stash' I liked the casing on the side as it allows the elastic to be adjusted by the wearer. My biggest challenge was finding the right flexibility of wire for fitting over the nose. 

Let's try an enjoy what we are doing during this time of social distancing but let's not put too much pressure on ourselves productive.

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?