Monday, February 12, 2024

Plein Air Painting Adventures in 2023

A fall afternoon painting in Kootenay National Park

Painting with a friend. It is a favourite plein air painting spot to look at the Skimmerhorn Mountains in Creston, BC.

A spring plein air sketchbook painting just off the Devon Trail in Creston, BC.

Painting in my backyard in May.

Last year I managed to get to this location when the lilacs were still blooming.

An evening paint out with a friend of across from the popular Tim's Fish and Chips, Creston, BC.

Painting the sweet little motels of Radium, BC

A colour study in a sketchbook really helps before attempting the watercolour painting.

Meeting up with a newly formed  Creston Plein Air Pals  at the Good Company Coffee in Creston, BC for a painting session. 

Sunday, February 26, 2023

An Artist's Typical Week?

Although an artist's week often isn't predictable, here is one recent week's schedule. 

  • Schedule art making for the week. 
  • Sew 2 'mugrugs' for an upcoming Bird Festival (donation). Not having sewn one for awhile, yes it took me most of the day. 

  • Package 'mugrugs' and contact Bird Festival committee member. 
  • Sew 4 mini textile cards.
  • Start sewing regular sized textile cards, then the power went out due to a wind storm. 
  • Heard one of my textile cards was purchased as a gift going to England! An artist often doesn't know who purchases their art but it is delightful when they do. 
  •  Sew 12 bird cards.
  •  Post about bird art to social media. Bird art Post

  • Sew 2 more bird cards and 8 floral cards.
  • Shoot a video of thread sketching.
  • Assemble picture mat materials.
  • Attend a lesson on mat cutting in the afternoon.
  • Shop at the Second Hand Store for a steamer to set in a large pot for silk painting steam setting. Purchased 4 decorative gold wire plate holders to use for displaying textile cards for sale.

  • Sew 11 landscape cards.
  • Edit and post social media video of textile sketching. Reel of Thread Sketching
  • Practice mat cutting on my own mat cutter. 

  • Sew one more landscape card to make 2 dozen competed this week.
  • Clean studio table of sewing machine and textile cards.
  • Frame 2 watercolour paintings. Unframe one of them twice, once for a fleck and once to re-center the mat. 
  • Write out framing directions learnt on Thursday.
  • Put away mat cutter, mat pieces, frame pieces and hardware.

An artist's life is so much more than creating art. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Creating For Charity


  1. RECYCLE - These tote bags were made from pillowcases. 
  2. HOBBY - Although I am normally free motion sewing in my art practice, I do love to do straight stitching too.
  3. GOOD CAUSE - These bags were made for a charity that requires the bags they use to be washable. 
Sewing for charity this week has had the added bonus for me of taking a break from the thinking required in my art practice. Interestingly, I found by concentrating on different things than I normally do in my studio, has given my mind a break and I am looking with renewed enthusiasm to which art project to tackle next. 

The floral pillow cases were the most fun to work with.
This burgundy pillow case was of thicker material and made a sturdy bag. The satin detailing on the pillow case made a nice detail.
Selecting several blue pillow cases and setting the sewing machine up with blue thread helped for working efficiently. 

My process of using a pillow case for a tote bag.

  1. Fold the top casing of the pillow slip down to the inside about 2" (usually fold the doubled material section in half). Press and sew the edge down.
  2. Measure down the pillow case 18 1/2 " and cut off the excess pillow case. 
  3. Turn the pillow case inside out and sew across the bottom. Sew the raw edge seam allowance with a zigzag stitch.
  4. Fold the bottom corners into a triangle shape and mark a line of 6" to form a boxed bottom and sew across this line.
  5. At the top, on the inside still, measure 3 1/2" in from the edge and place a mark there. Repeat in from the other edge and repeat on the opposite side.
  6. Handles: From the left over pillow slip material cut off two 4" strips. Open up the one end and measure a 26" length. Cut.
  7. Fold the strip in half lengthwise with the right side in. Press. Sew down the length. Repeat with the other 4" X 26" length of fabric. 
  8. Turn tubes inside out. Press. 
  9. Zigzag the 4 raw edges at the ends of the handles.
  10. Place the handles on the inside of your marks, on the top edge of the bag. Place them about 1 1/4" down. Pin and sew in an X pattern to secure. One handle goes on one side of the bag and repeat. Be sure to check you don't twist the handles before pinning.
  11. Turn your bag to the outside and you are done. 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Why I Love the Skimmerhorn Mountains

Watercolour by Eileen Gidman 
Skimmerhorn Mountains #4

The Skimmerhorn Mountains have a commanding presence on one side of the valley where I reside. The clouds curl around their tops, the sunsets bathe them in colour and snow makes the crevice's show beautifully. In the fall, old timers will say, when the first snow stays on the top of them, there will be snow on the valley floor in three weeks. Ohhh... and a ridge walk on the top, in wildflower season, fulfills my soul.  

 Watercolour by Eileen Gidman
Skimmerhorn Mountains # 2 

Due to the vertical nature of these mountains they can be quite a challenge to paint. Normally, I paint them on location but these last two weeks I have painted these watercolours from my photographs in the studio. 

Watercolour 'card size' by Eileen Gidman
Skimmerhorn Mountains #1

To warm up, I first painted this small watercolour. A few people have commented they liked this particular shade of blue with the red of the barn. If I recall correctly it is a combination of a Maimeri Blue, 'Bluegreen' colour and a Windsor Newton, 'Cobalt Blue' colour. 

Watercolour by Eileen Gidman
Skimmerhorns #3

This farm is so dear, I decided to paint it again but larger and because an artist can move mountains, I did paint another part of the Skimmerhorn Range behind it. 

Dye Painted Fabric 'card size' by Eileen Gidman
Skimmerhorn Mountains

The two mediums I work in (watercolour and dyes) often contain similar images and here you see the Skimmerhorns again but on fabric.

Friday, February 4, 2022

One of the Biggest Failures in Fabric Painting I ever had, was this Week

Along with a disappointing fabric painting failure (end of the post), there were some wonderful successes in fabric painting this week.

This panel was first painted lightly then soda-soaked once again and dried. Here I have lightly sketched in some 4 X 6" images (card size) in preparation for the second painting session.

What the same panel looks like two and half hours later. As I am painting with thickened dyes, the colours will be less vibrant once the panel is washed. 

These chickadees, I am so in love with them even before the thread sketching. 

There was this one little piece of linen left at the end of a painting day and I used up all the little bits of mixed colours left-over to create this piece. A blue heron stitched in the right hand corner should look perfect. Linen, I must dye paint it more often!

Watercolour painting.

This was from the first life drawing/painting session in 2022. The pleated skirt was so fun to paint.


This panel was painted in 2 x 3" images. Not very often do I veer from using the very best of fabrics for painting with dyes. Mercerized cotton from Dharma Trading is my favorite and is always reliable. However, I found this scrap of light canvas which I soda soaked and painted. Well there is three or so wasted hours as the dye did not make a good chemical bond with the fabric and much of it washed out. It was a very stiff canvas and must have a sizing on it that is not easily washed away. Grrr... Lesson learnt.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

January 2022 in the Studio


January is perfect for lots of painting time. Prepared fabric is being painted with thickened dyes to form a permanent bond once cured. 

A panel this size takes 3-4 hours to paint.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Dyed velvet on Brooches

In late summer, when it looked like the local Christmas Art and Craft Market was going ahead this year, I made the decision to participate as a vendor. Some of you might recall that I was a vendor at Quilt markets in the past, mostly with larger pieces of hand (dye) painted cotton panels.  It had surprised me how much making this one decision to attend this Art Market has lead me in several new artistic directions.

The last few months have been a whirlwind of creativity and when an artist gets in the zone, it can be very exciting. Oh yes and sometimes exhausting, as one creative idea begets another. During this time I also started taking webinars to learn more about selling online. I am reminded of one webinar about online promotion when the instructor stated "Oh yes, you artists need to roll things out in stages as you generate a lot of ideas." It was relieving to hear I am not the only artist with this problem. Anyway, for this Market, I will be introducing textile art brooches featuring hand dyed velvet details and thread sketching for the first time.

'Warm Fuzzies' -bee brooches 

Aren't these cute, if I do say so myself? In person, you get to see the simmer of the yellow and gold velvet of the bees. The larger brooches are 2" x 3" and the smaller ones are 2" x 2"

The brooches attached to their packaging. The cattails turn out really well. It seemed important to have a variety to brown velvets for them. 

Backgrounds: With this second batch of floral brooches, I've began experimenting more with the backgrounds. Leaving them lighter so the velvet details show up. On two in the photo, I started with a plain canvas background and I like the way the thread sketching shows up on them. What do you think?

One can't go to a Christmas Market without taking some Christmas/winter cards so here are a few from the 'Outdoor Life in the Kootenay's' series. The thread sketched snowshoes are very popular, if time consuming. These cards are made to fit a mat or frame opening of 5 X 7" so they are easily framed and being original work they make a special gift in themselves. 

Reds and Greens: One always needs a few of those types of cards for customers. Did I mention also a new item I've been creating with my textile art is journals? Well that will have to wait for another post. Take care everyone!