Thursday, August 29, 2013

Guest Textile Artist - Jayne Himsl

Wall Hanging by Jaynie Himsl
I was so pleased to see this textile piece this week! This wonderful wall hanging was designed and created by Jaynie Himsl, a Canadian Textile artist. I am pleased to say Jaynie used one of my hand (dye) painted fabrics along with 2 complementary blocks she drew with Inktense pencil crayons.
Jaynie does other lovely work depicting the prairies. You can see some of her work here:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Two People Dye One Piece of Fabric

'Pink, Purple Petunias'
Completed Textile Piece - Dyed fabric over-painted with thickened dyes.
Our neighbour asked me this week, "Where do you get your inspiration?"  As artists we are often asked this question. I think people are genuinely interested in the creative process an artist embarks upon. I know I am intrigued when I see a textile piece or a painting that grabs my attention. In this post, I will try to give a glimpse into my process.
This summer, I traded some fabric with another textile artist half way across Canada. Jackie in Ontario, sent me one of her beautifully hand dyed pieces of fabric. I love it. Do you see the bits of light yellow dancing through it?

This is how the design process starts, at least with this piece. I set the fabric on the back of my couch and several times over a period of days, I sat opposite and stared at it, turning it all four ways. I was sewing clothing last week so my thoughts turned to bias binding for trimming a blouse. Also, I had recently been sewing pillows so I thought about making one of my textured pillows. I saw flowers around those bits of yellow, "Could I cut out flowers and applique them onto something?" I walked upstairs with the fabric to iron out the wrinkles from travelling through Canada Post and as I set it on the ironing board, I looked out the window and the 'aha moment' happened. There were the exact colours in  a row of petunias.

 "Could I over-paint it using thickened dyes? There is quite a bit of white so light greens could be added and the pink and purple when over-dyed with green would show a variety of least I think they would." I firmly believe you have to risk a little to move ahead with what you do creatively so I decided to go for it.

In The Studio
 I took a few photos with my I Pad for reference. A wonderful tool for an artist, allowing the use of their own reference photos without having to print them.
A Few Flowers Sketched In and the First Drop of Dye Added

Green Thickened Dye Being Painted

Details to the Flowers Being Added

The Painting is Done and is Ready for Curing
*note the when washed, the piece will be slightly lighter so be sure to apply the darks, darker than you think.
 So that was a bit of what I, as an artist, thought about when creating my part of this piece. Not that the other ideas and many others wouldn't have worked as well or perhaps better with this fabric but each artist puts themselves into their work and so this is the direction I chose. Is your creative process similar?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Watercolour Lesson - 'Petunias in a Mason Jar'

Watercolour Study of 'Petunias in a Mason Jar'

Start by wetting the jar an flowers. After the shine goes off the paper, drop in some light colour.

Once dry, paint in stems and identify where the leaves are. Start to define the focal area of the painting -the petunias that will have the most detail.

Negative paint to leave the lights of the jar. Be sure to simplify what you see so you don't get overwhelmed. Apply light washes of varied pinks and purples for flowers. Add dark centers. Create a suggestion of the jar sitting on something.

Add medium and darker tones for jar detail. Add more colour to the stems and leaves. Add details to flowers - paint some veins positively (darker) and some negatively (paint around the lights). Leave less detail in the blooms that are farther away to create the illusion of distance.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Portrait Project - Janet Mayfield, Janet Pearson, Leah Weinstein, Sheila Falle, Catherine Aitkens

Janet Mayfield  - 'Radiant'
Fabric and Paper
Janet writes, "This piece was done during a time of curiosity about other ways to be artistic. The idea of getting to "draw" and sew all at the same time sounded great to me.
Creating your own face out of bits of fabric lets you release any hope of mirror images and open up to whatever appears before you. I like this textile version of me."
At the show opening, Janet said she has sewn all her life in what she described as “a utilitarian  way”, making clothing for her family and things for the home. She wanted to increase her knowledge of methods of sewing artistically and Linda Cole encouraged that. Janet stated, she let her love of fabrics guide her in making the self-portrait. Starting with a black and white photograph, she began creating  realistically and then through the process began to let go and be more in tune with herself. The elephant symbolizes her time in Kenya and her love for animals. Butterflies and bees are a part of her life as well as bald eagles and theses are shown on the wall hanging. The fabric with the horse motif she just loved and there is a part of this fabric where the motifs come together as a heart that symbolizes her and her husband.
What she loved the most was doing free motion stitching without a pressure foot. Having no plan, she says she got out of her own way and let this woman show. Isn't that what we all wish we could do when free motion stitching?
Janet Pearson - 'Snowboarding Makes Me Happy'
I enjoyed getting a one on one interpretation of Janet's Self-Portrait. She approached it in a unique way that comes from her love of photography. Her piece are several photos depicting herself throughout her life. Janet described her purest happiest state is when she is snowboarding. The printing on the wall hanging says 'Snowboarding makes me Happy', and it demands attention.
The wall hanging is rich with added fabrics and mementos that relate to her life. There is a photo of her as a bridesmaid and beside it is fabric from her own wedding. There is Guatemalan fabric, a button that is in one of the photos of Janet. There is a pants pocket sewn onto the wall hanging and that particular pocket is from the jeans she is wearing in one of the photos.  She was a tree planter and attached is an emblem from her tree planting work clothes. Several fabrics included are from sewing projects with her three girls. Janet is carrying on the tradition of teaching her girls to sew as her mother taught her.
Leah Weinstein 'Family Eyes'
Leah wasn't able to be at the show opening, but this is what she included with her wall hanging which was striking in it's simplicity.
"Leah Weinstein was born in Vancouver BC, and grew up in Courtenay on Vancouver Island. She received her diploma in fine art (sculpture) from Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design in 2001, and later moved to Nelson. She received her BFA in 2008, and has recently returned to Vancouver to pursue a master of applied arts degree at Emily Carr University.
After making her first quilt in 2001, quilts quickly became the focus of Leah's work, both as aesthetic explorations and utilitarian objects. More recently, Leah has returned to her interests in sculpture, exploring the relationship between art and utility in her graduate work. Influenced by handcrafted textiles, portable shelter, and minimalist sculpture, Leah continues to explore themes of materiality and embodiment through her work, whether quilted or sculptural. The self-portrait created for this show, titled Family Eyes, explores the internal experience of family connections through the traditional medium of the quilt."
Sheila Falle - 'Self-Portrait'
Not Quilted - Conceptual
This piece was elegant in it's design and use of fabrics. When I met Sheila, it seemed to suit her. At the opening, Sheila told us that she had been away from  working with fabric for several months when she started on her self-portrait.  When she did start, she was surprised what did come out. I would love to have being a part of her design process. Very interesting I am sure.
She told us, that this piece will hold a journal rather than be shown as a wall hanging. Sheila stressed how important it is to do a self-portrait as it allows the person doing it to examine not only how others see you but also how you see yourself.

Catherine Aitkens
'Me For Now'
I am sorry I don't have a photograph of this piece but this is what Catherine wrote about her wall hanging.

"When I first heard of this project, I came up with all sorts of images of how I could portray myself in a self portrait quilt. I could show many facets of me to the viewer. But as I started working on it, filling in the background, I saw me moving further and further away from the central focus. I came to realize that my subconscious was directing the quilt's development.
I am a product of what I do; the who of me is defined by the what of me. So this project summarizes parts of me perfectly. I am a quilter and a wildlife photographer. I live in the moment here in the Kootenays. I am never interested in explaining who I am,  I let my work reveal my person.
As I continued working on the quilt, I noticed that the mountain area is energy and flurry, with lots of animals and landscape detail. The lower half is quieter and less crowded. One part represents my energy and excitement. One part explores my need for calm and meditation. Even the subjects show the same characteristics - the energy of the eagle and bears balanced by the calm of the loons and herons. The division of the quilt into two parts is like yin and yang, my outward showing face and my inner, hidden self.
Upon reflection, though, I can reassure myself that very little has really been revealed. I have kept myself truly in the background -safe from inquisitive eyes.
And if you get a feeling that the quilt isn't quite finished, you're right. Because who I am isn't finished."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Portrait Project - Carole Hughes; Heather Gates; Jeannie Brown; Rielle Oswald

These self portraits in Textile are a part of a show currently showing at the Langham Gallery in Kaslo, BC.
'Self Portrait' - Carol Hughes
This is what Carol wrote about her self portrait in textile:
'As you may have already guessed, my favorite color is purple, so I’ve dressed my portrait in a purple top. I love the green contrasting with purple and brought out these colors as the dominate colors.

I love to spend summers in my garden, surrounded by my kitties and flowers of every description. From a young age, I’ve enjoyed searching for old items to display as art in my garden, including an old watering can. In winters, I spend my spare time in my sewing room. I love watercolor quilting pictures, but have never tried to put one together, so I made a watercolor background, and yep, got a couple out of place…. But, it plays on the garden theme with colors I enjoy.

How can anyone live in Kaslo and not love the mountain peaks covered in snow? I grew up in the shadow of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, so mountains have always been my love. Who doesn’t love the pink sky with the sun just going down?

I think this portrait has captured who I am and what I enjoy, putting me permanently into the picture.'
I didn't get the pleasure of meeting with Carol but I feel from her art piece I have learned a bit about her. Don't you feel the same. These self portraits are powerful. 
'Self Portrait' - Heather Gates
Heather wrote this about her textile piece:
'My love for sewing began when I was a little girl making Barbie clothes on an old Singer crank sewing machine.  I don't remember actually playing with the dolls, only creating clothes for them.   

In high school I took every sewing class available to me.  As soon as I saved up enough money I bought myself a sewing machine and a serger.  After graduating from high school I went to the University of Victoria and received my Bachelor of Science in biology, though I never lost my love for sewing.  During university I discovered quilting and developed quite a passion for it.   

After many years of quilting for the fun of it people started commissioning me to make quilts for them.  Then in 2006, with the birth of my daughter, I rediscovered the joy of designing and sewing outfits.  From there my fabric obsession grew into a business consisting of kids' clothes, quilts, postcard quilts, fabric bowls, etc.
I take great joy in creating and sewing fun and unique items.  Much of my inspiration comes from the beautiful fabrics that are available today.'

When I met Heather at the opening of the show she told me that she is used to being on the other side of the camera. Heather talked of being a busy mother and wife so that she found with regards to this self-portrait, she worked best under the pressure of the show deadline. Hidden in the stitching, Heather placed the names of her children and her husband. I loved that.

'Self Portrait' - Jennie Brown 
Jeannie's self-portrait is a silhouette depicted in a cameo. But what is so interesting about this piece is that the face is felted and sculptural. This photo doesn't begin to capture the complexity of the piece. Jeannie used wool, synthetic fabric and felting material in creating her self-portrait. She states she has also done a three dimensional felted portrait of her husband. Wouldn't that be interesting to see.

'Essence' - Rielle Oswald
This three dimensional piece, hung from the ceiling, had quite a presence in the gallery. Not working in three dimension, myself, I found it fascinating. I did not get a chance to talk to Rielle but I found myself wondering how her process developed. The face looked to be molded and painted which I can imagine doing but I would have liked to have found out how she decided where to go from there. Impressive creating.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Watercolour Art Lesson in the Park with the TAPS Group

The Millennium Park, the most gorgeous setting I've ever had for teaching watercolour. The shade of the pavilion kept the TAP ladies, their two helpers and myself comfortably out of the sun. 

We are surrounded by so many flowers, that the subject of roses cascading over a white fence seemed perfect.

It was a fairly focussed lesson to get a painted card completed in the morning. I am thrilled with each one's result. Have a look below. All are delightfully different.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Beginner Painting Lesson in the Park

Getting a lesson ready for tomorrow. Leaving the light values in a watercolour painting can be challenging for beginners so I thought to select a picture where the white could be masked out.
The chosen subject matter has to be easy enough to complete for beginners, yet result in a painting/card that is pleasing to create for the participants. This photo I took of roses cascading over a fence at Kaslo, BC, should be just right.

Choosing a simple subject for a 1 1/2 hour lesson for beginners.

Mask the fence in order to easily leave the whites. Having several thicknesses of tape makes this process easier. Sponge on some pink and spritz it. Add dark to light green to the foreground.

Paint in some leaves using at least a medium and a dark green.

Add the background and when dry remove the tape.

Add some flowers and leaves draping over the fence.

Add details to the roses, grasses in front of the fence and shadows to the white of the fence. A card is completed. I hope it goes as well tomorrow at the park.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

How to Paint with Dyes

Textile Card

Many of my frameable textile cards and several pillows from my 'Artisan Pillow Series' found new homes this weekend!!! We enjoyed the people at the Invermere Market and it thrills me to think of my artwork in my customer's homes.
Highlights for me this weekend were:
  • having repeat customers from the weekend before.
  • knowing some artwork was going to New Brunswick and some to Ontario.
  • having a younger couple purchase original artwork because she "loves birds".
  • not having fabric blowing everywhere and business cards blowing down the street this weekend.
  • having one of the purchased pillows going on a new couch!
People were asking about the process of painting with dyes so here goes. First I wash the fine quality cotton fabric I purchase with a special soap. Then I soak the fabric in a solution of soda ash and water, dry it and tape it onto a Plexiglas support. Often, I first create a sketch and using a light source transfer the sketch to the fabric by drawing with thickened black dye that is in a bottle with a nib. After curing that fabric in plastic overnight, I paint it with dyes I have mixed from powder and thickened with sodium alginate/agar which comes from seaweed. As you can see from the photo, I use Styrofoam plates to mix the colours needed. After I have painted the image, I again wrap it in plastic to cure for 24 hours in a warm place. The fabric is then washed in hot water with a soap that stops the dye from bleeding back into the fabric and then rinsed well in cold water. I always dry it on the line or iron it dry. If I am satisfied with the results, it is then ready for framing or sewing.  
Reference Photo; Soda Soaked Fabric, Thickened dyes.

'Prairie Home'
Hand (dye) Painted Textile