Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bird Studies in Watercolour

Red-Breasted Nuthatches: Bird Studies in Watercolour
Red-breasted nuthatches are so special at my home as we don't commonly see them. They like coniferous forest but unless we are feeding them, they tend to be flitting high in the trees.
I have never seen them in a grouping such as this but after I painted the one, I thought I would try and paint one in another orientation. Well they looked a little silly so I decided to go for it and created a background including a third nuthatch to complete an L composition.
I am committed this winter to painting more varieties of birds so this will involve more studies. Next time I will think of the composition before I start as well as the bird's nature and habitat. Check here for more information about the red-breasted nuthatch.  One fact mentioned on that site, is that the nuthatches place resin outside and inside the tree hole entrance into their nests, perhaps as a deterrent to predators. The mom and dad nuthatches enter by diving into the nest. I think I have seen this bird a little disheveled with a few feathers stuck together!
Check back because I am not only painting nuthatches, I am carving one in basswood. Be patient because that is going to take me a little more time.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Experimenting With Fabric for Dye Painting

Hand Dyed Cotton with Free Motion Sketching
Last post I was experimenting using cotton fabric that had been given me instead of my usual wonderfully consistent fabric I buy from Dharma Trading. Well the results were less than perfect but I will be able to use 4 of the 6 images. The pinks seemed to do okay but the blacks and greys faded terribly.
Applying Pellon to Back of Hand Painted Fabrics
I am applying a heavy weight Decorator Pellon cut in 4 1/2 X 6 1/2" rectangles to the back of the fabric. These textile art pieces will be made into cards.
Supplies Needed
The supplies I use for free motion sketching are: an embroidery needle; black polyester thread, gloves with grips; free motion sewing machine foot and the stiffened fabric. You can see below I have an additional table flush with my sewing machine bed for ease of movement.
Beginning with Outside Edge
I begin with stitching all around just over a 1/4" in from the edge. When I cut the fabric after the pellon was applied, I added a 1/4" to each edge without pellon. This will be frayed before applying to the card front. Oh, it's fun to be drawing with thread again!
The lesson today, I guess, is that it is fun to experiment with other fabrics, but if you are looking for specific results when dye painting, go with fabric from a reputable company made especially for dyeing.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mixing Dye Concentrates

Today it felt wonderfully comforting to be painting with dyes again having been away from it from it for a couple of weeks. How did I managed to get red dye on the underside of both forearms? A couple of days ago I mixed new dye concentrates as it is important to remix dye concentrates every 5 weeks or so to maintain full strength of the colours. As you can see, I mix only a ¼ to ½ cup of each colour so that my dyes are always fresh.
When I am ready to paint with the dyes, as I was today, I place 1 – 2 tsp of thickener (sodium alginate mixed with urea water) in a small container and add the same amount of the dye concentrate to it. As the thickened dyes doesn’t last as long as the liquid dye concentrates, I remix them every 5 days or more often if I run out. The yellow seems to run out before the other colours even though I thicken twice the amount of it. Check at DharmaTrading, for supplies and information about the dyeing process.

Just to warm up, I decided to paint 6 small images for cards. The details will come with the free motion stitching after the pieces are washed. I have tested this fabric before, having been given it by my cousin. It doesn’t take the dye as well as the fabric I buy from Dharma Trading and I was actually going to give it away but then I got such rave reviews about the texture of this fabric in the pieces I dyed previously, that I decided to give it another chance. Today I was sure to add a couple of layers of dye, letting it soak in between layers. This may help to keep the colours strong. Dyeing it a second time would also give added vibrancy. Currently the piece is curing at 70 degrees for at least 24 hours before rinsing.  I'll let you know what happens.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Watercolour Teaching for Community Projects

What fun we had with this worthy project. Brenda Silkie of the Creston Rotary group, conceived the idea for this fund raiser which will in part benefit the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors in Creston, BC. She approached me (Eileen Gidman), to oversee creating artwork with a group of seniors and special needs high school students for the purpose of printing Christmas cards for sale. As you can see from the poster the cards are printed and ready to be purchased.
If you are teaching a group of people not all that familiar with watercolour painting, I found it was best to meet and work on some basic painting skills. Then once you know the participants' abilities and especially their strengths, it is easier to prepare sessions that set them up for success.
Look at all the wonderful watercolour paintings, now made into cards that the participants created. The four tree and snow paintings, sold together in a set, have a cohesive look yet are individually different. In preparation for the session, I sketched out the images, each slightly different and masked out the white of the birch trees with tape. That way the group could make the most of the time we had together by focussing on painting. We worked through the process as a group but as you can see there was much opportunity for individuality.
The poinsettia was also sketched prior to the class but with no additional instruction, this participant used her own colour sense. The lime pot, added at the end, made this painting jump to life.
The highly creative Christmas tree ornament was painted by J. from the local high school. To prepared ahead of class, I masked out the circle with low stick shelf paper. The participant applied colour in an outward motion, then removed the masking and designed and painted the tree ornament. Many participants expressed their joy at painting and I observed several heart warming interactions between the two groups. Don't you love community projects!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Christmas Card for 2013

Watercolour on Paper 2013
Christmas Card image developed for a recent workshop

Hand (dye) Painted Canvas 2010
The following two images are started in a similar way, as the birch trees were masked out first with narrow width masking tape. This technique worked both with painting in watercolour on paper as well as when painting with thickened dyes on fabric. Try not to place the tape too straight and evenly. Add a little sliver on the bottom trunk of the tree to thicken it. This is a time saving trick and tape can be used in many other masking situations.
After the background it painted, remove the tape and add in some details. The watercolour paint on the birch trees was applied with about a half inch piece of credit card. Leaving whites is one of the most difficult things to do when painting in watercolour and dyes. It requires planning ahead as the white of the fabric has to be saved rather than painting on a white paint/dye after the rest is completed.
What do you use masking tape for in painting and dyeing?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Quilt Canada Penticton Story of Reconnecting after 39 Years

Larch trees turing Golden in Autumn
The following is a story of reconnecting with someone after 39 years. This happened due to both of us attending Quilt Canada in Penticton this spring. Notice, I didn't say we met at Quilt Canada, Penticton. What actually happened was during one of the rare times I was away from my booth where I was selling my hand painted fabrics, someone came by who used to be from the town where I live. My husband talked with her and got her family's name. She did not recognize my married name.
At home, when I was going through the names from the draw that I had at my booth, I saw a name I recognized from 39 years ago. Jean and I knew each other during high school. I emailed her and she emailed back. Then when she was visiting family here this summer we got together with our spouses. It seemed we had some things in common, not the least of which was quilting!  Jean showed me some pictures of her quilts on her ipad and I showed her some of my hand painted fabrics and quilted wall hangings.
This fall, we met again when she was back here caring for family. Interestingly, my sister also met someone at Quilt Canada from high school and no, we didn't grow up in Penticton. I wonder how many other quilters renewed friendships as a result of attending Quilt Canada?
Here is an interesting recipe Jean shared with me. I haven't had a chance to try it yet but it sounds tasty.

Squash Icing – Jean
1/8 large buttercup squash cooked
1/2 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
2  tbsp or to taste maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
Dash of salt

I melted the honey and coconut butter but not the butter and blended the heck out of it, cooled it outside,(this was the end of October ) and spread / poured over cake.  Enough for a 9 x 13" cake.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Free Motion Stitching 20 new Textile Cards

My Personal Favorite
I love the colours and its simplicity.
These cards were created by first hand painting on cotton fabric. They were then free motion stitched, all with original images.

Twenty new Textile Cards
now available at Creston Card and Stationery

Bear in Stitching
This bear was the most challenging image of this set cards. Stitching is not like drawing because I have only so much control when moving the fabric under the sewing machine, therefore I find it important to simplify the images. After placing the bear, I couldn't resist adding the log cabin in the background to further enhance the wilderness scene. Too fun.

A Little Whimsy

Wildlife in the Golden Fields of Fall

Pottery Pot by Doris now graces my sewing room
The design of this little clay pot by my friend Doris is very sweet. There are  three long horizontal shaped legs on the bottom which is totally unique but  very stable. It seemed the perfect addition to hold my drawing tools and seam ripper when I free motion stitch on my sewing machine.
The clay pot was created, I know because I asked, by a slab method and stamped with hand carved stamps. The stamps are typically made either in clay or Plaster of Paris. The glaze was a happy accident as something was left out in the mixing process but the glaze turned out this lovely green. Now known as 'Green Man Green'!
There will be a few pots of a similar design available in Creston, BC, November 16th at the Mudder's Pottery Sale.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sketching with your Sewing Machine

Coleus Plants Sketched in Pencil Crayon and Stitched onto Hand Dyed Fabric
Last week it was so much fun using recent sketches from a trip for reference when free motion stitching on my hand painted fabric that I decided to flip through more of my sketch books for additional ideas. To get started, I laid out about a dozen card size pieces of hand painted fabric in various colour combinations so I could see them as I was going through the sketches. Sometimes it was quite evident which image would work on which fabric and sometimes it was a leaf of faith.

This Sketch was done while riding the train into Rome from the airport several years ago. Part of it was used to look at when adding the tall leaning weeds to this autumn coloured textile. 

This Spirea plant has never looked more beautiful than this fall. Although the gold and the reds are reversed on the fabric to what is in the photo, I thought the colours would remind us of autumn.

Gail, my friend created this beautiful card. Isn't it a reminder of the beauty of autumn. How did she attach that delicate leaf to the burlap fabric? I thought of asking, but sometimes things are even more special when they remain a mystery. What a treasure.
 Simplifying a sketch of pansies worked for this fabric that was actually painted with pansies in mind. As I was painting with liquid dyes, the edges are diffused therefore the stitching helps to bring definition.

This piece was inspired from a sketch of cormorants sitting on top of pilings with their wings outstretched to dry them. It feels great to not only be using my sketches in further art projects but flipping through the sketch books evokes so many memories. If you like to sketch and like to free motion stitch, try combining them in your own creative way.