Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Watercolour: Kaslo Series

Kaslo Series: Title???
watercolour by me, Eileen Gidman
7 1/2" x 11"
contact me at for purchase information
The fruit tree blossoms are always so jaw dropping gorgeous in the Kootenays at time of year. Kaslo, is a little gem on Kootenay Lake and as we were driving north from the village, last year in May, I called out to my husband to stop. I just had to spend a few minutes there soaking up the scene for future painting. An artist doesn't just use their sense of sight when developing a painting. I can still sense the aloneness on this quiet highway and feel the warmth of that spring day. I wish you could have been there as it was breath taking.

It's funny I didn't think to paint the scene this winter but when blossom time rolled around again, my thoughts returned to those memories and I felt compelled to put brush to paper. 
'Kootenay Lodge and Farm' is an obvious choice for a title, but I wonder what the name of that mountain is? Do any of you a suggestion for a title?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Pathetic Free Motion Stitched Tree

Oh, this tree needs some improvements! I've fallen into a common mistake of drawing or in this case free motion stitching how I think a tree looks and not actually how it is. What is to be done???

Poplar tree, Larch tree (upper left), abandon farm house

Go back to the basics and sketch some trees on location. What a lovely couple of hours of sketching I had with my friend Doris outside of Creston, BC. As the poplar tree trunks were so white, I darkened the background to make them stand out. 
Maple Tree
This maple tree in my yard was transplanted from a volunteer sapling from my mother's yard at least 18 years ago.
Birch Tree with Cedar Tree
The detail insert of the birch tree seemed necessary to show the peeling bark.

When I look back at the free motion stitched tree at the beginning of this post, I see that a bit more variance to the tree trunk shape, a widening at the base, some highlights and some finer twigs would all provide a more realistic looking tree. If all the leaves aren't out on the trees where you live, it is a good time to get out sketching.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Free Motion Stitching Tutorial: from Mug Rugs to Tool Mats?

Mug Rug: 'Pussy Willows for Spring'
created by me, Eileen Gidman
using a piece of my hand dyed fabric (pussy willows)
This last 2 weeks I have made several mug rugs. Click here for the first post about them. Mug Rug Tutorial . They seem to be a perfect gift for a woman but it got me thinking what could I make for the guys? A couple of years ago I gave my husband some scraps for shop rags. I was surprised to find that he was using a practice piece of free motion stitching that I included in those scraps as a mat for laying the tools out that he was using for a project. Just last week, I saw he was still using it so I thought why not make a tool mat and practice my free motion stitching at the same time. Here is what I did.

 I cut two pieces of lightweight denim about 13 X 15" as well as a piece of thin batting the same size. After sandwiching the batting between the wrong sides of the denim fabric, I pinned it in several places.

 First I stitched the feature box in the upper right section and left it until I had warmed up a little with some free motion stitching practice.

 Details of free motion stitching.

Tool Mat?
'Mountain Bluebird'
12 1/2" X 15"
When I felt ready, I stitched the bird by first lightly sketching it on the fabric, in pencil, from a reference photo on my Ipad. You could just as easily print off a copyright free photo and trace on a design if you are not used to drawing.
Then I continued sewing free motion designs. Yes, there are a lot of patterns available for free motion stitching on-line but I preferred to let my hands go with the ideas I thought up. Before starting a new design, I outlined a box with a straight stitch. Most of these boxes were just eyeballed to keep the artistic nature of the piece.

The backside worked out fairly well too. As it is going to the shop, I didn't bind it but simply anchored the edges with 3 lines of straight stitches. There you have it, a nice little gift for the men in your life and some free motion stitching practice to boot.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fabric Painting on T Shirts is Fun

Painting on t shirts is fun for all levels of painters, at least if our Friday Painting Group is any indication. Everyone came away with wearable art for themselves or as gifts.
Golden makes a product GAC 900 that when added to acrylic paints turns it into fabric paint. It is very easy to use, just add it 1:1 with the acrylic paint and after the fabric has dried 24 hours heat set it on the back side of the fabric with an iron, 3-5 minutes, in a well ventilated area . After that, the fabric is washable. Check here for details about Golden's GAC 900.
Here I masked the fence with narrow masking tape strips. Even though the paint bled under the tape when the roses were spritzed with water, it still gives the impression of a fence with roses draping over. Bonnie also used this spritzing technique after sponging on purple and mauve lilac blooms. Unfortunately I don't have a photo of that shirt but it turned out really well. If you try lilacs, remember to leave some of the white of the shirt showing through for highlights on the blossoms.

Stamps were made by cutting a sheet of craft foam into shapes and gluing them to a block of wood. Place your fabric on a solid surface and in the case of a t shirt, put a piece of plastic between the fabric layers to prevent colour getting through to the back of the t shirt. Brush acrylic paint with the GAC 900 medium in it onto the stamp and using firm pressure transfer the paint onto the fabric.

 With a very painterly approach, Joyce painted this t shirt for Bonnie. Gorgeous!

Linda painted t shirts for her granddaughters. What was it they wanted on their shirts? Well 'monster girls' of course. For another post about painting   t shirts, click here.

Could quilting fabric be created using this technique? Although I haven't done it myself having strictly been painting with dyes for quilters, I can see from the sample above that yes you could create one of a kind fabric to use in quilting projects. Just know that the hand of the fabric is a bit stiffer than when painting with dyes but it could still be sewn and would be especially appropriate for wall hangings.
I have a question for you quilters. I plan on experimenting with gelli plate printing (monoprinting) and I am wondering for those of you that love original fabric but don't want to create it yourself, are you interested in original fabric painted or monoprinted with fabric paint?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Daffodils Painted with Dyes

Look, here I am painting when I should be cleaning up the perennial bed! Actually, I had done a little trimming before grabbing my paints to try and capture the freshness of this spring composition of violet and yellow-orange croci, snowdrops and a daphne bush. What a heady fragrance that daphne has.

In the studio this week the textile card tops got some free motion stitching.

The following are a few of the new selection of textile cards for spring, now available at Creston Card and Stationery in Creston, B.C. If you are looking for a card for spring, email me at with the types of motifs you are interested in. The textile cards are $10.00 plus shipping in the US and Canada. Happy spring!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mountain Bluebirds - Something unexpected happened this winter.

Something quite unexpected happened this winter when I started participating in an online group that weekly paints a different 'colourful bird'. I have always known I like to paint what I encounter in my life, but I was surprised to find out how much I didn't like painting birds I was unfamiliar with. I didn't feel any attachment to these birds that were posted each week for us to paint and after the first couple of attempts, I gave up and went back to painting nuthatches, chickadees, crows, bluebirds and wrens, all birds I have studied and understand.

What birds are around your home this spring? Walking my dog this morning a Pileated Woodpecker surprised us by dropping big chunks of dead cotton tree bark and yesterday in the same area, a chestnut back chickadee landed very close to me. Wow, were it's chestnut feathers ever fluffy and the brown colour rich.

'Mountain Bluebird in the Kootenays'
watercolour by Eileen Gidman 
The mountain Blue Bird was painted from a photo given to me by a birder from Bonners Ferry, Idaho. As I am not a great photographer, I really appreciate when birders give me permission to use their photographs as reference material. Thank you Deb.
Little carved wooden birds
'Cardinal, Mountain Bluebird, and Chickadee'
I also had some fun days this winter carving simple wooden bird ornaments.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mug Rug: Quilting a Small Personalized Gift

When my friend and fine artist Liz Lund told me she was making 'mug rugs', I didn't even know what she was talking about. Here is a link to Liz's website. 
The idea of a mini quilt just big enough for a cup and a spoon or a cup and a treat, fascinated me. Each one seems to be made as a one of a kind work of art and as that is what I am all about, I had to try making some. The size seems to run from 4 X 6" to 6 X 10" and is usually rectangular in shape. As these mug rugs are being given as gifts, I wanted to make them personal.  

This mug rug is to be for D and here I have chosen one of my hand (dye) painted fabric pieces (4 1/2 X 6 1/2") that I normally use for my textile cards. This piece was selected to represent one of D's favorite hikes. The greenish blue is the colour of Lake Louise and the orange and yellow represent the time of year we hiked to the 'Golden Larches'.
I have started using a sew and flip method to add some pieced fabrics along one side. Colours I chose where in keeping with the autumn colours D wears and the yellow is to represent the sun she loves so much.

I have sewn a 2 1/2" folded binding around the perimeter, mitering the corners. I chose the print for the back in acknowledgement of D's commitment to teaching students pottery in the Creston Valley. 

With first careful pinning, I was then able to secure the back of the binding by edge stitching along the binding from the front side by machine. No hand stitching involved. Yea!

I hope D will enjoy this Mug Rug in Her Studio

Mug Rug For Hiker S that Enjoys Wild Flower Identification

Another Mug Rug Started
Mug rugs, little works of art to enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Winter Wren in Watercolour

The winter wrens are singing! My dog and I were walking in the thick part of the forest near our house two days ago and this beautiful little bird was singing his song. He is ready for spring even if there is still some patches of snow in the deep woods. If you are as partial to winter wrens as I am, here is my post of a bird carving. My Carved Winter Wren
'Winterwren's Forest'
watercolour by me, Eileen Gidman
The technique I used for this painting was a bit different than my usual approach to watercolour. For this bird painting as shown below with the apple blossom painting, I penned in the darks using a nib pen and ink first. As a general rule, in my watercolour painting, I put the darks in last so doing the inking first was quite a fun change. Stage two was simply painting in several values of medium tones while leaving the lights.
For me a little change is invigorating, so if you paint watercolours you might want to give this technique a try. I used India Ink for the apple blossom and acrylic dark brown ink for 'Winter Wren's Forest'.  Be sure to let your ink dry thoroughly before adding watercolour if you want to avoid bleeding of the ink.  Check this link for 'Feather's on Friday'.

Spring is here and it will soon be apple blossom time in the beautiful Creston Valley.
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