Sunday, October 26, 2014

Motoring in the Maritimes

I could show you lots of pictures of lighthouses, seascapes, autumn coloured trees because believe me I took a lot of them but instead I have included a few of the artisan places we visited and a few other special things.
Fox: seen near Cape George on the way to Antigonish, NS
It puzzles me how this fox can look so groomed. My dog needs to be brushed to look this good.
Quilt Store at Port Hawksbury, NS
After crossing the Canso Causeway from the peninsula of Nova Scotia to Cape Breton Island, this quilt store is right there.
Sketching on Cape Breton at Baddeck
I didn't get as much sketching time as I would have liked on this road trip so I treasured the time I did get here at Baddeck, on Cape Breton Island.
Cape Breton, Cheticamp.
This Acadian area of Cape Breton is famous for it's hooked rugs. I purchased a piece created by a 91 year old that specialized in depicting chickadees and pussy willows. Who could resist that.
Rug Hooking
I was able to get a little demonstration right at the store. Either wool or strips of woolen material are used to create the art work.

Fabric Dyer near Mabou, Cape Breton.
Ann has a studio and store in her own home and it was busy when I was there with people from New York and Pennsylvania.  Click here to see Ann Schroeder's website.
Fiddle by the Sea Bed and Breakfast, Port Hood, Cape Breton
Click here for information about this wonderful B&B we stayed at in Cape Hood on Cape Breton Island .Alain entertained us with fiddle music after a wonderful crepe breakfast prepared by Denise. If you are planning a trip to Cape Breton, and you are interested in the autumn colours and Celtic Music, be sure to check out the Island wide festival Celtic Colours.
Farm on PEI
The soil on PEI was red! When we were there it was harvest time and we saw large trucks full of the famous PEI potatoes. The scenery was so idyllic with their picture perfect farms.
Confederation Bridge joining PEI with NB. It was a 12.8 km bridge
You couldn't help but feel just a little prouder of Canadians after seeing this engineering feat. If you want to read more about this bridge, click here .

Quilt Shop, Digby, NS
Shop owner Darlene D'Eon and myself. I am holding some NS tartan I purchased here. I have loved that tartan ever since I saw it a few years ago at Quilt Canada, Halifax.
 To check out Darlene's 'A Needle Pulling Thread Quilt Shop' in Digby click here. here

The fall colours that greeted us on our own garage when we got home!
Hopefully we can go back and spend more time someday.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Clotheslines of the Maritimes

Thrilling to see clothes hanging on the clotheslines seemed to be a way of life in the Maritimes. I have painted clotheslines in watercolour for sometime and for an explanation of why I do, click here .
As you can see in the photos below stick props are common in keeping the clothes up off the ground. This is not something I have really seen here in the western provinces of Canada. Who knew there would be regional differences to clothesline usage in Canada. Oh yes, I would love to paint my way across Canada and other countries, painting clotheslines and discovering the cultural differences of their usage.
For the post about my newest watercolour painting in my 'Clothesline Series' click here .

How could a hanging clothes not look beautiful in a setting like that!

Love  that stick prop.

Wonderful to see all laundry hung to dry. This was not in a back yard, but right on the edge of the road. Beautiful I thought.
My studio shelves are bare...
and the boxes are full ready for a move.
Everything is topsy-turvy in my studio and house right now so my posts might not be on their regular days for awhile. When we are unpacked I will post a photo of the new studio. Looking forward to setting up my dye pots.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Visiting a Quilt Store in Cape Breton

Anne (right) and I throwing autumn leaves
What a colourful day we had finding Anne Morrell Robinson's Quilts and Fiber Art Store on Cape Breton Island. I was told by a friend, before I left home in BC, that it would be a road trip into see Anne's Store but that it was well worth it. Isn't 'word of mouth' from quilters wonderful. Without the quilter's recommendation, would I have ventured so far a field to find this little gem of a store in the highlands of Cape Breton? On our map, Kingross, the region the store is located in, looks to be the end of the road into the Margaree Valley but our drive was well worth it. Click here for more information about the area.
I called stop at this stretch of the road. Can you see that each tree lined up along the side of the road was a different colour?
The drive in the Margaree Valley of Cape Breton had some of the most colourful autumn scenery we encountered on our visit to the Maritimes.
This photo was taken twice as the colourful maples grabbed my attention both driving into the store and on the way out.
It felt like we were going through a tunnel of yellow and orange just before turning into Anne's driveway.
Anne designed this quilt for a block of the month challenge for her quilt group. It will be made into a veteran's quilt for donation. When I said I always have trouble drawing maple leaves, Anne replied "I just ran out and picked up a maple leaf to draw from. I like that it is so representational of the area.
Visiting Anne (on the right) in her shop was that a treat. Not only were there quilts she had designed and created herself but I was surprised to find she had many other talents from creating original pieces of textile clothing, to felting brooches, to hooking traditional rugs with strips of wool fabric, to fabricating dolls.
Look for more photos of quilt shop visits, waterccolour sketches, and colourful landscapes of the Maritimes in upcoming posts. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Meeting Artisans in the Maritimes

Meeting new artists is the best. I don't mean talking about techniques, so much as just the sharing of what each other does, and how they got to be creating in the way that they do.   Recently I had the pleasure of spending time in Anne Morrel Robinson's studio on Cape Breton Island. I don't have my photos sorted yet but you can click here  to see Anne's Kingross Quilts website.  Also if you 'like' her facebook page, you can see a photo of us in her shop. I promise to take a photo of the felted brooch I got there and post it. Absolutely lovely. 

Meanwhile here are some photos of the 'mug rugs' I did this summer using the hand painted fabrics I created after taking a Oriental painting class from Linda Lashbrook. That reminds me I must also post a picture of a hooked mini rug I bought on my trip to the Maritimes with pussy willows on it, created in the Acadian tradition, by a 93 year old artisan. How inspiring is that.

Pussy Willows
Mug Rug

Mug Rug

This mug rug has gone to a new home. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bee Hives in watercolour

What happens when you paint on location? Well on this one morning, four artists headed out by 9 am in two vehicles because we had a lot of art stuff, including a very large dog. After a short drive to our first potential spot we all got out and after a very short time decided we all could find something to paint there. 

Our setups are surprisingly different. E painted out of the back of her car while she perched under the hatchback; K painted standing at an easel or sitting down on the bank of the ditch with the easel lowered if it was too windy; this morning B had a sketchbook and a chair; and I had my trusty small travel chair with my metal case with all my art supplies. An additional backpack held water for drinking and painting, a jacket, hat, sunglasses and it should have contained sunscreen. After I have my paper, backing board, drawing tools, brushes, water container, and paint palette out, I close up the case, set it beside me to lay out my artist supplies for easy access. I paint with the board resting on my knee and tilted up. 

I chose to move my self down a few hundred feet from the beautiful landscape view the other artists selected, as some wonderfully coloured beehives had caught my eye.  As I have a great concern for the honey bee, as they struggle with toxins in our environment, this collection of hives just drew me to come and paint them.

When B wandered up to first see what I was doing, she was surprised to see only dobs of colour where the hives were to be. On her second visit she was intrigued to see they had taken shape into boxes. Note not all the hives are represented clearly but the others have enough details, shaded sides and box handles that the grouping of them becomes believable as beehive colonies. The trees were not yellow yet but I was tired of green so I painted them in autumn colours. I did these after I painted the sky and the mountains. After painting the yellow leaves of the trees, the top edge was lightly sprayed with water to soften the edge.

Not all of the fence wires were drawn in as when I take in the view, my eyes don't focus on every line that is there. Although the fence was straight, I chose to tilt one post in, for variety. Sorry to the farmer who obviously took pride in a truly straight fence. Before I say it is done, I think I will add a little more detail to the trees and the two fence posts on the left. Then who knows? Anyways back to that morning, after about an hour and a half or perhaps two of pretty much silence, someone started shifting around and soon we are all noting we are feeling hungry. After a snack and tea we spent another half hour or so finishing up or starting new sketches before we all headed back to home base for lunch and in my case a quick nap. In the afternoon, we pretty much repeated the same routine. What a wonderful life. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Step by step completion of a plein air painting

Plein air painting in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains recently, I was able to spend a lovely afternoon along the side of a country road painting this amazing vista. There was only room for two of us artists as the road was a bit narrow down in a dip in the road but we got set up quickly to take advantage of the light. Unfortunately there was a curve in the road one way so the traffic didn't get much time to slow down once they saw us, which made for some dust rolling over us. Oh well. For a photo of the scene click here

Completed Watercolour Painting

About 90 % of the painting was completed on location, and this is the painting I came home to the studio with. Plein air paintings have a freshness to them which an artist must struggle to maintain when finishing them at home. I will give you a step by step account of the decisions I am making as I complete this painting under idea conditions in the studio.
 I darken around the aspen tree trunks in the middle ground to focus the viewers eye there. The front aspens seem a bit bare to me so I add some leaves. The blue sky colour appears too isolated so I brought some of that ultramarine blue colour into other parts of the painting including to the shade at the base of the middle ground aspens and into the shadows of the grass in the foreground.
The middle row of trees were given more form to their leaves by darkening the bottom with dark green and strengthening the middle green while taking care to leave a little highlight along the tree tops. As well dark green was added behind the highlighted white tree tops to make them stand out.
The foreground was given stronger colour by adding burnt orange especially around the left two trees.

I lightened the middle ground tree tops by lifting out the paint. The trunks of the three trees in the front are toned from bright white to focus the attention on the whitest white of the middle ground aspens.

I deepened the blue in the shadows of the middle ground aspens and added some blue in the shadows between the trees. Lime green is added on the right side in a line behind the warm golden and burnt orange swath.

More branches were added with a palette knife as details to the front trees with some of the branches pointing to that little grove of aspen in the middle ground.

An opaque lemon yellow was added to fill in between leaves to better group them which is what you see when you look at a leaves on a tree.
I thought a little more lime green was needed on the right side to balance the same colour on the left foreground. It seems important to stop before the looseness of the plein air painting is lost.

Another watercolour painting  that is 90 % or so completed on location. This is the middle ground group of aspen from the painting above. I really would have liked to get up closer to them but there were two barbwire fences in between and also private property. Where to go from here with this painting. I love the looseness and brightness of this little sketch that was completed in about fifteen minutes after the first one was painted in about an hour and a half.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

For Fall: Textile Cards Ready for the Stores

For Fall: Textile Cards Ready for the Stores
A new selection of textile cards will be available tomorrow at Creston Card and Stationery and at the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce. The cards are painted with dyes onto natural fibre fabrics then details are stitched by free motion thread sketching. All are my original designs and all are created by me.
If you don't live in my area and would like a textile card, email me at

Yesterday, I free motion sketched 3 different poses of a blue heron. In the morning, (Don't you always check your yesterday's creations first thing?) I realized the two on the right required more substance to show over the background.
 More stitching to the wings and the addition of breast feathers let the viewer know this guy is here! Much better, I think don't you?

Adding the suggestion of feathers to this heron's back help to provide form to his shape.
No additional stitching is required as the background is light and therefore his outline stitching is enough.
Mountain Ash
The berries will soon be ready for the birds to swoop in on mass and eat them. Hope to see some Grosbeaks.

Golden wheat. Thinking of harvest time.

The pears are ripe and our neighbor brought us some from his very own tree. Precious pears!
My personal favorite. The pinkish beige is just such an odd colour on it's own that I am enjoying it in this fall landscape. Note that just a few meandering stitches give the tree leaves definition.
 I plan to be painting with red soon. What are you doing to celebrate the beauty of fall?