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!

Monday, August 2, 2021

Artist Video: Eileen Gidman


Last week, it was great to get back to 'life drawing/painting' after many months of not being able to meet with others inside. Although I might be a little rusty, it was so comforting to feel the brush strokes flowing. 

20 Minute Life Drawing Sketch

'Models in a Row'

Just like any other skill, drawing and painting require ongoing practice. Rather than have a separate piece of paper for each sketch, it can be fun to group them together on one sheet of paper. My mentor once said, "Always use good paper". This is 90 lb hot press Arches watercolour paper and I find it perfect for these quick watercolour sketches. 

Only Time For One More Very Quick Sketch
(background sketch)


Eileen Gidman: Watercolour and Textile Artist

Artist 7 min video

Hopefully people are getting some opportunities to get back to doing things they enjoy.  

Thursday, July 22, 2021


All things teal coloured currently in my studio. Is it a summer colour?

Textile Art Tote Bag

I found this lovely teal batik at the Sew Peachy Sewing Studio in Creston, BC. It made up so nicely into these two textile art tote bags. The fine weave of batiks makes for a light unlined bag that's easy to carry with you. 


The hand painted hydrangea was dyed 3 times. First, was a low immersion dye with light blues and purples. The second time, light blue green was added for leaves. That didn't quite seem like enough so I soda-soaked the material again and did a negative painting technique around the plant leaving the piece so much richer looking.

Drawstring Lined Bag

This rayon piece of fabric was inspired after visiting a turquoise mine.

Lighthouse on Kootenay Lake

Hand (dye) painting large pieces of fabric with sky colours can lead to such creativity. Once the background is done, there are so many directions one can go with each 5 X 7" textile card top.

Dark Teal Sewn into a Summer Top

The perfect buttons were found in my upcycle button box for this sewn summer top.

Yarrow Experimentation

There is only one 5 X 7" piece left of this strip of rayon that I painted some time ago. It has been very versatile so I am keeping this one for a sample for future dye painting.


Leaf Drawstring Bag

The hand painted art piece was stamped onto unbleached cotton material some time ago. Recently, when I was sewing some gift bags I incorporated into this lined drawstring bag.  

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Sketching at the Dog Park to Painting on Textile

Why sketch animals from life and not from a photo? I suppose one is trying to capture some particular things that one is seeing at that particular moment in time. Photo references are very helpful but sketching from life is exhilarating.

If a animal is doing an action, there is no way you can sketch it all as it is happening. To help with that, when sketching from life, I employ two different methods. One is to sketch bits at a time and as the animal comes repeatedly back to a similar pose, add another portion of the drawing. The other is to capture the image in one's mind and then put pen to paper. 

Sketching at the Creston, BC, Dog Park

Using the Sketches for further Art Work

Two of the sketches were combined in the hand painted textile piece. It is painted with Procion fibre-reactive dyes on mercerized cotton material.

Beginning the Free-motion Stitching

Orientating the Sketch

When stitching from the bottom to the top, I find it easiest to turn the sketch around too. 

Completed Textile Card Top

With a glue stick, the art work is attached to heavy card stock. This piece doesn't have a lot of detail but those outstretched legs of the dog and the girl who is standing almost disinterested (she actually was scrolling through her cell phone) is what I was wanting to depict. 

Grampa and Grandson Walking the Dog

Painting with dyes, even though these were thickened, they can bleed a bit. The stitching was needed to narrow the images and provide detail.

Textile card 5" X 7"

What I liked about the scene was the brisk movement of the three participants. The man, 'grandpa', slightly bent forward and wearing a plaid jacket were additional details I paid attention to. Otherwise much of the landscape was invented.  

Hopefully you are inspired to get out sketching. 


Sunday, June 13, 2021

How Life and Art Mesh

Lupines grow in the road ditches in the Kootenays at this time of year. A trip to the west arm of Kootenay lake last week, where they are prolific, had me thinking about the purplish-blue colour throughout the week. Today I got to create something based on that interest. Sometimes it takes a little while for the creative ideas to percolate. 

Completed lined textile bag. A piece of my hand painted fabric was selected for the front.

A sketch done on location really helps me to focus on the shapes within the plant.

An early morning photo when the light was just right.

A box of scraps of hand-dyed and hand dye-painted fabrics get saved in this box. Can I find a piece of lupine painted fabric?

Yes, here it is. Painting on textiles is something I do often and I had this scrap of lupines and other flowers painted on canvas. Fibre reactive dyes paint very well on the natural fibre of the canvas.

This painted fabric could be made into a multitude of things but how does an artist decide in which direction to go? Well for me, it is often influenced by what is going on in my life at the moment and recently I was sewing fabric gift bags. After sewing over 10 of them, using different sizes and techniques, I felt ready to try this special one. 


The four pieces cut for the outside of the bag and for the lining. An hour or so of sewing has it completed.  A couple more samples follow.

A hand-painted hummingbird on cotton, paired with a lining made a great little drawstring bag. 

I had the pieced quilt square from a colour theory course I taught and with the addition of fabric on the top and bottom, it gave an added interest to the back of the bag. 

You may not have hand-painted fabric in your 'stash' but perhaps you have some hand-dyed fabrics. This indigo dyed shibori piece was done years ago but isn't it great paired with a little bit of commercial fabric. 

Let me know if you have some other ideas for your dye painted fabric scraps. 

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Painting Local Scenery onto Fabric

Five Commissioned Textile Art Bags

Kootenay Lake Scene Hand Painted on Textile

Do you have a favourite scene you wish was on fabric so that you could sew with it?  One lady did. She commissioned me to create these 'Textile Art Bags' for her. Each one is hand painted so it becomes it's own unique art piece.

Creating a Sketch the Desired Size

After creating a sketch based on the customer's photo, I used artist carbon paper to transfer the main lines of the sketch. The sketch and photo were referred to for colour mixing of the dyes and for painting. 

After curing the dye painted fabric it is rinsed and becomes colourfast for using in sewing projects or for framing. 

Textile Art Cards

With this piece, the scene is loosely painted focusing on the mingling of the colours and the fading of the blue for the mountains as they recede. Details are free-motion stitched. Customer's were asking for artwork with the location written on it, so I included that with stitching. 

So many people canoe, kayak, and boat on our mountain lakes in the Kootenays and the serenity of that is what I was thinking of with this piece.

When you come through the mountains into the valley where I live, it opens up into this wide flat valley bottom.

Wildflowers, mountain lakes and log cabins speak to me!

Kootenay Lake has it's own little lighthouse at Pilot Bay. This piece is painted on rayon. I like to use it when want to paint watercolour like backgrounds. This piece was cured and painted twice. The darker colours were added the second time to create the mountains, foreground, lake and lighthouse shadows. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Art on the iPad

Technology and art. Delving into this genre, has not been easy, however, it has been a lot of fun. 

Piedmont Sewing Machine

Art on the iPad with Susie Monday  is a course that is helping me delve into this technical area of art. Photo editing and drawing on the iPad are two things we've been exploring. There have been frustrations due to my limited knowledge in this area but with repeated video watching and repeat tutorial reading, overall, it has been very inspiring. I don't intend to throw away my paint brushes, but for me exploration results in many more ideas and we creative sorts like that.  

A Plant for Spring

The 'bluish' image was drawn on the iPad over a photo. The other was drawn on the iPad freehand.


Last week we've been exploring pattern making. 

The 3 photos below were created by manipulating photos in several 'art apps', sometimes several within one photo! Who knew?

The Clydesdales 

My friend snapped this photo for me one day while I was painting the horses, on location, last summer. No, they did not pose there long.

Stepping into Spring

This one involved combining a photo of my textile art with a photo of my friend's dog. Can you imagine the combinations! If I didn't have other homework, I would probably still be doing this technique.

Starting Young with Life on the Farm

Thankfully a friend gave me permission to use this photo of hers. A grandson being pulled on a sled with the cows looking with interest in the background. So sweet.  Along with using an art app, I added a little drawing.

If you've ever wondered about trying art on the iPad, I encourage you. Happy creating.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Finishing Plein Air Paintings in the Studio

We are having cold weather for about a week and it seemed a good time to finish some paintings that were about 80 % completed on location. I have photos somewhere but decided to work from the paintings only and rely on my memory of the day. 

'The Three Clydesdales'

Watercolour by Eileen Gidman

Of course the Clydesdales captured my interest at Kootenay Meadows Dairy that day I was painting on location. But also the distant fall colours in contrast with the blue spruce trees were stunning. This was my second attempt to try and capture those colours. The other painting I've decided not to finish. Not all paintings turn out and that is to be expected. Purposefully, I left the Skimmerhorns less detailed even though their vertical height is impressive in itself.

'Pleach Plum in Bloom'

Watercolour by Eileen Gidman

This painting was done on a spring day at a paint out session with 3 other artists. My friend invited us to her yard to enjoy the almost wild, peach-plum tree in bloom. Where the figures are, there was another artist painting but I decided to change it to two figures walking their dog, heading right passed that stunning tree. Gosh we live in a beautiful valley.