Sunday, April 15, 2018

What a Difference a Frame Makes

I learned that from Lyric Kinard (and her course, "Picture it Framed")...and she was right...IF (and only if) you make your pieces to be mounted on stretched canvas or mount them on mat board or frame them in mats.

The look of it -- and the fact that it pretty much guarantees that (finally!) my small pieces won't be mistaken for place mats, dish cloths or cushion covers -- has me excited. So much so that I've been using the techniques for pretty much all of my new work thus far this year!

And today, I picked up the latest assortment...ALL of which will be available for purchase at the 19th Annual Lacombe Art Sale & Celebration of Creative Expression -- in the City of Lacombe on April 20 (1-8 p.m.) and Saturday (11 a.m. - 4 p.m).

Here's a selection to entice you to visit...if you're anywhere close to Central Alberta!

These three, inspired by photos taken by my friend, Bob, as mentioned in my last post:

After the Storm: Grenada
12" x 12"

Five Barns, Beiseker, AB
5" x 7"

Abandoned, Alaska
5" x 7"

And these mono-prints that I thought at first had failed...but they surprised me when I stitched them!

Grasslands I
20" x 16"

Grasslands II
20" x 16"

Grasslands III
12" x 12"

There will be others to choose from too, so I hope some of you will be able to join me and all the artists and artisans at the Lacombe Memorial Centre for the 19th Annual Art Show & Sale!

Linking this to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday; this week she (like most of us in more northern parts right now!) is urging us to call Spring's bluff and rejoice in it any way -- snow, freezing rain and cold be-darned!  If you can't get into the garden, get into the studio and drum up something colourful! 😊

Thanks for reading -- and have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Thanks, Bob

The pre-Easter puttering paid off over this past weekend, giving me the boost I needed to try some new things, and put together four more pieces for the upcoming Lacombe Art Show & Sale.

Inspiration for three of them came from my friend Bob, whom I met in a prior life 😉.  I lived in Calgary then, and as an aspiring writer (long story) joined the Alexandra Writer's Society.  He was a member too, and both of us served on the organization's Board for a few years.  I was the librarian for the Society, and he...I think he was Chair or something important like that!

Now both of us write blogs -- and both make visual art: textiles for me, photography for him.

My first effort from his work was a mini, sold long ago -- so long ago that I had to dig the photo of it out of an old blog post; it wasn't in my files!

A Silvery Moon, An Orange Sky and Dhow

Friday's snowstorm found me in the studio with three of Bob's photos -- and one of my own -- in mind, digging through my books, working in my sketchbook.

This first one he took on a trip to Grenada -- and the aquas and blues seen through the skeleto of what must have been a home, once, simply captivated me.

I also knew I could get very caught up in the details of it, so I tried to break it down by printing it in black and white...

And then with an effect called "old photograph"...

In the end I took the colour photo, tracked a grid over it, and narrowed in on one section.  I did a colour study of that isolated bit, and then attempted to recreate it in a rather abstracted way. 

Grid and colour study with fabric scraps

I quilted it on a piece of white craft felt, stitching down the edges; it finished at 8" x 10", and added touches of water-colour pencil here and there as I felt called.  Then I secured it with matte gel medium to a 12" x 12" canvas that I'd painted to give it a 'tropical' feel.  I'll take it to be put in a floater frame later this week:

In light of all the hurricanes in that part of the world this past year,
I've titled it After the Storm: Grenada. 
Fabric collage, machine quilted on felt, painted;
 applied to 
stretched canvas. 
12" x 12" before framing

Can you tell which section I used?  Here's a hint:

I then moved on to something more "inside my box"...a pair of small canvases (5" x 7") that will be framed this week too.  Here's a photo of the prep of the backgrounds; both inspirational photos are of Alberta scenes that Bob took on drives around the countryside:

And here's one, finished and ready for framing...

I'm not sure of a title just yet...these are either old barns or grain bins near Beiseker, Alberta, taken on a wintry evening where faint pink hints of the Aurora in the starry sky added to the odd colouring of the snow on the ground.  "Beiseker Barns" just sounds too..."cute".  If anyone has an idea, just leave a comment -- with my thanks!

Inspired, I continued to play with paint, working finally on a piece of light-weight scrap canvas my framer gave me.  It had some discoloured spots, so I washed it, and in drying it, squeezed it, meaning that despite ironing (under a pressing cloth, on the side without gesso priming), it retained a bit of a 'crinkled' look.  I decided I liked that, as it gave an interesting texture to the painted surface. 

Un-stretched canvas, painted

You can see the inspirational photo at the top. I took it on my way to the studio of my long-arm quilter, Sylvia, who lives north-east of here just a wee bit.

Once it was painted, I put it under the needle, and added a bit more colour with water-colour pencils:

Then I found a mat for it -- thanks to some cast-offs recycling from my former water-colour teacher, Sharon Lynn Williams of Calgary, who went back to work in acrylics, oils and encaustic after several years of working in water-colour.

It's a good big mat (the canvas is 9" x 11") -- a double mat, in fact, and too me, it suits the piece down to the ground.  Before attaching it to the mat, I applied the piece to a slightly larger piece of mat board, again using mat gel medium.

I've decided, however, not to frame this one.  Whoever buys it can frame it the way they want to.  I just propped it in this stand for the photo:

End of the Road (C) 2018

All in all, it's been a good five or six days.  Today...taking it a bit easier, working on string blocks for that larger piece I've mentioned before, and which is still very much a work in progress.

It's snowing here (again!) today -- thick, fat flakes that melt on the pavement but pile up on the old snow and any icy patches that remain from earlier 'melts's, and there are plenty of those.

I'm seriously thinking of curling up for a nap, but before I do, I'll link this to WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network, and leave you with this photo of the third (of three) blocks for The Quilt Show's 2018 Block of the Month, which I also finished this past weekend.  Sometimes, after original work, my brain needs a break, so I go back to piecing.  Ahhhhh....

Have a great rest of the week, everyone! 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Puttering, Muttering and Painting

This week's been full of highs and lows -- blessedly mostly highs, but somehow the low points are the ones I dwell on.  Equally blessedly, I'm aware I'm not alone in that!

The puttering's part of that.  

I'm excited by fabric collage -- especially work by artists like Deborah Boschert and Louise O'Hara.  I long to be able to create light-hearted pieces of my own with the same spontaneity.

But...I'm not a very spontaneous person.  Just ask my kids.

I'm a planner.  A detail person, and a very good organizer and administrator.  I've made a living using those skills...but alas, they're not handy if one aspires to spontaneity.  😩

Anyway, I have this old, tattered quilt that's already been cut up for use in these pieces:

'Disintegration' I, II and III
Exhibited Online with the Artists of
Threads of Resistance

So...I wanted to do something with some of the remnants.  I cut up a bit into 4" squares, thinking I could stitch on them and combine them with other bits and bobs for a collage, mounted on canvas.

I did up one little piece with embroidery...cute, but not particularly artistic.  Sigh.

Next I tried putting two in a contemporary 12" x 12" piece, a la Deborah Boschert, thinking I might donate it to the SAQA Benefit Auction this year:

Chip Off the Old Block - (C) 2018

It's okay, I guess...but it lacks a certain 'spark'.  I didn't even bother to attach a sleeve -- just hung it up with other "samples".


Then there's muttering about what's been What's Been Going On in the World.  I've caught myself being caught up in Too Much News, and a longing for someone -- anyone -- especially in government -- to be caught doing something right, true, lovely, generous, quiet, helpful...and find myself becoming less of those things at the same time. 😟 I've caught myself ranting on FB -- and going back and removing the rant -- even when others affirmed what I'd written. 

How do I deal with that?  

I could build a wall around myself, my wee domain, and not let any bad news in...but then, how would I pray effectively for those outside my self-circumscribed "bubble"? 

So...I soldier on, and make the intention to observe, assess, perhaps share or articulate...but without a rant.  Try to be mindful, and catch myself before I get carried away.

So where are the highs?

I finished a baby sweater, except for the buttons.  It's adorable, and there's no one for whom it's intended, so it will likely end up in the Church's pre-Christmas Bazaar...

Just needs buttons!
Pattern: "Little Coffee Bean" by Elizabeth Smith
Yarn: Schachenmayr Nomotta 'Bravo' DK (discontinued)

I still have lots of that yarn in my stash, so I expect it will be turned into hats and mittens next.

I made two 8" x 8" pieces that I won't photograph till they're mounted and framed....Or at least, mounted.  I have to get the canvases tomorrow when I'm in Red Deer.

And I made two pieces that have been mounted on painted stretched canvas -- which I'll take to the framer on Wednesday.

Three of the four are from pieces of mono-printing I did on rusted or dyed synthetics, just lying around, waiting to be used.  I thought initially they were also "just samples", but the stitching brought them to life, and I really like them so far.

Grasslands I (C) 2018
Canvas: 16" W x 12" L

Grasslands II (C) 2018
Canvas: 16" W x 12" L

Grasslands I - detail

In the end, I've learned a few things from all this puttering, muttering and painting:
  1. "To thine own self be true" (Shakespeare, spoken by Polonius in Hamlet);
  2. "Be Margaret" (Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project); and
  3. Rants are exhausting; find a better way.

This coming week, my friend Mary and I will put our finishing touches on our collaborative application to exhibit in the 2018 Camrose Art Walk, and submit it.  I'll take three (!) quilt tops to Sylvia, my long-armer, to be quilted.  I'll have lunch with a good friend, work a couple of days at The Shop, enjoy Knit Night, and pick up the latest framed pieces, while dropping off the other new canvases, all in preparation for the Lacombe Art Show and Sale.

And I leave you with a link-up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...with a wish for a Good Week ahead...

Remembering especially those who will be observing Holy Week and the lead up to Easter...while others are preparing for Passover, which begins Friday evening.

Blessings, all!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Making Progress

This week I've been making more fabric -- in the form of bed quilt tops.  Well...isn't that what we do when we cut up existing fabric, or piece scraps together?  Aren't we creating a new fabric?  😊

As an art quilter, I don't often make bed quilts, but the last year or two (or three!) I've had reason to make everything from comfort (lap) quilts to crib quilts to twin- and king-sized ones.  The latest crop of tops are twin-sized, and came about thus:

First, my daughter commissioned me to make one for the twin bed in her Air B&B single guest room, as the summer coverlet she had on it is wearing out.  (She has a double-bed room too, but its bedding is fine for now!)

Last summer we had a buying trip and got most of the fabric -- but as I was winging it on the calculations...well...let's just say I began it in earnest at the end of January and got only 1/2 the blocks needed out of the fabric on hand.  Blessedly, by my last post I was able to report that between us we found either exact matches or colour-ways that worked in beautifully, and that top is now ready to be quilted.

It was a not-so-easy Rail Fence.  Four rails (rather than the usual three) and "as random as possible, please, Mom."  (Hold that thought; I'm coming back to it in a moment.)

Nonetheless, I think it turned out well and hope she'll like it:

I call it "Random Rails" or "Fractured Fences" -- depending on my mood! 😉 With borders, it will measure 70" W x 94" long when bound.  It looks enormous on my own twin bed, in large part because I don't have the a deep box spring under my mattress, whereas she does.  Last weekend I procured a rich double-chocolate wide backing for it (now washed).  Yummy!

Second, my own beloved bed quilts are wearing.  Most of these were made by my quilty Aunt Alice, my father's sister, who died in 2002 at the age of 94, so you can imagine how old they are! 

I'm making four tops (which I also mentioned in my last post).  The first one to be finished was my "(Not So) Grand Illusion", a Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt from 2014 (!) which I finished in November in order to justify starting her 2017 Mystery, "On Ringo Lake" (ORL).   Lest you missed that post, here's a photo:

I just love this one, and this week I found the perfect wide backing for it!

The second one is the "Rectangle Quilt" (what an original name!) that I showed you -- under construction -- in my last post.  That top, too, is now finished!

A Quilt Without Borders, it will finish at a healthy 67" W x 78" long (or so) when bound.  And yes, I've found just the right wide backing for it too.  😊

Now, remember that thought I asked you to hold?  The fact that the Random Rails/Fractured Fences was ''not so easy"?  This is where I get back to this subject, and focus on the word "random".  As defined by the Oxford Living Dictionaries, 'random' means "Made, done, or happening without method or conscious decision" or, when it comes to statistics, "Governed by or involving equal chances for each item".

Well.  It might be a simple concept...but it's not easy!

Both the rectangle and the rails/fences quilt required a) combinations of light, medium and/or dark fabrics to create contrast and movement; b) specific placement of said combinations -- that is, so many blocks across and so many rows down; and c) an arrangement that in order to be pleasing, was...well...random.  And random arrangements of anything (I'm guessing) require a intentionality!  

I found a method that worked first with the Rectangle Quilt and then with Rails/Fences --first, lay the blocks out on my "horizontal design wall" (my bed or my guest bed, whichever showed them off best); next, get the first two rows to work well, and sew the first row in pairs of blocks; then...move 'em around, interject different pairs, do whatever is needed to make everything play nicely together.  

Repeat till the entire arrangement is appealing, and still "random" in nature.  In all of my  attempts at designing "traditional" quilts, I've determined that they are at least as challenging (if not more so) as designing an art quilt.  The methods may be different, but the brain strain is on a par!

Of the four tops I've planned, only these three are finished.  The fourth requires it's worthy only of a mention here.  It will appear in a later post!

As for designing...

I've picked up "Storm Brewing" from the framer...I love it!

Storm Brewing Over the Lowlands
Fabric and water colour on stretched canvas
12" W x 12" L

The Call for Entry to the Annual Camrose Art Walk is now open, and my colleague Mary and I will be submitting our applications shortly for our Scotland-inspired collaborative exhibit.  Each of us is aiming for eight or nine pieces.  So far, I have five (including "Storm Brewing..."), but one is a tiny canvas and unless I make more that size, won't be included.

And as I now know that I will once again have a booth at the 19th Annual Lacombe Art Show & Sale, I am busy with pieces for that.  The "Crumbpilations" pieces are all in for framing, one mini is in the planning stages, and I finished this one this morning:

Fog Warning! (C) 2018
Commercial cotton fabrics, wool roving, tulle;
thread painting, machine quilting, fused applique.
5" x 7", matted to 8" x 10"

It's a statement about driving to work -- about 8:15 a.m. -- in the Mists of March in these parts.  The other day the fog was so dense that while I knew there was a tanker truck in front of me, I often couldn't see it at all, and was praying he wouldn't have to brake unexpectedly!

Here's a close-up:

Thanks to Elizabeth Barton's Master Class, which I attended throughout 2015, I learned a bit about getting that perspective in place.  In a 'mini' it's tough because everything is smaller and fore-shortened, but there you have it!

Well, Gentle Readers, that's all the news that's fit to print for this go 'round.  I'm going to link this up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and bid you adieu. 

This week she published a quote about the Art of Science and the Science of Art...and looking at my projects, I can certainly ascertain a link between the two!

Happy St. Patrick's Day for all the Irish -- and all the I-Wannabee-Irish!  Happy International Quilting Day for all of you who quilt!  

Happy rest-of the-weekend to everyone else!  😉

Monday, March 05, 2018

Making Fabric

Maybe it was all the snow we got this past weekend.  Maybe it was just a longing for Spring.  Maybe it was a longing for colour.

Maybe it was all three.

Whatever the reason, I found myself in lock-step with a quilty associate of mine, another Albertan -- artist, traditional quilter, long-armer and blogger, Cathy Tomm.  

Both of us, it seems, have been working on string blocks in swaths of monochromatic colours -- she, green and purple, and I, blue, purple and red (with green to follow).

I'm working on a new piece, large for me, which (if it turns out as envisioned) I'll enter into SAQA's "Season After Season" juried exhibit.  I may have alluded to this project in a past post (or two), but now it is on one of the front "burners" in my sewdio.  It has to include an Artist's Journal, so I am trying to keep that up at the same time.  This is not my habit, so it's been a bit of a challenge to make the effort to translate what's in my head onto a journal page!

Blessedly, as I am now really working out the process, I've begun taking photos.

Sorting colours

I determined that as far as possible, for this project, I'd use up stash.  They were all a-jumble in a basket or two or three 😉 so I had to sort them out to get the colours I wanted.

That done, I thought I'd do it with random piecing, but I discovered that most of said scraps are in strips, so I decided to string piece them.

I began with the blues.

And moved to blue-purple, and then purple...

Added some red-purples.

The blocks are rectangles that will finish at 6" x 8" -- or 8" x 6", depending on how they're laid out.  In the photo immediate above, I laid them out on the guest bed to get a feel for how big the piece will be.  Depending on the layout, they'll be 5 blocks x 6" by 9 blocks x 8" OR 4 blocks x 8" by 12 blocks x 6".  

I don't know yet.  Time to get back to that journal and draft out a couple of alternatives, complete with colours.

Meanwhile, there's other fabric-making going on.  I'm exploring some different techniques, inspired by the inimitable Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn, for small pieces that will be heavily hand-stitched and put in shadow boxes or on mat board or canvases, for the Lacombe Art Show & Sale (no news yet on my application but I'm hoping for later this week!)

Inspirational photo

Materials for "Flora"

On the bottom right of the second photo you'll see some of my recent snow-dyed efforts -- cheesecloth and/or scrim, which features in the stitched material.

Fabric scraps, sandwiched between Sticky
Solvy layers, backed by a synthetic evenweave
and free-motion stitched

Solvy washed out, fabric backing trimmed -
ready for next steps

And so the fun continues!

Getting back to my more usual way of working, I've finished a second 'mini' in the series based on photos taken a local ranch...

View Over the Valley I - (C) 2018

View Over the Valley - Detail

And yes, that's a slice of needle-felting you see creating the forest on the horizon.  😊

There is clearly more to be done.  The blocks for the "rectangle quilt" -- taken from a pattern in a recent issue of Simply Moderne -- are finished and need to be sewn together.  I've managed to lay out several rows "in a way that pleases me", and have to get them together so I'll have room to lay out and assemble the rest, and then...the entire top!

On the guest bed -- view from the door!

On the guest bed - view from the 'side'.
Pay no attention to the quilt underneath!  ;-)

Not to mention...that I'm still plugging away at the units for Clue #6 of Bonnie Hunter's On Ringo Lake mystery.

And the rest of the fabric needed for my daughter's "Random Rails" quilt top has been delivered -- so must get those washed and cut and assembled into blocks to finish that top.

My long-armer doesn't know it yet, but I hope to have four tops (the Rectangle, the Rails, the Ringo Lake and the now-finished "Not So Grand Illusion") delivered to her for quilting by month-end!

On ward and upward but first I'll belatedly link this to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week she's talking about the legacy of an artist who's filled our lives with colour and whimsy -- if we've been fortunate to see her work...and may of us have (including me!) without knowing it.

Now...must get out and shovel that last bit of back sidewalk so I can put out the compost and the garbage!

Stay cozy; surround yourself with colour and whimsy; Spring's coming to these parts soon!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Creative Chaos

For a few days this past week, my studio looked rather like those February winds I mentioned in an earlier post had come right in and blown everything about.

I was working on my latest piece for the Scotland Series...testing out felting ideas, sampling stitching on water-soluble stabilizer, auditioning colours for wee buildings.  Creative chaos indeed!

The piece is now finished, and awaits its floater frame, but you can have a look at it beforehand:

Impressions of Portree (Isle of Skye)
12" x 12", mixed media on stretched canvas:
acrylic paint, coloured pens, needle-felting, quilting

And a bit of a detail shot...

I also added to "Abbey Echoes I" by mounting it on a painted stretched canvas -- an idea learned in the "Picture it Framed" class with Lyric Kinard.  I tried to echo the arches in the white-on-black painting.

Abbey Echoes I
12" x 12" mounted on
painted stretched canvas
Finished size: 16" x 20"

I think this now makes it a better companion piece with "Abbey Echoes II", which finished at the same size.

Abbey Echoes II

In between the Scotland-inspired work, I've made a mini -- the first this year and the first of a series based on photos taken last July at a ranch about 3/4 hour's drive southwest of here.  There is an old home on the property that was replaced by the current ranch house some years ago, and simply left there...

It saddened and fascinated me -- particularly the door hidden behind the overgrown bushes...

And so I was inspired to start with this little piece:

Overgrown - (C) 2018
5" x 7" matted to 8" x 10"
There will be more to come in this series, as I am hoping to need "non-Scotland" pieces for the Lacombe Art Show and Sale in April (news about my application is due in a couple of weeks; I'll keep you posted!)

I also have some photos I want to recreate in textiles and stitch that are close-ups of various flora and fauna.  Those may take quite some time, so we'll see how that works out.

Meanwhile, I knit two hats for a client; continued piecing units for Bonnie Hunter's "On Ringo Lake" mystery (I'm now on Clue 6!); made progress on a very colourful bed quilt (for my home) that now needs fabric for borders and backing; and started yet another bed quilt from stash fabrics, based on a pattern from   "Simply Moderne", one of the magazines I gave away recently to celebrate my blog anniversary.  

Oh, and I did a bit of serendipitous snow dyeing with all that white stuff in my back yard...

Snow-dyed cheesecloth, scrim

Assorted cotton, poly-cotton and muslin

Batting scraps!

I really don't know what I'll do with them -- or even if I like them very much -- but it was a bit of fun.  Now my stock of dye powder is pretty low, so nothing will happen till I replenish it!

And so it goes...

Perhaps this gives you, my Gentle Readers, the impression that when it comes to my art work, I'm all over the map -- that I don't have a distinct style or 'voice' -- but I would disagree.  

I think it's possible to experiment with techniques -- from applique to piecing to mono-printing, to dyeing, to colouring with pens; from quilting sandwiches to mounts on stretched canvas to work directly applied to that canvas; from semi-representational to more impressionistic to down-right abstract -- and still have a distinct way of expressing oneself artistically.

Those of you who've followed my blog or see my work in my Facebook posts (3F Creations) will know that I have a penchant for landscapes that are more impressions than realistic, a fondness for colour, and a "side bar" of work that is more abstract or unreal, and may venture into making a statement from time to time.  And I see all of that as part of my unique artistic voice.

I'll leave you with those thoughts...and the link-up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, where she brings up that very topic: finding one's voice.  I'm curious to know about do give it some thought, and pause for a comment if you're willing to share.

Happy Weekend, everyone!