Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Quilts = Art = Quilts @ the Schweinfurth Art Center

With so many of our museums and galleries closed, are you hungry to see some great art quilts?

The annual exhibition at the Schweinfurth in upstate New York is always exciting, and this year (the 40th anniversary year) they have made the show available to on-line visitors, giving them access to a virtual tour through the gallery. Seventy-one quilts, 58 national and international artists.

Well worth a look!

Susan Lapham, Playground #1, a prizewinner

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Christmas cards 2020

Christmas card 2020

Every year I like to make a couple dozen Christmas postcards. I use materials I have on hand and sometimes try out a new technique, like hot-glue-fixed crystals, stencilling with metallic paint, or printing images on transparent organza.

This year I was inspired by a 12 x 12 piece I made some years ago, for a group challenge on the theme of "Jubilation".

Jubilation, 12" x 12"

I used printed and hand-dyed cottons, backed with a fusible web and cut into irregular, rectangular shapes. These were fused onto white cotton in a mosaic-like arrangement. One of the shapes was transformed into a candle with the addition of a small, green flame.

The message I've added to each card is "Find the Light. Be the Light." I hope these words will be uplifting, as all of us are dealing with what can seem like very dark days.

Scroll down to see some Christmas postcards from past years:

Christmas card 2018
metallic paint, stencilled
onto hand-dyed cotton

Christmas card 2017
fused cotton shapes, stitched with
heavy black thread

Christmas card 2016
hand-stamped letters,
image printed onto sheer organza
and stitched into place,
hand-dyed background

I send these postcards through the mail with nothing more than a stamp, and I like to think that they bring a smile to those whose paths they cross.

To learn more about editions from previous years, and their production, just enter Christmas in the search box, to the right.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Art Rental Collection 2021

Sadly, the Stewart Hall Gallery in Pointe-Claire is closed to visitors until further notice. But a great show has been hung in the beautiful space, and it can be enjoyed virtually here.

The site allows you to scroll through all the chosen works, arranged alphabetically by artist. Try to choose a favourite! More than 100 works are hung, showing a wide variety of medium, subject and style. All the works are available for rent or sale, with more than 70 artists represented.

Scroll a little further down the page to "Photo Gallery" and you can access photos of the actual show, as it is hung.  As always, the curators have done a superb job of grouping the pieces to best advantage.

The two pieces I have in the show are hung together.

This is the first year that all submissions were done online, so the selection was made on the basis of the photos submitted.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Stewart Hall annual show

So pleased to have two pieces accepted to the annual Rental Collection exhibition at Stewart Hall. Both of these works are made from hand-dyed linen, stitched, and mounted on painted canvas, 24" x 24". They were made as part of a series of twelve or so, all exploring the relationships between shapes.
I have tried in my way to be free
The Sum of Its Parts

Because of the pandemic, the gallery at Stewart Hall is closed. Meanwhile, the show is available for viewing at:

Stewart Hall is a beautiful facility and gallery, operated by the City of Pointe Claire. 

176 Bord-du-Lac – Lakeshore Road
Pointe-Claire Quebec

Sunday, September 27, 2020

"Close Reading", a mini-lesson in art history

The New York Times presents a compelling look at this self-portrait by Albrecht Dürer, and explains the significance of self-portraiture, as it emerged in the early Renaissance. Find it here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Storm King sculpture park

In the August 31, 2020 issue of the New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl, the magazine's art critic, writes about the Storm King sculpture park, located just north of New York City. 

About a year ago, I was lucky enough to visit the park myself, and blogged about the visit here.

Because of social distancing, the park is admitting only 300 visitors each day, using a timed ticket system. The venue will be open until December of this year.

While it is always inspiring to view art in a natural setting, Schjeldahl observes that these days, with our opportunities to look at art so limited, Storm King offers something very special indeed.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Artist Creates Realistic Food With Embroidery

Sadly, I was unable to find the name of the artist responsible for these intriguing, yummy examples of needlework.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Betty Goodwin estate auction at Heffel


Two vests, etching on paper, 1972

Next month, the Canadian gallery Heffel will host an on-line auction of the work of Montreal artist Betty Goodwin. Goodwin (1923-2008) is best known for her etchings of garments that create an effect of transparency, suggestive of the fragility of life, and appreciated especially by textile artists.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Sophie Taeuber-Arp

Quadrangular Spot Composition, gouache on paper, 1920

Here's an item lifted directly from The New Yorker, August 3 & 10 edition:

Sophie Taeuber-Arp 

Recent reconfigurations of modern art history are finally bringing the essential contributions of women artists into the light. Although certain figures – such as the Swedish painter Hilma af Klint – did work outside of established avant-garde circles, other pathbreakers, such as Taeuber-Arp, have been hidden in plain sight. The Swiss polymath's marriage to her fellow Dadaist Hans Arp may have secured her initial entry to that fervid scene, but her collaborative spirit – she worked with Arp, among other male artists – likely denied her top billing until now. An online viewing room, on Hauser & Wirth's Web site, celebrates the gallery's representation of Taeuber-Arp's estate with images of her dynamic Constructivist tapestries and paintings, geometric costumes and marionettes designed for performances at Zurich's legendary Cabaret Voltaire night club, sinuous carved sculptures, and more. A brief documentary overview of her career offers memorable glimpses of the artist's interior-design work, including the painted walls of Strasbourg's Café de l'Aubette and a Bauhaus-inspired studio-residence outside Paris, where she gathered with friends (Sonia and Robert Delaunay, Joan Miró, and Marcel Duchamp among them). Next year's Taeuber-Arp retrospective, co-organized by MOMA, the Kunstmuseum Basel, and the Tate Modern, can't arrive soon enough.

Go to to learn more.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Rag doll project

Here's a link to a free pattern for a rag doll. It's a fun way to use up scraps of cloth and yarn, and a lot of the stitching and stuffing can be done while watching TV. 

The finished doll measures 15" tall and took me about 4 hours to make. The faces were painted on with fabric markers, though embroidery is another option.

The doll pattern comes from Toronto designer Amie Scott. Amie sells retro-style cotton dresses and sewing patterns on her Etsy site.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

A historically-based remote learning experience for artists

Sketch of honeysuckle tree branch, 1901, Rachael Robinson Elmer

A free distance drawing course is being offered by the Rokeby Museum of Vermont. It has been created by Montreal-based artist Courtney Clinton, and is inspired by the experience of a young Vermont girl, Rachael Robinson Elmer (1878-1919).

Lessons will be shared every two weeks, and participants are invited to post their efforts to the course website. The course is historically-based, and encourages participants to explore the natural world around them through a sketchbook practice.

I learned about this opportunity from a James Gurney blog post.

Sketchbook Explorations, Part 7

I have found this downloaded package of instruction from Jane Davies to be helpful in getting me back into the studio. The point is to muck about in a guided and thoughtful way, to ask "what do I see? and "what if?" My hope is that these explorations will act as a springboard for further development.

The final lesson in the package focuses on the grid format, which relies on the use of squares and rectangles placed on vertical and horizontal axes.  We reviewed the distinction between the closed grid and open grid. The closed grid might be something like a checkerboard, where all the shapes are "locked in". An open grid would have some of the shapes overlapping, or floating freely on a background.

For my first attempts, I used collaged shapes exclusively.

closed grid

open grid

Next, I turned to paint:

closed grid

open grid

As I worked, I tried to notice whether I was using a full range of size, of value (dark/light), and of colour, or a more limited range. What made the grid more interesting? Transparency? Pattern?

At one point, wanting to make the grid more ambiguous, I grabbed a small brayer, using horizontal and vertical swipes to distribute the wet paint. Then I took a comb to the piece, reinforcing the grid format.

more carnage ensued: hmmmm...

The next activity required me to make several "scribble paintings" on cheap paper, with no thought to composition but with a wide range of value, varied lines and varied patterns. The idea was that the scribble painting would then be cut up into squares of equal size (or rectangles of various sizes) and then rearranged into a closed or open grid.

I can see how this exercise requires an expanded "vocabulary", which is instructive. But I was not able to compose anything pleasing from the cut-out shapes. I suppose that not all approaches suit all students. Still, I'd like to think I learned something about the value of variety in composition.

Scribble painting #1

Scribble painting #1,
cut up and reassembled, but not glued

Scribble painting #2

Scribble painting #2,
cut up and reassembled, but not glued

Not thrilled with the results, but I thought some of the individual squares had some potential.  Pattern, texture and transparency helped make the squares interesting:

random square #1

random square #2

random square #3

random square #4

random square #5

Here's the third scribble painting, and how it was cut up and re-assembled:

Scribble painting #3

Scribble painting #3, cut up into squares and rectangles 
of various sizes and assembled into an open grid.
Perhaps I should have used fewer pieces, instead of
trying to fit them all on the page.

The final assignment in this final lesson is to use the grid format to make an actual composition, something that we find to be interesting and pleasing. Ambiguity and pattern are to be embraced. I look forward to taking on this final assignment, and will be sure to post here. Soon! Let's see if I can embrace the "sketchbook mentality" of experimentation to expand my visual vocabulary.