Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A learning experience

When you hear someone talking about their "learning experience", you know they are just trying to find something positive to say about an event that was essentially a disappointment.

Such is the case for me and my recent participation in a local art fair. I learned that it's not the right venue for me, but I also made a couple of wonderful discoveries.

First, I met Louise Lachance Legault, an artist whose work I first encountered through her friend, Dianne St.-Georges. Both these dynamic women are accomplished artists and passionate art teachers. Louise has laboured for five years to write an art text book that meets the needs of the Quebec market. Finally published, this is an amazing book, titled "Colore Ta Vie: Apprendre à voir les choses autrement".  As well as using well-known works of art to illustrate her points, Louise has included more than 100 photos of her own original work. A meaty 205 pages, the book covers topics like the elements and principles of design, the emotional impact of colour, and learning to see the "art" in the world around us. You can find out more at www.jesuismaville.com

Approaching a City, Edward Hopper

My second important discovery came from a conversation with a charming gentleman who said my cityscapes reminded him of the work of Edward Hopper. Then he told me something I didn't know: that there is currently a major exhibit of Hopper's work in Madrid. The show will move to Paris in the fall. Wouldn't it be fun if I found myself in Paris this fall, as the result of a chance conversation with a stranger? That would be a learning experience I could live with.

Finally, I got to meet some other local artists and organizers, people of vision and achievement. And I learned that my friends and family will come through for me when I need help to reach my objectives. But then I already knew that.

Monday, June 25, 2012


I'm excited to have had my website chosen as the featured site for the summer issue of the artshudson journal. This is a new magazine, published quarterly, to promote cultural activities in the Hudson area. To read the journal on-line, please visit http://artshudson.org There you will find news about our theatre, music festival, artists, and other cultural organizations and events.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hudson Studio Tour

The website for the ninth annual Hudson Studio Tour is now up and running. There you can find the list of the  fourteen artists participating, images of their work, and a map of where each one may be found. Dates are September 29 - 30.

The variety of work on offer this year is impressive: pottery, custom wooden pens and puzzles, jewelry, wood carving, copper enamelling, stained glass and fine art photography, as well as painters in oil, acrylic and watercolour.

This will be my sixth studio tour, and I am delighted that my friend and fellow fibre / collage enthusiast Michele Meredith is also on the tour this year. We'll be exhibiting together at my place, so perhaps we'll get twice the usual number of visitors!

Many thanks to the organizers and sponsors for helping to make this event happen.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

53rd Street

Beginning with a photo of the street taken from a window at the Museum of Modern Art,

I translated the image into a line drawing,

and then stitched the line drawing onto a collage of hand-dyed cloth shapes.

This was done as part of the on-line course I am taking at quiltuniversity.com with Elizabeth Barton, "Working in a Series", and continues my series on Cityscapes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

L'Allée des Arts, St.-Lazare

Every year, St.-Lazare holds a very successful celebration of La Fête Nationale in Bédard Park. Typically more than 15,000 visitors attend. This year, for the first time, there will be an artistic component to the festivities. Thirty local visual artists will participate in an Allée des Arts, each housed in their own tent, and each prepared to show their work and to explain their techniques. Many items will be for sale.

I am very pleased to have been invited to take part in this event, which will run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 23 and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 24. A special first prize award will be announced at 5 p.m. on Sunday, decided by the visitors to the event. Of course, there will be lots of musical entertainment and the traditional fireworks.

So, please think about attending this event, and if you do, come by to say Hello! For more information about the event, please go to www.ville.saint-lazare.qc.ca/fetesdesaintlazare

Sunday, June 10, 2012

SAQA Journal Member Gallery

I was delighted to learn that one of my pieces, Tuscany #5, has been included in the Spring/Summer 2012 edition of the SAQA Journal. SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) in as international group, with over 3000 members.


The piece is featured in the Member Gallery, with five works by other artists, all with the theme of Travel. The caption for my piece says, "Images from my photos of Tuscany have been collaged onto painted cloth, with stitch used to create textures of brick and stone. I was inspired by the fragmentary nature of experience and memory."

Ironically, the piece itself is now travelling, as part of SAQA's Synthesis II show, to various Canadian locations. Other works in this series can be found on my website.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Finished this piece a few weeks go, but held off on posting it as it was to be a surprise retirement gift. My friend Kathy, a master kindergarten teacher, took a sabbatical last year and traveled with her husband Bryan all over North America. One of their favourite spots was the Watchman Trail, in Zion National Park, Utah. Bryan supplied me with some great photos on which to base the piece, commissioned by a group of friends to mark Kathy's retirement this month.

The piece measures 20" x 16". The three photos show three altitudes in the park: The Watchman itself, in the highest position, then an intermediate altitude with Kathy and Bryan walking the trail, and finally the surging water at the bottom of the canyon. I began with a hand-painted background of cotton, then fused the photos, printed with an ink-jet printer onto specially-prepared cotton, into place.

I then added stitching to define some of the shapes in the photos, and extended the shapes into the background, trying to draw the viewer's eye around the piece and integrate them with each other and with the background. Aquarelle pencil added shading and colour. Each photo was outlined with a copper-coloured satin stitch, with a small frame around the focal point, the couple walking on the trail.

A wooden floating frame in the same copper colour finishes the piece, which I hope will remind Kathy of her special trip, of her special occasion, and of her very special group of friends.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fine Living: Window Seat

Our 12bythedozen blogging group has set a challenge this trimester titled "Fine Living", and the photo above shows my contribution. Please visit the group's blog to see the other fine contributions.

When I was little, one of my favourite spots was the musty old sunporch at my grandmother's cottage. I would snuggle up on the old sofa bed, surrounded by pillows, and spend hours lost in a book. When the thunderstorms roared across the lake, I watched in fascination from the safety of my cosy corner. In my current home, I have a window seat overlooking a different lake. Sitting there with a good book is my idea of "fine living".

I took the image from a photo, reduced it to a line drawing, and traced it onto heat-away stabilizer. Once the basic shapes had been fused into place on muslin, I pinned the stabilizer to the project and stitched the line using heavy black thread. This was a good opportunity to try a slight variation on a technique that I have used a lot in the last few months, and which I have been asked to teach.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

NYC - Day 6

No galleries or museums today. A walking tour of Grand Central Terminal and then another of Greenwich Village. Lunch in lovely, leafy Bryant Park, where I found some intriguing arrangements of chairs. Don't they look like awkward, long-legged birds?

Yesterday, at the Museum of Modern Art, I observed a Japanese family: mother, father and daughter of about ten. They would enter a gallery, locate the most iconic painting in the room, and then the mother and child would immediately stand beside the painting and pose, waiting for the father to take their photo. They would then move on directly to the next painting of note.

It has been explained to me that this is a very Oriental approach, using the camera to document the smallest moments of life. Certainly they all spent more time looking into the camera than they did looking at the paintings. It raises the question of how the camera mediates the experience of reality. Does blogging one's experiences also distance one from the moment at hand? When one looks at, say, a seascape rather than the actual crashing surf, how many filters are involved in one's experience of reality?

Perhaps the family's behaviour can be understood as forming a collection. This was simply an acquisition of images considered to be of value. No doubt some art collectors have similar motivations.

Friday, June 1, 2012

NYC - Day 5

On Thursday I visited the Museum of Modern Art, not because I was especially interested in the highly-acclaimed Cindy Sherman show there, but more to reconnect with their permanent collection.

I like the Combine series that Robert Rauschenberg did from the mid-50's to mid-60's. He coined the word Combine to indicate that the work was both painting and sculpture. This one, titled "Bed", involved painting a quilt and then stretching it onto a frame. Critics at the time analyzed it as depicting sexual violence, but I'm not so sure. I am always interested in the appearance of fibre in recognized collections of art.

This second Rauschenberg is a painted collage, using bits of paper and ephemera the artist found on the street. While we see this sort of thing all the time in contemporary work, it wasn't much used in collage until the 1930's. Now of course there are whole galleries in art museums given over to stuff found in the street.


The views from the museum's windows gave me wonderful opportunities to appreciate the urban landscape.