Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Not your standard paintbox

If I told you that my new jacket was smalt, or that I had painted a wall with puce, would you be concerned?

Here's a nifty link that explains ten unusual names for colours and how they came to be.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Here are some photos taken during my current trip to England. They are images from Berkhamsted, the lovely town where my cousin Lin lives, just northwest of London.

I like the strong diagonals and the interlocking shapes, and of course the chimney pots. Some may well find their way into my cityscapes series.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Montmartre #4

Montmartre #4

Here is the latest in my Cityscapes series. Yes, I have used this image before, but this is a departure in several ways. First, its size. Measuring 36.5 x 27.5, it's more than twice the size of my usual format.

Montmartre #4, detail
Secondly, it was made as an entry for an art quilt show, so it is finished with a facing and, for now at least, it is not mounted onto a canvas. I used mostly hand-dyes and one large piece of commercially-printed fabric.

I had a couple of technical issues in the making of this piece, involving materials that are new to me. But I am pleased with the look of it: the colour, value and shapes. The warm and cool colours (ochre and blue-grey) form a contrast that pleases me. Maybe the jurors will agree.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Workshop feedback

Last March, as part of Kingston Fibreworks, I taught some 18 students about the techniques I have developed for my Cityscapes series.

I was delighted to receive an e-mail last week from Mary Wahl, one of the participants. She kindly sent me some images of the work she produced in the workshop and afterwards.

Mary was inspired by her holiday home in the Bahamas to create these charming small pieces. Some of them have been embellished with hand embroidery to add detail. Thanks for sharing these, Mary!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What is a sightline?

Above is a photo of Hudson artist Gisèle Lapalme, whose four mixed-media pieces will hang in the waiting room of the Hudson Medi-Centre until September 14. We are very lucky to have Gisèle's lively work to brighten this space.

The four pieces are in three different sizes, so to hang the show I used a technique I learned from Pat Pauly when I attended her workshop "Installing Your show" in Santa Fe this April. Pat travels all around the world as an exhibition designer, and I learned many practical things from her.

Pat explained that an imaginary, horizontal "sightline" must be established, usually 58" - 60" from floor level. All work, whether horizontal or vertical in orientation, should be centred vertically on this sightline.

At the Medi-centre, the sightline is a little higher than it would be otherwise, because chairs are positioned underneath the art, and sometimes tall people sit on those chairs.

In the past, I might have hung all the pieces so that their lower edges or upper edges were level, so this was a new approach for me. I think it works well, and I will use this method again in the future.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My toolbox

This post is more practical than most. Its subject is the little toolbox I have put together to help me with hanging shows, whether at the medicentre gallery, where I hang the work of local artists, or at my own shows, or even in my studio, attaching hanging hardware to finished work. About the size of a shoebox, I can just pick it up and throw it in the car, knowing it will serve me well.

I got the idea from Carole Lessard, an artist with a very professional approach to her work and to her shows.

Here's what's inside the toolbox:

Pliers, to screw eye-screws into stretcher bars
A screwdriver with multiple heads
A small hammer
Wire cutters
A level no bigger than a fountain pen
  (Mom, what's a fountain pen?)
A black marker for signing the backs of canvases
  or to touch up chipped black paint
Chalk for marking sightlines on walls
A measuring tape

A dustcloth for dusty frames
Framing and hanging hardware
Masking tape for marking white walls
Picture wire
Blue sticky gum to affix labels to walls and to
  secure the lower corners of canvases to the walls
Disposable wet wipes to clean smudges on glass
The all-important red sticky dots to indicate

The cover of the toolbox lifts to reveal storage compartments for eye-screws and finishing nails.

Fibre artists might include a small pair of scissors for snipping stray threads. Masking tape curled around the palm of your hand can be useful to collect loose threads.

I usually pack a camera in my purse.

I can't tell you how often this little kit has come to the rescue, so I'm sharing this mundane item, hoping it might prove to be useful to you too.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Judith Reilly at the Shelburne Museum shop

While visiting the Shelburne Museum in South Burlington, I was very taken with the delightful art quilts available for sale in the gift shop.

Judith Reilly makes whimsical rural landscapes using fabric. Judith is based in Brandon, Vermont, and is clearly inspired by the red barns and green fields of her home state.

Two of the pieces I saw were bound in the conventional way, mounted invisibly on foam core to lift them from the backing, then double matted and framed under glass. The piece shown above is presented in the same way but without the double matting.

If you visit her website, you'll see that Judith also sells giclée prints and greeting cards based on her art quilts. Charming.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Velda Newman at the Shelburne Museum

This summer, Velda Newman's striking quilts are on display in the Hat and Fragrance Textile Gallery of the Shelburne Museum, Shelburne VT.
Zinnia, Velda Newman, 2010
Velda is the Dale Chihuly of fibre art: her pieces are based on natural forms but are bigger and bolder than life. Velda brings her Northern Californian sense of colour to large-scale appliquéd quilts. She often uses paint and ink to add detail and visual texture to her work.

Zinnia (top) won the QUILT JAPAN prize at Visions 2010. Each individual flower head is stitched on to another, collage style. There is no background. It measures 211 inches wide, and is hand-appliquéd and hand-quilted.

Sun Kissed, Velda Newman, 1997
Sun Kissed was inspired by childhood memories of growing up in an agricultural community in Southern California. Its title comes from the old labels on fruit boxes. It too is hand-appliquéd and hand-quilted.
Sun Kissed, Velda Newman, 1997 (detail)

Sun-Kissed, Velda Newman, 1997 (detail)
The show continues until October 31, 2013.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Patty Yoder at the Shelburne Museum

Patty Yoder with Sheep
The Shelburne Museum in Shelburne VT is one of my favourite places. The sprawling 45 acres of green parkland is punctuated by 39 exhibition buildings, formal gardens, a carousel and a steamship. Most of the buildings are historic, and were relocated to their current site brick by brick. Over 150,000 items form the permanent collection, much of it showcased in carefully curated exhibitions: quilts, hats, toys, Impressionist paintings and American folk art. Monitors give demonstrations of typesetting and flatbed printing presses, a blacksmith's workshop, and antique looms. A complete general store, apothecary, dentist's and doctor's office are recreated, faithful to a reality c. 1900.

A is for Anthony,
as in Susan B., 

Patty Yoder, 1998

Every summer, special exhibits of fine art and decorative art are staged. One of the best this year is "The Alphabet of Sheep", the hooked rugs of Patty Yoder (1943 - 2005). Born in Nebraska and raised in Ohio, Patty moved to Vermont when she retired. She began rug hooking in 1992, and she had produced 44 beautiful works before her death thirteen years later.
E is for Ernie, a Patriotic Young Ram
who Only has Eyes for Bonnie,
Patty Yoder, 1998

Patty brought her contemporary sensibility to the tradition of American rug hooking.

Remarkably, she had no formal art training, yet her sense of colour and composition and her use of pattern are exceptional. Patty raised sheep on her small Vermont farm, and they became the stars of her imagery.

S is for Sandy, Santa's Favorite,
Patty Yoder, 1993

The sheep also supplied the wool used to make the rugs, wool that Patty dyed in rich and vibrant colours.

Her alphabet series of sheep was donated to the Shelburne Museum, and many of them are on display until October 31 in the Hat and Fragrance Textile Gallery.

U is for Ursula, Always the Underdog, Patty Yoder, 2000 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Jo Diggs exhibit at the Vermont Quilt Festival

Light Touches, Jo Diggs, 2002
Jo Diggs was the featured artist at this year's Vermont Quilt Festival. A resident of Maine, Jo gave a gallery talk that was very informative.
Untitled, Jo Diggs, 2012
Jo is known for her handling of light in the landscape. She explained that she looks for a sky fabric that has a spot of light in it. She then repeats light areas in the land forms below.

Winter Night, Jo Diggs, 1995

Jo's work is not quilted. The shapes are hand appliquéd, and the piece is matted and framed. The landscapes have a very flat appearance.
Encouragement, Jo Diggs, 2009
Jo often teaches classes based on her Fish pieces. She has fun using striped and dotted fabrics, something she has clearly mastered.

Untitled 1, Jo Diggs, 2010
The underwater creatures are largely invented, which frees her to use all the colours of her imagination.

The photos here show only a few of the fifty-four works on display at the show. To see more of her work, including some of her larger pieces, please visit her website.