Thursday, February 28, 2013

Encore: Boathouses #1

Boathouses #1

Today is the Big Reveal for my 12bythedozen blogging group and our quarterly challenge. Michele is the last of the group to set the theme, and she chose Encore, which can be interpreted in many ways.

I looked back over our twelve challenges and decided on one that could inspire an Encore. I settled on the theme I had originally suggested, Structures. For that piece I used copper squares, metal washers and heavy hand-stitching to make a kind of patchwork quilt of metal on black cotton. It weighs a ton!

Then had a look at the boathouse photos taken this past summer. I find the crooked buildings in their hodgepodge arrangement charming, and decided to give them the "Cityscapes" treatment. I've used low-immersion dyed cotton for the sky, and some arashi for the water below, with hand-dyes for the walls and roofs of the structures.

This piece has already been put to work, serving as a class sample for a course I'm teaching in March, at St. Lawrence College in Kingston. I hope it will be the first in a series on Boathouses.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tall and skinny

I recently answered a call for entry. The project requires a tall, skinny format, twice as tall as it is wide. I went through some of my images and was surprised to find that by looking for something that fit the format, I was able to find potential in images I had overlooked until now. Who knew? Even if I'm not selected for this particular project, it has given me a chance to look at my material with new eyes.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ice fishing shacks

Every winter, within view of our house, a small cluster of ice fishing shacks appears. They are typically made of scrap materials.

Some of them are on trailers, and others are assembled directly on the ice. The trailer seems like a good idea until the ice starts to soften, and then a speedy removal is key.

On the weekends, they attract a fleet of pick-up trucks and dozens of people in a festive mood. Just this past weekend our bay was the site of a six-hole snow golf course, a softball tournament, and para-skaters, with light aircraft cruising low overhead. All this in addition to the ice fishers, who always bring a large cohort more interested in the warmth of a wood stove and a case of cold beer.

But during the week, when the shacks are abandoned, they assume a different character altogether.

Clearly they have stories to tell, and yet they are silent, lonely, evocative and haunting.

More reminiscent of boathouses than urban landscapes, they may yet find themselves as subjects for my cityscapes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Getting it out there

Dollard Gallery
If you're an artist who wants to sell your work, I figure there are at least three components to success.

First, you have to produce the work, preferably quality work. This can include doing the groundwork, like reading, taking workshops, sourcing or preparing your materials, but mostly just getting down to it and being productive.

Second, you have to find venues to show your work. This might mean you join an organization because if offers an opportunity to exhibit. It might mean that you donate a piece to a charity fundraiser, to enhance your visibility in the community. It might mean submitting images to a newspaper or magazine. It might mean answering a call for entry or joining a studio tour.

Third, you have to get people out to see your event. This is where posters, newspapers, social media and word of mouth come into play.

Maison de la Culture, Côte-des-Neiges

I have spent this past week marketing my own work and a group show that includes my work.  As well as doing all the things in Step Two above, I have submitted portfolios to a number of galleries, urban, suburban and rural, and what I have learned is that every gallery has different requirements. You might be asked to send in hard copies by mail, or send in images on a CD, or submit low-res images with an e-mail. They might ask for a maximum of ten jpg's or a minimum of twenty. The whole submission process might be done entirely through the organization's website.

L'Entrepôt, Lachine

I would bet most artists would much prefer to be in the studio generating new work rather than grinding through the exercise of finding venues. But I must admit that it has been fun to discover galleries I've never visited before. Questions to ask include "Is there an admission charge for visitors?" "Is there a fee to rent the space, or a commission charged on sales?" "How secure is the work hanging in the gallery?" "What are the hours?" 'Is there adequate parking?" "Will I get the right audience for my work?"

So now I will wait and see if any of these efforts bear fruit. Another twist to this initiative might be to collaborate with one or two other artists whose work would complement mine and propose a group show. I should also probably look into Etsy. I'm just a newbie when it comes to marketing, so if you have any brilliant insights on the subject, I'd love to hear them! But mostly I'd like to be back in my studio....

Saturday, February 16, 2013

view from Montreal Hilton

Yesterday I made a stop at the upper-level lobby of the Bonaventure Hilton, looking for a unique perspective on the Montreal skyline. What I found was this view of the back of the Mary Queen of the World cathedral.

I was first alerted to this cityscape by Shari Blaukopf, an art teacher and daily blogger. A member of the international group (movement?) Urban Sketchers, Shari has made it her mission to post a new sketch or watercolour every day. I follow her blog, and I am endlessly impressed by her composition, use of colour, and technical finesse, as well as her persistence in meeting her goals. She often sketches from her car on her way to work, or grabs an opportunity to do a figure drawing in a lounge or shop, or just looks in her pantry for new subject matter.

I need to find a tall, narrow subject for a particular project. Perhaps with a little cropping this image will prove to be the right one.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Colour inspiration

These days knitting yarn comes in luscious colours and textures. Even if you don't plan to incorporate the yarn into your project, you can be dazzled by the beautiful and subtle combinations of colour.

The designers who expertly blend these delicious shades will never even know if you borrow their ideas. Stuck for just the right spark? A visit to the yarn shop might inspire a love affair with a whole new palette.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Arashi, pieced and quilted

Week Three of my on-line course requires us to dye some fabric using the arashi method of dye resist, and to use our dyed cotton to make an art quilt, 18" x 24".

At first I was planning to make an overwrought tablescape of spring flowers, but then I realized that the beauty of the markings on this shibori dyeing can be better appreciated with large, simple shapes, rather than being hacked into little bits. Though it looks simple, I found it quite challenging to work with such highly-patterned and highly-coloured cloth.

This piece will not be mounted on canvas like my cityscapes. It has been closely quilted, with parallel, diagonal lines, and finished with a facing.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Arashi dyeing

This week's topic in my on-line course is arashi dyeing. Not my first experience with this form of shibori: I have done it before with real indigo dye.

In the photo at left you can see how the quarter-yard cut of cloth is wrapped diagonally around the length of 2-inch PVC piping.

The cloth is then twisted and scrunched as much as possible, held in place with rubber bands in the middle, top and bottom.

The fabric on the pipe is dipped into water and then put into a tall, narrow dye pot and dribbled with dye concentrate.

Warm water is added just to cover the cloth and it is left for an hour. Soda ash solution is then added and left for another hour. It's great fun to rinse out the fabric and see the distinctive patterns created by this form of dye resist.

Carol Anne Grotrian creates beautiful art quilts, many with architectural themes, using exclusively arashi fabrics. My challenge for this week's class is to use this arashi fabric either alone or combined with hand-dyes. I'm not used to such highly-patterned cloth so I'm definitely out of my comfort zone with this assignment. I may cut my quarter-yards in half and over-dye with a pale tint to give me a larger palette of colours.