Thursday, August 29, 2013

SAQA on-line auction begins soon!

I was delighted to have my donation to the SAQA on-line auction chosen for one of their Dream Collections, titled "Simple, Subtle, Appealing." The Dream Collections are groups of six art quilts, selected by a curator based on a theme of their own choosing. This is another way of looking at the 421 art quilts that have been donated to SAQA for its annual on-line auction.

AND I WAS THRILLED to have my piece chosen as one of Virginia Spiegel's Favourite Four. You can see for yourself by visiting the August 28 post on her blog. This is an OMG honour, as Virginia is a well-known and highly-respected art quilter, who has been on the scene for some years. Another of her four favourites is by Leni Wiener, who "coached" me at the Santa Fe conference, and whose work I so admire.

Boathouses #2
The auction begins Monday, September 9 at 2 p.m. The 12-inch square art quilts are grouped randomly into three lots, with a new lot on the auction block every Monday. Bids on Day 1 are $750, and then the price declines every day of the week until it reaches $75 on Day 6. Last year over $60,000 was raised, and it is expected that will be exceeded this year.

If you would like to see the entire selection of donations, visit the auction website. There you will see the full spectrum of subject, technique and palette in contemporary art quilting, as well as more information on placing a bid. My piece, Boathouses #2, is listed on page 1b.

Like any auction, this one can be exciting for participants. I find it fascinating to see which quilts go early, and I like to keep an eye on my friends' work, to see how their pieces fare.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Soulanges Canal Bicycle Path

my banner

Last Sunday was the perfect summer day. The sunshine and light breeze made it a good day to visit the Soulanges Canal bike path, where my banner Villaggio Toscano has been hung, along with Michele Meredith's banner and 52 others.

Michele's banner

We started from Coteau-du-Lac, around the 18 km marker, and biked eastward. The path was sometimes winding but more often straight, sometimes shaded but more often exposed to the sun. Along the way I saw wild grapes, apple trees laden with ripe red fruit, and many kinds of berries. Often the path bordered private gardens and at other times fields of corn stretched into the distance.

Most of those on the 27-km path were cyclists, but there were also roller-bladers, joggers and walkers. One athlete was on a skateboard, pushing himself along with a long pole. He was either a paddler or in training for a position as a Venetian gondolier.  Others were fishing along the shoreline.

Picnic tables and rest stops were positioned along the path.

I was pleased to see my banner (at the 4 km mark) and Michele's (at the 13 km mark). The artists were in (more or less) alphabetical order. Next time I will bike west to view the other section. I can only imagine how it will look with the autumn foliage in full colour.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Boathouses #7

My agreement with the Arbor Gallery is that I will show six of my Boathouse pieces in their pre-Christmas exhibition and sale. Boathouse #2 was donated to the upcoming SAQA auction, leaving me short one boathouse.

Boathouses #7

I revisited my photos and chose one that I have used before, for a 6" x 8", and reformatted it to a 12" square. The photo was actually taken by my friend Lauma, but I had to alter it by eliminating the foliage and imagining the position of the walkways.

Lauma's original photo 
Again, I have used a low-immersion hand-dye for the mottled sky and an arashi-dyed cotton for the water. This new Boathouse fits in well with the others in both theme and palette. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Berkhamsted #1

Inspired by a photo taken in Berkhamsted, I have made a small Cityscape.

Berkhamsted is the pretty little English town where my cousin Lin lives. Her garden gate leads to the towpath along the canal, where you can watch the swans, and the narrow boats going through the locks. A ten-minute walk along the towpath brings you to the High Street or the train station, with its frequent service to London. A very walkable town with all the conveniences.

As part of my contract with the Arbor Gallery, I am asked to make a 5" x 7" piece, which will serve as a gift to one of the Gallery's many donors and volunteers.

I will participate in the Arbor Gallery's pre-Christmas show, "Gifted". The gallery is located in Vankleek Hill, and the show runs October 31 - December 15.

I like this image, and may well return to it, using a different palette or a different value scheme.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Festival of Quilts: Horizons

Visiting the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham was a highlight of my recent trip to the U.K.  I was able to see several excellent exhibits of European art quilts, all mounted on white walls, which showed them to their best advantage. As well, the show "Horizons", mounted by the Contemporary Quilt Group, was worth a close look. Impressively, the show was not juried, and yet the standard was very high. Here are some of my favourites.

Members were asked to submit a quilt 50 cm wide and 150 cm long. They were also asked to produce a small sample, maybe 20 cm square. These were compiled into books so that viewers could handle them, getting a better sense of the construction techniques used by the artists.
Roberta Le Poidevin,
"Vanishing Point WA6014"
Mai-Britt Axelsen,
"Vazon Bay"
Jenny Rolfe,
"Sitting on the Fence"
Liz Drake,
"Soil Samples"
Terry Donaldson,
"Sussex Coast"
Sue Payne,
Maggi Birchenough,
"Because you just
never know..."

Christine Restall,
Liesbeth Williams,
Joanna O'Neill,
"Northumbrian Horizons"

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Playing with watercolours

When I discovered I was going to be in the neighbourhood of "Europe's largest art supply emporium", I knew I had to investigate the Atlantis store, next door to Spitalfields market. They must have seen me coming a mile away.

"I have a chance to spend a few days in the country and thought I'd try my hand at watercolour. Could you suggest something?" Perhaps there is a competition amongst the staff for the most outrageous outfitting of the earnest beginner.

Two hundred dollars later, I was the proud owner of a top quality set of Winsor & Newton half-pan cakes in 16 colours, a small brush, a spiral-bound pad of paper and a paint box with the all-important enamel-surfaced mixing palettes.

I enjoy following Shari Blaukopf's blog with its daily posts of her very accomplished watercolour sketches, and I do think that as an artist it's important to stretch yourself by trying new media from time to time.

With a full day and my hostess's sunlit studio all to myself, I began a study of a tabletop arrangement of sunflowers.

After lunch I found a couple of perspectives on her lovely garden, this time putting down a preliminary sketch with black ink.

Now I know I have a lot to learn about watercolour as a medium: sgraffito, working on wet paper, the beauty of transparent layering.

Still, I did have a real sense of satisfaction at the end of a day of puttering.

My second landscape even made a personal, one-of-a-kind gift to my generous hostess.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Metaphors on Aging

Breath of Time, Lisa Jenni, USA

One of the best exhibits at the Festival of Quilts here in Birmingham is the SAQA show, Metaphors on Aging. Here's what the festival catalog says about the show:

"Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), the world's largest organization of international quilt artists, is premiering 'Metaphors on Ageing'. The 37 artists whose work is included in this exhibition hail from the United States, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Japan and Taiwan.

"Ageing affects everyone in many different ways. We age, as do our parents, our children, our friends. Our bodies age; our minds age. Through the use of a wide variety of visual metaphors, these works show the impact of aging on our lives: three generations sharing a cup of tea, a decaying leaf, the effects of rust on fibre, an empty chair. These powerful images will draw you in and change how you think."

Evening Walk II, Cynthia St. Charles, USA
The show is getting lots of attention from visitors. As I know several of the artists, it has been fun for me to monitor the show and share my enthusiasm for the work on display and for SAQA itself. I've had a chance to meet some European members of the group too.

Precious Memories, Elly van Steenbeek, Netherlands
Although the ones I have chosen here are mostly neutral in palette, others were more colourful.

Second Hand, Linda Colsh, USA
Two mothers, two daughters and a dog, Bodil Gardner, Denmark
A couple of the other shows at the Festival are real stand-outs too. Unfortunately, two of the best do not allow photographs. I am very impressed with "The 5th European Quilt Triennial" and "Wiolan: Three Dutch Textile Artists." This latter show features the work of Anco Brouwers-Branderhorst, Olga Prins and Willy Doreleijers. I hope to have another look at these two shows before the festival ends on Sunday.

Old Dog, New Tricks, Maggie Vanderweit, Canada

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Castle Donington & Nottingham

I'm staying with my friend Linda at her home in a small town near Derby, U.K. This morning I went for a walk around the village and took some photos of buildings, looking for that particular combination of shapes and details that I like.

Castle Donington

Castle Donington
Later we visited the city of Nottingham and again I was intrigued by its urban landscape. While there, we saw a wonderful show of art at Nottingham Contemporary, titled "Aquatopia". Running until September 22, the show features an international selection of work in many different media and from many different periods, all depicting "the imaginary of the ocean deep." Included were paintings by Lucian Freud and JMW Turner and sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, as well as video, glass, installation and scrimshaw. With perhaps sixty works, the great variety made for a really interesting show. Unfortunately, photos were not permitted, as has been the case in all the art shows I have visited while here in the U.K.

Nottingham alley

View from Nottingham Castle


Sunday, August 4, 2013

London neighbourhoods

The past week has been a busy one, with walking tours, visits to museums, and shopping in the markets. 
Among the neighbourhoods I visited were Camden, Spitalfields, Portobello Road, Marylebone, and Whitechapel.
Often the architecture showed a stark contrast between old and new.
The juxtaposition of solid shapes, the rhythm of windows and doors, the detail of chimney pots and antennas, and the strong diagonals all make for interesting compositions. 
Lots of potential here. I'm expecting to find more great material in Birmingham this coming week.