Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Synthesis II - SAQA Regional show

Sailpast - Pamela Allen
I am very excited to announce the opening of the first-ever SAQA regional show in Quebec.

SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associates) is a world-wide organization with over 3000 members, devoted to the promotion of the art quilt. The Central Canada region is a vibrant group, with some 130 members from Ontario and Quebec.

This regional group has assembled a juried show, Synthesis II, which has already been exhibited in six Ontario galleries. It features 20 pieces from 16 artists, with a wide range of subject and technique.

Sandbank - Penny Berens

Synthesis II will be exhibited at the Kirkland Library, 17100 Hymus Blvd., Kirkland, from February 8 - 27, 2014.

Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. and Saturday - Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A vernissage will be held on Sunday, February 9, from 2 - 4 p.m. I would be delighted to see you there!

And yes, I do have a piece in the show, Tuscany #5.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Peter Doig at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Red Boat (Imaginary Boys) 

"Mr. Doig's canvases are unabashedly beautiful, a trait often viewed with suspicion in the contemporary art world but for which he makes no apologies. " - The New York Times

No Foreign Lands is a remarkable show of the work of the celebrated painter Peter Doig. The show is limited to his output since 2002, when he chose to return to Trinidad, where he had spent his early childhood. Born in Edinburgh in 1959, Doig spent his formative years in Montreal, with his art training mostly in England. The title of the show is taken from the quote by Robert Louis Stevenson, "There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign."
One Hundred Years Ago

Most of the paintings in the exhibit are large oils on canvas or linen. Doig has a wonderful way with colour, and it is not difficult to see the influence of Matisse and Gauguin in his work.  There are also nods to Canadian Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven: note the red canoe in the landscape at right, and its title. His work is very "painterly", with lovely transparencies and the seemingly serendipitous flow of pigment, including the trademark drips of thinly applied paint.

Man Dressed as Bat
Doig has said, "I never really understood what was so conceptual about conceptual art, anyway - all painting, pretty much, is conceptual. I mean, every painting is an idea. Every painting is the result of a process. Conceptual art just removes the pleasures of looking - colour and beauty, things like that."

The show includes many preparatory drawings and sketches, which help the viewer to understand Doig's process. He is omnivorous and idiosyncratic in his borrowing of motifs and images, many of which appear repeatedly. Another signature feature in many of his paintings is the use of horizontal bands of colour.

Previously shown in Edinburgh, Montreal is the only North American venue for No Foreign Lands. The exhibit continues until May 4.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Susan Porter at the Hudson Medi-Centre

The Hudson Medi-Centre is pleased to show three large paintings by Susan Porter, until March 16. Susan's distinctively graphic acrylics of flowers are well-known and widely-appreciated.

Visitors may view these paintings during regular clinic hours at 465 Main Road, Hudson, Quebec.

To learn more abut Susan and her work, please visit her Facebook page.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

New on-line directory of Montreal Galleries

Long overdue, this new website lists current exhibits in more than 120 Montreal galleries, including museums, artist-run cooperatives, and private galleries. Click on a particular gallery, and you can be linked to its homepage and a map showing its location. You can limit your search to a particular borough, and also get a listing of upcoming vernissages.

Another interesting feature is the three walking tours (downtown, Old Montreal and the Quartier des Spectacles) complete with maps to help you find the galleries on the circuits.

 For more information, visit, and subscribe to their newsletter.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Open Window, Cesis, Take 2

Open Window, Cesis #2
My contract with the Arbor Gallery requires that I donate a 5" x 7" every year, which is given as a gift to one of their many volunteers.

Here is what I have made. Based on one of Lauma's photos, it is constructed entirely of hand-dyed cotton.

Making a small-scale piece like this allows me to preview a colour scheme and evaluate it as a possibility for a larger piece.

Below is another work I have made from the same photo. It features a patterned batik cotton for the main wall of the building, and measures 24" x 18".

Open Window, Cesis

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mounting the art quilt onto a stretched canvas

Almost all of my art quilts are mounted onto gallery canvas. I find that this gives the piece more "presence" when displayed. Without the canvas, small art quilts can look like placemats hung on the wall. Some of the group shows in which I participate insist on the use of gallery canvas, which is deeper than the standard canvas. For consistency,  I use this presentation almost without exception. Framing is expensive, so this method is cost-effective too. Any buyer of my work can easily add a floating frame if they wish.

Formerly, I used black gesso on the sides and front edges, but because it left scuff marks on the wall, I have switched to Carbon Black acrylic paint. It gives a nice matte finish. I suggest sticking to one brand so that repairs can be done invisibly, in the event of damage.

zigzag stitching around edge of quilt,
small margin of painted canvas showing when mounted

My standard size of canvas is 24" x 18", so I cut the art quilt to 23 5/8" x 17 5/8". This allows for a narrow edge of canvas to show around the quilt. I like to finish the edges of my Cityscapes with a short zigzag stitch in black thread.

When the quilt is completed, I cut a piece of inexpensive black felt to measure 23 1/2" x 17 1/2". Above, you can see the felt pinned onto the back of the art quilt. I hand stitch the felt to the back of the quilt, using a running stitch around the outer edge. I pick up just a few threads from the back of the quilt, effectively tacking it to the felt, without having the stitch go through to the front surface.

Because of my use of fusible web, my quilts are quite stiff, and it's enough to tack the quilt to the felt around the outside edge. If I am working in a larger size, I put some tacking stitches every few inches, attaching the central area of the quilt to the felt. In this way, the quilt will not balloon out from the canvas.

I then glue the felt layer to the canvas. If the canvas should ever become damaged, I would want to be able to salvage the quilt by "unstitching" it from the felt. Using that layer of felt gives me the option of removing the quilt from the canvas.

I use matte gel medium as the glue, bought by the gallon, placing several spoonfuls of the gel onto the canvas, and spreading a thin layer with a brush or credit card over the entire surface of the painted canvas, but leaving about 1/2 inch margin around the edge. Working quickly, I place the art quilt onto the canvas, ensuring that it is well centred and pressing it into place.

using the brayer

Then I flip over the canvas and put it face down onto a clean surface. I use a brayer and, working from the centre to the outer edges, roll it over the back of the canvas to ensure a good adhesion between the quilt and the canvas. I do a quick check to see that no excess glue has been squeezed out beyond the edge of the quilt, and then return it face down onto the clean surface. I put some books onto the back of the canvas to add a little pressure, helping the quilt to stick well to the canvas while the matte medium dries. This takes a couple of hours. (I've been leaving this step out lately because I found it "squishes" the surface of the quilt. Consider it optional.)

books for weight

The last step is to label the back of the canvas with the title and date of the piece, and my name. Hanging hardware is attached to the frame. Et voilà! The art quilt is ready for its debut.

Camden Town,
Heather Dubreuil

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Open Door, Riga, revisited

Open Door, Riga, revisited

No, I don't have all the titles worked out yet. Here is my third piece based on Lauma Cenne's photos taken in Latvia. I have used the skeleton of the lines and shapes of her image, and transformed it by using my own colour palette.

This time, I placed high value contrasts in three spots, to make a sort of triangle that keeps the eye moving around the composition.

photo by Lauma Cenne

It might be interesting to compare it to both the original photo and to the first piece inspired by it. And...

Open Door, Riga

... I think it's cool to look at it rotated, too, to assess the composition.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Open Window, Cēsis

Here is the second of my pieces based on Lauma's photos of Latvia. The original photo is shown below.

photo by Lauma Cenne

I didn't stray too far from the values, but the brick texture was replaced by something closer to an aggregate, using a patterned batik. I created the shadows with a double layer of black Mistyfuse, and the other cottons were hand-dyed.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Open Door, Riga

Above is a photo of a recently completed piece. It uses both hand-dyed and commercial cotton, and measures 24" x 18".

The photo on which it was based is shown below. I took liberties with the values, textures and colours, as you can see. My goal was to make the door that is to the right of centre the focal point, and I tried to minimize the impact of the chimneys that are central in the composition. Though some texture was achieved through the use of the commercial cotton, it doesn't compare to the luscious textures of Lauma's photo. 
photo by Lauma Cenne