Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Anniversary give-away

Water Tower #5, 7" x 5"
March 14 marks the second anniversary of my blog! Two years, 216 posts, and almost 40,000 views.

To celebrate, I would like to give away a small art quilt made just for this occasion. Made of hand-dyed and commercial cotton, "Water Tower #5" measures 7" x 5" and illustrates a scene from New York City. The winner will be chosen at random from everyone who comments on this post. Just let me know one of your favourite posts on my blog, and why. You can identify it by date or by topic.

I know some of you run into trouble when trying to post a comment. Apparently this is because you need to enable third-party cookies on your computer. The technicalities are beyond my (tiny) field of competence.

And sometimes the home page scrolls up and hides the bottom of the post you're trying to read. I find that "reloading" solves this problem. Or, you can choose the "Classic" presentation by clicking that option, upper left. The default presentation is "Mosaic" which is sometimes glitchy.

If you would like to enter this contest and find that you are unable to publish a comment to this post, just click here. You will be taken to the contact page of my website, and you can post your comment there instead.

Deadline for entry is midnight, March 13, and the winner of the give-away will be announced on March 14. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Montreal: Views of the City

On Saint-Gabriel, John Vazalinskas
A wonderful exhibit has opened at Montreal's Galerie des Beaux-Arts des Ameriques, 3944 rue St.-Denis.

One hundred and thirty-four works in many styles and a variety of media are currently on display. They all measure 14" x 14", and they all have as their subject the beautiful city of Montreal.

The show continues until March 23. If you don't have a chance to visit, you can view all the works on the gallery's website, which allows you to access the images by artist name.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Textile Museum of Canada

Hmong Story Cloth, Ban Vinai refugee camp, Thailand

Last week I visited the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto, where I saw several intriguing exhibits.

"Telling Stories" features sixteen pieces from the museum's permanent collection, representing a number of world cultures. The exhibition overview reads, in part,

"Whether through the illustration of a myth or legend, or the recitation of an epic poem or song, cultures have devised inventive and elaborate methods of recording and depicting their rich histories through the centuries."

Some of the pieces on display dealt with contemporary issues, like the high rate of traffic fatalities in India, nuclear proliferation, the value of beekeeping and the management of fisheries.

Iranian hanging, cotton, block-printed and painted
Embroidered silk tapestry, Bangladesh
Embroidered silk tapestry, Bangladesh (detail)
A second exhibit, "Fictions and Legends", showcases the work of Jérôme Havre, whose nine grotesque, stuffed figures were suspended from the ceiling of a small room. 

The walls were painted with organic shapes in strong, vibrant colours, acting to partially camouflage the imaginary beings. A soundtrack of forest or jungle sounds completed the effect. 

Both shows run until April 13. A third exhibit was titled "From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru". Ichimaru (1906-1997) was trained as a geisha, but left that world in the 1930's to become an internationally-known recording artist and entertainer. On display are artifacts from her career and perhaps thirty beautiful kimonos, scarves and jackets.

This purple kimono is a semi-formal style, suitable for parties and banquets. Its asymmetrical, overall decoration is a technical tour-de-force known as "majolica" for the intricate polychromatic variations created through the yuzen (paste-resist) dyeing process.

Other garments featured intricate embroidery on woven silk.

If you look carefully at the shadows cast by the lower hem of this jacket, made of machined-lace, you can get a sense of its transparency.

This exhibition continues until May 25. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Camden Town

This past summer we visited the Amy Winehouse Museum in Camden, just north of downtown London. From one of the back windows I took a photo of the buildings behind the museum. I found the staggered windows, balconies, skylights and drainage pipes formed an interesting pattern.

Oddly, this is the fifth Cityscape I have made using photos taken from museum windows.

Here is my interpretation of the scene, using hand-dyes in hot colours.

The original photo, shown at right, was shot through a smudgy window.

I might re-visit this image and, next time, choose a different palette, trying to focus more on the syncopated rhythm of the windows.

Friday, February 14, 2014


I feel like I have achieved rock star status in the art quilt world, with a profile on

This British-based site, produced by Sam and Joseph Pitcher, has a serious, international following.

Not only do they feature in-depth profiles of artists working in the full spectrum of textile art, but they also offer very helpful articles on subjects like choosing venues for your work, photographing your work, and selecting attractive templates for your website.

You can check me out at:

This is a real career highlight for me. I'm afraid it may be all downhill from here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Photos from Sunday's vernissage

Thanks to all the family and friends who turned out to show their support at the opening of my Cityscapes show.

Helena and Michele helped with the hanging, and I was grateful to have such capable and willing assistance.

The turnout was very gratifying, with about 50 visitors coming through over the two hours.

Twinning my solo show with SAQA Central Canada's Synthesis II allowed us to fill the walls with thirty-six art quilts, and attract more viewers to both shows. A winning combination!

Helena on the right, and I on the left, both had pieces in Synthesis II.

All the Text'art members including Colleen and Dianne, shown here, helped to promote the show.

I was pleased to sell Tuscany 5, far left, above, at the vernissage.

Both shows continue at the Kirkland Library until February 27. I hope you will have a chance to visit!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Color by Accident: Exploring Low-Water Immersion Dyeing", by Ann Johnston

Ann Johnston is an art quilter, known for her expertise in dyeing cloth. Her books "Color by Accident: Low Water Immersion Dyeing", "Color by Design: Paint and Print with Dye" and "The Quilter's Book of Design' are widely regarded as important references on the subject.

The first of these books was published in 1997, and now the material has been updated and made available on a four-hour DVD. It's a very hands-on subject, so it's great to be able to see Ann's demos, covering a wide range of topics.

I found the material to be clearly presented and well-organized. Ann has an "inexact" approach to mixing her dyes. She explains that she is not interested in matching colours, and so she can dispense with exact formulas and mix her dyes instinctively. She achieves many different effects using various techniques, with over 250 samples to prove it.

I learned that there are only fourteen single-chemical dye colours available, and that if you limit yourself to them, you can achieve an infinite number of colours and at the same time gain a better understanding of how the individual pigments behave in unique ways. I also learned that different fabrics accept dye differently and this can lead to very different effects, even when the other variables are unchanged. For example, with a densely-woven cotton, one side of the dyed cloth can look very unlike the other.

Twenty-two pages of notes, intended to support the information presented on the DVD, are available on Johnston's website. .

I would recommend this DVD resource as being every bit as informative as taking a workshop with Ann Johnston, with the added benefit that it's readily available when you need to review the material.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New book from Liz Barton

Elizabeth Barton's newly-published "Visual Guide to Working in a Series", subtitled "Next Steps in Inspired Design", is based on the on-line class Elizabeth taught through The course was the second of three I have taken with Barton. I have always been particularly drawn to her work because of her affinity for architectural themes.

The book opens with Barton making a persuasive case for working in a series, suggesting it will allow you to develop your own style while thoroughly exploring an idea, improving your technique, and creating a body of work. She proceeds to explain how one might go about choosing a theme and developing variations. As always, Barton is at ease referring the reader to artists in other media, giving examples of those who have used series as a vehicle to develop their work.

The focus then shifts to a discussion of evaluating both preliminary ideas and completed work. Barton recommends using drawing, watercolour sketching, collage, photocopying and photo manipulation as ways of preparing and refining a composition.

The latter part of the book is devoted to the principles of good composition. How can value contrast help make a successful piece?  How can negative space be used to add interest to the composition? What makes for a strong colour scheme? How can one create a sense of depth? The book ends with a checklist of seventeen questions to be used to assess the work in progress and to evaluate the finished piece.

With over two hundred images of art quilts by Barton and others, this book is a wonderful reference for those who have mastered the basics and want to develop their own imagery, whether abstract or representational, and their own artistic voice. To get a better sense of what Barton is all about, check out her blog, always lively, thoughtful and informative.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cityscapes show, Kirkland Library

Montmartre #4, Heather Dubreuil
Heather's cityscapes show the radiant transformation of an everyday exterior through the expressive potential of colour. She creates sensuous, aesthetic delight by a careful consideration of form and composition.

I am delighted to let you know about my upcoming solo show, featuring my latest Cityscapes.

The show will run in conjunction with the regional SAQA show, Synthesis II, February 8 - 27, 2014.

Kirkland Library,
17,100 Hymus Blvd., Kirkland QC

Mon- Fri, 10 am - 9 pm and Sat - Sun, 10 am - 5 pm

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