Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hanging the Atrium Gallery show

On Thursday Michele Meredith and I spent almost six hours hanging 32 of my Cityscapes at the Atrium Gallery. When people ask, "How much time did you spend making this?" does anyone remember the time spent securing and promoting shows, plus wrapping, transporting, and hanging the work?

The Atrium Gallery has several nice features. There are four double-sided, moveable panels which can be positioned to add interest and wall space, and two glass walls that allow passersby an enticing peek inside the "shoe box".

The lighting is good, and can be positioned precisely. The facility is busy, with extended hours and good security. And the administrator of the space, Penelope Kokkinos, is very helpful, providing translations of material, labels, and advice.

I like the way we were able to arrange a wall of small pieces.  This is how I like to hang smaller works at home.

Two of the 10" x 12"s went into a display case outside the gallery door.

I started working in this size because of the 12 by the dozen challenges.

We were able to group works with more subtle palettes together, so they weren't overwhelmed by those with bolder colours. Here my most recent work, Rue de Buade #1, is centred between two older pieces, Montmartre #2 and Montmartre #3, looking very happy with each other.

These two bold and bright pieces work well together too, catching the attention of the passerby.

I'm glad I thought to make a fourth 24" x 24" for the show. The four large, square works are hung back-to-back on the panels facing a glass wall.

I took a workshop at the SAQA conference in Santa Fe with Pat Pauley, on the subject of hanging shows. She advised establishing a sightline of, say, 60" above the floor, with all pieces centred on that line, and I find that allows for a smooth transition between various sizes and formats.

Camden Town #2, with its bold yellow palette, is placed near the entrance, to attract the viewer. I have used it on my business cards and as the banner for my website, so it's become something of a trademark.

Cityscapes: Collages in Cloth and Stitch runs until October 22, at the Atrium Gallery, 101 Centrepointe Drive, in Ottawa. Hours are
Monday - Thursday, 8:30 am - 9 pm
Friday, 8:30 am - 6 pm
Saturday 10 am - 5 pm and Sunday 1 - 5 pm.

Please remember to sign the guest book if you have a chance to drop in!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Solo show at the Atrium Gallery, Ottawa

So pleased to have an opportunity to show my work at the Atrium Gallery, 101 Centrepointe Drive, in Ottawa. The show opens September 26 and runs until October 22.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Colour inspiration: Rue de Buade #2

Rue de Buade, #2

"What's the most difficult part of making this?" That's the question I was asked by a visitor to my tent at Art by the Lake. "Is it the stitching?"

"No," I answered. "It's choosing all the colours." Now, deciding on a colour palette is pleasurable.   It's satisfying. It's fun. But selecting a team of players, dark and light, dull and bright, is tricky. I'm also limited to using the hand-dyes that I have on hand, because I don't really want to interrupt the process of composing a piece to dye another batch of cloth.

I had the drawing for my latest piece done and all was in place to begin the colour selection. Nothing seemed quite right. Then, inspiration came from the most unlikely source. One of the women in my fitness class showed up wearing a teal-coloured jacket with a turquoise-green top. Just a little "off". Salty and sweet. It was a combination that pushed me in a new direction, combining yellow-greens and blue-greens.

Seeing the work in progress, I was reminded of a page I had ripped from an Oprah magazine ten years ago. A quick search and there it was, a stack of towels in a most intriguing combination of colours, suggesting a little seasoning with blue-violet. Hmmm.

The resulting piece, Rue de Buade #2, is based on a photo taken in Quebec City this summer.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Water Tower #8

I love New York's water towers, those solitary sentinels surveying the urban scene. Their shape contrasts nicely with the interlocking blocks of buildings that I so enjoy.

Water Tower #8
With a solo show coming up next week, I decided to make another 24" x 24" Cityscape, Water Tower #8, to complement the other three of that size in the show. I found myself working from this photo taken in May of last year, when I had a chance to visit with my friend Heather, who came into NYC from her home in Pennsylvania to spend time with me.

When I told Heather that I like to find urban views from an elevated perspective, because it helps eliminate some of the "visual noise" at street level, she suggested that I take a tour on a double decker bus. Loath as I was to do such a "touristy" thing, I liked her idea, and this photo is one of several I captured that day.

I cropped it into a square shape, took out the colour, and changed the background a bit.

In various workshops over the years, I have learned the "rules" of good composition, which are of course made to be broken. They include:

- Make all four corners of the piece different.
- Avoid having a major line or edge running through the middle of the composition.
- Imagine a grid dividing your work into thirds, horizontally and vertically, and place your focal point at one of the intersections.
- Use a high contrast of dark and light to emphasize the focal point, and/or a contrast of shape, colour or texture. 
- Avoid using a shape or line that leads the eye out of the frame of the piece. 
- Have one colour predominate.
- Have a variety of small, medium and large shapes. Likewise, where shapes intersect the outer edge of the piece, vary the sizes.

These "rules" make sense to me, because I think the human brain is engaged by variety and asymmetry.  I think that this piece succeeds on many of these points, though I'm not quite sure about the predominant colour. And I love this hot palette, though I might be tempted to add a shot of turquoise to these rosy colours in a future piece.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Art by the Lake

The beautiful, shade-dappled grounds of Stewart Hall in Pointe-Claire were the setting for the annual fall show of the Lakeshore Artists group, September 6 and 7.

I was honoured to be a Guest Artist, and my friend Helena Scheffer was the show convenor, rassling more than 50 artists and their work. Unofficially, we both flew the brightly-coloured flag of fibre amidst a group of painters, sculptors and potters.

The less said about Saturday's weather, the better, but Sunday was glorious and the crowds came out in force.

Here's Helena in a rare moment of quiet. Her display was swarmed with visitors and she made several nice sales.

And here I am with my Cityscapes. Though sales were minimal, I think that my presence at the show generated some interest that will pay off in the future. Many business cards were taken as well as handouts for upcoming shows, and I had no shortage of engaging conversations and compliments throughout the day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

SAQA on-line auction: check it out!

Brooklyn #5, in Group 1 of the SAQA on-line auction

Every year, Studio Art Quilt Associates stages an online auction of quilts as their major fundraiser. More than $60,000 was raised last year. SAQA is a wonderful international organization that offers annual conferences, regional group meetings, juried travelling shows, publications and on-line resources, including calls-for-entry and coaching. Its mission is to raise the profile of art quilting, and to support its more than 3000 members as they develop a professional approach to presenting their art.

I have been helped immeasurably by SAQA. At first, reading the quarterly journal was enough for me. Being accepted as a Juried Artist Member was a real confidence-booster, and by attending the two most recent conferences, I was introduced to some great people, who offered new insights and ideas, helping me to go forward. I follow the on-line forum for its useful resources. And though I haven't yet entered one of their major exhibits, I hope to do so next year.

At 2 p.m. on Monday, September 15, the first group of 96 12-inch mini-quilts goes up for bidding. Mine is one of them! Have a quick look if you would like a glimpse of the impressive variety of subject and technique being used by contemporary art quilters. Better yet, consider bidding. On Day 1, any piece may be purchased for $750. On Day 2, $500. The going price decreases until, on Day 6, any piece may be picked up for $75.

UPDATE: Many, many thanks to Nysha Nelson, who snapped up Brooklyn #5 within the first half-hour of bidding.

My text'art friend Helena Scheffer has submitted the gorgeous Fire and Ice to the second group, launching Monday, September 22, and the third group opens Monday, September 29. As you might imagine it's very exciting for those of us who have donated quilts to follow the bidding, and even more exciting for the buyers. Please feel free to follow the action!

NEWS FLASH: My UK friend Maggi Birchenough has sent me this photo of the cover of Portfolio 21, the just-published compendium of images from SAQA's Juried Artist Members. (Maggi will soon take on the role of SAQA co-rep for the UK, Europe and the Middle East. Whew!) That's a segment of my piece, Camden Town #2, on the cover. So pleased! And a fine cover it is, too!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Back to School? Ten Rules for Students and Teachers (and Artists)

Sister Mary Corita

Widely attributed to musician John Cage, these rules were written in 1968 by his friend and associate, the extraordinary Sister Corita Kent. An unlikely fixture in the Los Angeles art scene, the nun was an instructor at Immaculate Heart College and a celebrated artist who considered Saul Bass, Buckminster Fuller and Cage to be personal friends.

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.
RULE TWO: General duties of a student: Pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher: Pull everything out of your students.
RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.
RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.
RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.
RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
RULE TEN: We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.
HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything. It might come in handy later.
I especially subscribe to Rule #7. You?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Twist Fibre Festival

For a couple of years now I have intended to visit the Twist Fibre Festival, held annually in the tiny town (pop. 3200) of Saint-André-Avellin, in the Montebello area of Quebec. This year's event was held on August 21 - 24, and it was impressive, filling the neighbourhood hockey arena. As my husband noted, "I've never seen so much wool in one place!"

The first two days of the festival were devoted to workshops. In all, there were 23 choices, including "Madder Root Dyeing", "Indigo Dyeing", "Felted Wool Collage", "Lace Felting", "Crafting Your Brand" and "From Proposal to Print".

Areas were set aside for children's activities, and for demos of carding, spinning and weaving. Outside, visitors could spend time with alpacas and Shetland sheep, and even observe sheep being sheared.

The organizers boasted 100 vendors and exhibitors. Booths included lace-making, silk painting, naturally-dyed scarves, and beautiful fine knits.

Maggie Glossop of Ottawa was there with her unique landscapes of felted wool. Also from Ottawa, Wabi-Sabi had perhaps the largest space. They were one of many vendors offering gorgeous rainbows of hand-dyed yarn. Another vendor specialized in vegan yarn: hemp, linen, cotton and bamboo.

The space was divided between artisans offering finished work and vendors selling supplies like tools, hand-dyed yarns and hand-crafted buttons, as well as kits.

The Twist Festival provides a glimpse into the fibre culture of this agricultural region. It offers those working with spun fibres an opportunity to learn new techniques and to stock up on supplies. And for the general public, it's a chance to do some early holiday shopping.

It has been suggested to me that this would be a good venue for showing and selling my work, but having visited, I have to say that I don't think Twist would be a good fit for me. It's oriented more to craft than to art, and my prices would be high relative to most of what is on offer.