Sunday, July 30, 2017

Text'art retreat & making marks

Sittin' on the dock of the bay, photo taken by Colleen's camera and smart watch.
Heather, Lauma, Dianne, Michele, Helena and Colleen

Once again Dianne hosted a wonderful cottage retreat for our text'art group in the Eastern Townships. The six of us mostly pursued our own projects (some of them still secret!) but came together for walks, talks, and great meals.

Lauma shows how to arrange my efforts to best effect. 

My objective for the three days was to make lots of stamped patterns on cotton, first white paint on black and then black paint on white. I hope to incorporate some of this drama into future art quilts.

The photo below offers a clue as to how those large circles were made.

I used Speedball screen printing paint for fabric, just to try it out. There are lots of other options. 

Some of the prints were made by combining two stamps or two stencils.

Others involved a stencil, first used as a stencil (upper half) and then as a stamp (lower half). Great way to make use of paint that would otherwise be washed away.

Some stamps can be rotated for effect.

Stamps can be placed in a regular grid-like pattern

or in an alternating grid

or in a random overlapping pattern, like this one made with the end of a thread spool.

Unlike fabric dyeing, no intense attention was needed for this fun activity.

Dianne is pursuing a year-long photography course, and
her current assignment is "silhouette".
No concerns here about eyes closed or unflattering lighting!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Architectours 2017

Organized by Heritage Montreal, the special theme for this year's Architectours is "Montreal Through 8 Eras". In tribute to Montreal's 375th birthday, our urban geography is being viewed through a historical lens.

When people roll their eyes about the city making too much of this odd-numbered anniversary, I remind myself that I may not be around to celebrate the 400th anniversary, so I'm happy to step up to the banquet of events laid out for me and to partake in all the festivities.

Once again, the two-hour walking tours are available in English and French, on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm, from August 12 until October 8. Each tour is scheduled twice in the season, so if you do miss one, it will come around again.

Go to Heritage Montreal's website to view the brochure.

Here is a list of what's on offer:

1. The Cité des Sulpiciens (1642 - 1800) - back to colonial times and a chance to visit the Seminary gardens.

2. The Merchant City (1800 - 1860) - the eastern part of Old Montreal, with a focus on Montreal's role as a trading hub.

3. The Industrial City (1860 - 1890) - residential neighbourhoods built for factory workers in Griffintown and Faubourg des Récollets during the Industrial Revolution.

4. Canada's Metropolis (1890 - 1930) - real estate in the Golden Square Mile; stores, hotels and theatres spurred by the introduction of the tramway.

5. The First Suburbs (1900-1940) - focus on Outremont

6. The Cité-jardin du Tricentenaire (1930 - 1960) - an urban planning experiment built at the height of the Second World War, modelled on the Garden City movement.

7. The Modern City (1960 - 1980) - the boom years, epitomized by the building of Place Ville Marie and the Stock Exchange Tower.

8. Downtown Reimagined (1980 - 2017) - the development of the Quartier des Spectacles, centred on Place des Arts.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Third in a series?

Once again, I have made an art quilt, using hand-dyed and painted cotton with stitch, based on a small painted collage.

Here is the 10" x 10" collage that inspired the composition. The texture in the top third was created by painting tissue paper and then gluing it onto a painted background. The turquoise rectangle in the middle left was made the same way.

original painted collage, 10" x 10"

As before, I printed out a photo of the original piece, measured the various elements, and tripled them in size, creating templates for the different shapes. 

Wanting to triple the size of the "devilled eggs" print, I found some old printed blue cotton, and used the back of it, applying paint to the navy blue background. I like the imperfections created in the stamping/painting process.

painting and stitching detail

Not having quite the right colour for the lower margin, I substituted another hand-stencilled cotton from a previous marathon of printing on cloth, numbers on a dark blue background.

painting and stitching detail

The white circles that were stamped on in the original were reproduced in a scribbled stitching line for the art quilt.

stitching detail

Stitching was used to enhance some of the other cloth shapes, but it was not my intention to make the stitching so noticeable that it added another strong element. I felt there was enough going on in the piece without added distractions.

stitching detail
stitching detail

The art quilt is shown below, and will serve as the third in this series. I have committed to staging a solo show in a large venue in January, and I may well continue to make more in this series to produce a cohesive display. Sometimes a deadline is inspirational!

painted and stitched art quilt, 24" x 24"

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Second in a series?

A few weeks ago, I produced a 24" x 24" work in cloth that was based on a 10" x 10" painted collage. I posted about it, showing how it came together, step by step. Now I have made a second piece using the same process.

I was inspired by this painted collage, one of my orange-and-blue series. The largest shape has a wrinkly texture, created by painting tissue paper and then glueing it onto a painted background. The shape below that is a stamped texture on a grey-blue background, and the black-and-white rectangle is made of printed cotton.

original painted collage, 10" x 10"

I printed out a photo of the piece, and measured each of the shapes. Then I tripled the measurements and used that template to make shapes in cloth that corresponded to the original. 

When you assemble a quilt, layering top, batting and backing, stitching is required to hold the layers together. So this added element of stitching has to be carefully considered. 

I used closely-spaced, irregular stitching to create a texture for the large orange-red shape, and then applied patches of orange paint over the stitched cloth. And I reproduced the short, horizontal painted lines with yellow and orange thread and a dense, back-and-forth machine stitching.

stitching detail

I used a white marker on blue-grey hand-dyed cotton to recreate the patterned shape, enlarging the texture, and stitching around each mark with grey thread.

stitching detail

The final piece, shown below, is an exploration of the intersection between painted collage and art quilting.

painted art quilt, 24" x 24"

My objective is to be able to leave the security of modelling a work after a small finished piece in paint and collage, and to develop a feel for working larger and more directly, using both paint and stitch on cloth. Maybe a simple preliminary sketch of the shapes, colours and textures will serve as a useful aid in this process?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Abstract Painting, by Jane Davies

Having taken several workshops with Jane Davies, both in person and on-line, I was excited to get my hands on her newly-published book, Abstract Painting: The Elements of Visual Language. It's available from Amazon.

The objective of the book is to help readers to see our own work, to get past the experience of making the piece and to get to the point where we can objectively see the piece on its own terms. Seeing the piece helps us make decisions about how to move the piece forward.

Davies also discusses the elements of composition: line, shape, mass, pattern, texture, depth and colour. Rather than presenting the rules of composition, Davies prefers to explore the mechanics of composition.  She discounts the pursuit of balance and unity in favour of energy and interest.

Davies encourages the use of contrast in all things to add visual excitement. She suggests an exercise in making various lines, all different (direct and hesitant, drizzled and dotted, scribbled and streaked, thin and thick, wet and smudgy). By expanding one's arsenal of line, one can create more contrast of line. Similar exercises are proposed to explore contrast in shape and pattern.

Suggested exercises in colour support the use of dark, light and greyed colours, of opaque and translucent pigments, of analogous and complementary colour schemes. I found many of the activities in the book familiar, as they were introduced to me as a student in Davies' on-line classes.

I would recommend the book to anyone looking to advance their work in abstract imagery. With over 200 colour images, it's a volume that I will refer to often.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"Revolution" at the MMFA

London fashions and the iconic Twiggy

This season Montreal is heady with nostalgia for the "Summer of Love"; many exhibitions are planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Expo 67.

some typical concert posters from the era

A current show at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts purports to explore the era of the late sixties by examining six themes: the revolution in youth identity (how we look); the revolution in the head (how we think); the revolution in the street (how we change society); the revolution in consumption (how we buy); the revolution in society (how we live); and the revolution in communication (how we know).

a chance to flip through vintage record albums

On display are books and records from the era, film from Woodstock, and artifacts like a dispenser of birth control pills and a wooden computer mouse.

Just the thing to wear to a music festival

Regrettably, the exhibition falls short of my expectations. I found it light and superficial, aimed perhaps at tourists looking for an hour's diversion.

A small showcase of 60's design

Visitors are encouraged to recline on large floor cushions to watch concert films.

The show continues until October 9, 2017. More information is available on the exhibition website.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

"Love is Love": Jean-Paul Gaultier @ the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Anyone interested in textiles and clothing design will be blown away by the current show of French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, being staged at the MMFA, and running until October 9, 2017. The innovative use of materials and the quality of workmanship are exceptional, and the concepts are as outrageous as one might expect.

Net lace dress with large-patterned embroidery
and white linen cut-outs.
Gown worn by Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue
in her "Like a Drug" video

From the Museum's website, 
"In 2011, the MMFA presented The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, the first international retrospective devoted to the famous French designer. Produced by the MMFA in collaboration with the Maison Jean Paul Gaultier, it captivated over two million visitors in twelve cities around the world (Montreal, Dallas, San Francisco, Madrid, Rotterdam, Stockholm, New York, London, Melbourne, Paris, Munich and Seoul) – a record for a fashion exhibition!"

Sifnos lace blouse with olive tree-pattern beading /
Cotton duck skirt; white leather overskirt

Writes Gaultier,
“The tour of the exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier gave me the opportunity to show my creations around the world. I call this show by the MMFA ‘my biggest fashion show ever!’ In keeping with tradition, whereby an haute couture fashion show finishes with the bridal gown and to thank Quebecers for their enthusiasm for my work, but also the MMFA’s creative team behind this record-setting tour, it is only fitting that the grand finale feature my most beautiful wedding gowns, most of which are being shown for the first time in this Montreal exclusive. Love Is Love, long live the newlyweds!” 

Silk tulle and jersey gown draped and pleated in the "Madame Grès" manner,
adorned with a shield lent three-dimensionality by being entirely padded with feathers.
230 hours of work, 35 metres of tulle

Many of the thirty-six mannequins are positioned on a large pedestal, made to resemble a huge wedding cake. Ribbons of "fondant" serve to display others. The faces of some mannequins are animated with a sort of projection effect.

Hand-knit pure wool Irish fisherman's sweater dress
with fringe and pompom embroidery /
Handknit Irish fisherman's sweater, matching cream long johns
Note the single bridal veil over both.

It was interesting to note the range of "whites" used by Gaultier, ranging from palest nude to palest yellow to cream and grey and yes, white. Likewise, the theme of the show itself is a celebration of diversity.

Skirt and back-buttoned cardigan embroidered with Swarovski crystals

Skirt and back-buttoned cardigan embroidered with Swarovski crystals (detail)

For more information about this show, please visit the exhibition website.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cité Mémoire

Grand Tableau Cité Mémoire from Montréal en Histoires on Vimeo.

A truly remarkable experience awaits the visitor to Old Montreal this summer. Beginning at dusk every evening, short films inspired by Montreal's history are projected onto large walls of buldings, pavement and even trees, in 23 different locations. The event will be available for four years, and was five years in the making. It was created by Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, in collaboration with Michel Marc Bouchard.

Billed as "the largest outdoor projection walking tour in the world", it is supported by a free mobile app, Montréal en Histoires, that provides audio in four different languages. Guided tours are available for individuals and groups, and monitors are positioned at many of the locations to provide technical support to those who prefer to do a self-guided tour.

On a recent Friday evening, we were pleased to see how lively the neighbourhood was, with restaurants and bars filled to capacity at 11 pm and later. The number of visitors enhanced the sense of security we felt as we made our way along the cobbled streets and narrow alleyways.

Once I figured out how to activate the localization feature on the app, and to connect to the free wifi (MTLWIFI), we were off and running.

More information is available on-line.  I would recommend spending some time exploring the website so that, once on-site, you can feel comfortable with the technology and the geography of the project. Please note that some of the films end at 11 pm, and all the others at midnight.

This project is part of Montreal's 375th anniversary celebrations.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Moshe Safdie at UQAM's Centre de Design

For those interested in Habitat 67 and its architect Moshe Safdie, the current show at UQAM's Centre de Design is a must-see. It is one of many events staged as part of Montreal's 375th anniversary celebrations.

The show includes a 25-minute filmed interview with a young Safdie, in which he outlines his philosophy of "humanist architecture." The intention of his design is to combine the best aspects of suburban living (gardens, proximity to nature, space for families and children to play) and the best aspects of urban living (density, access to a rich cultural life), while keeping in mind economies of scale.

We see his earliest projects, including some of his student work done while at McGill. Maquettes of ideas made while an undergraduate are on view, anticipating the design of Habitat 67.

The whole trajectory of his career can be appreciated with the inclusion of large models of projects, some realized, as in Singapore and China, others never built. The show demonstrates "how Safdie has consistently applied the design principles and ideologies he introduced as part of Habitat '67 to every project since that time."

Habitat '67 vers l'avenir / The Shape of Things to Come
June 1 - August 13, 2017, Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 6 pm, free admission
UQAM Centre de Design, 1440 Sanguinet Street, Montreal