Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Another baby quilt

the fabric scrap that inspired the colour choices

The new mother has asked for another baby quilt. This one is "for fun",  to be used in the stroller, in the carseat, and while out and about. She chose a scrap of fabric to inspire the colour palette, a lively mix of hot colours: magenta, red, orange, pink and yellow.




Because I have so many fabric scraps on hand, it made sense to turn to a book I bought some years ago, Successful Scrap Quilts, by Judy Turner and Margaret Rolfe. The authors were inspired by Japanese tatami mats, creating designs that use uniform rectangles measuring half as wide as they are long. The design on the cover seemed like the most interesting choice.

The book's opening pages discuss the use of value, colour blending, and finding that magical balance of repetition and variation. This particular design alternates between a darker square within a lighter square, and a lighter square within a darker square. The same fabric may serve as a light in one square, and a dark in another, relative to what it's paired with.


Some of the fabric scraps cut into rectangles, 2" x 3.5".
It will take almost 400 of these to make a 42"-square quilt.

Here's the tentative layout up on the design wall.

The quilting had to wait until the background fabric, ordered on-line, arrived by mail. Meanwhile, I sketched out a few designs for the quilting.

Curving lines in the quilting design complement the
straight geometry of the pieced rectangles.

The quilting lines required marking, which is a disadvantage, but otherwise it was reasonably easy.


the finished quilt, 42" x 42"

While waiting for the arrival of the backing fabric, I made this "dolly quilt", using scraps from the scraps. It was also a chance to try out the quilting design and the variegated thread.

18" x 18", machine-quilted

Those of us who love scrap quilts may relate to this poem, included in the introduction to the Turner & Rolfe book:

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

from "Pied Beauty" by Gerald Manley Hopkins (1844-89)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Art Quilt Elements 2018

Want to have a look at some of the best art quilts being made today? Check out this slide show of the 48 works accepted into Art Quilt Elements 2018. The slide show begins with the prizewinners and then shifts to alphabetical order by artist. Really impressive work and a wonderful variety. I can't even choose a favourite.

Catherine W. Smith, Transfusion #3

AQE 2018 is the 13th biennial internationally juried exhibition of contemporary fine quilts at the Wayne Art Centre, Wayne PA. It continues until April 28.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Jannick Deslauriers @ Art Mûr, Montreal



Recently I visited Galerie Art Mûr with my Text'art group, where we saw the incredible work of Jannick Deslauriers, in a show titled Sentence, souffle et linceul. Deslauriers is a Montrealer who teaches at Collège Marie-Victorin. Her medium is screening, netting and organza, which she stitches together. I last saw her work in a group show at Pointe Claire's Stewart Hall.


Fractured, 2017

"Jannick Deslauriers’ works, her subjects broken and decaying through entropy or more violent and intentional acts of demolition, tackle salient issues of the Anthropocene: trans global commerce in weapons, energy and human beings, what the artist describes as 'a collective history played out daily in news media.'  
"Fractured, the “translucent and dislocated” form caught in a moment of demolition which is the eponymous work in Deslauriers’ Sentence, souffle et linceul, is a full scale automobile: its form distilled from meticulously researched images of both intact and damaged vehicles; its bespoke distressed surfaces conveying a visceral engagement with the reality of “certain geopolitical issues,” the artist seeks to address, the premeditated destruction which is “a symbol of our times.” The work, and the shroud in its title—‘linceul’—reference the human body, the inevitable bodies that are connected to such images in real life." 
                                                                                            -Martha Robinson

Un Fragment du Marché Bonsecours, 2017

Some of Deslauriers' subjects are architectural. In this case, a photo of a sculpture's detail was reproduced as a digital print.

Détail du Marché Bonsecours
digital print

A detail photo of
Détail du Marché Bonsecours, above
Ligne brisée, 2017

Convoy, 2017

Convoy, detail, 2017

Van Horne Warehouse, 2017

Below is another instance of a digital print included in the show, using a detail photo of a sculptural piece.

Detail, Van Horne Warehouse
digital print


While at the gallery, we saw work by many other artists. This screen, made of stitched paper, also caught my eye. I had seen it at a Belgo Building gallery a few years ago.


La fenêtre à carreaux, 2014
Sarah Bertrand-Hamel
kozo paper, cotton thread, pine frame
La fenêtre à carreaux, 2014
Sarah Bertrand-Hamel, alternate view
La fenêtre à carreaux, 2014
Sarah Bertrand-Hamel,detail

Jannick Deslaurier's show, Sentence, souffle et linceul, continues until April 28, 2018.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Papier 2018 next weekend




Dedicated exclusively to the medium of paper and to the possibilities it offers, Papier is one of the largest fairs of its kind in North America. The event is a key driver for Canadian contemporary art, as well as a unique meeting ground for the greater public, enthusiasts and visual arts professionals alike.

Forty galleries from Montreal and beyond are represented.

Friday, noon - 9; Saturday and Sunday, 11 - 6
Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal
2020 William Street

Parking available, metro recommended (Georges-Vanier or Lionel-Groulx station)

The $10 general admission gives access to panel discussions and guided tours in English and French. The $150 VIP ticket also gives access to a select group of artist studios and private and corporate collections, as well as an exclusive cocktail party on the Thursday evening.

More information about Papier 18 is available here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Hudson Artists Spring Show 2018



I do hope you will be able to join me at the upcoming Spring Show of the Hudson Artists, opening Friday, April 20, at the Hudson Community Centre, 394 Main Road in Hudson QC. More than 30 local artists will be showing their most recent work in a variety of media. Refreshments are offered, and proceeds from the raffled painting will go to the local Le Nichoir bird sanctuary.

Hours are Friday, 7:30 - 9:30 pm and Saturday-Sunday 10 am - 5 pm.

I will have three pieces from my newest series in hand-dyed linen on display. These are the 24" x 24" works that were included in the Galerie Carlos solo show earlier this year. And I have committed to working on the sales desk the Friday evening of the vernissage. Hope to see you there!

Out of the Blue, hand-dyed linen, 24 x 24



Sunday, April 8, 2018

Guns: A Loaded Conversation

I am a juried artist member of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), a group of more than 3000 that promotes the art quilt worldwide.

SAQA has recently put together a curated show of 33 art quilts on the subject of guns. This timely and powerful exhibition opens in San José, California on April 22, 2018.

A slideshow of the 33 works is available here. Click on any one of the works to see it more closely. A written artist statement and an audio clip narrated by the artist are also available.

137 Bullets,  Diane K. Bird, 41 x 43 inches
"Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams lost their lives on November 29, 2012. Russell sped away from a Cleveland police officer who had attempted to pull him over for a traffic violation. The ensuing chase ended in a school parking lot, where police officers shot 137 bullets at the pair trapped in the car. They claimed gunfire emanated from the car, but no gun was ever found. Malissa was shot 24 times and Timothy was shot 23 times. Their humanity was erased with the shooting. My quilt tabulates the bullet count that took their lives."

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Finished baby quilt

As promised, here is a photo of the completed traditional baby quilt. This is what it looked like before it was washed, in all its flat perfection.

The colours were chosen to coordinate with the nursery wallpaper,
a large, elegant floral in neutrals. I threw in a little pink to "lift" it a bit.

Made entirely from my collection of fabric scraps (except for the newly-purchased backing), even the binding is a mix of this and that.


More than 500 triangles went into this 40" x 40" quilt.

I chose to quilt it on my domestic sewing machine, using a design called "continuous curves", which doesn't require any marking. It was surprising to me how all the traditional quilt-making techniques still seemed familiar, though it's been some time since I last used them.

The quilt took on a slightly "puckered" appearance after washing. And it still needs a label, hand-stitched into place on the back. Ta-da!



Sunday, April 1, 2018

10 Textile Artists Who Are Pushing the Medium Forward

Judith Scott, Untitled

The editors of Artsy compiled this list about 18 months ago. It includes a few artists I have profiled on my blog in the past: Sheila Hicks, Judith Scott, and El Anatsui. And others that I'd like to learn more about.

El Anatsui, Timespace

Each entry includes a brief artist's bio and a mini-portfolio of images.


Sheila Hicks, Safe Passage

Well worth a look!

And in a similar vein:

Here's the link to an article in Huffington Post, titled "14 Women Artists Who've Changed the Way We Think About Design".


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

De Musei Fabrica: Cloth and Stitch Inspired by the Maude Abbott Medical Museum



Thanks to Lauma, my talented photographer friend and fellow Text'art member, here is a photo of the piece I have finished for an upcoming group show. Each of the six members of Text'art has produced a fibre piece measuring 36" x 24", inspired by artifacts on view at McGill University's Maude Abbott Medical Museum.

Under the Knife: What Lies Beneath

My artist statement for this piece reads:

"The beauty of a tool is in its design, honed over the centuries. Adjunct to the hand of the user, its unique, elegant shape is defined by its special purpose. 
The laying out of the surgical tray is a ritual, a tradition, a prelude to the sacrament of cutting into the body. 
My piece is inspired by this order, and by the careful archiving of the Maude Abbott collection, with its specimens neatly arranged and labelled. Beyond that, it imagines the wondrous textures and systems revealed by the surgeon's knife.
Hand- and machine-stitching, fusing, burning, photo transfer, pleating, trapunto; hand-dyed cotton and linen, antique linen, organza, tulle, rayon, wool, cheesecloth, scrim, paint, beads, buttons, threads."
An exhibition of these pieces will be staged in the entrance hall of the William Osler Library, May 14 - June 15, 2018. An official reception is planned for 5:30 pm, Thursday, May 17. The library's regular hours are 9 am - 5 pm, Monday - Friday.  You can find the location on this map.

More information about the show will be available on the library's website.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Group of Eight?

Birch Trees and Lake, Florence McGillivray, c. 1917

A recent article in Canadian Art proposes that a little-known woman painter, Florence McGillivray, was a major influence on Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven.

McGillivray (1864-1938) was born in Whitby, Ontario and later lived in Toronto and Ottawa. She studied with Matisse in France in 1913, but her experience in Europe was cut short by the outbreak of World War I. She had a close relationship with Tom Thomson, often visiting his wilderness camps and painting alongside him. She is even said to have mentored him, sharing what she had learned during her European studies.

The first major survey of her work will be staged at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in 2020.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Giacometti @ the MNBAQ



Recently I travelled to Quebec City, to the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, to see the exhibition on Alberto Giacometti, (1901 - 1966).




The museum's website has an excellent description of the show, which includes more than 230 objects, including 110 sculptures and 50 paintings. An informative biographical timeline greets the visitor at the entrance, and detailed explanations posted on the wall guide us through the various periods of Giacometti's art. Visitors are offered tablet guides with audio and supplementary images.





The earliest work we see is a painted self-portrait of Giacometti. Before the age of 30 he had moved from painting to sculpture. The influence of African and Egyptian art is evident in Giacometti's early sculpture, done in a Cubist style, but within a few years one can see him working with Surrealist themes.




In the 1930's, Giacometti experienced a crisis following the death of his father that led him to reject Surrealism and return to representational work. This shift resulted in his expulsion from his group of artist friends, and he began to associate with existentialists, including Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.




Scale was something that Giacometti experimented with during the 1940's. One of his full figures measures less than an inch tall. He explained that by working very small, it was as though his subject was far away, and only the most salient features of face and posture were observable. In other words, he was getting to the subject's essence.


These figures are about 14 inches tall.


This head is larger than life size.

The artist's male figures are always in motion,
the female figures always stationary.
This "Walking Man" is about life size,
and the woman is larger-than-life.



Giacometti did return to painting, especially portraiture. He worked exclusively with a neutral palette, and was known to spend months on a single subject.




This illuminating survey of Giacometti's life work continues at the Musée until May 13, 2018. It will be followed by a solo show of the French Impressionist Berthe Morisot, June 21, 2018 - September 23. I'm hoping to see that show, and will time my visit to coincide with another show at the MNBAQ, Fait Main / Hand Made, which will explore the contemporary trend of art based on artisanal processes and a mastery of the material. This second show will run from June 14 - September 3.




Sunday, March 18, 2018

A traditional baby quilt



Sometimes it's satisfying to get my teeth into a traditional quilt project. I've taken my inspiration for a baby quilt from Spectacular Scraps, by Judy Hooworth and Margaret Rolfe.




The projects in the book are based exclusively on the half-square triangle. The authors suggest choosing two colours to use in all the squares, and then creating blocks of four squares in one or two of 256 arrangements, as diagrammed above. The book gives advice about how to cut and sew the half-square triangles, and how to choose colours.

Here's a baby quilt I made in 2016 from the same book. In this case I worked with many different greens and pinks, and a single block for the design.



Above is the design I've chosen to work with this time. Instead of limiting myself to two colours (blue and cream are used in the model), I'm sorting my scraps into darks and lights. It's satisfying to use up what I already have on hand. Sometimes I can use one fabric as a dark, and then use the flip side as a light. My palette has been inspired by the wallpaper chosen for the baby's nursery, a large floral with greys, browns and beiges on an ivory background.

There are times in the making of a traditional quilt when the workspace is disorderly. Here's the pile of cottons after I've had my way with my scraps.



But most of the time I try to get the work done in an efficient and methodical way. For example, here is a tray of half-square triangle pairs, ready to be stitched together, one dark to one light. Consistency in measurement is important.





I use my sewing machine to chain stitch one triangle to another, creating long strings of triangular banners that I can easily transport to the ironing board for a good pressing.


Half-square triangles as they emerge from sewing machine


Still linked for ease of handling,
ready to be pressed open


And here are all those squares up on my design wall. This is the time to ensure that the various colours and prints are well distributed throughout. You'll see that I've introduced a little pink into the mix, just to add a bit of oomph. And there are tiny bits of colour (green, red, blue) in some of the prints, to add some interest.

If you squint, you might be able to see that there is a zig-zag, ribbon-like
frame around the border, and 9 dark stars in the central part.

It's quite a challenge to move the individual blocks to the sewing machine, keeping all in order, and having all the triangles in the correct orientation. I like to listen to an audiobook or a podcast when doing this kind of work, which manages to be mindless while at the same time requiring focussed attention.

Once the top is pieced and quilted, I will be sure to post the finished baby quilt here.