Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Stewart Hall Rental Collection 2017

Once again, I am delighted to have work accepted into the juried show for the Stewart Hall Rental Collection in Pointe-Claire.

Competition is always fierce, and typically there are over 500 entries from all over the region for the 130-or-so acceptances. This year I took a chance and entered three small acrylic collage pieces, rather than work in cloth.

One of them was accepted. And it has already been purchased. Every year the Gallery buys a single work and then awards it to someone randomly chosen from all those who purchase a piece of art during the show. This year the winner will go home with Touchstone #1.

Touchstone #1

The idea behind the Stewart Hall Rental Collection is that a wide range of work (different sizes, different media, different subjects, different colours, different price points) is accepted for the show at the beautiful Stewart Hall Gallery. When the show closes in late November, all the works become available for sale or rental, for one year. Last year I was lucky enough to sell a large cityscape in fibre.

Come and see what it's all about!

October 29 - November 27, 2016
Monday - Sunday 1 - 5 pm; Wednesday 1 - 9 pm
vernissage: Sunday, October 30, 2 pm

176 Lakeshore Road, Pointe Claire QC


Sunday, October 23, 2016

It's Another Baby Quilt...

... and it's for another baby! Last month, my niece delivered her second child, a girl, and this 42"-square scrap quilt should do nicely to mark the event.

I dug deep into my fabric stash (so satisfying to use up what's on hand) and came up with an array of florals, checks, swirls and polka dots, all in greens and reds. The pattern was inspired by Spectacular Scraps: A Simple Approach to Stunning Quilts, written by Judy Hooworth and Margaret Rolfe (Martingale & Company, 1999). The book shows how half-square triangles can be combined in many different ways to create simple but effective patterns.

I chose to quilt it by machine in a pattern called "continuous curves", an easy approach that requires no marking.

The backing is a tiny pink-on-pink polka dot, and the binding is a green plaid. The wide variety of greens and soft pinks reminds me of pistachio and raspberry sorbet. Quite suitable to welcome Baby Karina!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Through Our Hands: new edition available on-line

They've done it again! With ninety-four pages of wonderful images, fascinating detail and a full range of fibre-based art, Laura Kemshall, Linda Kemshall and Annabel Rainbow have published Through our Hands magazine, Autumn 2016 edition.

It's available for free on-line, and well worth a look.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hockey & Fine Art: A Point of View

John Little, Hockey Rue d'Artillerie, Québec, 1960

The Alan Klinkhoff Gallery presents Fine Art & Hockey: A Point of View, an exhibition of fine Canadian paintings on the subject of hockey.

Some of the artists included are Bruno Bobak, Molly Lamb Bobak, Adrien Hébert, William Kurelek, John Little, Claude Simard, and Philip Surrey.
"Hockey has become synonymous with Canadian culture, and is often used as a metaphor for Canadian life....  The works of art, none of which are for sale, are on loan from private, corporate and institutional collections."
Philip Surrey, Detroit vs. Canadiens, 1960

October 15 - 29, 2016
1448 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal

Hours: Tuesday - Friday, 9 am - 5 pm; Saturday, 9:30 am - 5 pm.

The exhibition may also be viewed on-line.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Extreme cropping

I have signed up for a class at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, titled "Methods and Materials in Acrylic Painting". The instructor is Melanie Matthews, who is well-known in Montreal as a rep for Golden products. Her specialty is mixed-media: collage and painting.

For the six weeks of the class, we will be working on three 12 x 12 panels. Our homework this week is to select a single black-and-white image that measures 37 x 13 in vertical or horizontal orientation. These dimensions require severe cropping of a standard-sized photo.

The idea is that the three panels will ultimately be hung together to display the full image. The extra inch in both directions is required for a half-inch overhang on the panel sides.

The photo is be printed out in mirror-image, full-size, at a specialty copy shop. As well, the image is to be 70% light and 30% dark. It should be "simple". And it will be the only image we work with for the full six weeks of the course, so it's important to like it!

Each successive week will be devoted to adding more layers to our panels. We have begun by sealing them and applying gesso. Next comes collage to add texture. Later it will be glazes of paint.

Above are the five images I am considering. I have tried to crop so that each panel is interesting in itself, and taken into account the negative spaces. I'm completely undecided at this point, and hope to get advice from the instructor about their suitability before going to the print shop. Any thoughts?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

In Print! x 3

Just delighted to have my work featured in three magazines this season.

An art quilt that I made specifically for SAQA's "Tranquility" call for entry was accepted to the show and also chosen as part of a two-page spread in the SAQA Journal, Volume 26 No. 3. I was pleased to be accepted as it was the first time I had entered an all-member SAQA show. I participated in a regional show a few years ago, "Synthesis 2".

Page 2 of 2-page spread on "Tranquility" show, SAQA Journal, Vol. 26 No. 3

SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) is an American-based international group that promotes the medium and supports artists who work with fibre. Among their many initiatives, they regularly organize thematic exhibitions that travel worldwide to be shown in museums and at quilt shows. "Tranquility" will open at the upcoming International Quilt Festival in Houston, the IQF in Chicago (April 2017) and will likely be shown at other venues over the next couple of years.

The current October/November issue of Quilting Arts magazine also features an 8-page sampling from the "Tranquility" show, devoting a full page to my "Come Sit with Me, Patrick Caulfield". My artist statement reads,
"Patrick Caulfield (1936 - 2005) was a British artist known for his paintings of interiors, with their strong black lines and flat colours. This is my invitation to him, to join me in my cozy reading corner and have a cup of tea."

Page 4 of an 8-page spread in Quilting Arts magazine (Oct-Nov 2016) is given over to my work!

Even more exciting is the upcoming edition of Stampington's Art Quilting Studio, which will showcase ten of my cityscapes and include a beautifully-written article by Ricë Freeman-Zachary, based on her interview with me in August. I will post more details as they become available.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Café Mikko

A little over two years ago, Café Mikko opened its doors to the passing trade of Hudson, QC. It has become a favourite spot for coffee, lunch and snacks, and is also a great source for carefully curated housewares and accessories, all in keeping with its clean, minimalist aesthetic.

I was delighted to be approached by owner Elizabeth Glazier to show my work at Café Mikko for the next few months. I plan to switch it up every few weeks to keep the display fresh.

For more information about hours, menu and boutique items, please visit the Café Mikko website.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Update on Hudson Artists Fall Show

Touchstone series, collage and acrylic, on display at show

For the first time ever, three judges were engaged at the Hudson Artists Fall Show. The intention was that the judges would choose a single work that was a real stand-out.

The judges were

Christian Gonzalez, cultural activist and publisher of "Talents d'ici", 
Madeleine Turgeon, President of the Autour de Nous art group and Vice-President of the Conseil des Arts et de la Culture de Vaudreuil-Soulanges, and 
Martine Therrien, professional artist and visual arts teacher,

and they were on the job when I arrived early to the 7 pm vernissage on the Friday evening.

When the judges addressed the assembled artists and visitors an hour later, they first announced the single work that had won Best of Show. It was a large collage on panel, about 30 x 40, by Francine Barrette-Labelle. 

Ville de Glace, by Francine Barrette-Labelle, won best of show

Then the judges announced that they had spontaneously decided to award two Honourable Mentions for "outstanding bodies of work".  I was thrilled to have my new Touchstone series recognized in this way. 

Madeleine Turgeon's favourite

Martine Therrien's favourite

Even better was a chance to talk to the judges about their response to my new work. Madeleine Turgeon, whose work I greatly admire, said that even though the abstract collage is a departure from my fibre-based Cityscapes, that it was immediately recognizable as my work because of its "meticulous attention to detail", and its "concern with balance and composition". She and Martine Therrien were able to identify their favourite of the 15 in the Touchstone series, but Christian Gonzalez wasn't able to name a single favourite. He liked the whole group.

Joanna Olson's small still life paintings

Joanna Olson's small still lifes were also acknowledged with an Honourable Mention. Again, Joanna's paintings can be immediately identified as hers. There is a soft warmth, a brightness and a delicate touch to her work that I find very feminine.

The judges' favourite of Joanna's small oil paintings

It was a delight to have validation from many of the other artists, who came up to me before the awards were announced to express their excitement about my new series. Because I am known to this group (mostly painters) almost exclusively for my work with fibre, I often feel a bit marginalized. So, it was very special to have new work in another style and medium recognized.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hudson Artists Fall Show

It's that time of year again, and for the sixth time I am pleased to hang my work at the annual Fall Show of the Hudson Artists. With twenty-three artists participating, and a wide variety of styles and mediums, it should be worth a visit. If you'd like to see my new series of mixed media 10 x 10's, this is your chance!

There will be 15 of my new "Touchstone" series
at the Hudson Artists Fall Show.

Something new this time around:

Three judges have been invited to name a Best of Show.  They are:

Christian Gonzalez, cultural activist and publisher of "Talents d'ici", 
Madeleine Turgeon, President of the Autour de Nous art group and Vice-President of the Conseil des Arts et de la Culture de Vaudreuil-Soulanges, and 
Martine Therrien, professional artist and visual arts teacher.

Another innovation

Member Judith Harvey, best known for her "old masters" style of still life oil painting, will give a one-hour demonstration of her technique on Saturday, beginning at noon. Sponsored by a grant from ELAN, this is free to both AHA members and the public.

This is a live demonstration with emphasis on classical techniques and approaches, such as 'Chiaroscuro', 'Rembrandt lighting' and 'colour palettes'. Also to be discussed, the importance of composition and lighting set-up, especially with regard to still life painting.


President John Goodger has donated a lovely painted landscape of Hudson Sandy Beach to be raffled off in support of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Palliative Care Residence.

When and where: 

The show opens on Friday, September 30, 7 - 9 pm, and continues Saturday and Sunday, October 1 and 2, from 10 am - 5 pm. It will be held at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre, 394 Main Road in Hudson, Quebec.

I will make an appearance on Friday evening and will staff the greeting card sales on Sunday, beginning at 2:30 pm. I do hope to see you there! 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Margaret Cooter

I was so pleased to meet with Margaret Cooter while in England recently. We first met a few years ago, introduced by a mutual friend, Hilary Gooding, when we three spent a morning exploring the atmospheric grounds of Highgate Cemetery in North London. I have been following her blog ever since.

Margaret's eclectic interests are reflected in her wide range of postings. She posts about workshops she is taking in drawing and printmaking, and about the adventures of her regular sketching group. She posts about her bookmaking projects and her explorations of dipping stitched fabric into porcelain slip. Often she will post interesting photos taken while walking around London, or on her visits to London exhibitions, and sometimes she will just post a wonderful poem.

Perhaps you will find this poem, which she featured on her blog last month, as remarkable as I did.

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

- R S Thomas (1913-2000)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Best workshop ever!

I recently returned from a fabulous 5-day workshop with Jane Davies, held on the bucolic Omega campus in Rhinebeck, New York. While the course was titled 100 Paintings, Drawings and Explorations, I probably made no more than sixty. The value in the experience was not about the volume of work produced, but about taking more artistic risks. The teacher set quite a pace, which is what you would expect given the name of the class.

The first exercise was to paint to music. With each musical selection lasting only 2 - 4 minutes, we worked on large paper, and tried to suspend judgment about the quality of the painting. We did about ten of these.

painting to music

painting to music

painting to music

At another point, we set a timer and worked on smaller paintings for five minutes. The idea here was that there are many pivotal artistic decisions that one can make, even in the course of a 5-minute painting. Again we made perhaps ten of these.

5-minute painting

5-minute painting

5-minute painting

For both of these activities, I was glad to have brought a selection of student-grade acrylics. No concerns about using expensive resources for these experiments.

We looked at line and the many kinds of line that can be made with various materials, lines that are curved or straight, jagged or broken, smudgy or clean, tangled or direct. We were told to make at least six compositions, each made with 5 - 7 lines that were as different as possible from each other.

Six lines

We also looked at shape, and the many ways that shapes can be made: as outlines or filled in, soft-edged or hard-edged, with masks and stencils, and with a wide variety of materials.

Exercises were assigned, each one with specific parameters. For example, put down two painted shapes. Then add a collaged shape, and another two or three elements, which could be collage, line or pattern. Make 10 - 12 variations on this.

The next assignment was similar, but we paid more attention to a variety of scale.

Jane is a big advocate of setting up limitations and then finding many variations within those "rules". She believes that when you meet with frustration with the format, you should persist with it. By making the effort to overcome the difficulties of the format, you can actually learn something valuable. Don't be too quick to crop the piece down so that it "works". Don't be too quick to cut up an unsatisfactory piece to use as collaged bits. Instead, transform it with paint into something with new possibilities. "It's only paint", said Jane, and the sky won't fall.

Interspersed with these exercises were slide shows, illustrating some of the ideas with hundreds of stunning abstract works by a number of different contemporary artists. We also benefited from the pithy insights of the instructor on a variety of topics.

At one point, Jane showed us how to make "grounds", achieving variation and depth by making many layers of both opaque and transparent paint, by lifting wet paint off with paper, by spritzing and then blotting, by scratching a line into the wet paint, and by using a brayer.

Using this interesting ground, we then created one or two negative shapes by masking, applying white paint with a brayer around the shape and making a semi-transparent, foggy layer. We then added another three or four shapes, using a variety of materials and techniques. I was very excited by this assignment, and was able to make more than a dozen interesting compositions.

Jane pointed out that I had a tendency to distribute my shapes over the whole space, and that I should try to create some "breathing space".

Not much breathing space

A bit more breathing space

She also advised us to make shapes that contrast with each other. If one is transparent, try another that is opaque. If one is mottled, make another that is pure, flat colour. If one is hard-edged, make another with a smudgy edge. If one is solid, another can be just an outline. If you're introducing colour into a neutral composition, make it a brilliant colour, for contrast.

addition of brilliant colour for contrast

I was also encouraged to pay attention to the white "fog" surrounding my shapes, to make it interesting, and have it thicken and fade across the space. For someone with little experience with acrylic, this was instructive. When I said to Jane, "I have trouble making the paint do what I want it to do," she answered, "So do I."

trying to get variation in the depth of the white "fog"

I have mounted fifteen of these compositions, and I think they will be just the thing to spark interest at the upcoming Fall Show of the Hudson Artists.

The workshop was a great experience. And as so often happens, I learned a lot from the other participants as well as from the instructor. My goal in taking these classes in painting is to develop my abstract imagery, and Jane pointed out that I now have some "personal" visual vocabulary that I can explore further.

Jane Davies teaches all over the U.S., and occasionally in Canada. If you'd like to find out more about her workshops, her on-line classes and her instruction downloads, check out her website. It's full of information and resources.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Farewell to 12 by the dozen and HELLO! Charles Sheeler

It was with regret that I withdrew last month from the 12 by the dozen on-line group of textile artists. I have been with them almost since they began, close to 7 years ago. Their membership has included people from South Africa, England, France, New Zealand, the U.S. and Canada. They set quarterly challenges and by that means encourage each other in the growth of their art.

It was through these challenges that I first came to grips with my "Cityscapes" series. First, there was "Street Life", a topic suggested by Linda Bilsborrow.

Quebec City, my response to "Street Life"

Then "Steps", proposed by Venetta Morger.

Steps: The Plateau, my response to "Steps"

And then "Fine Living", set by Colleen Paul.

Fine Living: Window Seat, my response to "Fine Living"

While pursuing these three consecutive quarterly challenges, I was also taking an on-line design course with Elizabeth Barton that was very formative.

All said and done, my Cityscapes series has preoccupied me for almost five years, and has produced more than eighty finished works. Even though it has infinite scope, I am ready to move on to a new theme and style of work. I need to give my full attention to finding a new direction and producing a new "body of work". Sadly, that means no more challenges from 12 by the dozen.

Now here's the serendipitous thing. After I handed in my resignation, but before it was shared with the group as a whole, Linda Forey announced the next challenge. Linda is a former engineer and has always been attracted to complex and even architectural designs. So who did she choose as the artist to inspire our next three-month project? The American modernist painter Charles Sheeler, (1883-1965).

I had never heard of Charles Sheeler, and so I was astonished by what I saw when I researched his name. His work is about as close to my vision for my Cityscapes as anything I have ever seen. You can check out his paintings here. In a way, I'm glad that I was never introduced to Sheeler's work, as I'm afraid I would have been overly-influenced by it.

Note the effect of transparency he is able to achieve in these examples:

Charles Sheeler, On Shaker Theme #2, 1956

Charles Sheeler, Canyons, 1951
Charles Sheeler, Ballardvale, 1946

Needless to say, I will be watching with eager anticipation to see how the 12 by the dozen artists handle this next challenge!