Thursday, August 7, 2014

Upcoming exhibits

A touring exhibition titled Hats from a Life Lived includes one of my fibre pieces titled Creative Hands.  This exhibit features many wonderful women artists from Winnipeg and is curated by artist Colette Balcaen. The show is scheduled to be in Neepawa and Portage La Prairie for August and September 2014

Hats from a Life Lived

In Neepawa at the Viscount Art Gallery. An opening event is scheduled for August 13, 2014 from 1-4 pm. The exhibit will remain in Neepawa until the end of of August. 
You can see more about the show and the centre here:

The entire exhibit then moves to Portage La Prairie to the Portage and District Arts Centre.  It will remain on display from September 2 - 27, 2014. 
 For more information about the arts centre see:

This project was fun as the curator Winnipeg artist Colette Balcaen invited artists to participate in a project of altering vintage hats to represent subjects and people who were of influence in our lives.  My hat was influenced by three women in my life who inspire me to make things.  My mother, my grandmother and my mother-in-law.  Each image illustrates their favourite creative pastime.

I chose needle lace as the method of creating the images and then went about the process of learning how to make needle lace as I had never tried it before.  Needle lace is a form of lace making that allows you to create a fairly detailed image using just thread and a needle.

I started by drawing an image on a piece of paper and then couching a thicker piece of crochet thread onto the paper to act as an outline.  Once this is done then smaller thread is used to basically create a decorative grid of thread lines and stitches to fill in the image. I even took some liberties in creating my own stitches from the more traditional. Then the entire thread image is lifted off of the paper by cutting the couching threads and gently clipping them away from the finished project.  Each image was then tacked onto the hat.  I am very pleased with the overall look.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Secrets of the Snow Queen: An Eco Tale

I have illustrated my first publication!  Titled The Secrets of the Snow Queen, An Eco Tale written by Ruth Asher. This Eco Tale invites the reader into a fairy tale setting, including an evil queen, a captured child, a quest, talking animals, even a goofy gargoyle. At its heart, however, is a contemporary issue about living harmoniously with plants that supply us with food, animals at risk, and one another.  Big kids and little kids might enjoy receiving a copy of The Secrets of the Snow Queen.

The book is available for purchase at McNally Robinson and online at as an ebook.

Oil Painting Methods

Oil painting methods have not really changed much in over 100 years. A quote  from “The Painters Methods and Materials” 1926. 
“In the first place it (oil) changes in refractive index with age.  This begins from the moment the oil paint, painted out in a thin layer has begun to dry.  The dry paint is already not so opaque, not so brilliant, as the paint squeezed out of the tube.  This change goes on slowly but remorselessly through the years, though, of course, at a diminishing rate.  We know that the slow chemical changes which take place in the linseed oil film are not complete after four hundred years,  that the film is still improving in toughness and insolubility. ……..The pigments then are growing deeper in tone and more translucent, and hence it is that we have pentimenti, the under-paintings ultimately showing through.”
This is the beauty of oil paint, that as it ages the colours become more transparent and richer in tone.  The aging process allows light to shine through the layers of colour into the painting in effect blending the layers of colour together.  Even heavy impasto will change over time deepening in tone and developing an oil laden gleam that catches the light and emphasizes the presence of texture in the painting.  This will remain throughout the life of the painting and in fact improve as the painting ages. 

One of my favourite quotes by Ted Godwin in The Studio Handbook for Working Artists: A Survival Manual.

"An acrylic painting will never look as good as the day you finished painting it, however an oil painting will never look as bad as the day you finished painting it.”

Industry, oil on canvas, 2010: Private Collection

Painterly Challenge

Why not paint with acrylics instead of oils?  Acrylics have several advantages.  They are water soluble and there are lots of mediums available that can help make acrylic paint imitate oils.  Moreover there are mediums that can allow an artist to paint with thick heavy impasto with very low risk of cracking as it dries and enables an artist to paint quickly as acrylics dry very fast.
Oil paint on the other hand can be tricky.  You are required to paint in layers allowing each to dry as you proceed.  The use of underpainting white, thinner, and wingel expedites this process by speeding drying time.  However you are still required to allow for drying time before putting one colour over another or you risk making a muddy mess of your colours.  Just to make it even more challenging as a painting dries oil will rise to the surface making it difficult for the next layer of paints to bind to the surface.  If you use too much oil mixed in with pigment you can lower the tone of the colour or impede the paints ability to bind while not enough oil will do the same.  The ready availability of colours in tubes along with various mediums take much of the guess work out of oil painting but knowing when to stop painting is important to a successful painting

Interrogate Space, Oil on canvas, 2009: Private Collection