Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tiny treasures.

This vase was my mother's and it's one that I have always loved.  So, here it is as an altered photo using gesso over the background.  I've painted the pages with watercolours, painted the flowers onto tissue paper and then applied them with matte medium (I love this technique!!!), I've used oil pastels and the letters are from various magazines.  The flower design is taken from the vase itself.  I tried a rubbing but the curved surface of the vase wasn't terribly cooperative.  I used some Raw Sienna with Naples Yellow for the background of the vase.  Such yummy colours!!   I'll try Quinacridone Gold next's too lovely!  I am having a lot of fun with the watercolours...I find that even doing colour wheels is so informative.  I've been looking a lot at work by David Bellamy, Shirley Travena, Karlyn Holman and Charles Reid.  And Paul Klee.  Oh wow!  There is so much to learn.
And now I'm going to be super busy again....two on-line classes with Jane Davies that start next week...check them out at It's not too late to join!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A stitched piece, again

Here are two pieces I stitched a while ago now.  I dyed and painted the backgrounds, collaged and stitched bits, added yarns, roving, cheesecloth, leftover bits, thread ends and what have you.  The pear from the picture on the left was prepared separately on the embellisher.  I don't normally 'name' my pieces, but the one on the right I call Coming Home.  One of the things I find quite fascinating is when someone else looks at a more abstract piece I have worked on and turns it around to find, what is for them, the 'right way up.'  I suppose it's what we do with the various pieces of our lives.  And then we add our own bits.  Life, gotta love it!   

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Watercolours, again

Here is today's offering.  I'm going to have to take a break today, from the fun stuff.  I need groceries, the cat's gone AWOL and the dust bunnies look like they need to be fed.  And someone said something about a holiday coming up??!!  But I'm still working on some other watercolour bits, so maybe just a bit of time spent on that today...shouldn't take too long.....maybe... 

Monday, December 19, 2011

More watercolours, again

One of the good things about having a bit of time alone is that I can make a, let me say that again, I can make A MESS.  And I do.  But as long as the cat can find her food dish, and I can find the cat, I figure it's all right.  So I spent all day yesterday working on my most recent it is...

I think I prefer these colours to the colours in the previous post. These are Naples Yellow, Raw Sienna, Phthalo Turquoise and French Ultramarine.  I've used gesso, gel medium oil pastels, Derwent Inktense pencils and tissue paper.  I think I'm prepared to call this one done!  I'm working on another one, so I'll have to deal with the mess tomorrow, maybe.  Now, where's the cat?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bits and pieces.

Still experimenting with the watercolours.  Tried watercolour on top of gesso and quite like the effects.  Not sure if this one is quite finished yet, but getting there.  I've collaged a photo and some paintings on canvas paper, but that means using gel medium on top of the gesso.
I'll try putting more gesso on top of the gel medium and see how that turns out.  And maybe more collaging, and stamping, and stencilling, and perhaps some oil pastels.  Here we go again!!! lots to do.....see you soon!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Good grief! It's Sunday again!

I can't believe it's been a week since I posted anything.  But a busy week.  My guy left for south-east Asia for three months and before that we did two holiday dinners and I've been babysitting in the meantime.  There, I feel better now!!! Not quite so slothful!  And so a couple of offerings:
Two colour wheels (sorry, I don't know how to edit scanned pictures that are smaller than the scanner bed....something I'll have to learn),  anyway, two colour wheels using Winsor and Newton watercolours.  I'm trying to find greens and violets I like.  The first triad is cadmium yellow pale, french ultramarine and alizarin crimson.  I like these violets and I also like the greens...I may play around a bit with this palette.  The second triad is cadmium yellow pale, winsor blue (red shade) and cadmium red.  I love the neutrals produced by the red and blue of this triad but that is basically all they are...neutrals (well, to my inexperienced eye they are anyway!).  I based this particular layout on a similar one done by David Bellamy in his (very delightful) book Complete Guide to Watercolour Painting put out by Search Press.  A great book, by the way, I really recommend it. 
I painted the leftover watercolour paints into my sketchbook as a base for future work.  Then yesterday morning I made some stamps based on some photos I had taken last week.  The one in the middle is made from the Miracle Sponge (from Dharma Trading) that looks like cardboard (and therefore cuts easily) and then, when you put it into water it turns into a stamp!! That's fun!  I'm going to develop these images further and I'll keep you posted, if  you'll pardon the pun!!   So that's it for now.  Back soon.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A little fabric again!

This is a piece I made last year at a class with Lesley Turner  It was a great class on hand stitching offered at the Victoria College of Art and when we started the class we dyed our own fabrics and threads.  I mixed  fuchsia and turquoise together plus some golden yellow a la Ann Johnston in her book Colour by Accident.  I dyed the various threads and ribbons as well, including silks and various cotton blends with some silk and bamboo blends as well.  So beautiful and such fun.  The background fabric is burlap and it too dyes up beautifully.  All of this work was dyed with procion MX dyes.   
I'm still busy with my watercolours but I thought you might like a change from all that paper!!  Back soon.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

More watercolours, and trying to just 'play'!

Two more pieces of watercolour playing.  The first one is another colour wheel (I've used these colours already: cerulean blue, alizarin crimson and quinacridone gold) and then some flowers (tulips, did you guess?) on that same page, using the colours from the colour wheel plus some payne's grey. The next one revisits my little pepper mill.  I did another blind contour drawing and then painted into that.  I am experimenting with dropping water into the paint on the page and getting deliberate backruns.  I really like the loose watercolour look and it is pushing my 'play' button.  OK, I didn't think I was that controlling, but...maybe!  Anyway, at least I have been doing something!!  I'm playing now with oil pastel resists and colouring over top of that.  More later!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More watercolour play and a project

This is a small exercise I have done (and will do more) just to mess about with some colours and mark making.  I am trying to learn about the various properties of watercolours and also to preview some colours for my next project, which may or may not come to fruition (depending on my 'perfectionist' gene!!).  But in the meantime, I am learning lots.  It is such a beautiful medium and I am in total awe of people who are able to make it all look so easy!!! 

Hmmmm.  I clearly haven't mastered the art of 'cropping'.  I don't know how to take an image, that scans at 8 1/2 x 11, and have it appear without its surrounding borders.  (Oh well, enjoy all the white space!!!)  Anyway, this is what I am going to try and paint.  It's one of my photos from yesterday morning.  We'll see.  But it's good to have something in mind.....white space can be a problem when that's all that's in front of one!  (It's why I am totally enjoying the mark making exercise.)  I'll play with some more colours in the next while.  It's all about the neutrals! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gel transparency or The Transparent Lunch

This is a photo of my lunch (!!!) the other day.  I messed about a bit with it in photoshop elements, printed it out in black and white on inkjet photocopy paper and then covered it with numerous coats of gel medium.  I soaked it to remove the backing paper and then applied more gel medium to affix it to the prepared 9 x 12 background.  I like the way the background colours show through the transparency of the image. It's a fun technique.  This was for one of the lessons in Jane Davies' Text and Image class.    

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The abduction.

OK, clearly I have been abducted and this was done by the five-year-old next door!!!  No really, this was fun and I learned a lot.  I used aureolin yellow, rose madder genuine, cobalt blue and veridian which I now know are transparent watercolours!!!  I prepared the grid, painted washes, let them dry and then did the same thing twice more.  It was interesting to watch the colours change, to watch the paint go where I didn't want it to (!!!) and to watch the lovely blooms forming (I've always loved flowers, don't you??!!).  But still, I am somewhat encouraged and today am going to try mixing colours on the palette and seeing where that goes (maybe directly into the bin, but we'll see!).  And I'm working on another photo transfer piece....really, who does housework anymore???
Back soon.

Monday, November 21, 2011

An acrylic piece.

This is another piece I have done for Jane Davies' class (  It is acrylic, 9 x 12 and collaged.  With a stamp that I made.  I'm still not quite there yet with the watercolours!!  But today, today I am going to get them out and even if all I paint is a grid, I am going to do it.  Yes! Yes, I am!!!  And I will post it tomorrow, no matter how it looks....there, I am committed.....see you tomorrow!  (If not, it's because I have been abducted by aliens and taken away to a remote area where there is no internet......what?'s possible!)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Just one sketch. Time with my demons!! And a trip!

This is one of my pictures from Module One of the Sketchbook class with the Kemshall's.  Couldn't resist just one!!  I really like dots (the pointillism thing) and so had a lot of fun with this one.  It's on tracing paper.

 But,... I have been very frustrated lately with the art-making process and the self-doubt demons!  The second module of the sketchbook class is all about watercolour, the lovely wet in wet, free flowing and gorgeous watercolour look.  Agh!!! Never done that.  Really want to try but everytime I set brush and water to paper I cramp up.  And it all feels so overwhelming.  And the work everyone else is lovely.  So I have been doing nothing....well, that's a great way to learn, don't you think!!!  So I am going to give up on the idea of a masterpiece (my demons again!).....the old 'it's never good enough unless'..... and just try TRY to play.  We'll see what happens.  And of course because I was stalling so terribly with the sketchbook class, and feeling guilty, I haven't been doing anything for the Jane Davies class either.  Agh again!!  But this morning I am painting again, and am going to tackle the watercolour thing....yes, yes, I am!

Oh, but the great news! We are planning a trip to France in the spring, so I have spent tons of time on the computer booking 'gites' in france, such fun, and have organized what should be a most wonderful trip mid april to mid june.  Sigh.  My guy, my sketchbook, my camera and advil!!!  should be perfect!!  Can't wait!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Digital stitched art

This is a photo of a picture that I stitched last year.  I took the original photo of a wall in early spring out at the Coast Collective in Metchosin just as the vine was starting to burst into leaf.  I printed the picture on fabric and then I stitched into the fabric by hand, first adding some chiffon to enhance, and change, some of the colours.  It was a fun project and one I would like to do more of.    It's all about finding the time.  Sigh.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lesson two in Jane Davies' Text and Image class

As instructed in lesson two, I have prepared some transparency images to attach to a collage.  I printed some of my photos onto matte photo paper, covered them with several coats of gel medium and then soaked the paper off.  I've then affixed two of the resulting transparencies to a previously prepared collage.  It's a neat technique.  The first image is the collage sans image, and the second has the images affixed.  Next time I would take off the borders around the pictures...I think they would sit better on the page.   Also, it's a bit tricky to get off all the paper from the photo paper and I can see that I have left some wee little bits...and yes, they have come back to haunt me!!  I wasn't quite so fastidious with the borders and clearly, I should have been!!  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jane Davies class on Text and Image

Once again I am taking, and very much enjoying, a new class with Jane Davies.  These are two examples from the first lesson where we were to create a background and incorporate an image and text (hence the class name, don't you think!!!).  We were to have text and an image that were somewhat incongruous..which explains the shoes-aliens piece.  It was fun to try out possible texts with the various pictures.....there were some hilarious examples from the class...very clever. It's quite a fun process! Anyway, these are my first two examples.

Next we are working with gel image transfer pieces.  I'm still working!!  More later... 
Jane is offering some great classes in the new year.  Check it out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Warm-up Exercise

Home again and settling in.  My cat spent the night on my bedside table, purring and occasionally reaching out to paw at my face, to make sure I was truly there. We finally got up at 4 so we could REALLY visit.  And a question: why does it always take so much longer to unpack than it does to pack???

The workshop with Kerr Grabowski was really fabulous.  18 lovely and very talented ladies, tons of really inspiring work and what a great instructor.  A wonderful week all around.  This photo is from a warm-up blind contour drawing (we did three actually) that Kerr assigned based on an item that we had brought (mine was the pepper mill that I had previously painted in a watercolour...see my post from august 29.)  We then got to enlarge it on the photocopier and were instructed to work further by applying some bits of colour.  I really like layering things so I put the piece that we worked on tracing paper on top of the pen drawing and then put some painted tracing paper on top of that.  A great exercise to generate ideas when faced with the blank page (or blank brain, sigh).  I'd like to try this on fabric with organza.  I'll post some of the deconstructed print work later.

Well, I think I've solved the picture-splitting problem but now I need to figure out how to upload edited photos from photoshop elements.  I have a much more esthetically pleasing cropped piece but it wouldn't load up.  Oh well, one problem at a time!

And google seems to have changed its format for viewing pictures.  Now you cannot double click to get a nice close image but have to be content with a slide show of sorts.  Good grief.

And finally, check out Kerr's website  Such a talented person!  I'd recommend a workshop with her any time.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Couching and handstitching

Well, clearly I am having trouble with holding the camera square so please forgive the jaunty tilt of the piece!!  This  piece relies quite heavily on winding the more robust threads onto the bobbin and stitching with the fabric face down on the needle plate.  I love the exciting moment when I turn the fabric over to see what effects have been created.  I also happen to love these colours together...oh yes, I seem to have quite a huge yarn stash as well!  I couched the fuzzy yarn down by hand.

I am heading off to a workshop with Kerr Grabowski in Coupeville.  I leave early (very early!) Monday morning and will be back the following Sunday.  I'll post some pieces from that workshop when I get back.  Have a happy week!  I know I will!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Reflections of autumn.

We are having such a beautiful autumn.  The 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness'.
Such a beautiful time of year.  Even the reflections in the rainy pavement are gorgeous!  Hope you are enjoying yours!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Holiday weekends

A busy week looking after wee grandsons and pretending to do housework and then I had company for the weekend.  Beautiful fall weather and then some drenching rain.  More fall weather!  I am working on the drawings for my sketchbook class and really enjoying it.  Check out the Kemshall's site for more information.  And do check out their Design Matters TV and the free tasters.  I do subscribe to Designmatter TV and I really enjoy it.  Have a look.

This is a paper piece I painted with procion dyes.  All of the paper here is rice paper.  It was first rubbed with crayons to create a resist and then painted over with the dyes.  Afterwards the piece was cut in two and then further cut into strips.  I re-arranged the strips, alternating each one, and moved around every other strip to achieve the result shown here.  I am quite pleased with the effect.  I did find that the dye tended to run as I was gluing down each strip, as procion will do, so I had to be very careful to work quickly.  I don't think I would have achieved the same painted results had I used acrylics, however.

I am taking another on-line class with Jane Davies that is to start next week.
The class is Text and Image and looks as if it will be really interesting.  I'll be a week late starting it, however,  because I am off to Coupeville next Monday to take a class with Kerr Grabowski. I have never taken a class with her but I hear she is terrific.  I`m looking forward to it.

OK!  It's good to be busy, but is possible that I am out of my mind!!!   Yet again!

I'll post pictures from both of the workshops.  But then, that is all still a week away.  The murphy bed is folded back up into the wall and the guest room is ready to become my painting studio again!  I`d really like to get some painting play in before I head off again next week.  We`ll see!

Monday, October 3, 2011

oh my gosh!!!

omg, this is pretty exciting for me!! check out the above link, which is to some of my pieces in the exhibition!!  It really was a great week! 

In the meantime, I have signed up for the Sketchbook class with the Kemshall's and have been working on my drawing skills....which need some work, let me tell you, since the last time I took drawing was in grade 8 art, some many many many.....years ago!!  I am really enjoying it, but we have been ask to not post any of our work on our blogs.  But any other drawing I do I am sure I can, so stay tuned!!

Here is another piece from my stitched book.  Back soon!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A stitched piece

A stitched piece that was also included in the exhibition, that was initially a part of my level two machine stitch class.  For that class, we had to make a book of several pieces of our work.  The book was stitched together as well, and I used painted timtex to create it, although this piece is surrounded by black felt because I couldn't get a dark enough black using the dye-na-flow colours.  BUT I see that my camera is doing it's picture-splitting thing again....well, it's in the process that delivers the pictures from my camera card to the computer....I don't know quite why it's doing that and  I'll have to ask my hi-tech sons what's going on.  In the meantime, I created this piece by first stamping with thickened dye onto cotton, then placing synthetic organza on top and stitching on that, with the addition of some hand-made cords.  The final step, always a heart stopper, was to take a heat gun and burn away some of the organza. It is a fun process, and the heart stopping part aside, it's very exciting to see how it will finally end up.  Living on the wild side....oh dear, what does that say about my life when burning away organza is a highlight!!! 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Home again, home again......

Gosh, what a week!  After two years of classes I felt the same way I felt at the end of the school year....totally exhausted and yet, somehow, quite satisfied.  It has taken me a few days just to get myself back on track again but I still feel as if I need a (-nother) nap! 
But the week was great.  We spent 4 days getting ready for the exhibition, choosing backgrounds for our pieces, deciding which piece to place next to which and where to finally to hang it.  In addition to our show, Gail also prepared a sort of retrospective of works done by students and graduates of her other programmes....but first the space for that had to be prepared and there were many people working on that side of the building finishing the construction of the rooms and finally hanging that second show.  Finally, there were nearly 400 people that came through the building on the Saturday and Sunday of the exhibition itself.  It really is a lovely venue in a beautiful setting....I hope it will be a great success.  For more pictures of the event on Gail's website, check out the wordpress at 
I have tentatively signed up for the Level Three Stitch starting next August.  It's such a wonderful way to learn.  And a sort of  mini-holiday!  Such fun. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

off to the exhibition

One of the last ones for the exhibition.  Canvas, stitched on to and then painted; stamping with various mediums, more paint, stitching on soluble fabric.  And the ever-present carpet!
Close-ups of the stitching on the trellis piece.  It is an experimental piece and I'd do it differently next time, but it was fun laying it out and getting this far.  As for the exhibition, there is no longer time to work on this one.  So I guess that means it's done.  It's funny, the line between done and not-done.  I suppose it's always somewhat unclear.  Maybe it comes with experience but in the meantime I feel as if I'm always bumping up against the line and not sure which side of it I'm on. 

One last one for the show, inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, with my own bits thrown in.  We were to choose an artist and prepare something based on their work.  Frankly, I love Mackintosh's botanical watercolours but this one appealed to me as well.  I've created my own grid, cut out the circles, reversed the black and white colouring, raised  them up and painted them with gloss medium.

So that's it for the show.  I'm catching an early ferry monday morning and heading off for La Conner.  It'll be a fun week albeit exhausting.  The exhibition is the weekend of the 17th and 18th.  I'll post some pictures when I get back.  I would imagine there will be pictures on Gail's site as well, which you may want to check out.  That's it and thanks for reading!!!  Back soon.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

to frame or not to frame

I'm thinking I might frame this one.  It's too late for the exhibition at this point but perhaps when I get back.  It's had many applications of work done to it:  monoprinting, stamping with a hand-made stamp (like a styrofoam tray) using printer's inks and screen-printing inks and then stencilled onto with shiva oil sticks.  Then some work with pens and coloured pencils. Just a lot of fun really.  With the ever-present carpet in the background!!! how lovely!  Yes, a frame would make it look better, no doubt about it!

Monday, September 5, 2011

another take

So here is the second possible background up for consideration for the exhibition (omigosh, in less than two weeks).  It is actually a somewhat deeper yellow in 'real' life.  I rather think I favour this version.  But I'm still not totally sure.  I'll ponder a bit and then decide.  Life is a series of choices, is it not?
I've signed up for Jane Davies' course next month using text in collage.  Should be good.  Check out her site.

Monday, August 29, 2011

And again.

Two more little pictures from last week.  My younger son was helping me sort through some of my 'stuff' (of which I have plenty) but I decided I couldn't part with the pepper shaker.  Such a fun thing to draw.  It is amazing what a little bit of looking will do.  How did I miss all this before?
This is a little rudbekia (I think) from the garden.  I'm having trouble getting the darker lines on the petals.  I am using just one brush for all these watercolours (the one with the handy little water reservoir, perfect for travelling) but it's a bit shaky on the lines (isn't that fun how I blame the brush!!!  I'll's vaguely possible that the fault is mine!!!)  The lines show up beautifully on the flower in the photo, so perhaps I'll give it another go using the photo as a reference.
I'm also trying to pick out a background for my collaged milk pitchers.
This background was painted with black gesso (matte) onto which I stamped black acrylic (shiny).  It means that in some lights the diamonds don't show, which I kind of like.  Anyway, still pondering.  I have another lighter background, prepared with various mediums, which may work.  More on the final decision later.  I may wait until I go down to gail's to get a final decision.
Check out gail's new location and the classes that she offers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Two more little pictures

Two more little watercolours.  I'm having fun playing with the new box of paints; it is interesting developing colours by dropping in bits of other colours.  I can't wait to try this with procion and seeing what I can develop on fabric.   And with thickened dyes.  And maybe printing these wee pics onto fabric and then stitching on them.  Oh, so much to try!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daniel, here's the pic

So, my first attempt at a watercolour.  Not quite spot on with the colour of the apple, but faithful to my love of fuchsia!!  I got a little watercolour palette (Cotman's) at Island Blue to use as a travel palette.  It's got 12 different colours and quite a bit of room for spreading water around.  These aren't artist grade colours, but I believe one can fill up the trays with tube colour once they're are done.  I also got a couple of travel watercolour brushes, the kind that have their own water reservoir.  They're fun and easy to use.  And to clean: just squeeze out the water until the 'brush' is clean and off you go again.  Perfect.  A fun exercise. I think it needs a bit more colour in the background box, though.  I'll ponder.