Several years ago I started making Artist Trading Cards in an effort to use up my stash of collage materials, and it quickly became a bit of an obsession. These are tiny artworks, the size of playing cards, traditionally traded with other artists rather than sold. Realizing that I wasn’t making much of a dent in the vast amount of found papers I’ve accumulated, I started offering workshops to share the fun I’ve had with this project.
Through these workshops, I have discovered that offering opportunities for other people to explore and express their innate creativity brings me as much joy as making art myself. It’s very satisfying to feel the hum of creative energy in the room as people sift through the array of papers I’ve brought, pick out the ones that appeal to them, and then experience the delight of combining bits and pieces into something completely new. I love seeing how each person brings their own unique style to this process, and especially, to witness the deep pleasure that comes from reawakening creative abilities that may have lain dormant for many years.
Wall of art cards
One way I bridge my art with the community is by offering to be ‘Guest Artist’ in school classrooms. There, I introduce the notion of stitch as an art form, and fabric as a medium. I bridge longstanding craft skills with contemporary fine art. The joy and wonder that comes out when children create with such an unconventional and tactile medium is absolutely a delight for me to witness.
I begin by showing photographs of prairie landscapes that are near and dear to my heart. I have the children recall and contemplate their own experiences of travel and road trips. I have them tell me all the colours they have ever seen on the land, in the sky, and of the water. I remind them about how those colours change with day and night, and throughout the seasons. Suddenly everyone seems to have a story to tell and the room is buzzing with energy.
That’s when I bring out my ‘art supplies: piles of fabrics and yarn. Children of all ages and abilities dive in and deeply enjoy the act of visual story telling with vibrant colours, patterns and textures. Because it’s an unexpected medium, there is no preconceived notion of right or wrong, good or bad, success or failure. It’s incredibly fulfilling to witness the sense of accomplishment and pride in the students as they create and then tell me the stories behind their pieces. I feel honoured to introduce young people to my world of textile art. Who knows where it will lead?
In February, I will be one of several local artists running a workshop for the Children’s Discovery Museum on the Saskatchewan. To learn more about this ‘Storyscapes’ series, head to the CDM website. http://www.museumforkids.sk.ca/whats-happening/
I love playing around mixing colours to find just the right hue or just to see what a different variation of red will do to one of my many favourite blues. The problem I would run into after all this mixing was trying to recreate a favourite and not remembering what I used to make it. So, I keep track of all the mixes that I have created in my “Paint Recipe Book”. I can flip through my book, find the swatch of paint I want and voilà! The inspiration and the mix is there for me. Maybe I shouldn’t be confessing to this, but last count…. I have 170 colour mixes.
Here’s my hot tip of the day. When I began painting a few years back I was really at a loss as to how to achieve the colours that I wanted. I knew the obvious, yellow and blue make green but there are so many different yellows and blues and throw in a touch of red and … well, the results can vary quite a bit. I found Golden Paints Virtual Paint Mixer . Upload a photo to their site, place the cursor over the area in the photo that you want to match for colour and the site generates a mix for you. I learned a lot about mixing colour and experimenting with hues that I may not have tried had it not been for this site.
I am a mark maker. Always close at hand in my studio are buckets of mark making tools. I love the act of applying paint to a surface. Creating is at its best when the marks suggest the next direction. I also prefer to not be fully in control of my painting tools. Discovering, often by accident, a new way to move paint by flowing, scraping, rolling, scratching, dripping, and so on is endlessly satisfying. Texture builds up in rough layers that hide and reveal the layers below and offers direction for what to do next.
As a textile artist inspired by the landscape, I credit my camera as being the ‘favourite thing’ simply because it is how I bring back inspiration to my studio. The images I collect are personal memories which form the basis of my art. Because the prairies are ever changing with regard to light and seasons and weather, capturing moments in time that fill my heart is absolutely instrumental to the creation of my art. If you blink, you’ll miss it. I don’t want to miss a thing.
Though I don’t always work from photographs, I believe the act of years of obsessive picture taking certainly has helped train my artist eye. I am inspired by texture and pattern as much as I am by the big open landscapes and living skies. The best thing about heading out with my camera is that it provides me a good break from sitting still in a studio. Even if I don’t feel like it, I never regret these adventures. They always fill me up with awe and inspiration, getting me excited to create new and better work every time.
I am so fortunate to have a studio with a window of a big Saskatchewan sky. This lighting is crucial for enriching the process of my watercolour paintings. The natural light not only makes me feel healthy and happy but inspired. It allows me to “read the paper” when it’s time to drop, splash or brush the paint on. There’s a tiny window just before the water is absorbed as it momentarily sits on the surface. A sheen that can only be really seen using natural light. For the upcoming show I have changed up my pallet using reds, blacks and blues against the ultimate contrast of crisp white. Just like a bright and sunny day of winter casting dark shadows on the snow. Mark your calendar for Monday November 26th at Grace Westminster United Church 11am – 9pm.
I am a fickle artist. If you asked me what my favourite item in my art toolkit was last week, it would have been raw canvas. This week I am on the alcohol ink band wagon. The colours are vibrant and luminous but I find myself quite often toning them down. It is interesting to just dab the ink on a ceramic tile or yupo paper and watch them move but to manipulate the ink is wonderful. I do this by cutting into the ink on the paper or tile with a brush dipped in alcohol. To protect my art, I spray it with a vanish. I find Kamar by Krylon to work best. Many vanishes will make the ink bleed and discolour. Come and see me dabbing on Monday, November 26, 2018.