New paintings at Crafthouse

November 23rd, 2021

Newly framed and available at Crafthouse on Granville Island.

Patchwork Gardens

November 12th, 2021

Lately I’ve made a slight detour from my usual artwork into experimenting with patchwork gardens. What can I say, I watched one too many episodes of Gardeners’ World and it took me over. I’m going back to making my usual landscapes but the gardens will continue as a side project that’s easy to jump into when you only have a few minutes.

With fingers for scale. The paving slabs are the same scale in all pictures
A circle of blue silk that can represent a pond, bird bath, fountain – whatever you want
‘L’ – the first in an alphabet-themed series. Always pick the easiest to start! 2 inches by 2 inches

Lots of trials and errors! By the way, I don’t stitch the individual paving slabs together. I cut strips and nip the fabric together with dark thread at intervals:

Underside of the fabric showing narrow section nipped in with a row of backstitch
Pulling on the strip lets the dark thread show on the right side of the fabric, creating the effect of slabs
Experimenting with a curved path

I attempted larger garden plans but found it too difficult to join the pieces together neatly. So I’ve settled on creating small vignettes on a theme of letters of the alphabet.

It doesn’t show in the photos too well, but I don’t iron the patchwork flat, I let the lawns and flower and vegetable ‘beds’ follow their natural tendency to plump up on either side of the pathways. I like that 3D element.

For the record, I’m hopeless at actual gardening. Love looking at them though.

Searchlight

April 12th, 2021

3.75 x 6 inches. Hand stitching on hand-painted silk.

The background was created by stretching silk in a hoop and pouring paint straight onto it. I prepared two colours, a purple-blue and a bright light green. I saturated the whole surface with the purple-blue, then immediately held the hoop vertical and poured on the light green, letting it dribble from top to bottom. It does this in a random way which creates a northern lights effect with no effort from me.

Here I’ve placed scrap paper to help me decide which part of the background makes a more exciting composition.

#2 was the winner for me. The white ring you see around the edge is from the silk that goes unpainted while it’s bound inside the hoop. It has a lovely sheen as well. So I decided to incorporate that as an icy pond or area of snow – whatever you want it to be. I’ve re-hooped the silk to let that be part of the picture.

Below, I’ve underpainted in black the areas where I wanted trees. I use white thread to mark roughly where I think the boundaries of the picture will be. It also acts as a guide to help me keep the trees generally vertical while I sew.

The rest was a matter of hand-stitching in the same shade of black thread, thinned out to one strand for the distant trees and thickened, even doubled up, for the nearest.

Green Skies at Night

March 1st, 2021

Another in my northern lights series. 4 inches x 4.75 inches, hand stitching on hand-painted silk.

Spellbound

January 18th, 2021

2.75 x 4 inches. Hand stitching on hand-painted silk. This scene of the northern lights is out of my imagination.

I started out by pouring some shades of blue and green onto the silk while it was stretched in the hoop. When you do this, the part of the silk that is bound inside the hoop doesn’t take up the colour properly. Usually it comes out a much paler version than the rest. In this case it came out a pale purplish colour that to me looks like an icy lake. So the picture practically painted itself. Above, you can see where I’ve re-hooped the silk so that the icy lake is in the foreground and I’ve started to hand-stitch some trees around it.

I used black thread to stitch a rough skeleton of the trees first. Then I went over the main branches with a grey-blue thread that looks like snow in shadow. Finally I used white thread for a topcoat of snow. I used full-thickness thread for the nearest trees and half-thickness for the more distant ones.

More northern lights pictures are coming.

Sailing by Oak Bay

October 19th, 2020

A view from Oak Bay, British Columbia. 5.25 x 7.75 inches. The sky, mountains and distant shore are hand painted. The water and foreground rocky spit are hand embroidered. The sailing boat is made of Tyvek and thread, and the few gulls sitting on the rocks are Tyvek as well.

Some photos of earlier stages:

You’ll see I did some underpainting of the rocks and water. I used that underpainting as a guide to shape and colour as I embroidered the rocks. Don’t mind my practice blobs around the sides. I hadn’t finished painting the clouds when I took this photo.

Here I’ve started to do some stitching of the water and part of the rock. I then darkened up the sky a little when I saw how bold the foreground was going to look.

I’ve embroidered more of the rock by now. There are still some empty patches in the water. After filling those areas, I stitched my seagulls onto the rock (I cut a narrow strip from my trusty old FedEx envelope and used it like thread). I added the boat last of all, also made of tiny pieces of Tyvek. I glued some blue thread lint to one of the sails for some shading, and left the other bare to catch the light.

Fluff is in the Air

June 14th, 2020

Thread on hand-painted silk, 5.5 x 2 inches.

The hoop above shows the whole painted background from which my tall skinny shape was cropped. I mixed up a green and a blue (Pebeo Setasilk paints) and poured them on one immediately after the other. Then dripped on some medium, which appears white (it dilutes the colour away).

I sometimes turn the hoop this way and that while the paint is drying in an attempt to achieve a pleasing effect, but it’s mostly a matter of luck. This time the finished result happens to remind me of the Windows XP default background. Then I hang it to dry and clean up my green and blue kitchen counter.

Here I’ve planned out my composition with a paper frame to show my intended crop, and paper pieces for the dandelion clock and departing fluff. I didn’t record my progress from here to the final picture, but I followed the same methods I’ve used before.

Vancouver White Caps

April 30th, 2020

3 x 3.25 inches. Hand stitching on hand-painted silk.

These are some of Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains. I painted the sky, then underpainted the mountains and hand-stitched over them. The snow is sewn from thin strips of a FedEx envelope (Tyvek).

My favourite fibre to use for distant fir trees is serger thread, but I only have it in one shade at the moment. It covers the ground quickly with that little bit of bulk yet transparency that suggests trees.

Some photos of the climb:

Finally the summit. With thumb for scale

Into the Wild

February 2nd, 2020

5.75 x 8.25 inches. This is a view from Maui’s Napili Kai towards the island of Moloka’i in the distance. I liked the way the manicured grass and civilized fence led me “into the wild” of the brush, rocks and ocean.

The sky, distant island and ocean are hand-painted on silk. Except for the fence, the rest is hand-embroidered, including the palm tree, surf, rocks, bushes and grass. I did underpaint the grassy areas so that I didn’t have to cover every last millimetre of silk with thread. You can see this better on the close-up below.

The fence is made of pieces of ribbon cut to size and coloured with Pentel pastel dye sticks. The larger pieces are attached with thread and the smaller ones using tiny amounts of acid-free sticky dots.

A close-up of the palm fronds. I included some shiny threads. When the sun hits palm fronds, they look almost metallic.

And grasses. With green underpainting, otherwise it would take me the rest of my life.

An earlier in-progress shot.

Starting to outline the palm tree.


Testing placement of fence posts. I preferred a lighter colour so ended up going over them with white pastel dye stick.

Framed

Hope you enjoyed this little trip to Hawai’i!

Aloha nui loa!

Kahului – in progress

January 5th, 2020

Aloha!

A little Hawaiian scene I’ve been working on. The finished area will be about 4.5 inches x 3 and a bit inches.

I’m still fine-tuning the painted background. I dipped the end of a toothpick in paint and used that to draw the shape of the mountains, to try to get it something close to accurate. Even my brushes are not that fine.

You’ll see I’ve already stitched some of the foreground threads, which helps me determine how strong I need to go on the background colours.

The rough underpainting in the foreground will end up mostly obscured by thread. I’ll also unpick those bits of thread I used to mark the horizon line and corners. It will all be hand-stitched and will take a while, but that means all the more of these evening-and-weekend “trips to Hawaii” for me.