Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Elements of Design - Line

The last week, as part of my course work with Lisa Call, I have been looking at the use of line in design a little more closely and a little more deeply. As part of this exercise, I took a short walk this afternoon  around the neighborhood of Kilburnie in Wellington, New Zealand. I arrived here to visit my daughter and her husband, and my 22 month old grandson yesterday, and as often seems to happen when you visit unfamiliar places, I had new eyes for seeing here and soon found numerous examples of line. First there were the yellow broken lines running down the middle of the road,
and letters painted on a fence, each one made of other broken lines, and of complementary colours in order that stand out unmistakably to passersby.
Fences are everywhere, each composed of lines formatted in hundreds of ways. Here a wide line is followed by two thinner lines, all the lines being cut to the same length, and attached top and bottom to two (almost) horizontal lines.
As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that the three examples above are all lines in things that are man-made, and contrast hugely with the organic trunk lines of pohutakawa trees planted outside a nearby school. Maybe the trunks are even more dramatic because they're juxtaposed with the lines of the street and the school.
The pleasing lines of these windows are more complex. Straight lines and curved lines. Lines that enclose rectangles and lines that enclose diamonds. Beautiful.
But straight lines can be found in nature, as well as in windows and fences and as street markings. Parts of this palm tree look like spiked lines radiating out from a centre, perhaps from a branch. Each one widest at the base and thinning until it ends with a point.
For some reason I find this sign particularly pleasing, warning drivers that they are approaching a pedestian crossing. Something about the perspective, I think.
This photo of the side of nearby house was the most complex of all, with horizontal lines formed by the wooden siding, cross-hatching on the climbing frame, simple straight lines and one single diamond in the stained glass windows, diagonal roof lines and vertical fence lines. Together they are in perfect balance.
And of course written letters and numbers are all made up of lines too. With hundreds of varieties of fonts available for use, or our own unique hand gestures forming them.
Griffin is showing me where I can find a lemon, just beside his home. It wasn't until I was choosing which photo I'd load onto this blogpost that I noticed the lovely contrast between the outside almost-but-not-quite round of the lemon and the check of his jacket. And then there are the horizontal stripes of his shoes and the vertical lines of the fence. Even the diagonal line of the sidewalk plays an important role in this shot. This was a most interesting exercise, and I will be following it up by looking at which lines I most like to use in my own work, among other things. I have a feeling I might be dreaming about lines tonight.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Three Art Quilts Move to Their New Homes

It is a real joy when someone sees something you have made, the end results of taking many, many bits of fabric and combining them in your own way, and responds to it favorably. I mean, it's really quite a risk, putting your heart and soul into something and then showing it to others. It never seems to get any easier. But when someone also pays you the compliment of wanting it to move out of your home and into their own, that joy is multiplied. So it has been with these three pieces. The blue and green piece is called "Majesty" and has been years in the making. I'm embarrassed to tell you how many years. In fact it was only as I was being admitted to Emergency some months ago that I panicked and thought "I absolutely cannot have a heart attack now - "Majesty" hasn't been made!" It's modeled after a watercolor painting by Dianne Bersea, called by the same name, and has been used with her permission. On Saturday I delivered it to its new home in Victoria, and I can tell you that I was enormously pleased, and they seemed to be too.
This photo of "Under the African Sun" was sent to me by its new owner, and I am honoured to see it hanging above the fireplace in his new home in Vancouver. This has long been a favourite of mine, but it's time to part with many of my Africa-inspired quilts, and a pleasure to see it being enjoyed now by someone else.
And this little bird flew away to its new home in Winnipeg, where I understand it's very happy. Which leads me to a bit of news I want to share with you. Next July - July 22-29/18 - I am going to be having a solo show at the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery, called "A Sense of Colour". It's really the story of my progression from a user of subtle and greyed tones to a love of the bold and bright. And it's also an opportunity for me to say goodbye to some old friends and to give viewers a look at what I'm working on now, with the added bonus that 30% of all sales will go to the Widows Gardens Project in Southern Uganda. I will let you know more about this as the time gets closer, but if you're anywhere near Vancouver Island on those dates, I hope to see you there. And if you live farther afield, and would like to know more about which pieces will be for sale, please email me, and I'll be happy to fill you in on the details. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Fibre Art Network Retreat 2017 - Lac Le Jeune

Way up the Coquihalla Highway, almost as far as Kamloops, is Lac Le Jeune. This gem of a place was the location for this year's Fibre Art Network annual retreat. Forty-four of us arrived at the well-appointed cabins on Wednesday of last week, and left again on Sunday, having made new friends and become reacquainted with old friends, and having shared our creative journeys with one another and talked textile art and visited galleries and discussed where we go next as an organization committed to promoting fibre art and each other as artists.
The trees and the colours and the light are all different at this elevation, from what we see at the coast. And we had time between various presentations to feast our eyes on it all. But what I enjoyed most of all, what stimulated me beyond belief, was seeing what art this group of creative individuals is making. I was blown away by the different techniques that were used and the subject matter of the works, and the adventurous spirit in which each person is pushing the textile art form in new directions.
We had the opportunity to visit two separate FAN exhibits - one in Merritt and one in Kamloops. The first was called Ekphrastic, and gave each of us who entered the opportunity to respond to a poem by a Canadian poet. The interpretations were so diverse, so interesting.
Here, Bonnie Rozander and Janet Harper are having a closer look at the piece by Terry Phillips. "Just how did she manage to do that", they're wondering. 
The artists here are Leah Gravells and Sara Judith, each of them responding to the same poem.
Linda and Judy take time to discuss their own current work. The retreat was such a great time of connecting with like-minded people. Other women whose lives are taken up with expressing who they are and what they make of this crazy world through the medium of textiles.
We're a motley group, many of us non-conformists who have balked at the prescribed roles for women of our generation, and who boldly keep on making the work that speaks of who we are and 
what we know of the world, and think to ourselves, "damn the torpedoes". It is an honour to belong to such a group.
By the time I came home yesterday, I was full to bursting with ideas and enthusiasm. I couldn't wait to get back to my studio, to keep on making my art. One spends much time on one's own as an artist - a necessary thing - but how good it is to gather with like-minded crazies on a regular basis, to get into a conversation with someone and realize that they too are compelled to create.
Yesterday we said goodbye to one another, but the nuggets of wisdom and vision we were given during the last four days will remain with us for a good long time to come. I'm writing it all down as fast as I can, before the memories leave me.