Tuesday, 1 September 2020


Fancy Meeting you Here

23.5 " x 18.5"

I created this piece from several different photographs I took while traveling in Africa.  Although my trip to Africa was many years ago, I still find that the photos draw me in, and invite inspiration.  I suppose that part of the reason is the 'otherness' was remarkable.  That's on the surface, but I feel that there is more to it than that.  How peaceful most appear to be.. I am not foolish and do understand that there are difficulties everywhere, and certainly the people of Tanzania and Rwanda have had no end of challenges. And yet, somehow, there was an equanimity there that I found remarkable.

Detail:  Hand dyed fabric with free motion machine stitching as well as hand embroidery.

This is another detail of the free motion.  The challenge for me it to create enough detail for interest while not transforming the portrait into a cartoon.  On this scale, (quite small) this is difficult since the work is on silk organza and cannot be undone.

most of the women we passed on the road carried supplies on their head.  It appeared as if people were always on their way somewhere, lots of pedestrians filled the roads.  People appeared unhurried but in constant motion.

One of my favourite books as a teenager was "Stranger in a Strange Land" and this was certainly my experience.  As I lay expectations upon expectations on myself and others, I envied the apparent simplicity and grace. 

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Working with scraps....lots of them!

During this Pandemic, I have been spending a lot of time on my own, at home.  Not unlike many of you I am sure.  At first I made masks....lots of them....all from my stash.  I didn't feel comfortable buying or shopping.  When mask making began to feel old, I decided to 'tidy up'.  Its always a very good way to deal with my anxiety.  When things are in order, it makes me feel calmer.

Once I decided to tidy up, it made sense to tidy my scraps by making them into the same size.  I made them into 3 inch squares.  Not sure how I decided on this size. Generally I work very intuitively and this just seemed like a good size for the state that my scraps were in.  At the suggestion of a quilty friend, I started making 2 types of blocks.

Before I knew it I had 56 blocks.  more than enough for a queen size bed quilt.  I had never taken on a project of this size.  I had kept each block focused on a particular colour, and hoped to create a colour wheel in the lay out.  In this image, you can see that I also considered a black/grey/white checkerboard as a border but in the end I didn't think it worked.

Once all the blocks were sewn together I laid them out on my bed.  HUGE!  Given that I only used my stash, I was quite satisfied that it does give the sense of the colour wheel but I was overwhelmed at the thought of quilting such a large area.  typically I pride myself in doing every step myself in all my work, but this seemed to be too much for my little domestic Bernina, not to mention my shoulder.

Lucky for me, I live in a big city with lots of resources and a friend told me that Jeannie Jenkins had a long arm machine and was quilting for other people.  Jeannie was one of my very first teachers.  She taught a class called "Back off and Paint your own Quilt" which was fantastic.  So much fun!  She encouraged her students to create their own impressions on commercial fabric, to make their work unique.  I had never thought about changing the actual fabric before that class.  This led me on a long road of surface design and I have never looked back.  Thanks Jeannie!  She is also a master quilter and did a beautiful job putting this scrappy ensemble together.

The finished product!

View from above.  If you too are having some trouble getting very creative during these challenging times, why don't you try starting with a baby step or two. It has really helped me to get back into my studio.  At first though, I did not set out to make something specific.  In the end, I created a queen size quilt! I have never made anything this big.  It was just little iterative steps that led me to this result.  Perhaps not one of my most creative or unique projects, but I believe every step leads to another, and I am trying not to be so hard on myself.  Since this quilt, I have been able to be in my studio more, and be more experimental, so....stay tuned.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Mask Making

 With a heavy heart my most recent preoccupation is finding a good pattern to make masks.  These times are very challenging and as friends have pointed out, it is easy to be a good person in good, easy times, but much harder to stay on track during times such as these.

I resisted this activity for some time.  It seemed to me silly to make masks when I knew that I didn't really know how to make an effective mask, and I didn't want to be involved in a make work project.  But, as the time has gone on, and the news continued to be so disheartening, I 'pivoted' my thinking.  Now I am feeling that at least this is something that I can do.  It is so important to feel productive.

In my first few days of isolation at home, I couldn't focus on any activity.  I couldn't even walk into my sewing area.  I was restless and sad.  Making masks has given me the opportunity to use the skills and materials I have, to feel productive again, to have a focus.  For that I am grateful.  I am also grateful that I am in a position to do this. I am healthy, strong, have food in my beautiful home, and have the social supports through all the media at my finger tips.  This is a challenging time, but not nearly as challenging for me as for others.  I will continue to make masks until the day (hopefully soon) that they are no longer needed.  

Thursday, 12 December 2019

On the Cover!

Just received the latest copy of PRESENCE which is "an international journal of spiritual direction".  This is vol.25, No.4 dated December 2019.  I am thinking that this is justifiable match for my work.  Although it wasn't my intention when I created this piece, whenever it has been exhibited the feedback I get is that it feels very biblical.  People have referenced different bible scenes, and even different bibles but it is the most common comment I receive.  It gives me pleasure to know that the editor also felt that it has a spiritual quality.  Although I am forever questioning the role that traditional religious practices play in finding peace, I do pursue a journey of inner spiritual peace and am happy to know that this is reflected in my creations.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Schweinfurth Art Center

On the Path II

An image of me with my work that had been juried into the prestigious Schweinfurth Art Center show in Auburn, New York this spring.  I certainly can tell how uncomfortable I am posing (and I am sure you can too) but apparently this is what is done since many artists around me at the opening were doing the same thing.  I have never been comfortable having my picture taken.  This evening was no exception.  
However there was great buzz in the gallery and it was a wonderful show.  An honour to be part of it.

This is a photo taken that evening that includes the entire piece.  If you recognize it as similar to my work that had been presented in Washington at the SAQA show, you would be correct.  I reworked the piece to include the suggestion of landscape and in so doing, I created a more solid shape. This is why I entitled it "On the Path II" .  I am not convinced that this was an improvement.  I think the floating figures without an obvious path left more to the imagination.  However, the first version was very complicated to photograph and to present.  In this version the exterior shape is very specific and so begs the viewer to understand why the shape is as it is.  
The bottom line for me is that it is all good learning, as I am on my path of learning and creating and learning and......

Monday, 21 October 2019

Wont You Come Sit by Me

                              Wont You Come Sit by Me 

12" x 9.5"

This work began with a photo of my dear father (now departed) in a very rare moment of repose.  My parents bought a piece of land when I was very young, in the woods, on a plateau on the side of a mountain in the Laurentions in the province of Quebec, Canada.  This may sound very 'la di da' but it actually was, and still is, a very basic, underdeveloped, part of the world where the lakes are all still quite clean and alive with frogs and fish, where you will still see a heron sweep in for a feed, and the loons call to their loves.  In other words, a nature paradise.  Eventually my parents had young Freddie build a small log cabin for us on the plateau.  Freddie decided where to dig for the well tromping through the woods with a divining rod.  Sure enough, we dug and found our water source.
Throughout the years, my family has always spent a significant part of our summers there as has the next generation. ....


Ahh, you ask, all very interesting, but what about this photo?  Well, my father was a man who wouldn't spend a dime he didn't feel was necessary and would rather spend hours in the basement fashioning a hook and eye for a door out of old wire than buy one.  So, he always had projects.  He also prefered his quiet pursuits than the rambunctiousness of the family antics.  So it was very unusual to see him sitting in a lounge chair like this, outside, just hanging out in his Tilley hat.  I suppose thats why I took the photo.

Stitching detail

I would like to think that he was sitting here watching his grandchildren run around the cottage, enjoying the sun on his face, and feeling the joy that this piece of paradise brought to all of us.

Detail of Tree

The work was done with free motion stitchery, on dyed and painted fabric.


The figure was free-motion stitched using a water-soluble stabilizer under silk organza.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Best Friends

Best Friends 

22.5" wide x 27" high
This work began with a very successful photograph I took of two happy children of a Bushman tribe in Tanzania.  We were privileged to be invited into their world for a visit.  My son was invited to go on a hunt with the young men, was given a bow and arrow and invited into the fire circle that was the preparation ceremony for the hunt.  I stayed back to play with the women and children and encouraged them to see themselves (probably for the first time) through the lens of my camera.  It was an unforgettable experience.
detail.  This work, as always, begins with white PFD cotton.  It has been dyed, printed and stitched.

Detail of printed work with stitching.
This is a detail of the photograph, gotta love the joy!

Detail of hair stitching

This work will be on Display at the Propeller Gallery.  Show Opening tonight:  Reality Vanishing In Plain Sight: A Curated Show of Altered Images