Saturday, June 29, 2013

Prairie Sky II

A few weeks ago I designed another Prairie Sky piece.  I started with a painted satin sky, added rolling hills and fields, and finished with a base strip much like the original prairie sky which is my blog header.   But this one is only 10 x 12 inches mounted on an 11 x 14 stretched canvas, and after I stitched the piece together, I hand stitched each individual fabric with french knots, twisted chains (for furrowed fields), and other tiny stitches.   The base strip was machine stitched with grasses, then hand stitching was added (ouch! my fingers hurt).  I zigzagged the edges then extended the width of the piece by painting  onto a stretched canvas background so the piece looks kind of 3D.   I added some pearl paint to the canvas sky to resemble the satin sky of the piece.  I really love it!!!  In fact I think it is one of my best pieces.   It took weeks of work but came together like magic.



 I only got to see it for one day before it went off to its new owner.   More about that later.   The paint hadn't even had time to cure but the new owner promised to be careful......I have made so many pieces but I really hate to see them go - especially so quickly.  But this one I know will be appreciated and it will have a good home.

Sad news - the person whose photos inspired my pieces  'Kitchen Party' and 'Autumn in Stoney Swamp' - passed away on Thursday.   He was a lovely man and a talented photographer.  He will be missed.

Kitchen Party

Autumn in Stoney Swamp

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sacred Threads Exhibition

Kuan Yin: Mother of Compassion

This week I packed up my quilt for the Sacred Threads Exhibition in Herndon,Virginia.  If any of you live in the area of Washington DC or are visiting in July, I hope you have time to visit this lovely exhibition in Herndon, Virginia (near Dulles Airport).    On their website gallery you can view previous shows and they are fascinating!   The theme is all about different aspects of spirituality -joy, grief, healing, inspiration etc.   The pieces are often very personal.  For the visitors, there will be accompanying audio from each artist in our own words describing our work and inspiration.

My piece Kuan Yin: Mother of Compassion was created over a period of two years but the inspiration went back to 1996 when I was finishing my social work thesis on the topic of spirituality and healing from abuse.    I interviewed several women counsellors and one was a Vietnamese woman who spoke to me of Kuan Yin.   She said she felt that women who were abused could relate to a female image.    She described Kuan Yin (kwan yin) as kind, gentle, strong, compassionate - carrying the pain of others as if it were her own.   She told me a story of vietnamese refugees fleeing by boat, who were boarded by pirates.  Frightened they chanted Kuan Yin's name.   The pirates noticed a picture of Kuan Yin on the boat, conferred briefly then left - taking nothing and leaving the people unharmed.  To me it was an example of compassion in action.  Her stories stayed with me for all these years and has formed the basis of my personal philosophy in my work with abused women.

Years later a friend brought her goddess cards to a get together and there was an image of Kuan Yin.  I decided to create a quilt using my own image.  I researched the symbols associated with kuan yin and added icons - a rice bowl  for feeding the people, a bird and tiger together symbolizing peace, lotus flower symbolized a level of attainment, a blue bottle from which pours the water of life, and the willow branch for fertility, and the ability to bend in the wind.   The dragon signifies different things in folklore but for me here it symbolizes strength and feistiness.

The piece is hand stitched applique, the icons were drawn and painted then appliqued to the piece.  I used paint, beads and sequins for embellishment and hand quilted the background.

I was thrilled to have this meaningful piece of work accepted into the Sacred Threads exhibition.  So Kuan Yin is heading towards Washington for a short visit before returning to Canada's capital.  I thought it was rather appropriate because I think our politicians on both sides of the border need a bit of compassion in these troubling times.

I took photos of the packing process and will post shortly.   In the meantime I am keeping my fingers crossed that she will arrive safely. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Spring Thaw - Stitches, Applique and Paint

Spring in the Swamp

A couple of years ago I took this photo of a pair of Canada Geese  swimming around the melting ice in a swamp in the Greenbelt.   Last week I painted a couple of geese on fabric, then I fused some icy puddles of bluish organza to a watery blue background.  I fused the geese to the background as well, stitched their feathers and the reeds around them, and touched up the 'ice' with pearly blue paint.   Then I fused a brighter blue around it (1/2" on each side) and plan to attach it all to an uncut mat.     It looks like the smaller rectangle is transparent 'ice' attached to the brighter blue but it is an illusion.  The bright blue is only a border.  I might extend the reeds into the border to connect the two.  I call it 'Spring Thaw'.

Spring Thaw
Taking Time to Smell the Flowers
And here is my girl among the wildflowers.  The exposure was not quite right but I thought it was a perfect picture of her - so happy to be out in the yard after such a long winter.   Maybe the subject of another quilt?