Monday, November 23, 2015

This Week of Goodness

Brrr. Does anyone else feel like the pages of their calendar just blew away in a snow storm and we've ended up at the week before Christmas?

Speaking of calendars, there are so many great things going on this week that I have to keep checking mine to keep them all straight. Here's a recap of all the fun.

This Thursday, November 26th, I will be speaking to the members of the Canadian Embroiderers' Guild in London, ON about my experiences as a fibre artist. It is a huge honour for me to address this group of highly talented and diverse textile artists and I expect to be learning a lot myself.

On Thursday evening, the Square Foot and Big Ideas Show opens at the Paula White Diamond Gallery in Waterloo, ON. Erika from PWD says that opening night is often lined up because people know they are going to get original, one of a kind artwork at an unbeatable price. Keep an eye out for my piece called 'California Succulents.'

California Succulents, Peruvian Highland Wool and Beeswax on Birch Wood, 12" x 12" x 1.5"
Then on Friday, November 26th, the Idea Exchange in Cambridge, ON has their opening festivities and pre-sale for the OriginalWorks Market. Besides 'Vibrant Blossoms', which appeared on their poster (very exciting!), I will have some other cherry blossom themed pieces at the market.

Most notable of these is 'Blossoms on Gold'. The photo below doesn't quite capture the sheen of the gold yarn properly. There is real 'lux' feel to this piece, both in the reflective quality and the colours, that reminds me of a Klimpt.

Blossoms on Gold, Peruvian Highland Wool and Beeswax on Birch Wood, 12" x 12" x 1.5"
Unnamed Blossom Study, Peruvian Highland Wool and Beeswax on Birch Wood, 4" x 6" x 1.5"
Unnamed Blossom Study, Peruvian Highland Wool and Beeswax on Birch Wood, 4" x 6" x 1.5"
Unnamed Blossom Study, Peruvian Highland Wool and Beeswax on Birch Wood, 4" x 6" x 1.5"

So much going on and, in the midst of it, I am working on...grant applications. Sigh. Maybe I'll dig out my Christmas playlist and make another pot of tea.  Have a fun week, everybody!

Friday, November 13, 2015

I am a poster child for OriginalWorks 2015!

OriginalWorks Market Poster 2015 - Idea Exchange, Cambridge, ON 

Wow. How great does this feel? That's my work, right in the centre!

I was thrilled when the Idea Exchange in Cambridge, ON not only accepted my work for their OriginalWorks Market, but also asked if they could use 'Vibrant Blossoms' on the poster. I couldn't say 'Yes, please!' fast enough.

The OriginalWorks Market features the work of local artists and artisans, hand picked by the gallery. Everything is priced under $300 and there are lots of choices for holiday gift giving. Open daily from November 28th to December 23rd, the gallery is staffed by volunteers, including the artists.

I will be there helping out on Sunday, December 6th from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm and on Monday, December 21st from 3 pm to 5:30 pm. Come on by and do some Christmas shopping. I'd love to see you!

The Idea Exchange is doing some really amazing things. I am especially fond of their Fibre Art Collection - go figure. They are a current and vital part of both their immediate community and the larger art scene, which is no easy task in a digital world.

I am looking forward to meeting everyone at the Idea Exchange and getting some of my own Christmas shopping done while I'm at it. Hopefully, I'll see you there.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

FiatluxFiber & Gun Plain Pygoras

Yarn people are good people. This is one of the really enjoyable lessons I've learned on my journey into fibre art. It is such a pleasure to be surprised by someone's kindness.

Nan Nichols from Gun Plain Pygoras and FiatLuxFibers reached out to me in October to talk about the Michigan Fiber Festival. She also asked if I would be interested in experimenting with some pygora fibres. Would I?! Does a kid like candy? Does a fish swim?

So Nan sent me some exquisite samples of a pygora-tussah silk blend, a pygora-merino blend and a superfine peruvian alpaca tweed, all undyed (my favourite!) and a very sweet note. The day I opened the package felt like Christmas.

Thank you Nan!
Okay, I'll come clean and confess that I did not know what pygora was at first. So I looked it up and learned that pygora fibre comes from a goat that is a cross between a cashmere producing pygmy goat and mohair producing angora goat. These goats are cute and the resulting fibre is heavenly soft and has a gorgeous lustre.

I'm not sure what I will do with the samples yet, but they are whispering to me about milk weed pods. Did you know that the floss that carries a milk weed seed is called a coma? I just learned that myself.

I love the way life can surprise you. I love learning things that I never expected to know. And I love kind people!

Thank you, Nan, for your generosity of spirit and of yarn that has launched me on an unexpected experiment. I will keep you posted on where it takes me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

California Succulents and The Square Foot Show

When I lived in Waterloo, if I was having an off day and needed a pick-me-up, I liked to visit the stores at the Bauer Marketplace. Maybe I'd treat myself to a yummy loose leaf tea or browse the gourmet imported foods store, and I would definitely stop at the Paula White Diamond  art gallery + design studio for a big dose of inspiration and awe. The folks running this place have a wicked eye for talent and design.

That is why I am so excited to be chosen to participate in this year's Square Foot Show. From November 26 to December 12, the gallery will feature 12" x 12" pieces, all priced at $225!

My submission is called 'California Succulents' and was triggered by a visit to Sea Ranch, California. Think huge blue skies with white clouds being pushed along by fierce ocean winds while waves crash against sharp black rocks far below the cliffs. In the middle of this elementary chaos, almost hanging off the bluffs and sheltered by the wind warped trees, grew this vividly coloured, happy little succulent plant.

Here it is:

California Succulents, 12" x 12" x 1.5"
Working on 'California Succulents' gave me a chance to revisit some warm memories of our trip to Sea Ranch.

I am very happy to be a part of the Square Foot Show and grateful to the PWD gallery for putting this together. It feels good to be exhibiting in one of my favourite galleries!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Alabama Spring (A Love Story)

Working as an artist is an ongoing exercise in letting go. For a week or a month or more, one piece is my world. I think about it obsessively, worrying over tiny details. Then the day comes when it is finished. I give it one last loving going over and then send it out into the world to be sold. Sometimes I am there for the sale and get to meet the person who buys the piece and hear why they are choosing it. Sometimes my work is sold through a gallery and I never know who bought it or why.

I’d like to share one special story with you - the story of a piece called ‘Alabama Spring’ from the time I first thought of it to when it was taken home and given a place to belong. I call it:

Alabama Spring (A Love Story)

In late March 2015, my husband and I were driving through Alabama. I was miserable and heartsick. Back in Ontario, we had just sold our house and couldn’t move into our new place until April. So we packed our stuff into storage and headed somewhere warm. We were officially homeless and feeling the effects of a very long, very cold winter.

Doug was driving and I had my forehead resting against the window, looking out at the trees whipping by in a landscape only marginally more hopeful than what we had left behind. Forest ran along either side of the highway, misty and mysterious. I stared into the grey depths, mesmerized by the repetition of tree after tree when my eyes suddenly snagged on a burst of impossibly vivid pink cutting across the vertical lines.

I sat up straight and said to Doug, “Did you see that?”

“See what?” he asked.

“That pink. Look, there it is again!”

And there it was indeed. For the rest of our trip through Alabama, we continued to see these shocking pink/purple tree buds that sang out from misty green forests like a siren. Later, I found out that we were seeing red bud blossoms, but at the time all I knew was that that particular shade of incredible pink was healing my winter weary heart.

That is when I had my first idea for a piece called ‘Alabama Spring.’ Here is the sketch that I did in our hotel room.

Alabama Spring, Sketch 1
I know. It’s messy. But see that snakey line moving from the lower right up across the vertical lines of the trees? That was the beginning idea. That and the title ‘Alabama Spring’.

Once I knew I was going to do this piece, I started taking pictures to use as reference, like these two:

Reference for tree bark and moss, Parking lot in Jacksonville, Florida
Reference for Red Bud, Birmingham, Alabama
Fast forward to August 2015. I am getting ready to begin my piece for Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago. I knew I wanted to do ‘Alabama Spring’ because I felt it was going to be a really special piece. I wanted to see if I could capture how surprising that color was in the depths of the forest.

So I made my planning sketch which helps me work out compositional issues and decide how I am going to ‘move’ the yarn.

Alabama Spring, Sketch 2
Still pretty messy, right? But there are a few new elements here that make it to the final piece. First is the composition - the five main trees are in place. I’ve also added the yellow dogwood to make the foreground a riot of small movement, contrasting the vertical lines of the trees in the background. And there’s that snakey branch of red bud in the lower right. Plus I added another burst of red bud to the left and behind the two main trees.

Next step, I coated a 24”x 24”x 1.5” birchwood panel with beeswax and went to work with the Peruvian highland wool yarn I had already ordered from Knitpicks. I ordered several pinky-purple shades so that I could get the color of the red bud just right. The color I ended up using is called ‘Lady Slipper’.

Here is the piece in progress:

Alabama Spring in progress
Here’s an insider’s secret. At this point, I still didn’t know exactly how I was going to do the forest floor. I wanted to created a feeling of a riot of blossoms - lots of little buds and flowers bursting out in celebration of spring. But I wasn’t sure how to do it. Doug was away at the time and I kept wasting our evening phone calls obsessing over what to do.

“I want to create movement,” I’d say.

“You’ll get it,” Doug would say.

He was right. The carpet of blossoms was the answer I was looking for and also the last part of the piece to be finished. I called Doug when it was done.

‘I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” I crowed.

“I knew you’d get it,” he said.

Time was tight to finish ‘Alabama Spring’ by October 1st, the day we had to leave for Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago. I had to take photos of the completed piece, but the days before we left were all overcast and this was the best shot I could come up with:

Alabama Spring, September 2015

Vogue Knitting Live was held at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago. We parked nearby and had a fun time carrying easels and artwork through the busy Chicago streets. Friday was set up and things got going on Saturday. People were really interested in the artwork and the process to create it. We were having a tonne of fun talking to attendees and watching them react to the pieces.

Two vivacious blonde women stopped to look at the work, asked us some questions, and went back to looking at the work. More people came by and I got caught up in some conversations but noticed that the women were still there, looking at Alabama Spring. More people came and went...and yet the women were still there.

“It’s love at first sight”, one of the ladies said to me. “She has to have it.”

Again I was distracted by another attendee and Doug took up the conversation with the two women. He later told me how touched he was that Carole (as we now know her name) was so moved by ‘Alabama Spring’ that she had tears in her eyes. Wow!

It didn’t take much to see that ‘Alabama Spring’ and Carole belonged together. It had to be hers and I love knowing that my artwork has brought even a little bit of joy to someone. A bargain was struck and Carole picked up the piece at the end of the day.

Two days later I received an email from Carole that read:

Alabama Spring.... In Illinois! All of your hard work is being appreciated! It makes me smile every time I see it--


As a teenager, we would drive to Alabama with our folks for spring vacation to escape the muddy Michigan March weather. Your piece, with the hopeful limbs of redbud winding their way thru the forest in spring, reminded my sister and I of those treks.
Alabama Spring will be enjoyed for many seasons in our home, thanks to your talent and vision.

and included this picture:

Carole and Alabama Spring
Thank you, Carole, for your appreciation of my artwork and for giving ‘Alabama Spring’ a home. I hope it brings you many years of pleasure.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Farewell to Chicago (and Hope to See You Again!)

Oh Chicago! My memories of you make me smile. I think you are my favorite city.

Highlights from VKL 2015? The Palmer House Hilton is definitely one. Hands down the most beautiful hotel I have ever been in.

Detail of the lobby ceiling, Palmer House Hilton.
Another highlight? All of the amazing people I met, some for the first time (Hi Carole!) and some returning friends. I have to give a special mention to Janelle, Chastity, and Kimberly. I met them all for the first time last year and caught up with them again this year. They are some of the sweetest, most lovely ladies I have ever known. Thank you all for the confidence you give me to do what I do. I will see you again!

This year, we were determined to visit the Art Institute of Chicago. Wow. It was worth it. To see the work of Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Pollack, O'Keefe, Degas, Seurat, and so many more great masters in person was awe inspiring. I could spend a month there, exploring all of the exhibits. Monet's Haystacks series was a definite favorite, as you can see below.

Me in awe of Monet's Haystack.
So farewell Chicago for another year. It was a wonderful time and I can't wait to return!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Vogue Knitting Live! - Chicago 2015

So exciting to be in Chicago again! Man, I love the buildings in this city. I keep having to remind myself to close my mouth when we're out walking. I want to just stop and stare at the skyline to take in all the layers of old and new architecture.

For VKL 2015, I created a piece called Alabama Spring. The above photo shows it in the making and gives you a peek into my studio (with yarn, of course.) All that lovely Knit Picks Palette!

Alabama Spring was inspired by - well - driving through Alabama in the Spring. All along the highway were misty grey-green forests with sudden punches of vivid pink/purple. It was fascinating and so refreshing after a long winter of grey slush. Like spotting a rare animal. I found out that the bright buds were on redbud trees.

For me, Alabama Spring represents the completion of a thought I started exploring two years ago. I was really working on motion of yarn in this piece, contrasting the vertical lines of the deep forest with the busy all over-ness of the foreground and the tree buds.

If you're here at VKL, come on over to the artist gallery on the 4th floor and see the finished product!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

September Sunshine Round Up

Pale Blossoms - 6"x 8"x 1.5"
I had some fun with the bright autumn sunshine coming through the studio window this morning and caught up on cataloguing my latest pieces at the same time.

These are all done on the birch wood raised panels, which gives them a rustic, organic quality that I just love.

Vibrant Blossoms - 8"x 8"x 1.5"
Isn't the texture amazing? These pieces are done in Peruvian Highland Wool, which has a very subtle sheen and sharp definition.

Blossom Shower - 8"x 6" x 1.5"
You might notice a theme in subject matter here. Cherry blossoms are a favourite subject of mine. There is so much hope and promise in a fruit blossom, especially after a bleak winter. Themes of radiance and vibrance also keep coming back. The linear nature of the yarn creates a visible aura around the blossoms and you can almost see the petals tremble in the sunshine.

Abstract Thinking - 8"x 6"x 1.5"
After three blossom pieces, I needed to break out and play a little. Abstract Thinking is the result of an intuitive process, just letting the piece develop on it's own.

Next up is Vogue Knitting Live. I have finished the piece for the event and I'm pretty excited about it.  You'll hear more about it soon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Vogue Knitting Live! Chicago is only 6 weeks away!

Have you smelled it yet? Autumn is heading our way. The golden rod is out and the garden harvest is plentiful. And VKL Chicago is only 6 weeks away! Time to register for classes, including my own class Radiant Beauty - Create Fiber Art paintings with Yarn (New & Exclusive), is running out.  

Last year was so much fun. The people are fantastic, the hotel is jaw-dropping, and I learned so much about fibers and knitting. Chicago is an amazingly friendly city and we had lots of great food. And don't get me started about the art.

Register here and I'll see you in Chicago!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

She Goes but Softly, but She Goeth Sure

Fabulous news! I just heard from Gallery Stratford that my entry for the Perth-Huron Exhibition has been selected. The theme of this year's juried exhibition is 'discovery.' As I have been exploring the idea of fibonacci spirals as they relate both to art and the natural growth of things like plants and snail shells, I wanted to use the theme to work out these concepts in a piece. Here is the result, titled 'She Goes but Softly, but She Goeth Sure.' The title is from a John Bunyan poem and seemed like an apt description of my creative development.

If you're in the area, drop by Gallery Stratford between July 19 and October 4 to see the exhibition!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Vogue Knitting LIVE! Chicago 2015 - I'm a teacher

It is so exciting to be teaching a class at VKL Chicago 2015. Last year, so many people asked if I would teach a class that I was motivated to put in a proposal and things progressed from there. A big thank you to the fabulous people at Vogue Knitting LIVE! for making this happen.

I will also be in the artist gallery with some brand new pieces made especially for the event. See you there. I can't wait!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Tyger! Tyger!

"Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
-William Blake, The Tyger-

Just finished my first commissioned piece. Tigers! It was fun to stretch outside of my usual subject matter and there are a lot of firsts going on in this piece. For example, this is the first piece I've done on a birch wood canvas. The birch canvases are great because they have the gallery style depth and are sturdy enough to allow me to apply pressure when pressing the wool into the beeswax. The wool for this piece is another first. Most of it is worked in Peruvian highland wool. I like the Peruvian wool for the tigers because it is 'crisper' than Shetland wool and gave a sharp definition in the tiger stripes.

The above photo shows another first. When I wrapped the wool yarn around the sides of the canvas, I worked a border pattern around the edge to complement the piece. Some parts of the main image go over the border and some parts are covered by it. Overall, it finished the piece nicely and leaves the owner the option to frame the piece or not.

I had a great time making 'Tyger! Tyer!' and hope to do more commissions in the future. Having a subject chosen for me encourages me to travel outside of my comfort zone and I love the challenge!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Quilt and Fibre Art Festival, Waterloo Region and Beyond

Quilt & Fibre Art Festival  Waterloo Region & Beyond

I am very excited to be participating in the St. Jacobs Quilt and Fibre Art Festival that runs from May 26th to May 30th this year. This is my first year taking part, and I am looking forward to meeting so many talented fibre artists. Look for me and my work at the SiloWeavers in St. Jacobs. I would love to talk to you and answer any questions you may have.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

National Quilt Museum, Paducah, Kentucky

Just back from holidays and wanted to tell you about the amazing National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky. The quilts I saw there were a testament to both the history and the complexity of fibre art. Some quilts explored the possibilities within traditional patterns and some were paintings worked in thread and fabric. Each quilt was a jaw-dropping work of art and I am so happy I took the opportunity to visit the museum. Paducah, itself, is worth some exploration, with many boutique stores, antiques, and artisans. If you're a fan of fibre art or art in general, I highly recommend a visit to the National Quilt Museum. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

the SiloWeavers, St. Jacobs, ON

Exciting news! My work is now being shown and sold at the SiloWeavers in St. Jacobs, Ontario. This is an iconic St. Jacobs shop and has long been one of my favourite destinations for all things fibre and fibre art related. Located in, you guessed it, a silo and also a boxcar and part of an old flour mill, there are so many interesting things to explore, ponder, and drool over. And if that's not enough, the SiloWeavers also features a guest artist as part of the St. Jacobs Fibre Art Festival each May, this year May 26 to May 30. I am happy to be one of the artists included at this historic destination and fibre arts icon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Pretty Dove Colours

Like most artists, I am critical of my own work. When I look at most pieces, I see what I would do differently if I did the piece again. But this piece - this lovely piece - is so full of things I love that I almost named it "My Favourite Things." Mourning doves are gorgeous birds - their colours are gentle and their call is so soulful. Whenever someone asks me what colours I like, I usually respond 'mourning dove colours.' Hence the title I finally settled on - 'Pretty Dove Colours.'

P.S. For anyone who has been following along here, do you see what I mean about pattern? This is the beginning of something fun!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine represents the beginning of a new exploration for me. For a long time, I have been interested in pattern - wallpaper, fabric, tile, fair isle - all kinds of pattern. With Blue Valentine, I experienced a sudden epiphany: I can put pattern in the background. The maroon dots in Blue Valentine were planned from the beginning - I wanted to break up a neutral background. It was as I was executing them that the aha came. So look for more pattern to come in up coming pieces. I am so excited!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Radiant Orchard

I absolutely love it when a piece surprises me, when the end product turns out to be more than expected. Sunlight filtered through endless pink and white blossoms, creating a 'pink sky' - that was planned. But the way the pink and green sing together - they did that all themselves.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Tulip Tree

Another small piece completed that has been in the works for awhile - The Tulip Tree. The contrast between the pale blue and hot pink really speaks to my heart.

January 8, 2015 - Two new pieces finished - My Little Chickadee and Sunspots. Working on these smaller pieces gives me a chance to experiment and have a bit of fun!

December 27, 2014 - Check out the great compliments Thanks, Rebecca!

November 20, 2014 - Don't miss out on the 25% off and free shipping in Canada and U.S. this holiday season.

October 26, 2014 - A great close to Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago. We had a fantastic time and definitely want to do it again. Thank you so much to all the friendly people that stopped to chat about artwork, the universe and everything!

October 25, 2014 - Having a fabulous time at VKL in Chicago and enjoying incredible philosophical conversations with some fabulous people.

October 24, 2014 - First day at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago was a huge success. Thanks to all the great people that stopped by and for all the wonderful compliments!

Kathy White is excited to be exhibiting in the Artist Gallery at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago October 24th to 26th.

Two new pieces will be unveiled at the show.