Monday, November 17, 2014

Studio Tour...... for another year

Well, the Oak Bay Artist Studio Tour is over for another year. I loved every minute of it and hope that I'll be able to do it again next year! Since we just returned from Italy 5 days before the tour, I didnt get any new work finished in those few days......but spent the time cleaning and sorting and arranging all the furniture and art.
 Visitors mentioned how tidy and well kept my studio is, but they didnt see the piles of stuff at the back of the basement. Today I'll be pulling that stuff back in and it'll look like a messy working studio once again!

I love being able to talk about my work and how its created, most visitors are curious about the products I use and the stages of development, they are surprised when I tell them that all the fabric I use in my work has started out as plain white or black and I've dyed, painted, and printed on it. I see these tours as an educational time for the visors and they are always appreciative that I spend time talking about the process as well as the end results.
It's interesting to see which pieces engage the viewers, it's often either my most representational or my most abstract, not so much the art in between. As I'm working more and more to the abstract, I wonder what their responses will be then. My plan for next years tour is to have all completely new work in two very different styles that I've been developing......we shall see what happens!
I was tickled that one person came in because her friend in Ontario gets my newsletter and told her about it. Another visitor recognized a piece from the Sooke Fine Arts Show and another person asked where "I was represented", meaning what galleries took my work.....oh, I wish!

I had a display of samples for the workshops I'll be teaching here early next year and got some good responses from those. Workshops always fill for me, but its nice to start early to promote them.
So those are some observations, the hot apple cider and shortbread cookies were a hit too!
And now....back to work!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

You Say Uffuzi, I Say Fabric

There are as many places to view art in Florence as there are days in the month, maybe in the year.......
It's an absolute art lovers dream, particularly if you are studying Renaissance and Italian masters, sculpture and more.
Rather than taking pictures of the countless Madonna and Child variations, I thought I would focus on the ways that the artist incorporated embroidery into their work. I saw a few samples on embroidery in the museums but didn't get a chance to go to the costume museum in Florence.....maybe during my next visit. So here are some pictures you might enjoy, in no particular order...

What do you think?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Looking a Little Closer.....

When I teach Design Classes, I always encourage students to look closely at their surroundings. Design doesn't have to be a far off, grandiose concept that one has to agonize over. It can be found in the veins of a leaf, the patterns of a carpet, light pouring through a curtain or many, many ideas within our immediate reach.
Here's a picture that I took during a our tour of Ephesus, Turkey. It was a fantastic day spent amounts the ruins, I had no idea that the city once had more than 250,000 inhabitants. If you ever get a chance to tour the ruins, don't turn it down!
One of the photos I took had so many ideas for design, whether you choose appliqué, paint, stitch, embroidery.....
Here's the full photo:

Now, let's look at some of the parts:

I like those plumes, all in a row.

How about this as a repeating border design or painted shadows.

More plumes, but a really great design along the bottom.

More plumes or leaves and a little beaded line underneath.

Now, how about these leaves, gorgeous line and shadow.
Do these give you some ideas of what is possible by just looking and trying to use small sections of a picture?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Three Reasons to Ignore Pompeii

So, one place on my Bucket List has always been a visit to Pompeii. What could be better than a chance to visit an ancient city, preserved for centuries and waiting through time to be alive once again.
When planning the trip I realized that a trip from Rome to Pompeii would be a long, long and very tiring day. A better option was suggested in the guide books as the port city of Ostia Antica, a quick train ride from the centre of Rome. (Reason #1)
We arrived and took a short walk from the train station to the main gate, there were probably several hundred people touring the ruins but the city was so large and well laid out, it never felt crowded. (Reason #2)

There was lots of green space around to sit and enjoy the cool breeze (did I mention it was hot?) just outside the city is the Necropolis, which is the burial grounds.....burial and cremation was done outside city walls. The openings in the walls was were the urns were placed.

There were cooking areas, an ancient shopping mall, worship places and lots of inscriptions.....I wish I could read Latin!

I loved every minute of our visit to Ostia, and would go back again and again, as we only saw a small part of it. But we got back in time for a little refreshment. (Reason #3)
Doesn't it all sound like fun?

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Printed Fabric Bee - Science

This month all the busy Bees made fabric for Jackie Lams with the theme of "Science". Now thats a pretty wide open subject so I had to narrow it down somehow! So what does fabric and surface design have in common with science....well, its some of those chemicals that we use to make the water, dye and fabric get to know each other....chemicals such as soda ash, urea and sodium alginate!
I made Thermofax screens from those formulas:

And them printed them on a beautiful clamp dyed cotton. I think I had used a combination colour of brown and black but its pale and sets off the printing very well. But I decided to use the reverse side of the fabric, its a bit softer!

I also drew on a science symbol.......any idea what its called? Plus a few dots and stuff! Generally I'm pretty happy with it!

If you'd like a chance to wine a package of the 6" squares then trot on over to the blog and make a comment. You can find the blog here:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Come and Learn with Susan!

Do you like exploring different ways of putting design onto fabric? Maybe you've been inspired by The Printed Bee posts I've done? Or is fabric dyeing something that you just can't do at home?
Then come to one of my Studio Workshops that I've set up for 2015!

I've developed several surface design workshops open to small groups of students in my own studio, located in Victoria, BC.
There are a variety of topics and techniques that we will explore together and I would be happy to tailor a workshop to meet your needs. Workshop size is limited so you can be assured of comprehensive and dedicated instructional time!

Here's the schedule, registration will open on November 18th!

Colour Play
9:30-12pm - January 13 & 20, 2015  $75+GST

Colour Blocking
9:30-12pm - January 15, 2015 $60+GST

Print It, Print It
9:30-12 pm - February 3, 10, 17th, 2015 $90+GST

Screen Print with Success
9:30-12pm - February 5, 12, 19, 2015 $110+GST

Gelatin Plate Printing
9:30-12pm - February 26, 2015 $60+GST

Super Simple Shibori
9:30-12pm - March 3 & 10, 2015 $75+GST

Workshops  include all dye recipes and excellent written step by step instructions and there will be a focus on safe studio habits.
Fee includes all dyes and chemicals, plus most additional supplies. Your supply list will be sent when registration is complete.

I hope to see you in a workshop! You can get further descriptions here:

Plus, if you sign up for three workshops, you get a 20% discount, great news! And if you sign up before November 25th, you'll be eligible for a FREE workshop of your choice!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Next Stop........Venice

Almost thirty years ago we took our four young children on a camping trip through Europe. I was so excited to visit Venice and show them the history and architecture of this wonderful city. As we stood in St. Marks Square I expected them to be as in awe of their surroundings as I was. Instead, all they wanted to do was chase pigeons!
I vowed that one day I would return and really, really visit all the sights I wanted to! San Marco was one of our first stops......this time the tide was high.

One of our guide books said that it was almost impossible not to get lost in Venice, I agree and we decided to just wander the alleys and canals and enjoy the discoveries we made.

I'm really here, I can hardly believe it!
Of course we had to stop once in a while for a little refuelling break......

Shopping can be done almost anywhere.....

Next stop.....Burano, Murano and Torcello