Monday, August 18, 2014

Quotes: Willa Cather

"Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is." – Willa Cather, Pulitzer prize winning American author (1873-1947)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Natural dyeing

Dye pot; Photo © Karen Thiessen 2013
This was my dye pot last fall. The drips are courtesy of a black walnut vat. I'm beginning to see the occasional black walnut on the sidewalk and in a month I expect to see more. I can't wait to start my next vat.
Dye pot detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen 2013
I had planned to start an indigo vat this summer but it just hasn't happened and probably won't. My husband has been cleaning out and organizing the garage and a vat would have prevented this minor miracle from happening. The good news is that there is a lot more space for dyeing and he's offered to install a proper clothes line in there for future indigo-dyed cloth to oxidize. By next week we'll have extra plugs and lights so I'll be able to plug in the hot plate without a 10 foot extension cord (and tripping hazard) snaking across the garage floor and up the steps. I may celebrate by treating myself to a new hot plate.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Studio Series: 8 Stripe 1 textile

8 Stripe 1 Textile © Karen Thiessen, 2014
In my work as a mixed media textile artist, I like to collage with paper images of my textiles and stitch my collages that I digitally print onto fabric. 8 Stripe 1 Textile is this collage printed onto fabric and then stitched.
8 Stripe 1 Textile detail © Karen Thiessen, 2014
A stitched circle completes the textile. It's now in the home of an art collector.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Quotes: Picasso

"A picture used to be the sum of additions. In my case it is the sum of destructions. I do a picture –– then I destroy it. In the end though, nothing is lost, the red I took away from one place turns up somewhere else." – Pablo Picasso

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Journeys I & II

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Journeys I & II; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
In February I was in Cincinnati, Ohio for a conference and I had a free afternoon. One of the conference organizers is a docent at The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and he offered to give me and a small group a private guided tour. I love African American quilts and researched them in my student days, so I was pleased to see Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson's monumental textile Journeys I & II
Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Journeys detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
To say that I was pleased is an understatement: I was blown away by the detail, colour and time commitment. Robinson (b. 1940) has been making this textile since 1968. That's 46 years.
Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Journeys detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Robinson is now 74. Will she continue making this textile until the end of her days? 
Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Journeys detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
The expressive stitching speaks to me.
Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Journeys detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
I especially appreciate her colourful appliquéd text and the chunky stitching that attaches it to the textile.
Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Journeys detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Paint, fabric, buttons, cowrie shells, graphite, and thread reside together to make this monumental textile. Does some of the fabric come from previously worn clothing? 
Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Journeys detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Journeys Text; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Journeys detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson textile 1968 to present at The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Photos taken with permission.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Quotes: Miriam Toews

"Now I'm learning something. Go into hard things quickly, eagerly, then retreat. It's the same for thinking, writing and life." – Miriam Toews, All My Puny Sorrows, page 243

**Since I read All My Puny Sorrows in early June, it has not left me. I think about its humour, compassion and hope daily. When the book prizes come around, I hope that AMPS is among the winners.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Intuitive Mark-making update

Lent drawing July 2014 © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Summer is in full gear which means that time in the studio is fragmented by visits with friends and family. It's a good thing. I know that I will return to my full-time studio practice refreshed and inspired by time with so many of the wonderful people in my life. I've continued my daily intuitive mark-making practice that I began for Lent 2014. Today marks 150 days-in-a-row of mark-making and 1290 days-in-a-row of yoga.