Friday, 31 August 2012

Week 31: Adobe Illustrator

Quatrefoiled I (small) © Karen Thiessen, 2012
After two weeks off from practicing Adobe Illustrator, I am back in the saddle. Thankfully returning to the program wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. This week I played with quatrefoils. Some patterns, like the one above, are clean and simple. Others, like the one below, are ornate. Of the two patterns, Quatrefoiled I (small) is my favourite.
Quatrefoil © Karen Thiessen, 2012
I worked on the (above) Quatrefoil motif for a good part of the week building it from one base shape that I rotated, scaled, clipped, layered, and then coloured with Live Paint. It's amazing what you can do with the common circle.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Svava Thordis Juliusson @ b contemporary

Svava Thordis Juliusson sculptures; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
A few years ago I went on an artist date with ten dollars in my pocket and bought materials that I don't normally use in my studio practice. Among other things, a few packages of cable ties came home with me and I had fun playing with them. I thought that I had stumbled across something entirely new... and then I saw Svava Thordis Juliusson's work for the first time. Ideas are fluid.

The madness of their method is a three-person show featuring work by Svava Thordis Juliusson, Liss Platt, and Laura Marotta at b contemporary until September 1, 2012. Svava's four small white sculptures hanging in the window remind me of three-dimensional children's drawings: they hold an unexpected power for me. I am reminded of stars bursting and my childhood drawings of eyes with dramatic eyelashes. The elongated piece to the right reminds me of the torso of a beheaded doll.
Svona by Svava Thordis Juliusson; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
As a textiles person, I appreciate the texture and repetition that go into each sculpture. The addition of a cable tie is like adding a tuft of yarn to a burlap base to make a hooked rug. The white sculptures work best for me, but Avalanche (excerpt) Yellow does have a certain charm with its cheerful yellow. Svava is making a huge installation for the side of a building for Hamilton's Supercrawl on September 14 and 15. I can't wait to see it. For more information, check out her blog.
Avalanche (excerpt) Yellow by Svava Thordis Juliusson; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Laura Marotta @ b contemporary

Laura Marotta, Untitled drawings II-IV; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
The madness of their method is a three-person show featuring work by Svava Thordis Juliusson, Liss Platt, and Laura Marotta at b contemporary until September 1, 2012. The pairing of Liss Platt with Laura Marotta is significant. This year Liss Platt won the Hamilton Arts Award (Established Visual Artist) and Laura Marotta won the Hamilton Arts Award (Emerging Visual Artist).

Laura Marotta is a sculptor who recently earned an MFA from the University of Guelph and a BFA from McMaster University. Laura is one of those artists whose work snuck up on me. When I walked into b contemporary, Liss Platt's large photographs of candy in repeat patterns and Svava Thordis Juliusson's sculptures made of cable ties first grabbed my attention. Laura Marotta's work quietly made an impression that has stayed with me. Please excuse my crappy photographs: the lighting and my camera did not get along. All the drawings are on creamy white paper, so use your imagination to get past the pink cast. 
Laura Marotta, Untitled drawing I; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
My favourite pieces are Untitled drawings I, III, and V where holes are cut seemingly randomly into the geometric drawings. Laura used pencil, pen and marker on paper for each drawing. Each hole reveals, conceals, and is mysterious. What was excised? Why are the holes cut where they are? Each hole references its drawing directly as in the case of drawing V or indirectly (drawing I).
Laura Marotta, Untitled drawings IV detail; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
The drawings are of three-dimensional geometric sculptures and each hole reminds us that the drawings are on thin flat paper.
Laura Marotta, Untitled drawings V detail; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
Untitled drawing V is my favourite of my favourite three drawings. The colours are optimistic (the yellow circle reminds me of an egg yolk and the sun) and transparent. The drawing is like a puzzle: What is inside and what is outside? The statement on the b contemporary website states: "The drawings in this show study issues of space and architecture. She twists natural perspective forcing the viewer to question their perceptions." True, very true.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Halifax Yarn Bombing & more

Yarn Bombed NSCAD bench; Photo credit © Karen Thiessen, 2012
Yarn Bombed NSCAD bench; Photo credit © Karen Thiessen, 2012
Yarn bombing gets interesting when NSCAD students get in on the act. I came across this bench in front of the Anna Leonowens Gallery on Granville Street.
Barrington Street texture
Poster fragments enliven this otherwise drab utilitarian nook close to the Khyber on Barrington Street. Barrington Street was a little sad without John W. Doull Bookseller, who moved to Dartmouth.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Quote: Fuller + Wittgenstein

"The closer man gets to the unknown, the more inventive he becomes – the quicker he adopts new ways." – Buckminster Fuller, American futurist & inventor


"The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. (One is unable to notice something – because it is always before one's eyes.) – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-British philosopher

Friday, 24 August 2012

Dots & Loops Handmade, Lunenburg, NS

Dots & Loops Handmade; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012 
A highlight of our visit to Lunenburg was discovering Dots and Loops Handmade. Here I found gifts for friends and funky washi tape for moi! 
Dots & Loops Handmade; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012 
Sorry about the reflections – obviously my little camera doesn't have a polarizing filter. Even with the reflections, you can see that their window displays are awesome. If memory serves me, the star fish are made from vintage chenille bedspreads. The jelly fish (or is it rain?) are made with shredded bubble wrap. Now that would have been fun to make! Check out their tumblr site for more eye candy. Lunenburg is also home to The Makery. Holy cow, Lunenburg is a happening place!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chester & Lunenburg Day Trip

Chester Basin, NS  
Two years ago hubby and I discovered an ideal picnic spot in Chester. This trip we returned for round two. Whether sunny or foggy, the view is still breathtaking.
Tall ship, Lunenburg, NS
I had ulterior motives to go to Lunenburg: to take more rubbings of the door sill plates of the Lunenburg Opera House (stars in a repeat pattern) but sadly they were all removed during renovations and replaced with boring cement. Thankfully I did find a diamond sill plate elsewhere that offered up consolation rubbings. 
Lunenburg NS folk art
Nova Scotians understand colour, as you can see with the yellow guy and the bottom homes. After four years living in Halifax, I was sad to return to Ontario's conservative (unimaginative) house colours. 
Lunenburg NS house colours
Don't you love the putty, chartreuse and teal combo?

Lunenburg NS house colours
Goldenrod, pumpkin orange and purple can stand up to any fog that rolls in. What Ontarians may lack in house colour confidence, we make up with outrageous gardens.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Halifax Public Gardens

Halifax Public Gardens gate; © Karen Thiessen 2012
Long before I lived there, Halifax was my soul city. It still is. My husband and I just returned from ten days in Nova Scotia. Halifax was our base and from there we took several day trips. One of my favourite places in Halifax is the public gardens and on this trip we visited it almost daily.
The folks at the public gardens are creative. One highlight was seeing this bed planted with a perimeter of swiss chard. This summer I ate my very first swiss chard (it's delicious, what took me so long?), so I was thrilled to see it planted in a flower bed. After testing the red and the green varieties, hubby and I have decided that the green jives best with our taste buds. Next year we're going to plant Fordhook swiss chard in our perennial garden. 
Halifax Public Gardens kale; © Karen Thiessen 2012
The best thing about travel is that it takes me out of my comfort zone and allows me to see things in a new way, like swiss chard in a flower garden. Air travel forces me to pack as lightly as possible. There's something to be said for living out of a suitcase for a few weeks and seeing how much you really (don't) need. I'm back to work now inspired and refreshed.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Patterns in nature

Mangosteen star
Our Singaporean friends introduced my hubby and me to mangosteens and their cooling nature. According to Denny and Esther, foods are either heaty (yang) or cooling (yin). Durian is so very heaty that it should never be consumed with alcohol, which is also heaty, but instead be paired with mangosteens which will balance it out. Since hubby thinks that durian is disgusting, we haven't had it since we lived in Singapore. I like it, but couldn't eat an entire one all by myself. We both love mangosteens, so when they are available in Canada, we buy a few. Since reading India Flint's Eco Colour, I've collected mangosteen shells for future natural dye experiments. I'm curious to see what colour they will yield, how to process the shells, and how light-fast the dye is. If you already know the answer to this, feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Quotes: Tolstoy

"True life is lived when tiny changes occur." – Leo Tolstoy, Russian writer

Friday, 17 August 2012

Adobe Illustrator

The Green Wave © Karen Thiessen 2012
I gave myself a break from Adobe Illustrator this week, but here's S-curvy reimagined using the brushes tool. Happy weekend to you all!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Home & Garden

Bromeliad flower; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
A month ago I was ready to donate this plant to my local thrift store but I'm glad I didn't. Every two years the plant sends out a bloom that lasts several months. Then the plant produces a baby plant that I call a pup. When the pup reaches a certain size, the host parent dies, and the cycle begins anew. This is the third or fourth generation of the original plant that the previous home owners left with the house.
Bromeliad flower; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
With the help of a generous scoop of compost per plant each month and a new sunny raised bed, our 2012 zucchini crop is our best ever. Even with eight plants, we still don't have the problem of so many zucchini that we need to share them with friends, family, neighbours, and unsuspecting passersby. There's always next year...
Yellow zucchini; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Studio Series: A-line skirt collage


A-line skirt collage © Karen Thiessen, 2012
While purging files, I came across some photocopies with lovely shadows that were too beautiful not to use. This collage is simple, yet elegant – just like an A-line skirt.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

TOAE 2012: Tracey Martin

Tracey Martin textile sculpture; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
Tracey Martin's gigantic knit red ball garnered a lot of attention at the TOAE. With the sweltering temperatures, just looking at knitting in progress, let alone a red knit ball larger than Santa, made me hotter than I already was. I included two images, one with an average height woman next to it to give you a sense of the scale. According to Tracey, a five foot diameter metal armature is at the heart of the ball, and the ball is approximately five feet five inches with the knitting. I'm curious to see how large this ball gets. Tracey Martin won the Best Sculpture Award for the 2012 TOAE!
Tracey Martin textile sculpture; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
For more information, check out her blog.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Quotes: Life

"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." – Voltaire, French author, historian, and philosopher


"We are disturbed not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens." – Epictetus, Greek philosopher


"The winds of grace are always blowing, but you have to raise the sail." – Sri Ramakrishna, 19th century Indian saint

Friday, 10 August 2012

Week 30: Adobe Illustrator

Hexbridge © Karen Thiessen, 2012
When you were a child, did you play with Tinkertoys? My brother and I had a set and I played with them for hours at a time. I think the Hexbridge pattern has a Tinkertoy-meets-hexagon feel, my hubby would likely describe it as a molecular model. This is probably a variation of a Moorish pattern. What do you see?

Thursday, 9 August 2012

TOAE 2012: Jennifer Maynard

Jennifer Maynard textiles; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
Jennifer Maynard's work caught my attention the moment that I saw it. Some work enters my consciousness slowly, so that I'm unaware that it's having its way with me. Other artwork hits me like a Mack truck. Maynard's work fits into the latter category. It's colourful, fun, and cheeky. 
Jennifer Maynard textiles; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
Peterborough, Ontario based Maynard is also known as Lucky Jackson and she's on a 365 day stitching bender to create one hand embroidered art work each day. When I heard this, I was all ears (after all this blog is named Day In & Day Out). She started the project in September 2011 and I hope she's able to complete this impressive undertaking without developing repetitive strain injuries.
Jennifer Maynard textiles; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
The funny thing about the work is that while I was photographing it, my camera's face recognition software kept kicking in. Hah!
Jennifer Maynard textiles; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
Maynard, aka Lucky Jackson, has all her bases covered on the 'ole wild world web. Check out her website or blog or Flickr to see and learn more.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

TOAE 2012: Deborah Pasternak

Deborah Pasternak painting; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
I spent a hot day at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition checking out the work. Deborah Pasternak's paintings of afghans and doilies grabbed my attention and forced me to take a second and third look. Yes, all the images are painted, not crocheted.
Deborah Pasternak painting; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
Pasternak paints the doilies as if she were decorating a cake. Instead of icing, she fills a cake decorating bag with acrylic paint and then using a variety of tips goes to town recreating Grandma's wares. She began developing this technique while a student at the Ontario College of Art and Design and then went a step further and acquired pastry chef skills at George Brown College. I'm a sucker for cross-pollination.
Deborah Pasternak painting; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
Do you have a favourite afghan or doily that is looking worse for wear and can't bear the thought of getting rid of it? Deborah Pasternak accepts commissions to recreate your much loved afghan in paint. 
Deborah Pasternak painting; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
Deborah Pasternak painting; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

TOAE 2012: Shuyu Lu

Shuyu Lu textiles; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
As a Chinese artist living in Canada, Shuyu Lu is a bridge between East and West. Confronting this duality on a daily basis led Shuyu Lu to explore other contrasts of sheer vs. opaque (see the bottom image), colour vs. black-and-white, contemporary imagery of hamburgers and electronic equipment superimposed with traditional French Toile de Jouy fabrics, old vs. new, and slow hand-embroidery vs. faster screen-printed fabrics. Shuyu Lu makes good use of this tension with her witty melding of traditional and contemporary, and eastern and western cultures.
Shuyu Lu textiles; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
Shuyu Lu moves beyond the rectangle with her amorphously shaped Toiles de Jouy and her embroidery hooped stitched screen-prints. Embroidery hoops are on the verge of being over-used among textile artists, but they are a quick and inexpensive solution to presenting the work. The irregularly-shaped stuffed Toiles are so unusual that they force me to spend more time with them.
Shuyu Lu textiles; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012
Shuyu Lu, a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design's fibre program, is finishing a residency in the Harbourfront textile studio. For more information, check out Shuyu Lu's blog.
Shuyu Lu textiles; Photo credit Karen Thiessen, 2012

Monday, 6 August 2012

Quotes: Rainer Maria Rilke

"You must give birth to your images. Fear not the strangeness you feel. The future must enter you long before it happens. Just wait for the birth, for the hour of the new clarity." – Rainer Maria Rilke, Austrian poet

Friday, 3 August 2012

Week 29: Adobe Illustrator

Lounge Zigzag © Karen Thiessen 2012
Above is my summer fling with Lounge I. In March I was besotted with orange. Now that the temperature and humidity are both high, I'm cooling off with blues and greens. Playing with the colour has completely changed the look and now I'm curious about other ways this design can evolve. Summer's slower pace has been a gift. I'm not motivated to create new patterns, but am quite happy to revisit my passel of earlier designs.
Lounge I © Karen Thiessen 2012

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Andrew McPhail: Prick @ Centre [3]

Prick by Andrew McPhail; Photo Credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
Andrew McPhail is an artist that I have been watching for a few years. He draws, he paints, and he creates installations using the humblest of materials: pins, facial tissues, and band-aids. Prick is a piece at Centre [3] for Print and Media Arts (formerly known as The Print Studio) on James Street North in Hamilton and is part of a broader exhibition, Qualia, or the Feel of Steel, curated by Ingrid Mayrhofer, that explores the imprint of steel on Hamilton. At the opening, Prick garnered a lot of attention: we all had to touch it... and we did. By chance, I ran into Andrew another day when I came back to photograph his piece, without the crowds of people swarming the chair and foot stool. He said that he started with the middle of the foot stool where the pins are very dense, and as he worked, he realized that he would have to space them apart a bit more in order to finish the piece in time for the show.
Prick by Andrew McPhail; Photo Credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
Prick by Andrew McPhail; Photo Credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
Prick appeals to my textile background. I love the repetition, accumulation, and tactile qualities of the piece. Andrew cleverly illustrates the relationship between steel and textiles. When I normally think of steel, I think of ugly factories belching plumes of steam and smoke, massive steel coils on flatbed trucks, and steel beams used in construction. All my associations are of steel's large scale and danger and pollution and ugliness. Every day I stitch using needle and thread. Every day I used a thin sharp shard of steel to make my work. Prick reminds me that steel is as much small, friendly, daily, and domestic as it is dangerous, large, and remote.
Prick by Andrew McPhail; Photo Credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
Another interesting connection that Andrew makes with Prick is that although Hamilton is known as "Steeltown," it was once a textile manufacturing city too. 
Prick by Andrew McPhail; Photo Credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
Read Ingrid Mayrhofer's statement about Qualia, or the Feel of Steel here and her statement about Andrew McPhail's piece, Prick, here. The exhibition runs from July 7 to August 18, 2012.