Monday, 29 September 2014

Quotes: Jane Kenyon

"Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours." –– Jane Kenyon (1947-1995, American poet and translator

* I found this in Dani Shapiro's Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, 2013. One day I'll track down this poem and read it directly. Dani Shapiro quotes Kenyon's opening line "Be a good steward to your gifts." Several online sources quote "Be a good steward of your gifts."

After a very busy summer, I am following Kenyon's advice by working in silence and limiting my internet usage and movie watching (despite the fact that I do most of my stitching while watching movies on the computer). Silence and solitude are drawing me back into the much-missed rhythm of my work.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Toronto West Queen West street art

Toronto Graffiti; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Vogue magazine recently listed Toronto's West Queen West as the second hippest neighbourhood in the world. Yes, it's hip and it has great street art.
Sanko Trading Mural; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
I'm particularly smitten with Sanko's new mural. If you are looking for a wide selection of Japanese pottery and foodstuffs, this is the place to go. 
Sanko Trading Mural detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Toronto shop sign; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
I have no idea what this sign says, but I like it a lot.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


I spotted this shirt and it gave me an idea of how to use some of my subtler intuitive mark-making drawings as backgrounds for bold repeat patterns. Pardon the blur, the woman was walking as I photographed the shirt.
Not only do I love the shirt's half-drop repeat pattern, I also admire the woman's look.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Quotes: Claude Bernard

"The true worth of an experimenter consists in his pursuing not only what he seeks, but also what he did not seek." – Claude Bernard (1813-1878), French physiologist 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Studio Series: Lent drawings & more

An accumulation of Lent drawings © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Today marks 200 days since the beginning of Lent and this intuitive mark-making practice. Lately I've gone through a lot of acrylic ink as you can see from this pile of drawings. FW acrylic artists' inks offer a consistent quality. They cost more than other acrylic inks, but are worth it. 
Lent drawing & triangles quilt square © Karen Thiessen, 2014
The circles drawing in the above image is on an envelope with a subtle security pattern. I have a large collection of security patterns and not all of them are that interesting on their own, but they provide a nice background for my Lent drawings. To the right is my first attempt at piecing with triangles. I have more waiting to be sewn. I'm curious to see how I can push the triangle and how I will integrate it with other techniques.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Grave Ampersand

Brother's Grave Ampersand; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
On a recent visit to my late brother's grave I noticed the ampersand for the first time. Since then, I've been drawing multiple versions in my sketchbooks. At first I tried to draw the fancy version of the ampersand from memory and discovered that I couldn't remember how it looked. Now I've got it down pat.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Quotes: Joseph Addison

"Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses, and disappointments." –– Joseph Addison (1672-1719), English writer and politician

Friday, 12 September 2014

Studio Series: Intuitive mark-making repeat pattern

August 14 Lent drawing in pinwheel repeat © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Thanks to your encouragement I created a down-and-dirty repeat pattern with the Lent drawing that I shared with you in my August 29 post. It's a bit rough, but it does the job for now.

Happy weekend to you all!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Sarah Boyts Yoder @ Mennonite Arts Weekend

Sarah Boyts Yoder Mega Bun in Watermelon & Mint, 2014; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2014
Mega Bun in Watermelon & Mint: Mixed media on paper and canvas

Sarah Boyts Yoder is a mixed-media painter currently living and working in Charlottesville, Virginia (USA). I met her at the biannual Mennonite Arts Weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio in February where she was a presenter and exhibitor. From the moment that I saw her work, I was smitten with her bold lines, irregular shapes, and use of collage. I also admired that she uses mis-tinted house paint in her work. The work is fresh, bold, and loose.
Sarah Boyts Yoder Bun Shield with Blue, 2013; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2014
Bun Shield with Blue, Mixed media on paper and canvas.

Boyts Yoder is a mother to two young children, so she paints in spurts, making the most of small moments. Reading to her children almost doubles as studio time, since she draws inspiration from children's books. The bun, a recurring shape in her work, is one example of a shape that came from a book that she read to her children.
Sarah Boyts Yoder Comb, Bun, Gun, 2013; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2014
Comb, Bun, Gun, Mixed media on paper

A few years ago, when Boyts Yoder first moved with her family to Virginia, she had no studio space, so she set up shop in the small attic and in stolen moments started painting on paper. There was no room to paint on canvas. Painting on paper was a gateway to her cutting up paintings and then collaging with them. Although she now has a dedicated space large enough for working on canvas, she continues to incorporate collage into her work. I am grateful for that attic and how it broadened her work.
Sarah Boyts Yoder Foot, Gun, Bun 2014; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2014
Foot, Gun, Bun, Mixed media on canvas

If you look closely, you can see collage elements on this painting on the above canvas.
Sarah Boyts Yoder Green Bun on Pink, 2014; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2014
Green Bun on Pink, Mixed media on paper

Boyts Yoder installs her mixed-media-on-paper artworks with tacks that pierce the upper corners. Some of the galleries that exhibit her work embrace this, others choose to frame the pieces. 
Sarah Boyts Yoder Over the Hill, 2014; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2014
Over the Hill, Mixed media on paper and canvas
Sarah Boyts Yoder Rain Bun, 2014; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2014
Rain Bun, Mixed media on paper
Sarah Boyts Yoder Smoke & Cup, 2014; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2014
Smoke & Cup, Mixed media on paper
Sarah Boyts Yoder Black Feet, Green Brush, 2014; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2014
Black Feet, Green Brush, Mixed media on canvas

My photographs don't do the paintings justice. To learn more about Sarah Boyts Yoder and her process, visit her website or her blog Life and Limb.

Photos taken with permission from the artist.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Quotes: Brandon Locher

"It's imperative to recognize that our dissatisfaction originates within us. It arises out of our own blindness to what our situation actually is, out of our wanting reality to be something other than what it is."Brandon Locher, American visual artist, from his Mazes to the Motherlode statement via Pattern Pulp

Friday, 5 September 2014

Studio Series: Mark-making with Letraset & acrylic ink

Letraset & acrylic ink Lent drawing August 2014 © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Lately I've started to mess with prints of old Lent drawings. This is a Letraset drawing to which I've added dots of acrylic inks. I'm starting to collage with the Lent drawings and I'm curious to see how the collages and my Lent drawings influence each other and evolve over the next few months.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Studio Series: Composition in Red 4

Composition in Red 4 © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Composition in Red 4 is a continuation of my work with modules and tags. Half of the tags have had some "textile interference," either through stitching with needle and thread or mark-making with an unthreaded sewing machine. Six of the tags incorporate patterns that I've designed, printed onto paper, and then collaged onto the tags. When I created this piece earlier this year, I could see that I was moving the work forward. Several months have passed and I now see that there is room for me to push the work even further. This summer I've prepared several hundred surfaces to collage on, I am ready to begin and see where the work guides me.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Quotes: Wayne Muller

"All life has emptiness at its core; it is the quiet hollow reed through which the wind of God blows and makes the music that is our life." – Wayne Muller, American author, minister, therapist 
(Wayne Muller. Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives, 1999, p. 51)