Monday, 31 August 2015

Quotes: H. Jackson Brown's mother

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." –– mother of author H. Jackson Brown (b. 1940), American author
*Source: artpropelled & Prophet of Bloom (who corrected the attribution).

Friday, 28 August 2015

Chocolate packaging

Marou chocolate wrapper; Image credit:Karen Thiessen, 2015
When you walk six hours a day, you can eat chocolate. While in Portland, Oregon we did both. One day we stumbled across The Meadow in the Nob Hill neighbourhood. The shop sells artisanal chocolate, salt, and bitters & mixers. I have never seen so much Himalayan pink salt in my life. The chocolate selection was impressive: it compares to that of Fog City News in San Francisco. I confess that I bought chocolate based on its packaging. The Marou bars were affordable, so I bought four different colours, er, flavours.
Raaka chocolate wrapper; Image credit:Karen Thiessen, 2015
The Raaka chocolate was more expensive, so I only bought one bar. I love the pattern: it is one that I've drawn in my sketchbook over the years. I wish chocolatiers would consider selling tasting-sized bars. E. Guittard used to sell tiny chocolates so that you could sample a variety of their single-source chocolates before committing to a regular-sized bar. If Raaka had sold tasting-sized bars, I would have bought more of their patterns, er, flavours.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Postcards: Powell's Bookstore, PDX

Powell's Bookstore Postcard; Image credit:Karen Thiessen, 2015
A few weeks ago, my husband and I were in Portland, Oregon (PDX) for the first time. We explored many neighbourhoods, took in the First Thursday Art Crawl in the Pearl district, and visited Powell's flagship bookstore almost every day, sometimes twice a day. When I read that Powell's was a mix of new and used books, I was a bit sceptical. I quickly saw the benefits when I would go to a section and find new and out-of-print books side-by-side. The store takes up an entire city block and is stocked to the gills. Powell's buys 10,000 used books each week. Their postcards, bookmarks, and store maps are beautifully designed.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Quotes: Tibor Kalman

"When you make something no one hates, no one loves it." –– Tibor Kalman (1949-1999), Hungarian-born American graphic designer
*Source: 2014-2015 sketchbook

Friday, 21 August 2015

Studio Series: Mini screenprints

Screenprint patterned tape © Karen Thiessen, 2015
Recently I had the pleasure of taking a full-day (six glorious hours!) screen print class. The day before the class, I wrote out a work plan for the day: colours of ink to mix, screens to expose, and patterns to print. This worked like a charm and I was able to print far more than I expected. A few prints resolved nicely; many will be over-printed when class resumes in autumn.

One role of the artist is to pay close attention. I'm glad that I was looking carefully when I was sorting my prints because I noticed that the tape that I used to adhere small pieces to bristol were miniature artworks.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Marla Panko @ Fibreworks 2014

Marla Panko WHITE FLAG BLACK FLAG 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Marla Panko is hot stuff these days. Her WHITE FLAG BLACK FLAG was accepted into the national textile exhibition Fibreworks 2014 and was acquired by the Cambridge Galleries for their textile collection. One of her collages graced the cover of Kolaj magazine, she had a solo show in the Dundas Valley School of Art gallery, her work was accepted into the Ontario craft exhibition Carnegie Craft 2015, and recently she had a two-person exhibition at You Me Gallery in Hamilton, Ontario. Whew! 

My photos are an injustice to the work, but you get the gist. Panko is known for her geometric paintings and her exquisite collages and now she has added stitched and pieced textiles to the mix. I wrote about her paintings and collages in 2011 and again in 2012
Marla Panko WHITE FLAG BLACK FLAG detail 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Marla Panko artist statement: "The work explores the nature of contrast and similarity–– the uniformity of white on white, juxtaposed with its homogeneous black opposite. The reference to cultural or ethnic groups is suggested through the iconography and format of flags. There are also allusions to surrender (white flag) and anarchy (black flag)."

WHITE FLAG BLACK FLAG, 2013: Wool, felt, linen, thread, acrylic
purchased by Cambridge Galleries (Idea Exchange) 2014

Monday, 17 August 2015

Quotes: Pablo Picasso

"I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else." –– Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Spanish artist
*Source: 2014-2015 Sketchbook 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Mylène Boisvert @ Fibreworks 2014

Mylène Boisvert, Linen Field #1 and Linen Field #2; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
At the most recent Fibreworks 2014, Mylène Boisvert's Linen Field #1 and Linen Field #2 were of the first artworks that greeted viewers as they entered the gallery: They demanded a closer look. From a distance they appeared to be giant tactile spirographs. The linen paper artworks appear to be made using a lace-making or flat crochet technique. (As an artist who ships work, I wonder if the works demand that they be kept flat, or if they can be rolled into a shipping tube.) 

Both textiles were acquired by the Cambridge Galleries for their collection and I believe they won an award. To learn more about Mylène Boisvert's work read her interview, in both French and English at this Collectif Textile website.
Mylène Boisvert, Linen Field #2 detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Mylène Boisvert, Linen Field #1 2012 Watercolour on linen paper and Linen Field #2 2013 linen paper
Mylène Boisvert, Linen Field #1 detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Artist Statement: "I have been working with linen paper for the past three years refining its expressive potential. My interest in this medium is rooted in my family background. At the beginning of the last century, my maternal great grandmother grew linen as a crop which she spun and weaved into fabric for her family. I am inspired by this tradition of skilled artisanship and many of the pieces that I grew up with. The paper work I make is a continuation and evolution of this heritage."

BFA Concordia 1997 (Montréal); has exhibited in Canada and Europe; 2011 invited to exhibit in the International Linen Biennial of Portneuf (Québec)

Monday, 10 August 2015

Quotes: John Cage

"The usefulness of the useless is good news for artists. For art serves no useful purpose. It has to do with changing minds and spirits." –– John Cage (1912-1992), American composer, writer and artist
* Source: 2009 Sketchbook p. 98

Friday, 7 August 2015

Neil Gaiman/Amanda Palmer "Collaboration"

This delightful animation is brought to you via Brain Pickings.

“Behind the Trees” (a found voice memo animation) from Amanda Palmer on Vimeo.
animation by: Avi Ofer
assistant animators: Santi Amézqueta Porteros & Héctor Zafra Matos
music written & recorded by Amanda Palmer

and special thanks to Neil Gaiman for hearing this voice memo, laughing his head off, and supporting the idea.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Li Chai @ Fibreworks 2014

Li Chai Soreness II, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
Nadia Li Chai and I were both artists-in-residence in the Textile Studio at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto and I learned a lot from her quiet, thoughtful, intelligent presence. Over the many years that I have watched her work evolve, I have noticed a strong theme: Her textile work is based on the body. For her MFA thesis exhibition at NSCAD, she created work about her pregnancy titled Wearable Memory: I was my baby's home for one year. Later she created a textile called Dermoid Tumor, now in the collection of the Cambridge Galleries in Cambridge, Ontario. She's at it again with Soreness II.
Li Chai Soreness II, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
Li Chai was born in China and came to Canada to do her MFA in textiles at NSCAD. After graduation, she moved to Toronto to be an artist-in-residence at Harbourfront where she continues to live.

Artist Statement: According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, stagnation causes pain/soreness. Soreness II, the soft sculpture of organic form, is constructed to imitate an imaginary stagnated mass and explore the theme of soreness both physically and psycho-emotionally.
Li Chai Soreness II, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
Soreness II: Polyester thread, fishing line, acupuncture needles, wire
Li Chai Soreness II, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
Artist bio: Li Chai received an MFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (Halifax) in 2003. She has received numerous awards and participated in group shows within Ontario and the United States. Her work is represented in the Cambridge Galleries (Idea Exchange) permanent collection of contemporary Canadian textile work.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Quotes: Patricia Urquiola

"Playing is the real way to work. The longer you have to play and to enjoy living and working, the better." –– Patricia Urquiola (b. 1961), Spanish architect & designer
* Source: Elle Decoration UK, February 2015, p. 105