Friday, April 7, 2017

Brave Little Rabbit Goes To The Beach

"Be brave, little rabbit.
Take a chance."
Cherise Sinclair

Have you ever heard the term, "madder than a March Hare"? Rabbits are known to go a little bonkers this time of year as Spring calls to them, stronger than it does to most animals. The normally shy and fearful rabbit becomes wild and excitable, reminding us to work through our fears with humility. I thought I might work through some shyness and fears of my own this past week, as I asked a dear friend to photograph me, wearing of course a rabbit printed dress I had recently sewn during the mad month of March.


Photo credits: Jenna Davis.

Trusty sidekick: Echo, rat terrier extraordinaire.

Fabric designer: Kobayashi, Rabbits and Mushrooms
Dress sewing pattern: McCalls 6696, sewn in cotton/linen canvas
Bloomers sewing pattern: Plinka Pants by Tina Givens, sewn in 100% linen.
Sweater knitting pattern: Linney Cardigan by Amy Christoffers, knit in cotton/linen.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


"She threw away all of her masks,
and put on her soul."
Francesca Silvanna

"Insight" Vulnerability III

About a year ago I began exploring the power and beauty of vulnerability through a series of paintings that involved the technique of excavating layers; from the skin down to the background. I wanted to show that encounters tinted with despair and powerlessness required the awesome courage of vulnerability to navigate with; that our experiences with being emotionally hurt will leave beautiful scars on our souls. Out of our vulnerabilities, will come our strength.

In "Tame" (Vulnerability I), we see an increased and tentative awareness to a state of anxiousness.

"Tame" Vulnerability I

By the time we view "Little Bird", we can see that anxiety is inhabiting the subject in an unsettling way, but that the subject is also experiencing a clarity of vision.

"Little Bird" Vulnerability II

The octopus is the ultimate symbol for adaptability, intelligence and insight. In "Insight" Vulnerability III, the subject is experiencing the very courageous act of self acceptance.

"Insight" Vulnerability III

Monday, February 6, 2017

"Perdu", a steampunk raven.

“Hey," said Shadow. "Huginn or Muninn, or whoever you are." 

The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes.

"Say 'Nevermore,'" said Shadow.

"Fuck you," said the raven.” 

 Neil Gaiman, American Gods

12" x 24" mixed media


Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Hands Of a Maker

My dad is a carpenter, a farmer, a breaker of horses, a dog lover, a mechanic, an artisan, a father. A lasting impression I have of my father is of how large his hands are. Family legend has it, that as a baby and small toddler I could sit in the palm of my father's hand.

When I was a small child, those large hands lifted me up onto my first horse. Years later, when I was a teenager, those large hands drew ball point pen "tattoos" down my arms; snakes wrapped around daggers were my favorite and his specialty. Together we rode horses, lifted hay bales, and attended to the piglets.

I often think of my dad's hands when I am watching my own hands make things. My hands are tiny in comparison, but they bear a resemblance; calloused and worn they are working hands.

This Christmas I knit my dad a pair of fingerless mittens; made from tough Peruvian wool twisted alongside sock yarns, they are mittens that will work as hard as he does.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

No Such Thing

There's no such thing as too much art. I own over 110 pieces of original art that I have traded for, been gifted, and even on occasion, purchased for myself. This doesn't even include my growing collection of artisan mugs. The only thing I have more of in my home are books. The larger pieces of art are hung tastefully throughout my home on larger feature walls (and I ran out of those a long time ago). That left my growing collection of small and tiny art without a lot of space to be hung in. I chose to hang these salon style. Salon style uses clusters of paintings grouped together and can very easily incorporate an eclectic mix of styles and frames. My walls are a constant work in progress, as well as a source of inspiration, as I add new pieces throughout the year.

A grouping of smaller paintings can read as one large one.

Okay. okay, I know. I have over achieved on this one (as usual). I like to think that this wall has transcended salon style into full on "inspiration wall". I do spend an awful lot of time staring at it though, and that is the point.

Don't be afraid to become an avid art collector. Pick a wall and go for it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Something Squidly This Way Comes

"Something Squidly This Way Comes" is an emerging artist mentorship group I created to help showcase the artwork of young adult and teen artists.  These are artists who have been working alongside me in my studio for years. They will be displaying their artwork this weekend as part of the Stinking Fish Fall Show at the Montessori West-Mont school campus (4075 Metchosin Road).

 "The nerds and the squids were one."
Author: Stephen Chbosky

Mason Menzies
Digital 3D

Raine Menzies
Watercolor and ink

Jay Larsen
Art brownies

Elora Fe
Acrylic on canvas

Jenna Davis

We hope to see you there.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tentacles and Little Paws

It was all tentacles and little paws on deck this past month as my West-Mont students and I tackled two large collaborative quilt projects.

Quilting with children on a large scale like this (58 students) is not for the faint of heart. This project is prep heavy, coming in at over 55 hours of personal prep time.

Status: Worth it!

I would like to thank the estate of  Kay Reamsbotham for the generous donation of all the quilting fabrics.

This is truly a collaborative project, with older students pitching in to help with sewing buttons or threading needles and tying knots. Karly even became our resident "whisker expert." Once she learned the stitch technique for making whiskers, she helped teach the other students who needed to make whiskers.

And talk about confidence boosting.When 6 year old Nowa chose the hardest square on the octopus to make he assured me with joyful confidence that this was the square for him.

Here's how the project and prep breaks down:

1. Prime, draw and paint a pattern onto canvas that is the size you want your quilt to be (8 hours prep). 

2. Measure and cut the canvas pattern apart into 6 inch squares (1 hour prep).

3. Prepare fabric scraps by cutting them into 8 inch squares. This is when the students get to choose the pattern square they want, as well as their fabric choices. I always prepare about 10% extra, so that the last students choosing their fabrics still have options (4.5 hours prep).

4. Translating the pattern to fabric; I used tracing paper to create the fabric pieces to be sewn. I chose to do this for the students as it is a complicated and time consuming step. I imagine smaller classes and older students could manage this step for themselves. The prepared squares are then put into embroidery hoops (8 hours prep).

5. We are almost ready to sew now. The last step is to prep the threads. Ordinary thread tangles too easily and embroidery thread is too thick. The solution is to separate the 6 strands of embroidery thread into strands of two. I wind the threads onto card stock, ready for threading. I then thread the needles and coil them into egg cartons to keep them tangle free. This has to be done multiple times before the quilts are done, and is a really nice step for the students to help out with (3 hours prep).

6. Ready to sew! Here is Nowa's square that he has been sewn and is waiting to have it's buttons added.

7. Piecing the squares together is when the magic happens. Have fun! The fabric can then be quilted with batting and backing and decorative trim (25 hours prep).

It took my students about three art classes each to sew their quilt squares. (Other misc tasks between classes 6 hours prep). 

These beautiful quilts will be on display during the Stinking Fish Studio Fall Show at the West-Mont School.