Author Archives: dahlia

Happy Mother’s Day

I feel particularly blessed over the past few weeks.

Two weekends ago we went to the Picasso exhibit at the AGO.  It was incredible to see; I actually got a little teary-eyed a few times.  My 2 year old didn’t last very long in there, but the 9 year old did – we had great discussions, and pondered what it meant that the noses were the predominant part of his portraits.  She has decided to study Picasso as her research project at school.

Last weekend we went to the open studios at Alton Mill.  They had several hour-long art workshops.  We painted:

We tried encaustics:

We made collages:

Then Tuesday I took my 9 year old to see Cats.  Her class had performed a dance to Jellicle Cats, which sparked her interest, so we bought tickets for her birthday.

Today we went to the local kids museum, to see their new animatronic dinosaur exhibit, and an interactive art exhibit curated by Yoko Ono.

Next week has more art+quilt excitement, which I will post  about when I get a chance!

Algonquin – Part 1

We had a little getaway this weekend. We wanted to see the moose that come down to the highway in Algonquin Park to eat the salt used on the icy roads in the winter.

Last time we went, a few years ago, we saw 24 moose. After much driving this time, I was beginning to think we wouldn’t see any. But finally (of course as soon as the toddler fell asleep) we found one. And yes, we did drive around and find him again when she woke up.

We also spent a lot of time hunting for shells around the lakes.

A couple of sketches inspired by the weekend:

Happy Easter

These are some experiments with shading on fabric. For the bunny I used Inktense pencils, layering them to get the depth and values I wanted. The egg was painted with acrylic inks. Both worked well for shading objects, they can be used on paper or fabric, and are both permanent on fabric.

While the inktense pencils could be used darker, and the acrylic inks diluted, they do have their own natural intensity the way I use them.

Juggling diverse tasks

Generally, when I am most productive in the studio, I am focused on one (type of) task. And all the other tasks fall to the wayside.

I think I need a different approach. I need to apply routine here too.

I am going to schedule my weekday hours for current quilts in progress. Evening hours for drawing (I have a goal of drawing 7 hours per week), all computer work, and reading/research. Then use the few weekend hours for experimentation.

Preparing for an adventure

When preparing to travel, there is a lot of work to be done. Where do I go? What do I want to experience there? What do I need to pack? Do I have what I need, to accomplish what I want? What loose ends do I need to tie up, before I go?

With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that this is exactly what the past few months have entailed. I am not planning for a physical trip however, but for my adventure in the studio.

I have assembled and improved the arsenal of techniques I need. I have fine tuned the process to get to where I want to be, and perhaps most importantly, I have realized I am ready to do what I’ve always wanted to do.

Make MY art.

These are a few sketches and works in progress, developed during the Abstraction course with Lisa Call.

Composition #1, sketch (2012) 20″ x 24″

Composition #2, in progress (2012) 20″ x 24″

Composition #3, sketch (2012) 24″ x 36″

Coming Full Circle

It has been quiet here because I have been doing a lot of back burner thinking, trying to nail down just what path I want to take.

The Abstraction course with Lisa Call has helped, but really what it has done has brought me back round to where I started: inspired by the works of Desmond Morris, and wanting to develop art quilts of my own biomorphic doodles.

Since that starting point I have explored and learned so much. What is stopping me from doing what I envisioned? As far as I can tell, now it’s primarily a case of practicing shading. And of course the endless quest to improve and innovate.

I am torn in a few directions, though. I also want to work on personal pieces like this one inspired by our trip to Africa.

Africa #1, in progress (2012) 16″ x 20″

Then there is an as-yet-unmentioned project that I see great potential in, both personally and for marketing. It remains to be seen whether I can juggle three paths at once, but I think it’s doubtful at this stage in my life. One of the three might just have to go back on the shelf.


The other day while reading through Adventures In Design by Joen Wolfrom I was pondering strong vertical lines in a design.

Brainstorming obvious examples of strong vertical lines, I thought about giraffes. I remembered a giraffe photo from our trip to Africa, that I have always wanted to make a quilt of. Of course it doesn’t have a strong vertical line, but so be it. It’s a worthwhile tangent anyway.

I’ve been very much inspired by the paintings of Oliver Ray but wanted to make sure the doodles were my own voice.

Working on this design has involved more technology than usual. I used Adobe Ideas on the iPad to doodle the shapes on the photograph. I love Adobe Ideas for this, because it smooths out lines as you draw them. Then I used Photoshop on my laptop to colour in the shapes.

Africa #3, sketch (2012) 24″ x 36″

Next I need to design the background, I have several ideas there. Then I will explore some different colour schemes, before deciding whether I will go au naturale or not. Lastly I want to experiment with doodling inside the doodles, whether with thread or ink, and see how I like that.



I have fine tuned my approach to a to-do list. I am taking all the steps I need to make my art better (critiques, colour studies, using a sketchbook to play with ideas, fine tuning my fabric dyeing and painting).

There is a significant gap here, though. What art am I making? I do not know the answer to this question, nor have I yet decided how to find the answer. The doodle quilts (Life Studies series) are fun, but I don’t feel compelled to continue them at the moment. I could look to art that I like, but I am reminded that the art we like isn’t necessarily the art we ourselves are compelled to make.

Maybe that’s part of the problem. I don’t feel the bits and pieces of studio time here and there are really leading me to find that compulsion.

I do want to pursue the doodling on fabric, see where that leads me. On that I am held up waiting for a part to fix my printer, before I can print out copies to play with.

I am excited to try my newly painted fabrics in a design. If I could just decide on a design.

My gut feeling says I should make several pieces, from the heart, then evaluate which path is most compelling. View it as “workshop work”, and dive in without hangups and expectations. Just learn and explore.