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Kelly – completed

Kelly - completed giraffe textile art

Kelly ©2013 Dahlia Clark 38 x 53 inches

The combination of the odd perspective, the compelling shapes, and the contrast of values makes it hard initially to identify the subject as a giraffe. Then when it clicks, she seems so gentle and approachable that you just want to reach out and touch her.
— a snippet of my critique of Kelly

Kelly - completed giraffe textile art close-up

Kelly ©2013 Dahlia Clark 38 x 53 inches – Detail

I have an interesting emotional relationship with this piece. It feels like I have created something that will go on to have a life of it’s own. It doesn’t belong to me, in a similar (but less intense) way that my kids don’t belong to me. I’m not sure if it is because it is “Kelly”, or because it is so captivating. Watching people look at this quilt is such a treat. It never fails to make them smile. It never fails to make me smile for that matter.

I am pleased to announce that Kelly is a finalist and will be shown in the International Quilt Festival, Quilts: A World of Beauty, in Houston this Fall. I hope she brightens many people’s days while she is there.

Arrangement #5 – initial design

Arrangement #5 is inspired by the song Waiting for the beat to kick in, by dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip.

When I listen to this there is so much imagery that pops into my mind. My first thought was a random collection of silhouettes that represent that imagery, in red, on black. Then my mind went to the idea of streets, of a grid, with the silhouettes resting at various points on the grid. I was thinking of the art of Matthew Brannon at the time.

I started with a map of New York, looking for a grouping of roads that pleased the eye. What I found was an arrangement that looked like a pair of drums. I was sold. It was so striking, so full of energy and potential, that I ditched the idea of several silhouettes, and simply chose a pair of drumsticks to provide a focal point, balance the design, and strengthen the context.

Arrangement #5, sketch (2012)

Arrangement #5, sketch (2012) 12″x12″

I experimented further, thickening the lines, rearranging the drumsticks, etc., but none of those variations improved the design.  So it is staying as it began – except for the drumsticks which are a version 2 – the initial ones were these beautiful tapered shapes that sadly looked more like knitting needles.

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.


Knowing it can often be hard to “work small” when you first learn something, and knowing that I didn’t want to invest in a larger sketchbook yet, the other day I treated myself to a 50% off canvas when I took the girls to the craft store. I figured I can paint, and repaint, and repaint it, until I get a handle on how I want to play with ideas. All for just $10.

I managed to do some more doodling after dinner, and in doing so made a great little Angry Goat Prince. So that is what I am first painting.

It only took an hour and a half to get the outlines and base layers of paint down, and start to add some patterning. It might have gone even faster, had it not been 11 pm after a long day.

I’m curious to see where this leads – whether I manage to finish it, or whether I experiment to the point of breaking it, then give up and start on something different.

I have also taken the first steps in painting in a sketchbook – I do have one larger sketchbook that was only half filled during a course, but the pages don’t handle wet media so well. So I either need to gesso them or accept much waviness. I suspect I will choose the former, but I will finish the first page before deciding.

Shared Art Space in Guelph

At the moment my studio is a combination office and studio, where my partner also works (we are both freelance programmers). This morning I painted with a new paint, which reeked.

I’ve often thought about a studio space outside the home, and each time dismissed it. I like being here. The kids are here. I work at odd hours, and don’t have to worry about transportation, child care, etc. However, it often smells 🙂 And I am lamenting the lack of space for a drying rack.

So I wonder, could I find an hourly or shared studio space just for painting. All I need is a table or two, access to a sink, and room for a drying rack. That might be the best of both worlds.

I did find this which looks like it could fit the bill.