Who Doesn’t Love Denim?

I just can’t throw out a pair of jeans. Even if there are more holes than pants. There is something about denim that I find beautiful. It is a tough fabric but can also be so comfortable. I’ve had several pairs of favourite jeans and even made an art quilt out of a pair. As an artist, I couldn’t resist the stitching and embellishments on the pockets. I love zippers too so I also kept the fly zipper. What about belt loops!? And then of course the tags had to be included.

So, I have a lot of old jeans in my studio that I have kept. I say it’s because I may need a denim patch for another pair of jeans but in reality, I hope to do something with them.

Well, I have a project that will be perfect for denim. When my friends and I golf, we usually spread a golf cart blanket over the seat in the cart. I used to have one but I must have left it in a cart once and I’ve never seen it again. So I am going to make a golf cart seat cover blanket with my stash of denim.

Above is the beginning of the process. I am going to make it like I make most of my art quilts. I’ll piece it together, layer it and quilt it. Then using a pattern from an old seat cover that I was lent, I will sew a new cover. So far I have two squares completed and I am quickly going through my denim stash. I may have to visit a thrift store to acquire more or reach out to friends and family. I love that this project recycles old denim jeans and they don’t end up in landfills.

Now this project of mine doesn’t compare at all with the fantastic work of British artist Ian Berry. Ian uses denim to make photorealistic artwork. If you are interested, check out his Instagram page with the link below


Do you have a favourite pair of denim pants or a denim jacket you love to wear? Let me know about it.

SAQA Canadian Regional Exhibitions

SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) is and organization I have belonged to for several years. It is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the art quilt: “a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.”

Their vision is that the art quilt is universally respected as a fine art medium. SAQA’s core values are: excellence, innovation, integrity, and inclusion.

Over the past 30 years, SAQA has grown into a dynamic and active community of over 4,000 artists, curators, collectors, and art professionals located around the world.

The last couple of years I have served on a committee planning Canadian Regional Exhibitions, the first of which is just coming to its closing venue in Toronto. Colour With A U and its companion exhibition Colour With A U Too have been travelling across Canada since March 2020. They will be opening at their ninth and final venue at the Campbell House Museum in Downtown Toronto on April 1, 2023 and remain there until June 3, 2023. There will be a closing reception on April 29, 2023 from 1:00 – 4:00 pm where several artists, including myself, will be present.

Setting Goals for 2023

In my last blog, I took stock of what I had accomplished in 2022 without setting goals and was pleasantly surprised at how much I had accomplished. It was a good year and I even pushed myself out of my comfort zone and published a book!

It is almost 2 weeks into 2023 and I am still ruminating about this year’s goals. I would definitely like to spend more time outdoors in a variety of activities while I gather art inspiration.

Goal # 1 – Complete 14 sketches from my September canoe trip to Rock Lake and distribute them to my fellow canoeists. I have two more to go so that will be a goal that will be completed easily.

Goal # 2 – Complete several 12″ x 12″ art quilts. I have always liked the square format and this small size will allow me to experiment with different techniques and perhaps subject matter. How many is several? We’ll see.

You may remember that in 2019, I applied to an Artist in Residence Program in the Yukon. Sadly, after I had sent in my application, I was notified that the program was being shut down due to the COVID 19 pandemic. It has still not re-opened.

This week I came upon an artist residency in Alaska open to artists anywhere in the world. There are, in fact, several different opportunities in the National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, and National Parks. I read up on several and they are intriguing and caught my attention immediately. The artist would work with the park staff while also researching, sketching and photographing the area. The areas are remote and most can only be reached by boat or float plane. We would be camping and kayaking in the area. It sounded like a dream and I was dreaming up ways that I could go.

Then sanity returned to me and I realized that the cost to get there was on me, the cost of my supplies was on me, I would be assisting park staff in their work, I would have to donate a piece of artwork, I would have to do a public presentation about my residency, it would be buggy and cold and damp in that climate, my accommodations would not be comfortable. The experience would be wonderful and I would get to see places few people get to see but is it worth the expense, work and discomfort?

Then, it hit me. I could plan my own artist in residence program and tailor it to me. There are so many places in Ontario that I would love to see and spend time in, gathering inspiration, painting, sketching, and photographing. I wouldn’t have to fly to get there, I could find comfortable accommodations, take my own kayak or rent a canoe. I could even bring a companion! That brings us to:

Goal # 3 – Plan and go on a personal artist in residence program somewhere in Ontario for several days and complete at least one piece of art from the experience.

During the last few years, I have neglected the journals I have been making for my grandkids. I think COVID had a lot to do with this since we were isolating from each other and regular activities were halted. I would really like to get back into this so:

Goal # 4 – Update the Grandchildren’s Journals.

I think I’ll stop there. I’ll be very happy if I can actually succeed in completing these goals and if I go on to complete other projects, those will be bonus.

What types of goals have you set, either on paper, or in your mind for 2023?

The End of 2022: taking stock

Last year, for whatever reason, (could be COVID) I didn’t set goals for 2022. I was sure because of that, that I wouldn’t accomplish much. Well, I was wrong. I went backwards in this blog to see what I actually blogged about this past year and thereby determine what kind of projects I actually completed.

In January, I completed an oil painting called Red Canoe.

Also in January, I began seriously thinking about writing a book. This project was the biggest of the year and although I didn’t think it would be published this year, I was so excited when Backcountry Brushes was completed and published by November! In order to get it done, I repainted many of the illustrations and added several new illustrations.

I also completed an art quilt called Mountainous Vista which I gifted to my niece and her new husband as a wedding gift.

I also did several watercolour sketches from a kayak trip to the Toronto Harbour that I took with my daughter and her son.

Just before Christmas, I completed a baby portrait done in graphite for a nephew and niece.

During the year, I also made several fabric cards and watercolour greetings for special occasions.

Although I am not quite finished them, I am still busy producing watercolour sketches from my canoe trip in September to give to those who joined me on the trip.

So, even without setting goals, I’m happy with what I accomplished. I do think that goals are a good idea and I think I will sit down and set some for 2023.

Thank you for subscribing to this blog and I hope to keep you inspired and engaged in the New Year!

Fabric star ornament

As the wind howls outside and the winter storm bears down on Toronto, I am cozily sitting at my computer blogging about DIY Christmas ornaments.

I have taken a little break from some of my other art and wanted to try to make a fabric star ornament. I saw this being done with paper on an instagram video and thought, “I can make this from fabric.” So it is not my pattern but I thought I’d walk you through it.

I had some scraps of white fabric with faint designs on them. I cut them into 2.5 inch squares. You need 5 squares and you can make them any size. I just wanted small stars.

You’ll need an iron to press at each step. First fold the square in half so it makes a triangle and press.

Above are the next progressions. Make sure you press after each fold. The last photo is of the wrong side and right side of one of the star’s points. Once you have all 5 points done, you’ll need a glue gun.

Dab a small amount of glue where you see the dots on the wrong side of the star point above. The point should look like the last two photos. Flatten the point by folding it in half along the long pressed edge. Dab a small amount of glue at the top of the point and glue all the points together on top of one another only at the top as in the last photo below. Then unfold the points so that you can glue the first and the last point to each other.

I glued a small bead into the opening in the center of the star to help keep it together. Sew a piece of embroidery floss to the tip of one point for hanging.

As I mentioned above, if you don’t have fabric, this works even easier with paper.

Wishing all my followers a Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

Many Projects, not Enough Time

I suppose it could be due to Christmas approaching that I’m feeling pressed for time and not able to get anything finished. I have been busy creating but every project is in a different state of incomplete. There is so much I want to get done and yet I feel like I’m not making any headway.

Here is a quick snapshot of some of the things I’m working on.

Trying to get some Christmas images painted which probably won’t get used this year but hopefully next year, a baby portrait that needs some tweaking and smoothing out, my youngest grandson’s Christmas stocking and sketches of my September canoe trip to send to the women who participated.

The positive is that I have no lack of inspiration!

Book Signing

Yesterday, I gifted copies of my book, Backcountry Brushes to my kids and grandkids. I am so glad I can give them this small, tangible piece of me and hopefully I will still have lots of time to enjoy canoe trips with my grandchildren.

Unexpectedly, they all wanted their book signed by “Oma” and a few of them told me this morning they were already quite a way into the book having spent time in bed last night reading. Such affirmation!

Also, this week was my second week on the Best-Seller list with FriesenPress. Once again thank you to all who are purchasing the book and supporting me.

Acceptance and Rejection

Interesting subject, right? We all have a talent in some area or a skill that we are really good at, and we work hard to become proficient in that skill. Often, we have doubts about our skills and are our worst critics.

Art and creativity are some of my favourite activities that are also essential to my mental health. I create because I love the process and the product but also because of the way it makes me feel. When the process and the product are successful, I can feel the endorphins flowing! Most of the time I have positive feelings about my art.

Currently, the publishing of my illustrated book on backcountry canoeing, kayaking and camping has my emotions riding high and I am feeling very positive with the wide acceptance it is receiving. However, it is still scary and stressful to put myself “out there” for others to see and give feedback on. This is something I never thought I’d do because rejection hurts and perhaps it is better to keep things to myself to escape the chance of being rejected.

Last week, I did receive a rejection letter from SAQA Global exhibitions. I had entered one of my recent quilts into an exhibition that would travel worldwide. I was disappointed. The letter was just a letter of rejection with no explanation as to why. Was my work not well done? Were the photos I sent not clear? Did it not fit the theme?

As I pondered the subject of acceptance and rejection, I came to the conclusion that both are necessary in art and in life. Acceptance often spurs us on to do more and although rejection can stop us in our tracks, that’s not beneficial to our growth. We should look at rejection as constructive criticism and use it to make us better. Since my rejection letter did not add details or suggestions, I would have to do my own critical thinking about the piece and determine how it could be better.

There is also the chance that my piece was not something that particular juror liked. Well, that’s not something I can do anything about. I’m sure there will be people who aren’t into my book either. In the end, my art comes from my heart and makes me feel good and I try not to let acceptance or rejection affect that. I will keep sharing it with others in the hopes that it blesses them in some way.

We are instructed in the Bible to develop our gifts and use them to bless and benefit others. Determine what your gifts are and develop them and if you are blessing others with them, acceptance or rejection will have no bearing on that.

Backcountry Brushes is launching!

I started this publishing journey in May 2022 with an idea that had been percolating in my brain for some time before that. Now, almost 6 months later, Backcountry Brushes is available in the FriesenPress Bookstore! Here is the link: https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000273937618

Feel free to share the link with your friends and family and let me know if you enjoyed the book.

In the weeks to come, it will also be available in other online retailers, and I will let you know as they come available.

It has been an interesting, exciting, educational journey. I had fun producing the book and I hope you will truly enjoy paging through it. If you do purchase it, send me a photo.