ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The "I'm an Idiot" Blog Correction

Mea culpa! It seems that the "Daphne" who is the winner of People and Portraits is not Daphne Greig. Therefore it must be Daphne Uras! There was something about the way the comment sounded that made me think about Daphne Greig's sense of humour. So instead congratulations to Daphne Uras! I think. I know many of you don't want to use last names on-line but it makes things immensely confusing for those of us trying to figure out who you are. 

Blog Give-away Winner: People and Portraits

Congratulations Daphne Greig, you are the winner of the "People and Portraits" blog give away! That would be Daphne Greig, our own Canadian designer, author and teacher! Thank you to everyone who left comments, and a Happy Birthday to Gill and Jackie who were hoping for a birthday present. This will be the last give-away of People and Portraits, unless I forget that I've already given it away!

The Copyright Conundrum, Part 2

Last October I published a post called The Copyright Conundrum. I shared some of my experiences of once upon a time being a "newbie" quilter and being completely ignorant of copyright laws and ethics. I wrote that post primarily to help students meander through the confusing issues surrounding the use of photographs taken by other people as a basis for their quilts. I believe most copyright violations occur simply out of ignorance and not malice. I am following up on that first post at this time because Canadian Artist, Anna Hergert, published some great articles about copyright last week, and I would like to link to them.. The first of her posts encompasses an article she wrote in the Spring 2013 issue of the Canadian Quilter, plus some additional commentary. In the second post she goes into more depth, and shares some of her own personal experiences related to original, derivative and copied work. There is a lively and informative discussion going on over at her blog.

I've had a few questions from students about copyright issues related to the use of patterns. I would like to address patterns today, and move on to original work in my next post. I think the simplest and most basic thing I have to say with regard to working with patterns is that if you have purchased the pattern or found it in a magazine or book, and you are making the quilt for your own personal use or as a gift, you have no reason to fear copyright at all. Copyright issues only arise if you decide to photocopy a copyrighted pattern for your friends, if you decide to sell or exhibit a quilt made from a copyrighted pattern, or if you teach a class based on someone else's pattern.

If you are Canadian I recommend checking out copyright guidelines by Kathleen Bissett on the Canadian Quilter website, as well as Anna's posts. I also received some guidelines from the American Quilters Association in my mailbox this week.  You can check those out here.

I don't use other people's patterns to make my work and I do not make my living from designing and selling patterns, so I don't pay as much attention to the laws governing copyright and patterns. The above links should answer most of your questions. I do provide patterns in two of the classes I give because it is a great way to learn the method in one day, but I also explain in the classes how you can design your own.

While conducting research to write this blog post, I came upon some very ugly discussions about copyright on-line. The subject seems to cause a lot of strong feelings to be expressed on both sides of the issue. A lot of people feel that the entire quilt community has historically been organized around the copying and sharing of ideas. That may still be the case to some extent, but the quilt world has changed so much (hasn't everything?). It is wonderful that some people are able to make a living, or at least part of their living, in a field they love.Without the designers who share their creativity and beautiful works, quilters today could not have the plethora of patterns and designs available to them. As a professional myself, you can probably see which side of the issue I sit on. I think the quilt world is doing a fabulous job though of educating quilters who want to exhibit their work in shows, just what they need to do to respect copyright laws. The answer there is simple: give credit where credit is due. So much about copyright comes down to being able to put ourselves in someone else's shoes and seeing the world from where they sit.

Now here's how I feel about work made from my patterns and work started in workshops with me. I don't care if you sell the piece or show the piece. However, if you do so, it would be very much appreciated if you gave credit to me as the pattern designer and the workshop instructor. In fact, most shows require this anyway (as you will find in the guidelines I shared above). Once you start exhibiting at shows beyond your own local guild, you will actually find that many of them do not accept works made from patterns or started in workshops.

I also have no problem with guilds or shops, or groups I'm teaching for, sharing photos of my work on their websites and blogs for the purposes of  promoting lectures and workshops, or even sharing about the events afterward. As long as my name is associated with the photos this is good publicity for my lectures and classes. I suppose some teachers and artists might object, so it is always a good idea to ask.

For those of you designing your own quilts or aspiring to designing your own quilts, stay tuned for Part 3.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"People and Portraits": The "I Can't Remember a Thing" Blog Give-away

While being holed up at home recovering from a cold, the postman brightened my day by delivering my copy of Martha Sielman's new book Art Quilt Portfolio: People and Portraits. You may recall that her first book in this series was "Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World", which I was a featured artist in.

Well OK, to be quite frank, the postman actually brought me TWO copies of People and Portraits. Why? Because I pre-ordered a copy at two different times and forgot that I had done so. Therefore, today I'm having a "I Can't Remember a Thing" blog give-away!!  Everyone who leaves a message before midnight EST on Thursday, March 28 will be entered in a draw to win this book. Some of my favorite artists are featured. Here is just a small sampling of what you will find in the book. It truly is a beautiful and inspiring book!

Jenny Bowker is an Australian artist, who has lived for periods of time in various locations in the Middle East. Her portraiture captures the personalities of honest and hard-working muslim men at work, chipping away at often biased westerm understanding of them. She shoots thousands of photographs in her travels for inspiration for her work. Her blog is filled with amazing stories of her adventures in the Middle East, and she has been instrumental in bringing attention to the works of the Tentmakers of Cairo. You will find many videos here featuring the Tentmakers. Jenny also teaches around the world.

"Abu Ali and the Gilded Chairs" by Jenny Bowker

Margot Lovinger is an artist from Eugene, Oregon, who does amazing figurative work using layers of sheers. While she graduated from art school in 1994, it was only after her father died of AIDS that she started working with textiles when she made a panel in his honour for the AIDS Memorial Quilt. I have been a huge fan of Margot's work for a long time. As many of you know I've been trying to come up with ways of using my hand-dyed organza in my work, and find it a challenge. I am in awe of her use of sheer materials, and of course love the highlights and shadows. Margot photographs all her models herself, and recounts in the book how she sometimes meets someone in a social situation that she finds facinating to look at and will invite them to model for her.
"Night" by Margot Lovinger

Margot and fellow members of the group Material Artistry also happened to be the jurors for the 2012 Fiber Art Show at Infinity Art Gallery. When my entry won Second Place, Margot was the one to write the beautiful tribute to my piece In the Act.

Joan Sowada is an artist from Wyoming, who I have featured on my blog on a previous occasion. Her compositions are masterful and full of movement, showing people engaged in life, and including just enough detail of faces without making them overdone.

"Busy" by Joan Sowada, 2012

Just as in The Natural World, there are 21 artists featured in People and Portraits. There are more amazing ones that I didn't even know existed until reading this book. 

Good luck in the blog give-away. The good news is that you can purchase a copy of People and Portraits for less than $20 at amazon.ca.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Drawing Fundamentals, Part 2

In December I blogged about my Drawing Fundamentals class last fall at the Ottawa School of Art.  Because I felt that I learned a lot in Part 1, and because I was impressed by my instructor, Mahshid FarhoudiI decided to register in Part 2 this Winter. By the way, Mahshid also did a great interview with Liana Voia a few weeks ago. You can watch the UTube videos here.

This morning would have been my last class, but I did not attend since I am down with a cold. I am alternating between chills and feeling hot. This is my fourth cold since September.  Every time I travel I seem to catch something.  In September I caught a cold on the plane to Yellowknife; in October/November I caught a cold on the plane to Houston, and then I caught one this winter but I don't know where I caught it, and now I've picked one up on my trip to Toronto.  The funny thing is that they all feel like the same cold.  Exact same symptoms, and nothing a flu shot would help with because they aren't a flu. They all start out mild and work to a peak in a few days. I'm not pushing myself this week.  

I didn't accomplish as much in Part 2 as I did in Part 1. For one thing, Part 2 was only 9 sessions long vs. 12 sessions last fall. I also missed two sessions, one while I was away teaching, and one today because I was sick.

We began with still life. Many of these assignments would take hours and hours of work to do justice to, so what you see here is what I was able to complete within the classroom time.

Oh no, we did a blind contour of our hands, but only once! Many years ago I took a drawing class where we drew blind contours of our hands the entire term! I did indeed learn a lot in my recent class compared to that class of yore.

We did blind contours of our classmates.

We had live models for four sessions. Sometimes we did quick sketches like these.

Sometimes we did ink sketches/washes.This remains one of my favorite methods, and I plan to do more with this in the future.

This is my favorite piece this term. For this exercise we had to blacken our paper with charcoal, then rub the charcoal into the paper. We created our values by removing charcoal with an eraser to get the value we wanted, and darkening areas with more charcoal. A bit messy but I love the results.

Then we had a live model, which we had to sketch in three poses, roughing out our shadows and highlights.

In the last class I attended we created our own composition with the three poses, to make a piece that appeared to incorporate three women. We used a sheet of mid-tone paper, adding darks with charcoal pencils and lights with white conte pencil.

I missed the class where we would have finished this work. I missed today's class where we were going to copy a portrait by one of the Masters. I had chosen The Girl With a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer. We often copy the Masters works in art class to learn their methods, but these are always only considered practice pieces, not exhibition pieces. Due to the length of time that the Master's have been dead, most of their works are also now in the public domain. 

Instead I've decided to work on a sketch of my cat Kissabelle while I'm home sick. I love the highlights and shadows in this photo, and enjoy drawing draped fabric, so thought I'd give it a try. I will post the results when I'm finished.

Drawing Fundamentals Part 3 takes place this spring. While I would love to register, I would miss at least half the classes due to this being peak teaching season. I do have my eyes on a few classes at the Haliburton School of the Arts this summer. I remain convinced that improving my drawing skills will help develop my artistic eye and is the best thing I can do to further develop my work. I would like to make drawing a daily habit.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Back in the Classroom

After returning from Toronto, I had a few days to get my life back in order and prep for the two classes I taught in Ottawa Friday and Saturday. I am now doing several weeks of laundry, and nursing a cold I picked up in my travels. I am happy to be staying home for Easter, and look forward to my trip to Nova Scotia to teach for two groups on April 4. I will share more details when I return. Lobster sandwiches here I come!

Friday I taught Part 3 of my Uncommon and Unforgettable Threads class. Students brought in their hand-dyed threads from the previous class. I believe these are Judith's.

These are Ruth's luscious threads, on top of some stunning fabric that Lois dyed with some of the left over dye solution.

Friday's class focused on stand-alone thread paintings, these on water soluble stabilizer for those times when you want some sheer aspects to the design. This method works well for wings, as in bug wings, dragonfly wings, angel wings, etc. Mary's piece is looking pretty gorgeous.

Ruth nearly finished her piece in class.

Lois finished her dragonfly in turquoise and chartreuse (my favorite colour).

Saturday I taught my advanced machine quilting class, Beyond Stippling, Part 2. This class focuses on more complex motifs, combining motifs and free-motion feathers. I love contemporary feathers, although I am unable to use them in my own nature-themed work, that calls for more organic designs.

Machine quilting with threads that contrast in colour with your fabric become about the thread and stitching.

However, a thread colour that blends with the fabric, becomes more about the texture.  As I always say, using a thread colour that blends will always make you happier with your machine quilting at the end of the day, and if you are happy with it, you'll feel encouraged and want to continue working at it.

Barb brought some samples of free-motion quilting she had practiced on in order to quilt the poppy she made in my class.  I love her organic lines.

In my next blog post I'll be sharing what I did in my class, Drawing Fundamentals, Part 2, this winter.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Back from the Big City!

Last night I returned from a 10 day lecture/teaching tour around the Greater Toronto Area.  Things went pretty smoothly, except for a traffic wrinkle or two. It is truly a good thing that I am not a nervous driver because driving in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) can really test your mettle. Yesterday I was crusing into Toronto (from Waterloo) in the fast lane, at a speed of about 120 km, when a vehicle spewing some oily liquid passed and sprayed me. I did what any sensible person would do: turn on my windshield wipers. A bad move indeed as within seconds my windshield was covered with an opaque oily film.  I couldn't see where I was going so all I could do was brake, and I am lucky I didn't cause a pile-up. I noticed a few other drivers in the slower lanes pull over to the right shoulder. I was able to see enough to pull off at the next exit, and washed my windshield at the closest gas station.  Even after washing it, my view still looked like this:

and the hood of my car is covered with these streaks of oil.

You may have heard in the news recently that Toronto is now the fourth largest city in North America, next to New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The population of the metropolitan region now stands at approximately 5.6 million, with 2.8 million in Toronto proper. That is a big shock to someone like me who comes from a metropolitan area of approximately 900,000! We have traffic jams here too, but Toronto's traffic jams can be truly frustrating. When I finished my teaching on Saturday, I decided to drive the hour east to Waterloo where my sister lives in order to spend Sunday with my sister and father since I was so close. You'd think there would be no problem on a Saturday night, but alas there was an overturned tractor trailer on the Trans Canada highway, reducing the number of lanes to two, and taking me a good 2-1/2 hours to reach my destination! So for me the stress of the big city is not about the speed of the traffic but about the slowness of traffic when it is congested.

I started my tour teaching for the Dufferin Piecemakers Quilt Guild, two Saturday's ago. The city of Orangeville falls outside the metropolitan area of Toronto, and is its own city, although it is very very close. Nice and small with a historic downtown, Orangeville is easy to maneuver and surrounded on several sides by farm country.This is the third year in a row I've taught for this guild, and am always happy to come back.  This is the second year I had the pleasure of staying at the lovely and historic Irvine House B&B.  The class I delivered was "Liberated Strip Piecing". I have a few pieces to share with you.

Ingrid finished sewing her piece together just moments before the class ended. She decided to leave out a few blocks that just didn't enhance the design. I think this is key to coming up with a good composition ... to be discerning about what you leave in and what you leave out. We also discovered that when she had green in each block it made our eyes crazy (green is the complement of red), so we used the green sparsely.

Judi's piece was well on its way before class ended, but she actually put it together after the class and sent this photo by email. It makes me wish I were sitting on a Caribbean beach somewhere instead of going into my sixth consecutive month of wearing "Smart Wool" socks!!! I find this piece soothing.

I was particularly enamoured by the central curvy/wonky unit in Val's piece!

After Orangeville, I headed over to Waterloo to spend Sunday and Monday with my sister until my trunk show at the Twisted Stitchers Guild in Ajax on Tuesday. On the left in this photo is Sharon Galna, the Program Coordinator for the guild. At right is Debra Anger, my new Facebook friend on that day, who came to meet me in person at my trunk show. I had a hotel room just around the corner after the lecture, so I didn't have far to drive before bed.

Next Day I was off to Newmarket to teach at The Quilt Store. What a wonderful shop this is!  It is a sizeable store with a huge selection of fabric and notions, and an entire room of yarns. They also sell Bernina, Janome and Babylock machines. Here I also had a hotel right around the corner from the shop, which removed any stress from driving a long distance in rush hour traffic.

Day One I taught "In Full Bloom".  You can see some of the student work developing here. Kathleen's piece uses my poppy pattern. 

This tulip piece was coming along stunningly. Not sure this photo shows up the nice curl of the lighter valued edge of the tulip at right. I am so sorry but I did not write down the name of this maker ... if you are the maker please email so I can give you proper credit!

On Day Two I taught "Fast and Fun Fused Designs". This class is about becoming comfortable cutting free-hand whimsical designs.

Deb's piece was close to completion, and she added her own touch of a garden fence. By the way, Deb works at The Quilt Shop too.

Friday night I drove back down to Toronto proper.  I spent the night with Margaret and Brian Whitehead. I must have been tired at this point because I completely forgot to take a picture of their charming cat Oscar! Brian cooked me a breakfast made to order, just the way I like it. Then it was off to teach "Beyond Stippling, Part 2" (advanced free motion quilting) for the Yorkshire Rose Quilt Guild. This is also the third year in a row I've taught for this guild. As we were packing up at the end of the day I also realized I had forgotten to take photos and am kicking myself now. There was some really skillful free-motion quilting happening in that class. 

I hope to get a bit of rest before my next two classes on Friday and Saturday of this week, here in Ottawa at Dragonfly Fabrics. 

My blue-eyed girl did well while I was away ... bonding beautifully with my husband. I think I missed her more than she missed me!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Just a Word Before I Go

Friday morning I am heading out of town for 10 days, teaching in Orangeville and the Greater Toronto Area. I'll manage a couple of days visiting with my sister and father in Waterloo between gigs. Tell me, how can I bear to leave this? The little blue-eyed girl, also known as "Peek-a-Boo" has stolen my heart.  Just look at those eyes!

This week I discovered a few U-Tube videos I want to share.  Remember that post I made about the show I saw at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum by the group Soulplay? Well this week I discovered a video in which Liana Voia (the same person who interviewed me in January) does a gallery walk-about with the Museum's Curator, Michael Rickley-Lancaster.  You can walk around the show virtually here.

It also happens that yesterday Liana Voia interviewed artist, Mahshid Farhoudi, my wonderful drawing instructor at the Ottawa School of Art. Mahshid was born in Tehran, Iran, and came to Canada at the age of 16. She is mainly a figurative painter who deals with issues of identity, disaplacement and belonging. I think you will find her story to be an interesting one.  There are two videos: ONE and TWO.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Teaching and Travel, Back in Full Swing!

The last few days have been very busy with teaching and travel.  On Friday I taught Part 2 of my Uncommon and Unforgettable Threads class here in Ottawa at Dragonfly Fabrics.  We had lots of fun dyeing thread!

A couple of students brought their thread sketches from last class.  Ruth did a great job with the three chairs, although she found that because her stitching was fairly dense she could have used an extra layer of stabilizer on the back.

Not quite finished yet, but well on its way, is Sylvia's leaf.  You can see near the bottom left where she has started adding in the finer veins.  These are really more like thread paintings than thread sketches.

Ruth sent photos after washing out her threads.  Lovely colours!  

Friday night I drove to Kingston to teach at the Stitch by Stitch quilt shop for two days.  They have a wonderfully large classroom that is well-lit by natural light.  On Saturday I taught my Collage Tree class.  You can see the class busy cutting tree bark.

On Sunday I taught my Liberated Strip Piecing class.

Two students actually finished their quilt tops during the class.  This is Allison and her work; I love the movement and wonkiness in the central portion, and I really think this piece would work no matter which way it is turned.

Kiley put her piece, featuring the complementary colours of orange and purple, together quite quickly.  I love that the work is predominantly purple with only small bits of orange, and I like the small light strips she has inserted here and there.

My weekend included cats!  While staying with Betty, I got to schmooze with PITA (whose name stands for "pain in the ass" since he is always there wanting love).  When I came through the door at the end of Saturday, he threw himself at my feet.

He's a handsome young cat

who loves to snuggle, and snuggle we did!  Betty has a second cat, a beautiful white female who is a recent feral rescue, but she was too shy for me to get a good picture of.

Back home my kitties were waiting.  Here's my new Peekaboo.

After some play time she snuggled in the crook of my arm for a nap.

Kissabelle and Peekaboo are getting along fine now, for the most part.  There are occasional spats but most of the time they tolerate each other well.

Yesterday morning it was off to art class, and then during the afternoon I crashed in bed for a while.  This coming Friday I am off again for a teaching trip to Orangeville and the Greater Toronto Area.