Thursday, December 31, 2020

Point of View 2020

Here is a summary of my photographic projects from 2020, a second annual edition of my Point of View magazine. Just click on the cover below and you will be taken to my page on Blurb Books where you can view the entire magazine. Once you are there, just click on the cover image and click on each page to move forward or backward through the book. If you click on the arrows at the top of the page you can view it full screen, which makes it easier to read....especially if you have older eyes like me :) I'm not trying to sell's just the easiest way for me to summarize and share my work.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Quilting - Part 2

This is part 2 of my quilt making summary. Quilts 1 to 5 were featured in yesterday's post....and now we're on to quilt number 6:

Trailings was made for my upcoming Trailings exhibit, which is an exhibit of photographs and quilt art inspired by walking the Bridgewater trails. Made with 736 two inch squares of fabric, Trailings is an abstract map of my daily walking route along the LaHave River (blue squares) and through the forests of the trails (green squares). My walking route is indicated by the floral yellows and oranges, symbolizing my joy of walking on the trails.

Quilt #6 - Trailings - 46" x 64"

Quilt 7 was the result of a challenge posed in my Inspiration Collaboration group. Helen Eaton supplied this Raggedy Ann Doll painting as one of the inspiration pieces for September. I absolutely could not come up with an idea to create a photograph, so I turned to quilting to create my response. Creating a warm and comfortable blanket using Raggedy Ann as an inspiration was a wonderful challenge for me. I tried to take the essence of Raggedy Ann and stitch her into a one dimensional form. Black stripes for her shoes, a strip of red and white striped fabric for her stockings, flowered strips for her dress, and white linen with zig zag stitching for her pinafore. And let's not forget the wild, wild red appliqued strips for her hair! I learned about using bias tape from youtube videos by Joe Cunningham and I bought all the red bias tape I could find at my local fabric shop.

Quilt #7 - Raggedy Metamorphosis

In September I decided I was going to make a quilt for each of our three grandchildren. That idea was scuppered when I received confirmation that I did receive an art grant...and I also received confirmation that I had acquired exhibit space. Everything not exhibit oriented went on the back burner. I did finish one quilt top but it will not be finished and gifted until next year.

Quilt # 8 - Mikhaela's Quilt - WIP

Back in March when everything shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I ordered some fabric online because the second hand stores were shut down. I felt guilty about it...purchasing new instead of reusing something! The fabric sat in my closet and I couldn't bear to use it. I found out my youngest granddaughter's favourite colour is blue. It was the perfect excuse to pull those 5 inch squares out of the closet and use them. I ran out of blue, found out her next favourite colour is purple so off I went to the second hand store and found lots of purple choices.

In early October my son asked me to quilt him a scarf. Quilt a scarf?? He wanted purple. I decided I had enough time to whip one up so I used left overs from Mikhaela's quilt and made a long, very skinny quilt!

Cody's Scarf

modeled by Riley

Back to quilt making, and on October 17th I started another quilt for my Trailings exhibit. I called this one Blossom. Bordered with a creamy white fabric with vines, thin green vertical lines transition into wider floral lines towards the centre. A large appliquéd flower in the middle has raw edges, symbolizing that we are not perfect. Machine quilted in a floral pattern that grows larger moving towards the edges. I finished it on November 7th. May we all blossom and grow.

Quilt #9 - Blossom
By now I was getting a little stressed about quilting. I had plans to include six quilts in my Trailings exhibit and had completed three. Quilting had turned into an obligation instead of fun. But I kept to my plan and Seasons was quilt #10 for the year. I started on November 16th and finished on Dec 5th.
Quilt #10 - Seasons - 43" x 66"
The four season tree is something that I have created in many different mediums over the years. The trunk of the tree has been textured by stitching numerous darks, replicating the glorious texture of many types of bark along our trails. Buttons have been added to represent the falling snow and spring blossoms. Leaves have been machine appliquéd with raw edges to add a sculptural element.Hand tied with embroidery floss.

Last, but not least, The Keeper is quilt #11 for the year, and quilt #5 for my Trailings project.

Quilt #11 - The Keeper
I really must improve my ability to photograph quilts. This is an improv quilt...meaning there was no plan involved. I knew I wanted to use pockets and scraps from all my previous quilts so I made blocks around 19 pockets and then sewed the blocks together, building up each block as required to make rows that were the same length. I used strips of buttons and button holes to make up the "blank" spaces. I also added some tags from a couple of the shirts. Who could resist using tags that said "ARTISTRY IN MOTION" and "LOVE IS MY RELIGION"? Another shirt scrap had stitched feathers...a favourite symbol of mine.

I love this quilt! It's a hodge podge of colour and shapes and left overs. will be used in an interactive display at my exhibit. How do you interact with a quilt? I am going to ask the public to write down their favourite trail walking memories and their wishes and dreams and put them into their choice of pocket on the quilt. I'm not sure how I'll use their written words, but I plan to make a future quilt using their memories, wishes and dreams as the inspiration.

I have had such fun making quilts this year and am beyond pleased about the number of quilts made...11 quilts and one scarf..12 quilting projects in one year! (never Like photography, I don't quite follow the "rules" and I do my own thing. I have learned that I don't particularly like quilts that follow a pattern. I prefer the "improv" style and I definitely prefer using pre-loved fabric. I hope to make all future quilts without purchasing any new fabric. Future plans for quilt making...I hope to make more quilts that tell a story. I will finish my plans to make a quilt for each grandchild. And maybe, just maybe, I'll make a quilt for myself to celebrate my 60th birthday next year.


Friday, December 18, 2020

Quilting - Part 1

quilts created in 2020 - my first year of quilting

Late last year I ordered myself a book called Quilts, published by Uppercase Magazine. (unfortunately I can't link to it online right now because the owner has closed her website until January). I saved it until Christmas Day and then I spent a few days reading all 384 pages of inspiration from quilters around the world. On December 31st, I designed my first quilt.

I used some fabric scraps I had sitting in storage for over 10 years and bought a few shirts and a sheet from The Daisy, a store that sells used items to raise funds for our hospital. I finished the quilt on January 16th. It wasn't perfect, but I loved the process.
Quilt 1 - Sara's Scraps - 48"x72"
 Someone else loved the quilt too.
Myrtle enjoys my new hobby

I started my second quilt in February...finished it on March 2nd...and called it Finch Fiesta. I had the finch fabric for 15 years and had never used it. I purchased more shirts and a tablecloth from the local second hand store. I purchased the orange fabric new. It's a bit smaller than my first quilt, but still a respectable lap size...40"x56". I machined quilted it, but added some hand stitched embellishments.

Quilt #2 - Finch Fiesta
I decided to try "improv quilting" for my third quilt...stitching fabric together without a pattern. I created this one for my 33 year old son and continued to use second hand shirts for the fabric. The big challenge for this one was the back side...I created three quilt backs before I was happy with it. The first once was a patchwork style with large fabric swatches. The second one was a sheet with a large vertical and horizontal line of patchwork. The third...and final...was a plain sheet. The front was so busy, I decided that the plain sheet worked best.
Quilt #3 - Cody's Quilt

Cody's cat enjoying the quilt

My fourth quilt was started on May 31st, finished on June 11th...just in time to send to a long time friend who was celebrating her 60th birthday on June 26th. I appliqued and hand embroidered 60 flowers and guessed it...second hand shirts as the fabric source. The finished size is 48"x60".

Quilt #4 - Sixty Flowers for Louise

I loved the back of this one - a sheet of stylized hearts

Quilt 5 was my first "art quilt"...not made for anyone in particular but I had a series of mental health awareness quilts in my head that I felt the need to start working on.

Quilt #5 - Awakening - 44" x 64"
Awakening is a story about breaking free from depression. The side panels are all grey blocks, with a few yellows and oranges dotted in. The bold swath done the centre has been improv quilted in various shapes and angles....symbolic for breaking out of depression. This quilt will be part of my Trailings exhibit in 2021. Here is the back:
back of Awakening

quilting detail - sunburst

Quilting is a challenge on my sewing machine, which is a circa 1965 Singer. My choices are forward or backward. Anything but a straight line is a challenge, and it all must be done manually. Nothing like the fancy machines available these days that are computerized! So I was quite proud of the sunburst pattern I quilted into this quilt.

That's it for part one of my quilting adventure. My goal for next year is to post the details each time I complete a quilt.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Layout planning and more image selection

I went to the DesBrisay Museum on Friday to measure the main exhibit area so that I can plan how many images to hang. I went well prepared....I forgot my measuring tape! However, their floor tiles were 12 inch squares so I was able to measure using their tiles.
I met with the woman in charge of exhibits, and we discussed a few options. We decided that we would hang my story cloths from the ceiling down the middle of the space. I am thrilled about that...I think it will add visual interest and it also will increase my hanging space for framed photographs.
She also told me that it would be best to have 18 inches between each of the frames, which is more space than I was planning on. This increases the "viewing space" so things don't feel crowded and allows the viewer to see one image at a time, with the side images in their peripheral vision. This also means that I will have fewer images in the show, which makes my decisions tougher. But it's a good thing. It means that I will be forced to choose the best and not leave in images that are so-so.
When I came home, I sketched out the layout:
Layout of main exhibit area

And I realigned my bulletin board into three sections....dark for one wall, colour for the back wall, and white for the third wall. I eliminated more images, so my discard pile has grown again.

Our son, DIL, and granddaughter visited today so I had them each pick their top 3 images from each of the 3 sections. It was very interesting to see what their favourites were. There was overlap, and a couple of extra images chosen, so in total 17 images were chosen from the 33 that were on the board. All 3 of them picked five of the same I'd say those ones are keepers. Two of them picked 2 more of the same. So that leaves 10 images that were picked by one person.

It was such an interesting exercise, both to watch them look at the images and then sometimes hear why they picked them. I would love to do this with more people. Obviously I can't invite them into my home, but maybe I can find a way to do it online. Something to think about.

The biggest news on Friday was that I found out my installation date is actually on February 23rd, with the exhibit starting February 24th and running until March 28th. That leaves me one less week than I thought for timeline has now been changed by five weeks. The time crunch is on!

I finished another storycloth on Saturday, so now 4 are complete. My target is still 6. 

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Decision making time

I found out some news a few days ago that is both exciting and daunting at the same time. My Trailings exhibit at the DesBrisay Museum has been moved from a corridor wall into the main exhibit area and I'll be able to show my photographs and stitched art all in the same location. Exciting! (originally, I had planned two exhibits to run concurrently...photographs at the museum and stitched art at the library...due to space limitations).

However, since my show will be in the main exhibit area, the date has changed and will be for the month of March instead of starting April 1st. Daunting! I am generally feeling organized, but am in a bit of panic mode at the moment. 

The new plan in a nutshell: full exhibit at two locations

March: DesBrisay Museum

April & May: Margaret Hennigar Public Library

All in all, having one month less to fret about everything is great. Instead of continuing to "create" I will be forced to start preparing. Exception: I will continue to work on quilts...I have to finish my current project and create at least 2 more...hopefully 3 mid January. Why so early? I'll have to include them in my exhibit guide, which will need to be created in time for a test print, review, and final print before March 1st. 

Exhibiting in the main space means more photographs will have to be chosen, printed and framed. Hence, my bulletin board test prints have been reorganized yet again.

Note for curious onlookers - the photo on my left desktop computer is me with my son

I have narrowed down the scope and organized the photos into just a few categories: 

Top row: ice patterns

Second Row: the white series

Third Row: Reflections

Bottom Row: Misfits, yet important to me

There are approx 45 photos in those rows, which I'll have to narrow down to approx 20. At the bottom of my bulletin board, you may notice a green photo which is a picture of a rock surrounded by ferns. I'm sentimental about that photo because there's a story behind it. But it just doesn't "go" with anything else so it's going in the discard pile.

Today (Friday) I'll be heading over to the museum to measure the 3 walls in the exhibit area to get a better idea of exactly how many photographs and quilts can be shown. I have a general idea, but general is not good enough at this point...I need specifics so that I can place my frame order.

And my list writing is getting more serious!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Trailings Project - November update

Shifting Seasons
I'm generally not a fan of photographs made with intentional camera movement (ICM)and mulitple exposures, but it seemed appropriate for this image. It was a dreary day in early November, but the rain brought out the red colours in the dying undergrowth and the white bark of the birch trunks brightened up the side of the trail. I wanted to capture the idea of the changing seasons so I set my camera to take a simple multiple exposure, combining two images into one. Shifting time and shifting seasons.

It's also time to shift focus for my Trailings project. The opening date of my exhibit is April 1st, which seems a long way down the road, but the background work for an exhibit takes time and planning. So I must shift my focus from creating to curating. The biggest challenge: how to select 20 images to exhibit from the 3000+ photographs I have taken?

It's actually not quite that challenging. I considered only 400 or so of those images worthy of publication in a book, and of those I only ran test prints on 100 or so. So...I have to pick 20 to frame from approximately 100 images.

How to narrow down the selection? Do I pick a theme? Do I pick a style of photography? Do I pick a specific subject? I attended a webinar recently about project based photography, and the speaker suggested taking all your photos and sorting them into different piles to see if a theme develops. Sort, discard, resort and sort again to see what happens. 

I have a large bulletin board over my desk where I pin up test prints. I do my sorting and resorting on that board. My focus for this project has changed dramatically over the past few months and many "possibles" have turned into "discards".

the "possibilities" bulletin board

the discards

So now I have to narrow things down and curate photographs to create three things:

1. 50 to 60 images for a photo book (must finalize book and run a test print, review and finalize, and print final copies!)
2. 20 images to print and frame for exhibit (must order frames, print and frame images!)
3. an exhibit guide with photos and "blurbs" about each image (must create the book, run a test print, review, and order multiple copies!)

And then there are the quilts that I'm making for this project. Three completed, one quilt top finished and ready to quilt, and three more to create! Sometimes I get a little anxious thinking about it.

Update on the public participation cards mentioned in an earlier post: 162 cards were removed from the bins on the trails by the public. It's possible that some of those cards were bin was stolen, and another bin was thrown into the town pond. Never was rescued. Ten submissions have been sent by the public, including 2 poems, 3 written statements about the trails, and many photographs. Only one person has contributed fabric for the proposed community quilt, so I may have to re-think that side project. The good news is that all 10 people have requested monthly updates about the project. It's great to have the public interested!

Fingers are crossed for more public participation...I requested people to send their submissions by December 15th. What I do with these submissions depends on how many I actually receive. To be decided at a later date....

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Trailings Project - Community Involvement

I mentioned in an earlier post that I will be hosting two exhibits during April and May 2021....well, it's really one exhibit that will be displayed in two locations at the same time. Different things in different places. Crazy me. part of this whole project, I decided that I wanted to involve the community. So...I printed up some cards:

And I put them into containers:

And I placed them in various locations around our town trails:

The cards have been in circulation for 9 days. So far, 180 cards have been put out. I have moved some of the bins to different locations, so I know that 60 cards have been taken from 2 of the bins. I'll be checking the other 2 bins on Friday. And...I have received emails from four people with photos and one poem. A pretty good start!

I was disheartened when I found 15 cards dumped in the woods (not included in the above totals). Why do people do things like that? Anyway, they must be good quality cards because they lasted a couple of days outdoors with no damage.

And...I have received one amazing email from someone who took a card. I'm not sure where it will lead, but I'll talk about that soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Trailings Project

Sara and her walking companion, Riley
 I have been working on a photography project for the past year. It officially became a "project" several months ago in my mind, but it had very humble beginnings.

Last year was one of strife and challenge for me, and one of the most difficult periods in my life. I became depressed, something I never thought I would say about myself, and ended up on prescribed medication. I really couldn't see how I was going to continue to hold myself together. 

I was walking my dog Riley every day, and every day my thoughts would whirl and swirl around in my head during our walk. They were dark thoughts indeed.

I'm not sure when things started to change, but they did. I started to notice things around me. The light bouncing off the ripples on the river, the sweet scent of the wild roses blooming, the crunch of the gravel beneath my feet on the trails. Little observations that became things to focus on, taking me outside myself and my thoughts.

Being a photographer at heart, I began snapping some images with the phone I carried. Then I started writing some notes when I returned home, just simple records of the weather and some of the sights I saw along my walk. 

Instead of thinking of my daily dog walk as a chore, I began looking forward to it. Our walking route became longer, along the LaHave River and up through the walking trails. I wouldn't use rain, or cold, or anything else, as an excuse to cancel our walk. We walked in all types of weather...on days so cold, my teeth would ache...on days so windy, we had to lean forward to make progress...on trails so iced over, we would have to skirt the paths and go into the woods...and on hot days as well, days so hot that I would long for my teeth to be aching with cold.

I started carrying a camera and a notebook, documenting sights and recording memories. I printed some photographs and pinned them to a bulletin board above my desk. My notebook writings became less observational, and more introspective.

The forest was working its magic. My mind was engaged with the beauty of nature, the wonders of life.

I am a photographer, but Trailings is more than a photography project for me. It was as if the forest wanted me to tell it's story. Sounds crazy, I know.

I will be exhibiting my Trailings collection, photographs and story cloths (more about these later), at two locations from April 1 through May 31, 2021. Throughout the coming months, I'll talk some more about how my daily walks through nature inspired my creativity and saved my state of mind.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020


Our photo club has not met since March, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut most of the world down. We now meet virtually, including our "field trips". Last month, our theme for submitting images was Wabi-Sabi.

What is Wabi-Sabi?
According to internet sources, in traditional Japanese aesthetics, Wabi-Sabi is a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Wabi-Sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: 
nothing lasts, 
nothing is finished, 
and nothing is perfect. 

I have been attracted to this type of image for a long, long time, but I wasn't familiar with the concept of Wabi-Sabi. 
On a walk with my dog in August, I was enthralled with the leaves on the trees that had been decimated by some kind of insects. They looked like lace...fragile and beautiful.

Over the past year, I have been working on a photographic series that I call Trailings. Most of it involves photographing details from my daily walks along the Bridgewater trails. Sometimes I bring a finding home to photograph. This feather is far from perfect. It shows evidence of the passage of time, a favourite theme of mine lately.

I saw these flowers laying on the road, just off the curb. I walked by. Then I turned around, walked back, and pulled out my camera. Why, I don't know. It spoke to me, and I needed to capture the image.

This example is from a beach walk in July. I was actually running....frightened and exhilarated at the same time, with my camera raised above my head and pointing behind me as the plovers were on the attack and determined to chase me out of their comfort zone. Not a perfect photograph. But an outstanding memory.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Choices - Making a Still Life

Daisy Photo Shoot
I have heard some photographers say that they only press the shutter once or twice in each location. They spend most of their time walking the site, framing the best angle in their mind and then take the shot.

I don't do that.

I do spend time thinking things through ahead of time (provided it's not something that you just need to raise your camera and grab shot). However, there is something about the process for me that makes it a necessity to press the shutter. It helps me think. For a still life, whether it's out in the field with a landscape image, or in the house with an actual still life, I make many photographs. Different backgrounds, different angles.

Then when I look at the images on my computer, I make more decisions. There are as many ways to process images as there are to take them. I decided that I liked the image on the right the best - just a solid background, slightly off centre. And then I played a bit.
The original image is on the left, with a slight vignette added. The next image is desaturated, with some colour left on the daisies. The third image is a wild card, with heavy textures and processing done with the press of a button. For my final, and favourite, image....I took the original (on the left) and darkened it, adding some moodiness that I decided I liked.

For me, the image on the right has taken a "ho hum" still life and added some drama.

The final result, a little larger: 
A Touch of Sunshine
I always find it amusing when someone says that photography is just the press of a button. Okay, let's be honest. Sometimes I don't find it funny...I just want to sigh.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

how mood affects an image

An image making challenge for me this month over at Inspiration Collaboration involved bubbles, specifically a painting by Helen Eaton called Blowing Bubbles.

This challenge took me in a few different directions, and was a good example of how mood can affect the outcome of an image. I'll show you two paths my creative journey took me.

First, a photograph of bubbles in my drinking glass, courtesy of club soda, got me heading for my camera.

This is a "real" photograph, with the colour amped up a bit. My clear glass was sitting on an orange placemat when I took the photo. I thought the image was interesting, but it didn't really grab my imagination.

A few days later, I was thinking about the image again. It was a terrible week in the news. Marches and protests were held all over the world. Years of systematic racism, and the filmed murder of George Floyd by a white police officer, erupted into outrage not seen in years. I am white. My whole life has been what some might call privileged. I cannot, just cannot, imagine what anyone who does not have white skin must face on a daily basis. My heart actually hurt at some of the things I saw reported on the news. How can people treat each other like this? Worse than animals? 

I was in this mindset when I tried to work with my bubble image again. I changed the image to black and white, overlaid with a gritty texture. This is the result:
The Rising
I don't make political statements, and keep my thoughts to myself. But in my mind these bubbles symbolize people. People coming together. People rising up through the darkness from oppression.
Where will it all end? I hope for a better world. And I hope...really hope...that my hope starts to be stronger than my fears.

My emotions came out through my editing when I was working on this image. Dark and brooding, it was a good exercise in how working with art can release inner feelings.

But it was not a good match for Helen's Blowing Bubbles painting. So the next week I had another inspiration. This is my creation...another "real" photograph:
Bubble with Joy
Happy bubble...bubble over...bubbling with joy. Where do I feel like that? In my garden. No matter what's going on in my life, or in the world around me, walking through my garden brings me joy. Yellow, the colour of happiness, a flower to convey a sense of place, and bubbles to signify joy, combine to visually express how I feel in my garden.

As I said, this image wasn't created on the computer. Here's how I accomplished it:
I have a clear paperweight filled with bubbles, and I took the photos while holding the paperweight over the flowers. Sometimes creativity can come into play without a computer :)

Thursday, May 28, 2020

for the love of barns

Beyond the Stream - Inspiration Collaboration Image for June 2020
I grew up a city girl, but I loved the trips we used to take to my uncle's farm. It was a whole different world to me. Maybe it was those experiences early in life that gave me a love of barns. Old wooden barns are becoming rare where we live, lost to time and neglect. Each one I see seems special, each one with its own story to tell. 
Uncle Ralph's farm - circa 1970
This is my dog Bitsy, who wasn't very bitsy at all, at my Uncle Ralph and Aunt Mildred's farm. I had a very scary experience on this laneway. A herd of cows started following me down the lane. The faster I walked, the faster they followed. I remember being afraid (remember...I was a city girl!) and running but I don't have a memory of how the episode ended. I probably never told anyone at the time.

Here are some more barns...just because...
this barn is gone now...only the house remains
barn details - love the shingles!
black and white seemed to suit this winter scene
this guy seemed quite relaxed - but who wouldn't be in that setting?
One project I'd like to work on when life gets back to "normal" and we are allowed to go for drives is to photograph all my favourite local barns. There are still a few around, but I never take the time to stop and capture them. (due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been asked to stay at home and only drive for necessities like groceries and medications)