March Square – Happy St. Patrick’s Day

….thanks to Becky B on this glorious March 17th for hosting March Square

What could be more fitting today than a quilted square from the Quilt Belonging collection representing Ireland.

What could be more Irish than the Celtic cross cross stitched on Cashel linen. This piece was hand stitched by Loralyn Reilly Gazdik whose grandmother emigrated to Canada for economic and political reasons. For over two centuries the Irish have made huge contributions to the fabric of Canadian culture.

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March Squares – A Little Piece of Italy

…..March 13….thanks to Becky B from Life With B for hosting March Square

Back in the summer there was a wonderful exhibition of a giant quilt called The Quilt of Belonging. It was on display at the Canadian National Exhibition and each square represents the cultural legacies of all the First Peoples in Canada and every nation in the world. There are 263 blocks in this quilt that measures 120 feet long (36 metres) and 10.5 feet high (3.5 metres).

The first square that I’m sharing with you represents Italy. I wasn’t sure how this house showcased Italian culture but apparently the house in this block is based on a popular song called A Little House in Canada. The song describes the dream of many Italians to own a small house in Canada surrounded by a pool of fish and many lilacs.

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What is Art?

…. is there an artist in all of us?

I really believe that there is an artist in all of us. The problem for most people is that when you say artist they think of a painter, illustrator,or sculptor. So often people tell me they can’t draw. Everybody can draw; it’s just that some people are better at it than others. Why is that?

Very few people are naturally good at art. It takes practice and perseverance. Those that are good at portraits have studied the human face and done countless drawings of eyes, noses, lips and other facial features and then put them together to create faces.

People develop their own style after copying and experimenting and taking inspiration from other artists. I’m not talking about replicating or making exact reproductions of famous paintings. For example, I like Picasso’s abstract portraits with misplaced features and sharp angles. I’ve experimented with his style and have created a couple of paintings of my own. One is done in acrylic and in the other I used a combination of watercolours and oil pastels.

ImageI think you can be great artist and never be an accomplished illustrator. I think that’s why I like abstract art. I love the freedom of it gives me when using paints and other media and how it allows me to play with colour and texture. I like using the word play because when it stops being fun then I lose interest. Why on earth would I want to pursue anything that wasn’t enjoyable and fun to do?

Now I’ve talked mostly about visual artists, such as painters and sculptors, and using traditional artist materials such as paints, clay and oil pastels. My point, however, is that the quilters, knitters, sewers, photographers, writers, bloggers, toymakers, musicians, jewellery makers, weavers, dancers, actors, singers and gymnasts of this world are also artists in their own right. They create beauty and give pleasure to many but most importantly they find personal joy and satisfaction in the doing of their art. Photography has become my new personal art form. I love experimenting with the different features of the camera.

This is the view at the bottom of my street, looking south towards Lake Ontario.

This is the view at the bottom of my street, looking south towards Lake Ontario.

None of these disciplines happen overnight. When you find what you like to do and work at it, you eventually get better. Did you knit a perfect scarf the first time around? Probably not. Are you a better cook today than you were in grade seven when you made your first macaroni and cheese? Hopefully. If you play the piano it’s more than likely that it involved hundreds of hours of practising scales that got you to where you are today.

The same is true for any visual art skill. Practice makes perfect or at least better. I know that if I took some life drawing classes my confidence and my ability to draw would improve. I’ve never met anybody that got worse at something after practising at it but I have a friend that believes only ‘perfect practice makes perfect’. I suppose that there is some truth to that as well.

For the last several weeks my grade 3 classes have been working on sewing quilt blocks and then decorating them with stitching, buttons and beads. It’s taking longer than I thought but their interest hasn’t waned and I hope I’ll be able to share some of their finished pieces in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime I finished my example. I think working with the students has helped keep them motivated and inspired to move on the next step. They’re really excited about adding stitches and embellishments to their squares.

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Not everything that you create as an artist will be to your liking. Sometimes your vision doesn’t make it onto the paper. Last Friday my friend L and I ‘played’ with my paints. I just started to add colour to my plates and moved the paint around with brushes and forks and then transferred the design onto paper. I kept adding more paint and water to the plates. I usually have a lot of success with mono printing but I can’t say that this is my best work. I did, however, have fun experimenting with the paints. It was therapeutic and great stress reliever.

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P1000883      Is there an artist in you?

I see the artist in many of you whom I follow. I see it in your photography, in your writing, your paintings, your stories, your poems, your refashioned clothes, your DIY projects, your crafts, your recipes, your music and your inspirational quotes. Keep it up. Spread the joy.