Poppies for Remembrance Day

"Poppies" (2015) 12"x12" acrylic on panel

“Poppies”
(2015)
12″x12″
acrylic on panel

This painting that I completed this summer at a en plein air event at the Coutts Centre near Nanton, Alberta seemed like a fitting image for today. The poppy will forever be a symbol linked with Remembrance Day.

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Painting by Debra Hunter

www.debra-hunter.com

www.handmade-canada.com

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Pulled Prints

blog 2x4 woodcutThe 2×4 woodcut experiment from THIS blog post worked. It took a little experimenting to work around  challenges like the grain and a knot in the wood. Ink retarder helped hugely, I suspect it is a necessity in our house with low humidity. Now to trim up each print.

Art by Debra Hunter
Red Deer, Alberta and Pender Island, BC, Canada
www.debra-hunter.com

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“Remnants” (2015) – a new fibre art piece

Sharing a finished art piece that I have blogged on my website http://www.debra-hunter.com .

Debra Hunter - Canadian photography, art and handmade

"Remnants" (2015) 10" x 14" ntutally dyed and eco dyed cotton, naturally dyed cotton, silk and wool threads, hand stitching “Remnants”
(2015)
10″ x 14″
naturally dyed and eco dyed cotton, naturally dyed cotton, silk and wool threads, hand stitching, lino cut bull skull

“Remnants” is finally finished. This fibre art piece, started in late October or early November has been a journey. Originally it was to be a small lino cut skull printed on naturally dyed fabric and then embellished by beads. As I worked on the piece the idea grew to a larger piece that incorporated eco printed fabric ( the leaf imprints), took on a landscape concept, and relied on hand stitching to create the image. The idea of beading was completely abandoned; too fancy for this piece.

This piece has a roughness about it. Raw edges. Rough fabric. Lopi tacked down. Fabrics dyed with marigold and tansy; dyes from the earth. It is a rugged piece, rugged like the prairies. Inspired by farms down dirt roads…

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Progression of a Painting

I though it might be fun to work through the progression of a painting I finished recently. With the majority of my paintings I use photographs I have taken as a starting point. Generally they are shot with painting specifically in mind. For this particular painting it was a photograph taken on Roe Islet on Pender Island (BC, Canada).

view through the trees photo_3512 aWorking from a photograph makes sense. A busy family with busy children does not mix well with working on location. Generally I shoot a ton of images, edit down the ones I want to paint from, and then I email them to my iPad. Working from the iPad has taken a bit of figuring out, I’ve been doing it for about 6 months. Overall I think it is a better way to work than from a flat photograph on paper. I find I don’t get as hung up on the details and feel I have more license to tweak things. I can also carry around the iPad to think about the next step. I will often shoot the “work in progress” on the iPad so that I can look at it too while plotting the next step. Interestingly my favorite photography images are rarely my favorite images for inspiration for a painting.

blog view through the trees inspiration 2014 4x6 borderWith this painting I decided to do an “inspiration” painting first. It is a small 4″x6″ acrylic on panel. I get bored with the idea of doing sketches, however the idea of a mini painting made sense. A small investment of time and materials gave me a sense of what I liked about the painting and what I would change. It also meant that by using the same materials (acrylic and panel) I knew exactly what I was working with color and technique.

blog view through the trees 2014 11x14The final painting evolved a little further as I worked from both the iPad and the 4×6 painting. The sky and water gained more interesting color combinations, the hills pushed back to create more distance, the leaves lightened up, the tree trunks got swoopier, and there were some nice pops of red. I really like the swoopy trunks and the reds; they will be making a return appearance in another painting for sure.

Even as I write this blog post I am discovering more. It is interesting looking at this progression as it is presented together here in the same format. I am seeing the value in doing the small painting first and how it helps make sense of the information, especially when there is a lot going on as is the case on the right hand side of the view. It is very interesting looking at these three images together.

 

Photography and art by Debra Hunter.
www.thehuntergroup.ca

Also blogging at:
www.debrahunter.wordpress.com
www.islandhomeblog.wordpress.com
www.woodleaneighbours.wordpress.com

Bull Fighting

blog bull fighting

detail of piece, bull skull measures 6 inches across

Working on this piece has been so rough it has felt like bull fighting. What a trial.

I think I may have shared a snippet of this piece before so I thought I would do a “work in progress” post as incentive to get the piece finished. Originally I started this work back in October or November, it fit a theme for a submission so I jumped in with both feet. I quickly discovered an ambitious idea, even on a small scale, takes a lot longer than a few weeks to complete so I abandoned any thought of submitting the piece.

I wanted to put together a fibre piece that had a lot of different elements. So far this piece has been naturally dyed, eco printed, had a lino-cut made of the bull skull and then printed on the fabric, it has been stitched with various hand dyed threads including some very thick lopi. Beading is still to come.

Composition was a challenge from the beginning, probably because I didn’t plot everything out and just went for it……..and then changed my mind from a small 5″x7″ piece to a 9.5″x14 inch piece part way through when I realized I wasn’t going to submit it. Thankfully the lopi helped tie the composition together.

The lino-cut didn’t reproduce exactly how I had planned either with the final look being thin and grayish. I’m not sure if the natural dye I used was maybe weaker than my last batch, or it was a case of printing a lino cut on the naturally dyed eco-printed fabric, but things didn’t go to plan. Perhaps a mix of too many variables to really be able to pinpoint the lino-cut issues. Rather than dwell on the issues stitching seemed to be the answer. I will try a print on plain fabric once this project is done and then I can see if there is a dye problem and then fix it if needed.

The other challenge has been the actually stitching, the fabric (2 layers) is almost impossible to get a needle through. I have never encountered this before. So far I have tried many different needle and thread combinations but the result has been the same, the only way I can stitch is pulling the needle through one stitch at a time with pliers. It has taken forever. Strange thing is I have used these fabrics before , they are just different cottons, and one layer at a time they are fine, but going through two layers is impossible without pliers (and you have to pull really hard too!). Really odd.

So what is left to do? I need to finish up the “grassland” stitching and stitch around the eco-printed leaves (these items aren’t included in the detailed section in the picture shown). After that a little bit of beading just to add in one more element and introduce a new texture and some new colors. The last decision will be how to frame or hang the piece (never easy to figure out).

There is still a very long way to go.

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For those who are interested, I have a new photo project blog going, a photo essay of our neighbourhoood. It is a “mostly pictures and not much text” blog that evolved out of another blog that was started almost a year ago. I think it will be interesting to explore our neighbourhood through a lens. The blog can be found HERE if you are interested.

Of course I still write at the blogs  Island Home and  Debra Hunter as well. Each blog has a different focus and they are pretty fun to write.

www.thehuntergroup.ca

 

What happens on a Friday night….

 lino cutCutting.

blog lino cut 2The lino block is almost done.

This one is 12 inches by 12 inches. I expect there to be challenges as I print it on the naturally dyed fabric.

yarnTying and weighing.

 yarn Scouring and mordanting.

The stash is getting low. Many weeks of non-stop knitting and developing new items.

Lots of dyeing in the future and perhaps an indigo vat next week if it warms up.

 

 

Nothing says “Fairy Tale” Like Beaded Stars

I feel like I have been neglecting this blog a little bit, but I have been spending my normal blogging time beading and stitching. Most of the past week I have focused on beading. I think glitzy, sparkling, beaded stars are just perfect for a fairy tale themed piece.

blog star money in progress 1Here are a few detail pictures, as you can tell this piece is all about fun.

blog star money in progress 2Hundreds upon hundreds of tiny seed beads. My goal is to have all the beading done by this evening.

Artwork by Debra Hunter
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

www.thehuntergroup.ca

1 Day 1 World Project: 11:00pm – 12:00pm – Into the Studio

Joining in with Northwest Frame of Mind’s  1 Day 1 World Project I thought I would share what I was up to this evening. This evening, shortly after 11:00 pm I popped down to the studio to shoot a painting I completed yesterday.

studioI must confess I am a night owl. When most people are already tucked nicely into bed I’m just gearing up for the evening. I have been known to say to my husband around 2:00 am “What would you like to do for the rest of the evening?”…..followed by him rolling his eyes and saying “It’s 2:00 am!”.

The joke in our home is that the only way I see a sunrise is if I haven’t gone to bed yet………okay it is true.

I like the night.

I like the quiet.

(By the way if you would like to see the painting feel free to click HERE.)

 

Art and photography by Debra Hunter
Red Deer, Alberta
www.thehuntergroup.ca

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Tackling the “Works in Progress”

It always seems like no matter what the project, there comes a time you hit a dead spot, a time where the project is almost finished but it is almost painful to put in the last few hours to finish it up. Looking around my home and down in the studio it is time to tackle these projects before they are simply left as “U.F.O.’s” (UnFinished Objects).

In this post I will share a few of these “works in progress” in the hope of actually finishing them in the next week or two.

 beading

From left: Cotton hand-dyed in lac, indigo, tansy (just a little showing through) and madder.

Let’s start with the one that is causing me the most misery. I’ve been developing a few hand dyed, hand knit and hand beaded items as an expansion to the current hand knit items I sell to a few shops here in Alberta. The dyeing is enjoyable, the knitting is fine as is the beading, however throw it all together and it is one hugely time consuming item. If I were just doing it for fun it would be fine, but after years of costing out photography jobs I can’t help but think how unprofitable these items are, and this thought process alone seems to stopping me from completing them. I have 11 more waiting to be beaded, so I really need to finish those in the very least. I could toy with different ways to bead them that might be a little quicker, but I like beading to be bomb proof. I really dislike it when you buy a beaded item only for the beads to fall off in a flash, so cutting corners isn’t an option. I should really just try to finish these this week and then reserve beading on knitting for only higher end items.

 beads

The next “work in progress” is a fibre art piece that has literally traveled with me everywhere  for the last few months including the coast four times and the cabin at least six times. The piece, depicting a grain elevator, is hand-dyed in natural dyes, masked, stitched and beaded. It sat in its “Is it done ?” phase for a very long time. Then when I finally reached the decision that it was “done” I had to decide how to mount it. Did it want to stretch it or board it or hang it? Last night I decided to go with hanging it as I have a frame in mind that I think could work with my hanging pieces.

grain elevator pieceSo all is good last night. I iron the piece, cut the backing, make sure everything is square (well square-ish, this is fabric), and get ready to machine sew the backing on. Ah yes, the sewing machine………..that white piece of machinery buried on one of my work tables. No kidding I had to dig through hand-dyed yarn, knit items, multiple chargers for devices, dried marigolds, dried tansy, dried onion skins (natural dyers are all nodding their heads knowingly at the moment!) and driftwood…….an awful lot of driftwood, which is kind of funny sitting here on the prairies in Alberta, but it is there because “I had an idea!“.  An hour or so later the sewing machine was finally in a useable environment, with all that work to sew 60 linear inches. That pretty much explains why some things just don’t end up finished….hassle factor.

This piece is almost finished. Maybe 10 minutes of hand sewing, another 15 minutes to sort out the doweling, and then buzz it down to the studio to shoot. Hopefully I will be sharing the finished piece here next week.

sewingSpeaking of shooting finished pieces, that brings me to the next “W.I.P.”. A painting. A painting that looks fine under natural light, incandescent light and flourescent light yet shows a flaw when I shoot it in the studio. The flaw is in one small spot, but it drives me crazy. Fact is, everything needs to look great on a computer screen so it is important that I fix it. I’ve come across colors recording differently with photography before, bride’s maids dresses are notorious for it, but at least this is a quick fix. I just need a quiet house to focus on it and get it done……”quiet house ” is not happening at the moment with 5 kids running around…..I think this will be a “middle of the night” job.

painting detail (iPhone pic)

painting detail (iPhone pic)

 

The final W.I.P for this post is a piece that might familiar, a stitched, beaded and lino cut piece. I did a piece late last year that was similar. At the time of doing the previous piece I also started a second one that was similar but not the same. I have started to do this with a few of the fibre pieces, having two to work on that are similar, because usually part way into a piece I start to think about what the piece would have looked like if I had done things differently. I tend to be fairly conservative on the first piece. The second piece I can be more experimental with, use odder colors, or more beading, or whatever comes to mind. I want to get this piece really happening before I get too involved with the skull piece.

Other than that there are two more paintings in progress to finish, coffee sweaters to weave in ends, embellish and package, and a special request  item to knit………oh, and tweak the website again.  Time to get busy and get a bit of this off the books.

Photography and art by Debra Hunter
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
www.thehuntergroup.ca

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The Start of a New Piece

I figure it is time to get back to blogging the fun stuff so today I am sharing the beginning of a new art piece. This piece is inspired by a fence post we came across on a rural back road near our cabin. Well to be honest there isn’t much but rural back roads near our cabin (and lakes)….but that is what makes it fantastic.

The piece is based on the image featured in the post titled “The Skull”.

The gallery below will walk you through the beginnings of the process.

(Please click on the images to view full size.)

The piece will be a lino cut on fabric. Both the base fabric and the printing of the linocut will be done with handcrafted natural dyes. The plan is after printing the linocut the piece will then be embellished with beads and hand stitching.

I have to admit I am pretty excited about working on this one. It’s going to be fun!

 

www.thehuntergroup.ca

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