About Me

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Life and the creative process are about the journey, not the destination. I love working with colour and texture and can get totally 'lost' in the creative process. Variety keeps my creative juices flowing. We are currently traveling full time in a 40' motorhome and bouncing between visits with a son in Albuquerque NM and a son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in Calgary AB. In between we are busy exploring this great continent on which we live. It's a challenge working from my mobile studio but I am using our travel time to learn new skills and refine existing ones.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Still Knotting!

Putting the bookmark to use!
Life in Osoyoos is proving to be busy but I'm burning the midnight oil to complete my self challenge - to produce a sample of each of the 75 knots in the book '75 Chinese, Celtic, & Ornamental Knots' by Laura Williams and Elise Mann.  I'm hoping that when I get to the projects I can pick up some of the finishing techniques as well.  Nancy, a friend in Arizona, offered to teach me some of the basics when I get to Congress but since our arrival is not until late in the winter I couldn't wait and had the book in my traveling stash.  I'm sure there will be lots of new stuff to learn when I get there but at least I will have completed the basics and feel more comfortable working with knots.  She linked me to a FB page for the Mateloteurs - an international knotting group - and after a few hours of browsing the pictures and posts I was hooked!

Almost half way there
Today I will reach the half way mark in my self-challenge of completing the 75 knots.  A few have been unravelled and re-attempted a couple of times and one, the Plafond knot, almost beat me.  The problem was to understand which loops to 'fold' and it took me three different approaches, two on U-tube and another two web posts in addition to the book to finally figure it out!  In the end it was simple!

I am currently working with lengths of drapery cord that I had in my cording bin.  They come from 'shortening' some mini-blinds purchased for a house addition many years ago and I can't think of a better use for them!  I like working with this cord but when I priced it in a shop yesterday I discovered it was $1.40 a yard!  Too expensive!

First project - a bookmark
I also deviated last night and produced a 'book mark' using #18 Mason's line, a nylon cord I found in the hardware store.  It is much softer and may have uses in making jewelry but doesn't hold the knots as well as it is somewhat springy.  The florescent colors also limit how I will use it!  I am experimenting with cord that is readily available as I am waiting until we head south to the US to find/order satin cord etc.  We are in a very rural wine grape growing area and the small towns through the valley don't offer a lot of resources and I haven't identified a Canadian on-line source yet. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

To Knot or Not!

A friend from our Arizona travels tweaked my interest in the craft of tying knots.  I managed at the time to stay focused on other activities but something caught that day.  A little later I spotted a book in a clearance bin in Michaels and picked it up - 75 Chinese, Celtic, & Ornamental Knots by Laura Williams and Elise Mann.  The book got tucked away but resurfaced this fall when we were repacking for our winter travels.  Just about the same time I received a FB invite to join a group on FB - Mateloteurs - an international knotting community.  Looking through the fantastic work shared on that site I really became interested and opened the book.....

Knotting is certainly one way to pass the time.....  To test the waters I decided to try out some of the knots illustrated in the book.  I'm now on my eleventh sample and can't put it down.  I am now onto knots that would make great chains to combine with beads for jewelry.......

Will I or won't I?  I haven't invested in any equipment yet.....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Journals and Socks

I've been struggling to get some art routine re-established and hope that by taking advantage of the inspiration provided by Dawn DeVries Sokol's web challenge Na(tional)No(nstop) Jou(rnaling) Mo(nth), I might just succeed in November.  I'm new to art journaling but have been following some journaling sites and videos for a while so decided it might fit with my November schedule.  I didn't get a lot done this morning - had to break for the 9:30 walk into town - but may get back to it later.

We are currently tucked in for the months of November and December at the N'Kmip RV Park at Osoyoos BC so should be able to 'do art' for a bit.  I'm finding that when we are traveling a lot, handwork is better than 'art' work so have been rediscovering some skills learned in the past and neglected for a while.  In the past I have knit a number of sweaters both for myself and for my family but had not tackled socks until I started to travel.

My 4th pair of socks
Since 2009 I have completed four pair, the first two pair, traditional style with a ribbed cuff, are much loved and worn in the cooler months.  The third pair of socks was knit using a pattern with a short row heel which I liked but which didn't fit me as well as other heel styles - (Nutkin sock pattern found on Knitzi.com). I followed the pattern and found them to be a very tight fit - designed for a more feminine foot than mine.  They were a Christmas gift to my daughter-in-law who has a much smaller foot.  However I loved the mock cable design in the pattern and the yarn I used (sorry, forgot to take a picture) and searched for more yarn this fall but couldn't find the same color mix.

This fall I purchased a book "Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters" by Cat Bordhi and just loved her toe-up approach to custom fitting a sock.  The socks above are my newest pair and were knit using her instructions on 3mm needles with Kroy sock yarn that I picked up for 97¢ a ball in a clearance at Michaels.  Figured I couldn't lose at that price!  $2 plus change with tax for a pair of socks!  For the cuff I did my variation of the inlaid pennants pattern (pg.45) - I add six rows of plain between the pattern repeats and as a result the cuff scrunches down into a series of rings when worn.  Because I used a larger needle than usual I had this pair finished in a week.  Hope it doesn't affect the wearability but I didn't want to spend a lot of time on them as they were a 'learning' project and I wasn't sure about the colorway - which I now love!

My current project is another pair of  '$2 plus change' socks in a different colorway, this time knit on 2.5 mm needles and based on the Nutkin sock pattern but with a different heel design from "Sock Knitting Master Class" by Ann Budd.  I also substituted a narrow ribbed top rather than the fold-over in the pattern but more on that to come when I get to the photography stage.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Computer Learning - Generating a Color Palette

 Last week, before a long weekend filled with visitors, I worked on a couple of watercolor paintings. They were definitely 'painterly' and not 'artistic'. The effort left me decidedly frustrated and I turned for a short time to a beading project (to come) while I processed what had happened and strategized on a new approach. I've been away from my brushes and paints too long! I'll share my initial efforts (maybe) in a later post when I can also show new efforts as I 'progress' (I hope) on my journey to renew my skills.

Today I've been struggling to learn some new blogging skills - working this time with bighugelabs.com to generate a color palette from a photo. You might want to check out this site as there are lots of tools and toys - free and low cost. Dale Anne Potter uses it for her Friday blog postings and I thought it might make a great 'learning' tool for some of my work. 

Once I registered and uploaded a test photo, it was no problem to generate the palette.  But what use is a 'palette' if I needed to go back on line to check it out while working on a piece?  After some research, and trying several options, I eventually did a screen shot and saved it to a file which I then opened in Microsoft Picture Manager to crop and prepare it for posting.  Then I discovered that blogger will not upload bmp files so back to the drawing board and another step in the process - in the Paint Program.  I was finally able to change the format so I guess it will be directly to Paint next time!  I was also able to save the palette in a format that can be used in Photoshop so learning how to use it in that program is topic for me to explore in the future.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'm Back!

I can't believe that it's eleven months since my last post!  It's not that I haven't been playing, experimenting, painting, stitching, beading and in general creating!  The rambling lifestyle (check out my other blog) has lots of benefits but it does take a toll on serious 'studio' time.  Not to mention two years of recovering the use of my dominant hand and wrist after a serious break have taken their toll - but I'm back!  And I've got some things to share.

First of all, I'm really struggling to get my head into gear to make the most of the next month or so while I am stationary and have solitary time enabling me to really get into a creative mode - I hope.  I've set myself a challenge to produce some watercolor and acrylic/canvas pieces that are worth keeping towards mounting a show down the road.  I've been taking thousands of pictures on our travels and have lots of subject matter.  When I was working at arty things regularly, I would dream a painting into existence.  I've been away from it for a long time and I realize I'm no longer doing that.

Late Season Harvest © Diane Duncan, 2011
Come to think of it, I did produce one fibreart piece Late Season Harvest that is currently traveling with a group exhibition 'Canadian Content' (Fibre Art Network).  It first showed in New Zealand and, since the show returned to Canada, it has been exhibited in a number of venues in Western Canada. 

Navaho Art © Diane Duncan, 2011

I also completed an acrylic painting Navaho Art (24 x 30) that I think is sold, although I haven't got confirmation of the sale yet.  The painting is sitting in a condo in Phoenix and the clients have only seen a photograph.  Hope they get a chance to see the painting soon.

So what am I doing to get into 'creative mode'?   I found the first day or two,  I became a master of procrastination!  So, I dug out the books I recently purchased and started a self-guided refresher course on watercolor technique.  I am really enjoying The Complete Watercolorist's Essential Notebook by Gordon MacKenzie and have been working through some of the more basic exercises in the book.  That led me to the discovery that my favorite watercolor brush has lost it's tip and needs to be replaced.  I also discovered that about a dozen of my tubes of watercolor paint have hardened.  Reconstituting the paint from the tubes was another day of 'not painting' but worth the effort.  I slit the tubes with an exacto knife and, removing the paint, I placed the contents of each tube in a section of a plastic egg carton.  By adding a small amount of water to each color and stirring from time to time, I was able to reconstitute the paint.  When they form up - most have today - I will have color blocks that can be used in the future.  I hope the other tubes are still useable as I estimate that the ones I have rescued represent a replacement value of well over $100 and that's not in the budget right now!

In the past I have struggled to effectively use 'value' in my work and I became really conscious of this while taking a course from Sterling Edwards a few years ago.  He had us do quick value sketches in watercolor before starting a painting.  Part of my refresher studies will remind me of this and other qualities that can be recognized in a good painting. 

A second book, Drawing with Your Artist's Brain by Carl Purcell emphasis value studies and preliminary sketches to help plan a painting.  In the past I've been fairly spontaneous in my painting - charging right in - but I don't think it's going to hurt for me to spend a few days exploring the elements of good 'art'.  It will apply whether I am working in paint or fabric. 

Today's efforts were based on photos taken  at Glacier National Park last weekend and I'm rather pleased with them.  Their not perfect but they have gone a long way towards bolstering my sagging confidence.

Swift Current Lake, Glacier National Park © Diane Duncan, 2011
Self Portrait ©  Diane Duncan, 2011

Ripening Wheat, © Diane Duncan, 2011