My work is grounded in prairie landscape, having morphed from a painter in my twenties into a fabric explorer specialist in my thirties and then back to landscape again in my fifties. It was informed by my mother’s journey as well. Myrna Harris and I were each other’s artistic support system; photographing ideas on country drives, thrifting materials, transforming them through dye, thread and quilting, and eventually hanging them on the wall.
Mom had a brief hiatus from felting for a year after going hard at it for 10 years. She went back to painting. I kept quiet. I rolled into the yard one day to pick her up for a research and development trip to Edmonton, and she admitted to me that painting wasn’t blowing her skirt up. I told her I didn’t understand why she had left her love in the first place and let’s get back at it. It was permission to let the painting dream go and return to the processes she loved; working with colour and texture her way. She had a new, spare, abstracted style when she got back to it, so the painting diversion had its purpose as a refresh.
I have had a piece of canola yellow wool that I liberated from Fabricland many years ago, (probably 10 metres of it), that has been the base of many a canola piece and an accent colour in a few paraments and jackets over the years. As I started sewing skies and grounds last winter and dreaming of a small theme for Craft Year 2020, I decided at the age of 62, it was time to go big or go home. The canola yellow remnant was put into a blue dye pot to take the high tone down a notch. Along the way, it picked up a few darker green beauty marks. I think I had about a dozen pieces of varying sizes that have become the last of their kind, as finding another yellow wool remnant is not going to happen.
The sky on Something Brewing was a bit of a puzzle. It didn’t have a lot of variation in the colour. When that happens, the quilting stage helps define a direction. Still searching, I reached for the pencil crayons to define some cloud highlights. They are the perfect tool on fabric to take some colour forward or back and leave the essence of the original dying. I thank a mentor of my mother and a great Saskatchewan artist, Martha Cole, for giving me that pearl.
Finally, I started down the bead trail. My mom would glue beads on to her felt to get her canola glowing, but I spent the time hand beading and scratching new ground of my own. This piece is more abstract than I usually do and I feel a new direction brewing. It was a great honour to have it curated into this show.