Blog Archives

Under the Sea

I love brightly coloured fabric.

Sea Horsed Dancing in the Wind

Sea Horses Dancing in the Wind

I particularly like fabric that has different patterns and colours all in one piece.

Fabric Sea Horse

Fabric Sea Horse

I used some of the fabric in my stash to make sea horses

and used rayon thread and free-motion embroidery to make the fins.

Whatever Lola Wants…

Lola wants to dance.

This is what Lola looked like a few weeks ago.

Lola in progress

Lola: Work in Progress

Since then I have had to make several versions of some of her body parts before I could get them to look the way I wanted.

Lola detail


Lola profile

Lola: Detail Profile

I usually have a standard order in which I sew the different parts of a doll together.  I sew the legs to the torso first.  I sew the arms on after the clothes.   I usually sew the head on before I put on the hair and then paint the face.  This time I put the hair on first.  Big mistake!  The hair kept getting in the way as I was sewing on the head.

Painting the face comes last.

Lola: Face Painting 1

Lola: Outlining features with air erasable pen

The first thing I do  is draw in the features with an air erasable pen.  I cover her hair with a piece of cloth to keep it out of the way and to protect it when I spray the face with fixative.

Lola: Face Painting 2

Lola: Outlining features with permanent ink

Once I get the features correct, I go over some of it with a Pigma Micron 005 brown pen.  This is permanent ink.

Except for the high light in the eye, the face is painted with pastel pencils.

Lola: Face Painting with chalk pastels

Lola: Adding colour with chalk pastels

I use 2- 3 colours for the eyes and eyeshadow and 2 colours for the lips. The top lip is always darker than the bottom, which catches more light.  I add the highlight to the eye last.  I use acrylic paint applied with the tip of a needle.

Lola: Face painting shadows and blush

Lola: More colour

Lola: Finished Face

Lola: Face

I also paint the fingernails.

Lola: Painted fingernails

Lola: Painted Fingernails

So here she is, practicing her routine to be  ready for her audition for So You Think You Can Dance.


Cycling in France – Watercolour sketch

In anticipation of a visit to the Van Gogh exhibit that is currently at the National Gallery in Ottawa, I decided to do a watercolour in his style.

I chose a picture that I took while cycling in France.

Paysage Languedoc

Paysage Languedoc
Nancy Leigh-Smith

I sketched the outline in pencil first and then used the paints. It went very quickly.

Detail: Paysage Languedoc

Detail: Paysage Languedoc

Dancing on a White Wall

I worked on some more free motion embroidery dancers.  The previous ones  (see here) were done in off-white thread and looked good against a coloured wall or back ground.  I decided to do some that looked good against a white wall.

As I did before, I photographed them outside and then inside on a wall.

free motion lace dancer multicoloured

Multicolored hand dyed thread

Free motion dancer - detail


After I had done the first one outside, the wind blew both frames over and broke the glass in one of them.  As both mats  are the same size I took the rest of the pictures using the glass-less frame.

The multicoloured cotton thread was hand dyed by Linda Palaisy.  I use a lot of her thread in my work.

black thread free motion dancer

Dancer done in black thread

Dancer - black thread - on wall

Black embroidery on white wall

multicoloured figure on white wall

Multicoloured embroidery on white wall

Step Away From the Painting

I had always thought that I didn’t like Pointillism.  However, after visiting a special exhibit of Henri Edmond Cross and Neo-Impressionism  at the Musėe Marmottan Monet in Paris, I changed my mind.   I was fascinated by the paintings in the exhibit and decided to try the technique in watercolour.

I worked small so that it wouldn’t take too long to finish – the painting is only 14 X 21.2 cm (5 1/2 X 8 3/8 inches) .  I found that I couldn’t make regular same-sized marks with a watercolour brush so I used  Microbrush ® applicators that I bought at Lee Valley Tools.

My subject was a close-up of a tree stump and my choice of colours was inspired by Cross’s Future Arcadia. I worked on it for several hours in total and couldn’t get it right. It just looked like an interesting pattern of coloured dots.  Finally, I saw it from across the room and I could now see  forms emerging from the mass of dots.

I don’t think that this will become a favourite method of painting watercolour, but I will definitely try it again.

Detail of Watercolour

What’s Growing in your Garden?

Last weekend I visited Kiwi Gardens in Perth, just outside Ottawa.   It was their 16th annual show and sale of garden art.   About 38 artists displayed their work  throughout the gardens.  Although there were many wonderful works of art, I am going to share some of the picture I took of the work of just three of the artists.

Artist by Design ‘s Liz Ciesluk does sculptures using  recycled objects and pavepol, a fabric hardener.

Liz with Lady Merry Feather who now resides in my garden.


Stanley Lake  &  Almut Ellinghaus of the Ruiter Brook Pottery in Quebec’s Eastern Townships showed their Fountains and Garden Sculpture.

UFO’s: Little Green Man and a Cat

The Green Man started out as an exercise to use techniques that I learned in a Robin Foley workshop to build up areas of a face using batting.  The original workshop used a carved styrofoam block as a starting point.   For this project I started with a flat surface.  Once I had built up the areas and “skinned” it, I needle sculpted the wrinkles and painted it with soft pastels.  Then it sat for a few years and became lost in my studio.

Green Man UFO

My local doll club, All Dolled Up, had a UFO (UnFinished Object) challenge so I found my Little Green Man and decided to put him on a background.  I painted a prepared canvas with pastels and attached the head to it with acrylic medium. Then, I made leaves with free motion embroidery.

Free motion leaves on wash-away stabilizer

I put masking tale around the edges to keep the stabilizer from wrinkling as I sewed.

Green Man

Green Man – Detail

I also found an embroidery project in the basement.  It was based on a Mola, which is a hand sewn reverse applique panel made using several layers of cloth  which are cut away to reveal the layers underneath.  Mine is machine sewn and it is only one layer.  The image is based on my cat.  I sewed it onto a bag.

The Cat

%d bloggers like this: