Category Archives: Uncategorized

Struggling with Learning a New Technique?

When I started out 9 years ago, I struggled to learn fabric portraits

My problems were identifying values, choosing fabrics and the thought of doing the stitching terrified me! My first portrait stayed in a drawer for a year before I decided I would risk stitching on it. 

I wished that there was someone out there who would give me support and help me with a step by step approach.

I did finally do the stitching on the portrait and was pleased with the result. My husband who was my guinea pig for this venture loved it and has it hanging in his office. 

I look at that portrait now and can see what I would do differently.

This is where the experience of trying new things gets you; whether it be meeting new people or trying a new technique. To a point where you can see what you would do differently and you do it to get better each time.

It is the ability to say to yourself “OK, I am going to try this…..” and then to allow yourself to take the risk that the first time may not be perfect. 

Perfection is over-rated! I have been a perfectionist most of my life. It sucks!  Only in the past few years have I developed an ability to look forward to challenges and trying new things.

This change has transformed my life! I now seek out new opportunities.but also, look for mentors that can help me with any struggles that I may have

Now I have sold my work, done commissions and shown my work in numerous shows.

Woman with art quilt of a man and his vintage motorcycle.

Artist Valerie Wilson and her art quilt – French Wonder.

Are you willing to try something new?

Take the leap! Give your self permission to try creating your first portrait.

The Facial Expressions workshop offers an in-depth look at fabric portraits and walks you through the steps one at a time with lots of feedback for whatever step you are on.

You can access the workshop on your own schedule and receive feedback and support through the private Facebook group where I am active on a daily basis.

The Live question and answer sessions will be scheduled on feedback from the students as to what times/days work best for them.

These Live sessions will be recorded and posted in the group so you can see them later if you have to miss one. 

And just in case you are wondering, you don’t need to know how to draw to take this workshop!

If you have wanted to try creating a fabric portrait there is not a better time than now!

Join us in the Facial Expressions workshop now!

If you haven’t already, join us in the Fabric Faces Facebook group where we have resources for and discuss all things relating to fabric portraits.

I hope to see you there!

Val

Visit me on Facebook 

Creating a Dynamic Fabric Portrait by Focusing on Value

Focusing on value is critical to a good result when creating a portrait, whether in paint, pencil or fabric.

When creating a realistic fabric portrait you need to have a good grasp of shadows and highlights. 

This is what is meant by value.

I have created a Free 5-day challenge on the topic of value and its use in fabric portraits.

Here’s what you will learn:

  • What a gray scale is and how this will help you to identify values.
  •  
  • How to distinguish between values so that you can choose fabrics for maximum effect.
  •  
  • The relativity of value or how one fabric can be several different values.
  •  
  • How a variety of values create depth and interest. 

And more…

 What would it be like to easily identify value and choose fabrics effortlessly?

What if you could create depth and shading in a portrait?

This can happen to you.

By putting in to practice what I’ll be teaching you in this challenge, you’ll see how easy this can be.

The challenge starts on Friday, April 26 so sign up now!

If you are interested in creating a fabric portrait in the future,  join the

Free 5-day challenge – Creating a Dynamic Fabric Portrait by Focusing on Value.

 

 

New Year – New projects

In this my new year 2019, I have been working on a variety of new ventures:

1. Finishing Projects:

  • A friend and I started a block of the month quilt called Year in the Garden in 2002. We never finished it and for a number of reasons, it got shelved. We recently dug it out again and are getting to the last bits that need to be done, the applique. This quilt has star blocks in a diamond arrangement with a large open centre that features a large amount of applique. Looking at the design now I find that my tastes have changed and I am opting for a more minimalist approach which means that it might finally get done!

 

  •  There is some progress on my artwork – I am finally finishing the stitching on my latest portrait, affectionately called “the hockey boys”.  I have called it that so often it may even end up being the name of the quilt! It takes a lot of time to sew down all those little pieces of fabric, but I am sticking at it. Even 15 minutes a day helps to make progress.
vintage fabric portrait

The hockey boys in progress

Starting Projects

  • I created a new Facebook group called Fabric Faces as a gathering spot for those interested in creating fabric portraits. We have been having a lot of fun so far!

new year and new group Fabric Faces

Included is some information on posterizing your photographs (in the files) and we recently had a challenge on the effective use of value in a portrait quilt.

The FB Live that I did as a summary of the challenge on value is now posted on my FB page. 

  • Launching Facial Expressions
    the online portrait workshop. Read all the details here.

This workshop starts next Saturday, January 26, 2019, and registration is now open. I am offering a discount of 35% off to those interested, and who contact me by midnight Wednesday, January 23, 2019. 

I will send you a discount coupon that you can use when you sign up for the workshop before midnight January 25, 2019.

Plans for the rest of the year

My plans for this year are:

  • To do more dyeing of fabric in different skin tones
  • Focus on creating more art
  • Have fun in my FB group!
  • Spend more time with my hubby
  • Try screen printing and particularly deconstructed screen printing

What are your plans for the year? COmment and let me know!

Enlarging and Printing a Photo at Home – the MAC Version

Enlarging and Printing a Photo at Home – the MAC Version

 

 

A number of people asked me about enlarging and printing a photo at home with a MAC computer after I posted on this blog about this process on a PC.

I think that I have found a way!

The first step is using a photo program called Photoscape X which is a free download. I tried the Windows version and assume that the MAC version is very similar. I feel that I can say this having watched several videos on this program (MAC version) on YouTube.

Here is what you need to do to resize a photo in Photoscape X: 

Resizing

  1. Open your photo in Photoscape X in the Editor.
  2. Choose Edit – Resize. Depending on what measurement system you use you may want to change the sizing to inches from the default millimeters.
  3. Change the size of your photo to your desired size. Click Apply.
  4. Save your photo to the original folder. Rename the file if you don’t want to overwrite your original photo!

Printing

There are at least 2 options:

Posterazor 

This is program is a free download. 

It allows you to save your photo as a PDF which can be printed on multiple pages.

Split Print

Go to the MAC App Store and look for Split Print.

The app costs $8.49. It allows you to print an enlarged photo over multiple pages on your home computer.

Comments welcome!  I would love to hear from MAC users about whether this process works for them! 

New Online Fabric Portraits Workshop

I am very excited to announce the launch of my new fabric portraits online workshop called Facial Expressions.

Me relieved that the end is in sight.

The prep has been crazy! There is a huge amount to learn when setting up an online course. Most of the learning is how to use the technology involved. There were many days when I wanted to pull all my hair out!

But now I am ready for the launch. Finally!! I am looking for people to join my Workshop Launch Team. These special people will take the workshop and offer me feedback on how I can fine tune the content.

If interested, check it out here on my Online Workshops Page.

 

 

Correcting your Mistakes 101 – A Rescue Operation

Mistakes happen! Have you worked on a project for a long time only to find out that there is a major flaw?? This was my experience recently.

The Problem

First of all, I had been letting other aspects of my business take precedence over making art. My wakeup call came when I was talking to my hairdresser the other day. She asked again how I was doing with my hockey boys. I was a little embarrassed to have to say “not much”. I decided right there and then that I would get the last pieces of fabric in place starting that day.  It only took me 2 hours and it was complete! I was elated!! 

With the assistance of my husband, I carefully took my “boys” off the design wall. My experience with having this piece on the design wall for a long time is that humidity and Steam a Seam II Lite don’t go well together. A story for another day! 

As a result, I had to make sure that all the fabric pieces were back in place before I fused all the applique. A long time later it was done. It felt so good!! I had the design complete!

I hung the piece back on the design wall and moved my work table so that I could take a good long look at it. That was when I realized to my horror that one of the 3 boys had a distinct lean to one side!!! One of those “yikes” mistakes. I was devastated. All that work and now it was ruined. 

Three boys in vintage hockey uniforms. Boy on the right is leaning to the side.

The hockey boys. Look at the guy on the right!

Of course, I did the only thing that made sense. I ranted and raved and cried a few tears. I didn’t even want to look at it.  Over the next few days, I kept going back to take a look and see if it was really as awful as I imagined. Some days I almost convinced myself that it was OK. Other days I was more realistic. 

The Solution

A few days ago I decided that it was time to stop thinking about it and to try and do something about fixing it.  It couldn’t remain as it was. I had decided on a rescue plan. 

The decision was to cut from the top of the background right down to the toe of the skate. I was hoping that I could pivot the boy on the right over to the left without distorting anything.  A very deep breath and I started!

I started by cutting the background fabric above and to the right of the boy’s head. I then cut carefully along the line of his hair on the left side, down along the edge of his sleeve and the rest of this clothes and down to the toe of the skate. Managing to loosen the fabric pieces, at the elbow and the hand where the two boys overlapped (see below), made it easier to cut them apart at that point.  I wanted to cut as close to the figure as possible without nicking any of the edges.

Detail of overlap of sleeves and mitt/hand.

Detail of overlap of sleeves and mitt/hand.

Once I had the boy on the right mostly cut out, I pivoted him towards the boy in the middle so that they overlapped more. I had to cut away parts of the mitt to avoid shadowing and decided that the boy in the middle should have his elbow on top, not underneath as originally planned, which entailed more very careful cutting.

Then I had to adjust the shadow at the elbow of the jersey, for the boy in the middle, by adding some lighter fabric, as now his arm was on top. I used white Elmer’s glue applied in tiny dots to hold the repositioned section in its new position.

The Result

It worked!! I am pleased with the result and learned that the hand-dyed fabric that I used for the sky blends beautifully when cut. My hope is that the quilting will help to hide the cut in the fabric.

Here is the after photo. Much improved.

Three boys in hockey uniforms standing straight. Mistake corrected.

Adjustments made!

I am so glad that I got up the courage to correct this piece. As a result, I have learned that making a mistake is not necessarily the end of a piece. If you give yourself time to get some emotional distance from the problem and you open your mind to the possibility of rescue, amazing things can happen. Mistakes can be corrected.

Have you ever made a mistake or mistakes in a piece that you loved? What did you do about it?  I would love to hear about your experiences! 

Choosing a Photograph for a Fabric Portrait

When teaching a fabric portrait workshop, the question I get asked most often is “How can I know that I am choosing a good photograph to use for my portrait?” Choosing a photograph can be an easy process by paying attention to the following tips.

5 features to pay attention to when selecting a photo.  Use these tips for a stress-free experience!

1. Head and shoulders photo

For someone starting out doing fabric portraits, it is best to start with a photo that shows only the head and shoulders of a subject. This generally means that the photographer got closer to their subject and that you have a  clearer, larger image to use. This also means that it will be a manageable size for a first attempt. 

Head and shoulders photo

2. The lighting is balanced.

You want a photo that shows good light and dark areas (contrast) like this one:

head and shoulders photo of a man.

My good looking husband!

Lighting Not Balanced

If the face of the person is too light, it will be hard to distinguish the planes of the face and will make it very difficult to create a pattern for the portrait. Here you can see that the detail on the light side of the face is lost. 

 

Photo overexposed

On the other hand, if the lighting is inadequate, the face will be all dark and it will again be hard to distinguish the correct values and the details of the features.

Lighting too dark

 

3. Copyright free

You want to be sure that you have the right to use the photograph that you choose. 

The person in the photo has some say in how the photo is used and the photographer holds the copyright for the photo, particularly if it is one taken of a famous person.

Ask for permission to use a photo and to get that permission stated in writing (emails are OK).

There are a number of free image sites that provide copyright free photos. Just be sure to check their rules of use.

Some sites for free photos are 

https://pixabay.com/ 

https://unsplash.com/

https://www.pexels.com/

 

4. Have a good quality photo – size and quality matter

Since you will be enlarging the photo for your fabric portrait. it is a good idea to choose a good quality photo in the beginning.

The best size to have is no smaller than 6″ x 8″ (15cm x 20cm), taking in to account tip #1 above. Small photos with a number of people in them generally do not enlarge well for a portrait.

As well, blurry photos make it difficult to accurately determine the outlines of the features and without this critical element, the resulting portrait will look distorted.

Woman holding a small child - too blurry for a good fabric portrait

 

5. Choose a photo for a fabric portrait that tells a story

Choose a photo that intrigues you. You will find it more interesting to work on the portrait if it tells a story.

I choose my photos because of the expression on a face, the clothes and or/the stance of the person. The combination of these elements adds to the portrait.

A lady wearing a lacy gown.

You may want to create a portrait of a grandchild. Do you have a photo that shows them doing something memorable?

If the photo is of a parent or spouse, is there one that shows them as you most like to think of them? 

Does it tell a story or create a mood?

 

To receive my complete guide and checklist with these and more tips for choosing a good photograph for your fabric portrait, sign up for my newsletter.


 

 

 

 

Solo Show Update

Read about the latest news on my art work, and an update on my solo show at the Portage & District Arts Centre in Portage la Prairie, MB held in April/May of this year.

Fred

The first portrait is a man standing in the doorway of an old building. Is it his home or is it his workshop? He is dressed in his finest clothes, which must have fit him well as a younger man, but now hang on his body. In spite of this, he displays a quiet pride and shows off his prized gold pocket watch.

Fred

Fred

I experimented with hand-dyed cheesecloth to give the effect of weedy ground, and strips of hand-dyed facial wipes for the weeds. Have you ever tried these type of materials in your work?

 

The Dandy

The next portrait was based on a picture of a young man who looked very much the dandy, so that became the name of this one. He looks very self assured and definitely has attitude. Don’t you just love the buttons on his shoes!?

The Dandy

The Dandy

It was interesting doing his face, as the shadow of the hat made everything black in the photo; with no detail. I needed to lighten the shadow and redraw the eye.

Then I ran in to another issue. I created one leg of his pants only to find that if I went with the dark shadow, as per the photo, it looked as though he was wearing a jacket and pants, not a suit, so the leg of his pants was redone.

 

Ed

The third portrait was a commission from a colleague. The photo chosen was a portrait of her husband to be completed for a birthday present. The photo she chose was one of her husband in the early 1940’s in his Air Force uniform. I sourced an original cap badge, the flash for his jacket and the uniform button to dimension to the portrait. Many thanks to Marway Militaria here in Winnipeg for their help finding these items! The hat was done with trapunto on one side to add the tilt to the hat.

Ed

Ed

 

My Solo Show

Here are some photos from the show. The first photo was taken just after the show was hung. The rest of the photos are from the Opening Night.

Pre-show

The show has been hung!

Opening-night---Ed_Willy-and-her-sister-(web)

Opening Night and the Show Banner

Wall of the gallery showing The Dandy.

Inspecting “The Dandy”

Opening-night5-(web)

Opening Night Crowd at my solo show

Opening-night6-(web)

Getting up close.

The gallery was great on PR so I had several interviews on local radio stations and a write up in two newspapers.  The evening started off with my talk about my journey as an artist, followd by a question and answer period. I invited friends and people interested in my work and we had a wonderful turnout with lots of great discussions.

Have you completed any new work recently? Do you show your work? Where do you show your work – group exhibits, quilt shows or ???

 

The Boys in Blue

The phrase “the boys in blue” makes me think of policemen. Not here!

Here it is two men in vintage navy blue bathing suits enjoying the sunshine and the beach. I love the old style of bathing suits!

Two men in vintage bathing costumes, standing on the beach. Commercial and hand-dyed cotton, paint. Valerie Wilson 2015

Men in vintage bathing suits. Commercial and hand-dyed cotton, paint. Valerie Wilson 2015

This quilt will make a great companion piece for another of my quilts “The Bather” that is currently being exhibited at the World Quilt Show.

The Bather

Can you imagine wearing one of these suits?  They were often made of wool. Wool makes me itch! And it is reported that these bathing suits were very heavy when wet. 

Anyway, back to the two guys.

What intrigued me about this photo and these two guys was the differences between them. One fellow is tall and muscular looking, and has wonderful curly hair, while the other man is a little flabby looking with slicked-back hair. They both looked as though they were having fun, however.

Here is the original photo:

Two men in vintage bathing suits standing on a beach.

 

I had a few problems with the one fellow’s hand, as he must have moved as the photo was taken, and it blurred that part of the photo. I referenced a number of drawing books and had my husband model that posture so that I could see what the hand should look like and what size it should be. I think that it turned out well.

The other issue I had was that the men are looking into the sun and squinting, and all you can see is black slits where the eyes should be. I thought initially that I would just use a dark fabric there, but found in the end that I really wanted to be able to see their eyes. So back to the drawing books, and many sketches later, they could see!

Detail of eyes

Detail of eyes

A further issue was that I wanted it to have it look as though they had sand on their feet. How to achieve this effect?

I considered glueing some real sand on!

Beads I felt would be too much and take to long to attach.

Finally, I decided to try some paint. I used some fabric paint and tested first on a scrap of fabric. With much trepidation, I decided that I had the effect that I wanted and that I should now add the paint to the quilt.

Very nervously, I carefully added the paint to their feet and it worked! I was so pleased!

Sand on feet

Sand on feet

Now I am having a problem naming this piece. Friends have helped with suggestions for names, but so far, nothing has felt right.

What is the one man listening to? Did someone call their names, or say something humorous? What would you title this piece with these two men in vintage bathing suits? 

Can you help with a name?

Suggestions welcome!

 

Girl Sitting on the Step

I have completed the little girl sitting on the step!

Little girl on step - Valerie Wilson 2015.

A little girl on a step – Valerie Wilson 2015.

I love the pink socks and Mary Jane shoes. The colourful polka dot fabric for her dress was a great find. This piece came together well. I am very pleased with her hair, as I tried a different technique of layering small pieces of fabric to create it.

I wonder what her story is?

She looks a bit hesitant and somewhat sad and is biting her lip

Did a best friend not come to play?

Is she all dressed up to go someplace special, and has been told to go outside, but to stay clean, until the family leaves for the event?

Is it her birthday, and she didn’t get the present that she most wanted?

I always wonder about the back story behind the photographs that I use. Do you see a story in this piece?

I think that she needs a name. One person suggested Violet.

Would you give her a name, or name the quilt? Such as “All Dressed Up and No Place to Go” or …………..

Let me know your ideas!