18 February 2018

Fourth SAQA Atlantic retreat May 4-5-6, 2018

Join SAQA Atlantic members at the Debert Hospitality Centre for a weekend of camaraderie, learning and inspiration! 

Friday May 4th
3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Arrival at Debert Hospitality Centre, room check in, meet and greet, orientation. 

Friday evening
Welcome by Atlantic area SAQA rep Regina Marzlin
Show & Tell

Saturday, May 5th
Hands-On seminar -- Gathering Thoughts with Mark Making 
Led by ReBecca Paterson
Followed by Linda Mackie Finley's Binding Thoughts.

We will explore mark making through a series of fast-paced exercisesthen discuss how to use or further develop our marks. With Linda’s guidance we will produce a portfolio from our marked papers, so we can continue working on the marks throughout and after the retreat.

Saturday afternoon:
Presentation -- Talking about your Work: Networking in the Arts
Guest Speaker: Sarah Maloney

Sarah Maloney, RCA, is a Halifax artist with an MFA from the University of Windsor and a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She has received numerous grants and awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, Arts Nova Scotia, the New Brunswick Arts Board and the Ontario Arts Council. Under Sarah's guidance, we’ll learn how to talk about our work with confidence, build our networks and gain recognition in the arts community.

Saturday evening:
Show and Tell

Sunday May 6th
Discussion -- Sharing Thoughts and Where to from Here?
Led by: Chris Nielsen

Departure after lunch on Sunday.

The fee for the retreat is $240, which includes two nights accommodation and all meals. We appreciate receipt of a contribution from SAQA headquarters to make this event  affordable. 

Please register for the retreat on or before April 20th, 2018. For more information or to register, contact our SAQA Atlantic representative Regina Marzlin.    

Please note that this event is for SAQA members exclusively. Not a member? You can join SAQA here!

09 February 2018

Textile art workshops with Laurie Swim in historic Lunenburg NS

Learn new skills and be inspired by artist, teacher and author Laurie Swim, while soaking in the atmosphere of historic Lunenburg NS

Dublin Shore by Laurie Swim, example for 5-day workshop 

Choose from four different workshop programs ranging from one to five days:

Tips and Tricks for Art Quilts (1-day)

This workshop explores approaches and techniques to achieve effective landscape scenes with textiles. 
Level: All levels. Limited to 8 participants.
$125 + tax | Dates: June 23 (full) and August 25

By the Sea (1-day)

In this workshop students create a coastal scene in fabric, first learning a step by step technique for "building" a cape-style house, then exploring a range of techniques to create the surrounding land and seascape. 
Level: All levels. Limited to 8 participants.
$125 + tax | Dates: June 24 (full) and August 26

From Start to Finish (5-day)

This week-long workshop will provide opportunity for instruction, critique and guidance on an individual basis to enable participants to create, finish and mount an original art quilt.
Level: Intermediate to advanced. Limited to 4 participants.
$630 + tax includes some materials
Dates: Sept 10-14 and Sept 24-28

Blossom Time (1-day)

Participants will use an original Laurie Swim pattern to create either an apple tree in blossom or a maple tree in fall glory, learning a few innovative sewing techniques along the way.
Level: All levels. Limited to 8 participants. 
$125 + tax | Date: October 13

For more details and information about how to register, check out  laurieswim.com/workshops.

To see examples of Laurie's work visit laurieswim.com.

08 February 2018

Spotlight on Holly McLean

Holly McLean, from Bathurst NB, is the first Atlantic Canada artist to feature her 2018 SAQA Spotlight Auction contribution.

Autumn Wildflowers by Holly McLean (2018) w6" x h8"

Watch for more of Holly McLean’s artwork on Facebook and Instagram, and on her blog, Through My Window.

The TEXtiles Spotlight Auction is an opportunity for SAQA members to showcase their work at the annual SAQA conference. The pieces are auctioned at the conference with proceeds going to SAQA's exhibition programs. 

The Spotlight Auction is also an opportunity for SAQA Atlantic members to have their work featured on the SAQA Atlantic blog, to be enjoyed by those of us not attending the annual conference. If you've contributed to the 2018 Spotlight Auction, please let us have a sneak peek at your piece!

02 February 2018

Transitions: The results are in!

Nineteen textile artists from all four Atlantic provinces submitted one or two pieces of artwork for our upcoming travelling exhibition, Transitions. Juror Elizabeth Whalley reviewed all 29 submissions. Here is some of her response:

"It has been such a pleasure to spend time with the beautiful images you sent me. I have gone over them a number of times and decided that I would like to hang all the entries in the gallery. While some are stronger than others I feel there is an artistic integrity and technical expertise in each of the works that speaks loud and clear. I think the collection will be really inspiring to our creative community here in Inverness."

So congratulations to everyone who submitted artwork. Many thanks are due to Elizabeth Whalley, juror, Heather Loney, curator, and Kate Madeloso, who designed the exhibition poster, displayed above. 

Opening: Craig Gallery, Alderney Landing, Dartmouth NS 
                Wednesday, March 28, 2018, 7pm 

Venues:   Craig Gallery, Alderney Landing, Dartmouth NS
                March 29 - April 29, 2018

                Art Gallery of NS, Yarmouth Branch,Yarmouth NS 
                Aug 2 - Sept 28, 2018

                Inverness County Centre for the Arts, Inverness NS 
                Oct 5 - Oct 30, 2018 

                Saint John Art Centre, Saint John NB
                Jan 11 - March 8, 2019

27 January 2018

Ann Schroeder interview: Natural forces and fiddle music

Ice Dance by Ann Schroeder (2017) w42" x h43”

In 2007, Ann Schroeder moved from Boston to a very different place, Mabou Harbour, Cape Breton Island. There the view of sky, water, meadows and dunes changes every day. She dyes, prints and paints fabric to make fine art quilts inspired by her natural surroundings, the local fiddle and piano music and other intriguing phenomena.

Ann’s work is in the collection of the Nova Scotia Art Bank and has been shown in numerous venues, including Quilt National, the New England Quilt Museum and the Mary Black Gallery in Halifax.

How would you describe your work?

I make fine art quilts. I say “fine art” because I use dyes to paint and print on fabric, then I cut and reassemble the pieces to make an original abstract design. And “quilts” because I have an emotional connection to this (mostly) women’s tradition, which includes the bold geometry of early Amish quilts and the playful improvisation of African-American quilts.

Would you describe your journey towards becoming an artist who works with textiles?

In 1978 I saw a spectacular show of southern Illinois quilts at the Chicago Public Library.  My favorite, a traditional Storm at Sea pattern in blue and yellow, made a strong graphic statement and fooled my eye into seeing curves where there were only straight lines. After seeing that show, I wanted to buy a quilt, but when I couldn’t find just the right one I decided to make my own.  That experience was so satisfying that I began collecting fabric, designing my own patterns and eventually dyeing my own fabric.

A Language Almost Lost
by Ann Schroeder (2015) 37" x 37"

Tell us about your process for creating. Where do you find your inspiration and how do you get from that to a final product?

My inspiration comes from the rich colours and rhythms that surround me, sometimes including the fabrics themselves. I begin by transforming white fabric. I might scrunch, pleat, fold and/or wrap it around a pole before dyeing it. Or I might thicken some dye and use that for silk screening or making monoprints. Sometimes I use pastels, acrylic paint or other media. I occasionally create fabric with a purpose in mind, but more often I decide how to use it later.

With a theme in mind but without a definite plan, I cut fabric, sew it together, and then cut it again, allowing shapes and lines to emerge, interact and form a composition. I usually finish the pieces with machine quilting, but sometimes I do hand quilting with embroidery floss and large irregular stitches.

I want my quilts to be well crafted, but I’m most interested in the overall visual statement.  In my work as a whole, I try to suggest the complexity of life.

Garden Song 2 by Ann Schroeder (2015) w30" x h27”
Many artists find it rewarding to work in series. How has that worked for you?

Garden Song 3 by Ann Schroeder (2-16) w58"x h46"
Years ago a more experienced artist gave me some excellent advice: that it’s best to look back at my own work for inspiration. What ideas can I try again and how can I vary them? That way, I can continue to evolve my own style rather than imitating others. Working in series is one way of doing this.

Natural Forces and Fiddle Music are two of my series.

Natural Forces:
I’m constantly inspired by natural forces: wind, weather, the curves of the hills, changing skies, dandelions dotting the meadows, ice breaking up and reforming, waves out on the ocean or wild orchids blooming. The fine art quilts in this series are my attempt to capture some of my feelings about these forces that affect our lives every day. These quilts are constructed with curvy lines that flow together.

Ice Dance, illustrated above, is part of this series. Garden Songs 2 and 3, with curvy lines that are silk screened, and Water Ways, which began with a large monoprint, are also related to this series.

Water Ways by Ann Schroeder (2016) w40" x h26”

Dusky Meadow by
Ann Schroeder (2017) w22" x h51”

Fiddle Music:
Cape Breton fiddle melodies have flowing lines and the piano keeps the rhythm strong. I’ve been trying to translate the complex melodies and rhythms into visual images for years. 

Dusky Meadow and Reel in A are two different approaches to this challenge. Dusky Meadow was inspired by the late fiddler Willie Kennedy and the colours that his playing evoked. It was named for one of the tunes on his album.

What (non-fibre) artists, either historic or contemporary, have inspired you and why?

Recently I’ve been looking at Oscar Murillo, a young painter who is freeform and wild and who sews large pieces of canvas together to make constructed paintings (he certainly doesn’t call them quilts!). At a show two years ago at MOMA in New York, some of his paintings were in a pile on the floor and viewers could pick them up to look at them.

I also admire Mark Bradford, an abstract collage painter whose work is beautiful as well as political. And I’ve always liked work from the Abstract Expressionists, including Joan Mitchell.

Do you engage in other artistic or creative endeavors?

I’ve been learning to accompany Cape Breton fiddle tunes on the piano. This is an improvised style, done by ear. I like to think about what music and visual art have in common. The notes are like colours and the rhythms are like those in a visual composition.

Reel in A by Ann Schroeder (2011) w48" x h20”

Do you treat art like a job, going to the studio each day at a particular time?

Fortunately art is my job, but for me one of the advantages of being self-employed is having a flexible schedule. Summer months are focused more on selling (and spending time outdoors) and late fall through spring is my time for production. Every day is different.

How do you show and sell your quilts? Where can your work be seen?

I display a quilt every other week at the Mabou Farmers Market, where I also sell my hand-dyed scarves. I show two quilts in the annual Hands Dancing show at the Inverness County Centre for the Arts every year and I occasionally enter other shows.

Most of my quilts are displayed and sold at my home studio in Mabou Harbour. People find me during the tourist season through my website, the Nova Scotia tourism website, and the Artisan Trail Map published by capebretoncraft.com. In my experience, people are much more likely to purchase artwork when they can meet and talk with the artist. Sometimes people call ahead, but usually they just arrive, so I have to be flexible about interruptions.

What are your goals for the coming year?

I want my artwork to become more experimental, messier, and not necessarily always adhere to a quilt format. Maybe try collages on paper. Or use canvas instead of cotton fabric. Or not finish the edges. Break my own rules. This may take more than a year.


View more of Ann's work and watch her video, at Ann Schroeder Studio.

27 December 2017

Holly McLean interview: Overcoming distance and isolation

Waterfall by Holly McLean (detail, 2017) w11” x h20”
Holly McLean is a mixed media and fibre artist recognized for her richly thread-painted images of nature and the outdoors. The Bathurst NB artist is also known for articles published in magazines such as Quilting Arts, Quilting Arts Gifts and the online magazine, Through Our Hands. Working from her home in northern New Brunswick, Holly has often felt isolated from other fibre artists. Membership in SAQA has helped her connect with like-minded artists and show her work in regional, national and international venues. In this interview, Holly McLean talks about how she has worked with magazines and social media to expand her reach as an artist.   

Rosehips by Holly McLean (2015) w12" x h14"

How would you describe your art?

I see my pieces as being realistic with a touch of Impressionism and whimsy. They are heavily collaged and stitched, most often featuring the natural word. I sometimes work in a series, such as with my birch tree pieces.

Tell us about your process for creating. Where do you find your inspiration and how do you get from that to a final product?

Holly McLean (2017) sketch
I find endless creative inspiration in my rambles through New Brunswick forests, its countrysides and its beaches. I collect bits of flora along the trails, for sketching and pressing. I take pictures. Even in winter, I like to stop for a few minutes to do quick sketches. Back in the studio, I like to share these moments through words, pictures, sketches and through my fibre art. I have two favourite ways of working.

I use the pressed leaves, vines and flowers for mono printing onto fabric, using a gelatin plate and fabric paint. I make a series of prints in one session, later stitching and embellishing them, often using them for artsy but useful pieces like bags, pouches and sewing kits. (such as the ones featured in the Quilting Arts October/November 2016 issue) 

The sketches, photos and plant material are also inspiration for my landscapes in fibre, on which I paint, collage and stitch many layers, often embellishing with bits of yarn, ribbons, lace and beads. Certain pictures percolate in my head for a while as I consider how I might ‘paint’ the scene.

Sewing kits project by Holly McLean (2016)

What are the benefits of having your work published in popular magazines?

First there is the pay. Not all magazines pay for contributed content. I’ve received about $300 for each of my pieces published in Quilting Arts or Quilting Arts Gifts. My first article was a bit of a learning curve and took me awhile to produce. With more experience I now find that the payment equals the time spent.

The exposure is another benefit. I have built a network and taught workshops based on some of my articles, for example I lead a mono printing workshop and another on shibori trees, both based on previously printed articles.

What tips can you share with readers, from your experience writing for magazines?

Magazines look for articles that spotlight an artist’s work, but are not usually willing to pay for this type of submission. They also look for articles describing a technique – something that may be new or that puts a twist on familiar quilting, fibre art or surface design. 

Monoprint pouch project
by Holly McLean (2017)
Most publishers include submission information inside their magazine. They may request a short paragraph about the technique you propose to write about, together with two or three high definition photos showing details of the process or project. In my experience, the more precise the submission, the better. You may not hear back from them, but if you do, you may have as little as two or three weeks to write the article, send images and mail the finished piece. You can expect your artwork to be returned after about four to six months. 

The articles I’ve had published describe techniques I’ve experimented with. I often think about publication while I work, taking suitable photos to document my process and the finished project. This will save me time if my submission is successful.

You are an avid blogger, how does that experience compare to newer networking platforms?

I’ve been journaling on my blog for nearly a dozen years! It began as a way to document my process and projects. The blog also helped me connect with other artists and overcome the isolation I often feel. 

Recently, I’m getting more response on Facebook and Instagram. While I still enjoy blogging, it’s faster and easier to post pictures and a few lines on Instagram and Facebook together. As a result of these posts, I’ve gained a wide range of followers and have been contacted about teaching opportunities. All of these social media platforms provide opportunities for anyone wishing to develop workshops, write articles or sell patterns to supplement their exhibition work.
Early Frost by Holly McLean (2017) w7” x h10”

What are your goals for the coming year?

I have so many more natural scenes I want to create! I’m happy with my current style, but I’m always open to new approaches. I have a larger project in mind and have been considering applying for an art grant.

I also would like to continue exhibiting in SAQA shows. I’ve found that I don’t work well toward a theme, so I’ve decided to just follow my own inspiration and enter pieces when the theme fits. 
Watch for more of Holly McLean’s artwork and textile explorations on Facebook and Instagram, and on her blog, Through My Window.

06 December 2017

There's still time to join SAQA and submit your work to our upcoming regional show, Transitions

Taliesin Mosaic by K. Madeloso, w30" x h36" Honourable mention,
SAQA Atlantic show, Structures
The deadline is quickly approaching for submitting entries for SAQA Atlantic's third regional show. All entries must be received by curator Heather Loney by December 31, 2017.

The theme for the show, Transitions, can be interpreted in a wide range of styles and techniques, from abstract to pictorial, from monochromatic to colourful, perhaps showing a metamorphosis, a passage in time, alteration or evolution through surface design and stitching.


Craig Gallery, Alderney Landing, Dartmouth NS, 
March 28 - April 29 2018
The opening reception will be on Wednesday, March 28, 7-9pm

Inverness Centre for the Arts, NS, October 2018
Saint John Arts Centre, NB, January / February 2019 
(more venues to be announced):


Elizabeth Whalley is a Canadian artist living and working in Quebec, Nova Scotia and New York. She has exhibited widely and created many projects in New York including work for the TD Bank’s Art for Trees, Flux Factory and Galapagos Artspace. She was awarded a Canada Council travel grant, a McNair Scholars research grant, and a Pratt faculty grant. She received her MFA and an Advanced Certificate (PIMA) from Brooklyn College after studies at Concordia University, Montreal. She has taught at Adelphi University, Haverford College, Pratt Institute, Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art, and Brooklyn College. She is currently Director of the Inverness County Centre for the Arts, in Inverness, NS.

Read all the details in the online entry form and guidelines.

Not a SAQA member?

Please note that this call for entry is for SAQA Atlantic members exclusively. 

SAQA membership offers so many benefits: regularly scheduled SAQA-Atlantic retreats, free online seminars, courses and other resource material, the SAQA Journal, and opportunities to enter your artwork into numerous international exhibitions. 

If you're not a member, it's not too late. Join SAQA today!