Can you describe the weaving process?
"Imagine that the canvas I paint on is fabric I weave by hand. Obviously, canvas is woven in a very tight weave, where I weave my fabric in a very loose weave. I use natural, unbleached linen which is prepared on a 36 inch counter-balance loom. Although old, this loom is very special to me as it was found at a Senior Citizens' Home in their Arts and Crafts Room. Linen threads are first threaded through the loom. This lengthy process of preparing the loom is called warping up. When I am finished weaving, the base piece or should I say, my woven canvas is ready for the process of cracking."
Can you describe the cracking process?
"The cracking process evolved from years of experimenting between the ratio of water and plaster layered on commercial fabric. If the ratio is measured incorrectly, the cracked surface can either be difficult to crack or simply fall apart. Choosing the right kind of fabric is also important. If the plaster does not adhere properly to the fabric it simply has no stability. Also, after experiencing the humid weather in Japan, I learned that climate is extremely important to the drying process and that tile grout (the same tile grout we use in our bathrooms) is stronger. Linen is also a stable fabric as the hairy fibers allow the tile grout to adhere properly. In experimenting with linen, I eventually decided to weave my own cloth for more control instead of purchasing or depending on commercially made fabric."
How long does it take for you to do a piece?
"This all depends on the size of the piece and the weather as the drying process is a factor. During the winter season in Coquitlam it rains and moisture causes the pieces a long period of time to dry. During the summer however, I can place the pieces outside to dry in the sun so the process of drying is faster. As washes of colour and sealant are done in layers on the tile grout, each layer needs its own drying time."
How do you achieve your vibrant colours?
"In University, I was married to oil paint. I loved the consistency, the wonderful vibrant colour oil paint achieved and the fact that oil took some time to dry. Due to the strong fumes, I switched to acrylics when I learned I was pregnant with my first child and have not turned back since. I use acrylic washes as the tile grout slowly absorbs the acrylic paint before I seal the piece. I feel that this layering of colour allows other colours to filter through the finished piece. For example, a red piece may appear red but when looked at for a long period of time, perhaps some cadmium orange, yellow ochre or even dioxadine violet may also appear. I paint only with Kroma Artists Acrylics. They are located in a small, quaint shop on Granville Island in Vancouver and their artist's acrylics use light-fast pigments in 100% acrylic resin. They contain no fillers and are formulated with the maximum pigment loading possible for each colour. Their website address is www.kromaacrylics.com."
Where and how do you find your inspiration?
"I gain my inspiration from surface patterns found in nature. I love to collect small and large shells, cracking driftwood, striped and spotted rocks, pinecones, coloured leaves, lichen and mossy infested twigs - anything that I find fascinating. Playing with these natural, collected items have always given me inspiration. I think that it is vital for everyone(regardless if you are an artist) to have an inspiration board - a board where you collect photographs, swatches of fabric, magazine articles or objects that you find fascinating. It can be changing constantly - new pieces can be added on a regular basis and old pieces tucked away. Not only does this inspire creativity but this act of displaying allows one to look continuously at something in a totally different way. I am also drawn to colour and the movement of light and shadow within colour, especially during the autumn season as leaves are changing colour on a daily basis. I enjoy 'snail-pace' hikes and absolutely love kayaking and camping. These activities have always given me ideas for new work."
When you begin working on a piece do you envision a finished product or is your work process-oriented?
"My work is process-oriented. I begin with a set of ideas either from a photograph I have taken outdoors, an image from my sketchbook or just by looking at my collected items. I then begin the process of weaving, cracking, painting and sealing. Sometimes I envision a final piece in the beginning stages but the final piece seldom resembles my initial image of the final piece. I think it is important to take risks during the process of art making and stay open to changes. During the process the piece will eventually guide you."