Category Archives: About Art

Artistry and Craftsmanship

Going through my photos of old trips, finding forgotten beauty…

Among my pictures, I found this detail shot of the exquisite ironwork on a door of the Portail de la Vierge, at the Notre-Dame cathedral, in Paris.

Detail of the carving, main doors, Notre Dame de Paris cathedral. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Ironwork so exquisite took a great deal of time to make. Small, detailed pieces were painstakingly forged, then assembled into complex motifs, which were then attached to the doors.  This dates back to the XIth or XIIth century…

Below, a drawing of the ironwork of the Sainte-Anne door – an example of the extremely complex assembly of the smaller branches. Drawing by E.Guillaumot, in Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française du XIe au XVIe siècle, by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, 1856.

Ironwork, Sainte-Anne door, Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral.


And inside the building, there are treasures of architecture everywhere. Also, the gaze goes up…

The North Transet Rose at Notre-Dame de Paris. Photo by Oliver Mitchell.Photo by Oliver Mitchell

Above, the north transept rose window of Notre-Dame de Paris. The window was installed c. 1250-60 when Jean de Chelles was architect. It features the Virgin and Child enthroned in the centre, surrounded by images of kings and Old Testament prophets.

Beautiful details everywhere.

Below, an additional detail photo of the door that started this post. This time the photo is by Myrabella. Great detail shot!

Detail shot of the Portail de la Vierge, Notre-Dame de Paris catthedral. Photo by Myrabella.

And I am going to finish with the legend  of Biscornet, the young blacksmith who was asked to created the ironwork for two of the doors of the cathedral:

According to legend, it was the 13th-century ironsmith Biscornet who designed the intricate metalwork that adorns the side-doors of Notre Dame. Biscornet was young and ambitious, but, as the story goes, he was so overwhelmed by the momentousness of his task that he made a deal with the Devil – offering him his soul in return for help with the commission.

“Well, I am the Devil after all,” replied the demon officiously. “If you sign a contract with me, I will make of you the most skilled of all metalworkers, and you will be able to create all the magnificent works you please.”

And so Biscornet worked and worked, day after day, until one morning he was found asleep in front of his completed masterpiece. The magnificent doors bore witness to the young ironsmith’s remarkable finesse. Alas, however, on the day of the doors’ inauguration, they refused to open. Only when they were dashed with holy water would they finally budge, and Biscornet was absolved from his demonic pact.

The central doors, conversely, were never originally ornamented – a fact that surprised even Victor Hugo, whose Notre Dame de Paris became the most famous work of literature on the cathedral. Not until the 19th-century restoration by Viollet-Le-Duc did the ironsmith Boulanger finally add some metal detail to them – only after restoring the cursed doors of Biscornet, of course. — Translation by Tim McInerney

There is always a good story to go with exceptional artwork, don’t you think?


Quilt and Stitch … Some ideas, Part 8

Continuing with the series (my previous Quilt and Stitch posts: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and Seven).

Here is a look at Jungle, a quilt I made two years ago. I like to think of my motifs as “graffiti” quilting, because they flow out of my brain without too much thought and planning. I don’t do a lot of marking ahead of time. If any.

Quilting bubbles, the start. Photo by Andrée Fredette

It is obvious that I get my ideas from the green world out there, and the bubbles are a form of cells. Above, I began by outlining the bubbles with a first go-round. Then – as shown on the featured photo at the top of this post – I “really put some thread into it”, to make the blue fabric bubbles really stand out from all the contrasting stitching.

Problem solving for a quilt in progress. Photo by Andrée FredettePutting a lot of thread work in some bits, next to loosely quilted areas, can create issues. The piece will not lie flat. Since I consider my work to be two-dimensional, I have to solve that problem. Above, one solution is to create a “dart”. Breathe deeply and… cut. Then sew again, and re-stitch the affected area. Works like a charm. It is just a bit scary the first time you attempt it…

This is an exuberant quilt, with wild colours. So is nature, by the way… Below, an example from my deck, a succulent (forgot the name) that spends the summer outside, in the sun. In winter, this plant is green, mostly. But right now, it is very happy in the sun:

Summer heat colours a succulent with joy. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Back to the quilting. Deciding on a texturing approach for different areas of the quilt is tricky. Sometimes, I go with straight lines, sometimes, curvy-curly. Here are two “neighbourhoods” with contrasting solutions:

Quilt lines, dense or light. Photo by Andrée Fredette

And as an afterthought, I added some thick and exxagerated stitching lines on the right, to echo the pieced ridges on the left.

Another quilting idea comes from “pointy bits”, a tree I noticed at the Butchart Gardens. Here is a close-up photo:

Detail of exotic tree at Butchart Gardens. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Pointy Bits served as inspiration for the pointy quilting lines below. As usual, I did not try to concoct an exact representation of that leaf pattern. That pattern was just a starting point for me.


Prickly Quilting Lines

Continuing with other areas of the piece, there were more leaf areas to texture, so I chose the obvious, wavy lines that evoke leaf veins…

Quilted Leaf Lines. Photo by Andrée Fredette

There are soooo many ways to interpret leaf lines. As many as there are leaves, really. Here is a manipulated photo of hostas, in their full glory:

Hosta Leaves. Photo by Andrée FredetteAren’t they just luscious? Summer’s late afternoon sunshine, reaching for these shade-loving plants. They are basking in the light. Those lines are lovely…

And here, in another section of the same quilt, a motif that has been following me around for at least a decade: the leaf, shield, whatever it suggests to you… Surrounded by repeat lines, and straight ones that wander.

Curvy Quilting Lines, Quilt and photo by Andrée Fredette

And as a finish, here is close-up photo of crocosmia blooms, with a touch of digital manipulation. I just wanted to finish on a note of orange…

Crocosmia blooms, photo by Andrée Fredette


Saturna Studio Tour, August 2nd

This long weekend, if you are near Saturna Island and are looking for something to do (because there really isn’t much to do… other than playing in or on the water, walking in the forest and trails, hanging out with friends and family, and so on…), why not take in the Saturna Studio Tour?

On Sunday, August 2nd, from 11 am to 4 pm, from one end of the island to the other, several artists will open their studios and invite everyone to drop in and have a look at their work.

Interested? Click on the link below to download the PDF brochure with links to the participating artists’ websites and locations:

Saturna Studio Tour 2015 Brochure

If you prefer, here is the brochure in pictures (links are not clickable). Keep in mind that several other artists are also showing their work at the ArtSaturna Point Store Gallery, above the pub (at the ferry dock), and at the Saturna Café. More reasons to come explore, have a bite, and fill your eyes with beauty.

Saturna Studio Tour 2015 cover page. Sunday, August 2, 2015, from 11 am to 4 pmSaturna Studio Tour 2015 Map with participating artists locations and websites.


Art, meaningful and useful – Photo Wednesday

If you are in Duncan, on Vancouver Island, it’s a good idea to stop at the Quw’utsun’ Cultural Centre.

Knitting a Cowichan sweater. Quw’utsun’ Cultural Centre, Duncan, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

When we arrived, the man at the reception desk was knitting a classic Cowichan sweater.

Cowichan pole detail, Quw’utsun’ Cultural Centre, Duncan, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

Outside, some large totems are on display. They have been there a while, and the wood is showing some checking.

Cowichan pole detail. Quw’utsun’ Cultural Centre, Duncan, BC. Photo by Andrée Fredette

I think it adds to the symbolism. Beautiful, powerful work. Sorry I did not write down the name of the artist.