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New Format- Studying Art & Design – Guest Blogger- Christina Fairley Erickson

October 28, 2022

I remember going to my first exhibition at Gail Harker’s Center for Creative Arts… I was blown away with the quality and diversity of the artwork! I longed to get started right away… but I had other obligations with both work and kids at home. I wanted so badly to experience the process of seeing my artistic dreams realized, but couldn’t imagine how I was going to get away to an in-person 2+ year course. So I had to wait and fit in a few 1 session courses, as I was able, until the time when I could make a greater commitment.

Goldfinch I made in Gail’s Level 3 Art & Design using hand-painted papers in torn-paper collage.

Thanks to the pandemic (well, some good had to come out of it, right?), Gail has now reformatted her Art and Design class series to make it accessible to all! What used to be a several year experience called Level 3 Art & Design, is now broken into 4 distinct modules. This allows students to build up their art & design skills at a more comfortable pace. The course modules are also now offered online… but unlike most courses, the students still have a live instructor, guiding their progress, meeting with them for individual tutorials, as well as providing them with invaluable instruction, both in online meetings and through videos, presentations, and PDF documents. Here is the breakdown of the modules:

Module 1 (also known as Level 1 Art and Design)Click Here to Find out about the Next Class Starting Jan 9, 2023

·   Shapes and Spaces, Where to Start, The Frame, Simplify, Edit and Stylize – Refer to Level 1 P. 4 to read More

·  The Elements of Art and Design in a Sketchbook The development of Dots, Lines, Patterns, Textures and Shapes

· Focus: Color, Value and Proportion in hand painted paper. A short visual Historical Study of Stripes and Checks. Using a small paintbrush.

· A Study showing Systematic Color Schemes.

One of my historical studies of stripes and checks… module 1
Experimentation with proportions of color in Module 1

Module 2 (also known as Level 2 Art and Design)Click Here to Find out about the Next Class Starting Jan 30, 2023

· Development of  a small Themed Sketchbook based on a Circle

· Small scale Collage and dimensional collage . Using new tools.

· Sampling a variety of Medium in a sketchbook – colored pencils, acrylic, gesso, oil pastels, resists and other to include glues

· Working with Themes: trees, flowers, landscape, geological

· Printing with rubber stamps, designing stamps, stencils

· Study an Artist

· Design inspiration.

Design from my circles book – Module 2
Studies of Rocks – Module 2
Studying trees in children’s book by Leo and Diane Dillon
Study an Artist- Module 2 (I was studying Gustaf Klimt)

Module 3

· Printing – Designing with rubber stamps,

· Printing – Designing appropriate images for rubber stamps

· Printing with rubber stamps

· Printing with hand made textural rubber stamps

· Working with jelly prints

· Making stencils

· Making a library of unique small Textural Collages from tissue, paper and/or fabric

Print from a carved rubber block I made- module 3.
One of a number of texture blocks made in my class – Module 3

Module 4

· Research a visual inspirational subject or theme

· Research and design with a chosen theme

·  Designing and creating covers for your sketchbooks

· Create a theme booklet

Students will work through the design process as learnt in past levels using chosen methods and techniques, simplifications and organizations.

A series of individual tutorials assists the student to create in an individual style. Presentation styles will vary.

A detail from one of my final pieces made in my Art & Design Level 3 course (now would be Module 4) for my theme of Seaweeds. Made with hand-painted and magazine papers in torn paper collage.

Each of the Modules or Levels of design helps you build your skills and takes you on a personal exploration of your own interests and inspirations. Ready to get started or to continue your studies? Go to Gail’s website to get more information on the upcoming classes!

I hope you’ll join us at the Online Exhibition and “Meet the Artists” FREE online event we have on November 9, which we’ll be showing artwork from the final stage of the Art & Design program. To sign up for this Free event, go to:

Art and Design Courses Now Available Online!

October 5, 2022

Guest Post by Ruth Lane

Whenever I post or talk to people about Gail’s classes that I have taken, I get inquiries about whether or not her classes are available online. In the past, I have replied that most of the classes were not available entirely online. However, that has changed. Many of the classes I have taken are available to people who don’t live close enough to Washington state to attend in person classes.

Tesi Vaara – Art and Design

Online Art and Design (previously known as Level 3) is now being offered in a four module format. Each module has 8 to 12 sessions. The sessions include online lessons as well as individual online tutorials with Gail. The first two modules are now available and classes will start in December. Click here for information about the first module. The second module is also being offered for students who have completed module one.

© Ellen Meents – acrylic and collage

There is so much information in Gail’s art and design classes. Take a look at the course brochures (links at the end of the post) for a comprehensive explanation of the classes. I never took any art classes in school and was woefully short on art related knowledge when I first dipped my hands into the fiber art world. After taking Level 3 Art & Design, I was much more confident in my design skills and abilities to create my own compositions. I not only learned many techniques to express my creativity but also how to “see” as an artist does and to evaluate different compositions to understand what made the design more interesting, what needed to be edited and what additions a composition needed.

© Ruth Lane – Watercolor and Ink

I can remember many times when if someone asked me if I could draw, I would say “No, I can’t draw, I’m not very creative.” Since taking Gail’s classes, I don’t hesitate to draw or paint or sketch or just try a new technique. I do something creative nearly every day and I am delighted to be taking Level 4 classes.

© J.P. McConnell – Acrylic and Printing

If you are interested in developing your own art and design skills, I would definitely recommend these classes. They are well worth the investment in yourself and in your growth as a creative person.

Level 1 Art & Design Course Information

Level 2 Art & Design Course Information

Preparation Makes the Exhibition! Guest Blogger Christina Fairley Erickson

September 30, 2022

Exhibition – Level 4 Experimental Research for Advanced Design Oct 1-2, 2022

Whenever we put on an Open House or exhibition at the Center, it takes a village to get prepared! This weekend we’re hosting the work of our graduates of the Advanced Design course. Preparation started with transforming our studio space into a gallery. Patching and painting walls that have hosted lots of artwork over the years came first, the week before the exhibition.

Christina’s husband, Randy Erickson helped with our painting job!

We arrived to do the set up with 3 full days prior to the event. First we had to haul out anything that we weren’t going to need during the exhibit (tables, chairs, sewing machines, dye equipment, etc.) and unpack all the materials we planned to display.

A long way to go before showtime!

Volunteers are so critical to our putting on the exhibits… both before and during the event!

Gloria Shelton helped with both organizing our volunteers and ironing tablecloths, as well as planning to man our reception desk for a shift during the exhibition.

Behind many successful women artists are their hard-working husbands, painting or attaching hardware for hanging the artwork!

Peggy and her husband, John Doyle, preparing her artwork for hanging
Christina sorting out her various projects and sketchbooks

Getting pieces on the wall starts to change the overall mood of the space and generates excitement as you see the exhibition start to come together.

Gloria, Peggy, Gail, and Christina with “animal masks” in front of Peggy’s large wall piece.

Creating design boards helps display a range of items created in class. Putting together work that has been made over the course of the last 3 years into a cohesive grouping can be both challenging and exciting.

Christina cropping and mounting a piece for a design board

If you haven’t been to one of our exhibitions before, it’s really a unique experience. Rather than just seeing the finished artwork on the walls, you’ll be able to look through sketchbooks and design plans for the work… documentation of the processes and thoughts behind the artists journey are also on display! Furthermore, our artists bring a range of work from the time they started working with Gail, so you can see how each has developed their unique and special style over the course of their studies.

Pinning tablecloths in place to display sketchbooks, documentation and more artwork.

As has become a standard part of our exhibitions, beautiful floral arrangements brighten any room!

Peggy Doyle and Lorna Stevens cut and arranged flowers for the exhibit

We don’t want to ruin all the surprises, since we hope you’ll come see the exhibition in person this weekend…. You can also sign up to attend our Online Exhibition “Meet the Artists of Level 4 Research for Advanced Design” on Wednesday Nov. 9 from 10:30-12noon PST by going to our website:

Colours and Covid – Guest Blogger: Maureen Goldsmith

September 2, 2022

Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch – Class Name: Bachelor Buttons – Blog 8 in a Series of 8

When I began my research for a wall hanging I struggled to find an idea that I wanted to pursue. Then Wassily Kandinsky, a Russian artist, came to mind. I like the way he used colour and shapes in his pieces. I began by looking closely at his painted works, particularly “Gentle Accent”. Using that piece as my inspiration I began sketching a design that had a mind of it’s own right from the start. It was very different from Kandinsky’s piece. My piece included stylized trees and a variety of birds, one of which quickly developed a personality unlike the others.  

As I was developing a paper version of the trees and birds in my design, this bird started talking to me – actually bullying me, to make him considerably bigger than the rest. At this time Covid was running wild and there was always someone telling us what to do or not do and I got the feeling that this bossy bird in my design was doing the same thing to the other birds. Hence the name Covid Bird! Maureen Goldsmith

Surprises Happen Along the Way – Guest Blogger: Catherine Sloan

August 30, 2022

Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch – Class Name: Bachelor Buttons – Blog 7 in a Series of 8

The inspiration for my work comes from what I see when I walk on community pathways, hiking trails, or
through my garden. I start by photographing natural features I believe are interesting and could be
translated into stitch, whether they be rock formations, streams, trees, flowers, or other images that
catch my attention. Then comes the process of simplification: cropping the pictures, making drawings,
finalizing the design, choosing hand dyed or painted background fabrics, choosing the threads,
transferring the design to the fabric, and, finally, stitching. Surprises happen along the way, but those
usually add something to the finished piece. With the help of Gail and Penny, I have been able to
translate my vision into a stitched piece. Catherine Sloan

Beautiful, Majestic Grandmothers of the Forest – Guest Blogger: Sheila Asdal

August 27, 2022

Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch – Class Name: Bachelor Buttons – Blog 6 in a Series of 8

The inspiration for my pieces is the old, Big Leaf Maples. These beautiful, majestic grandmothers of the forest nurture birds, insects and animals, as well as providing things for humans other than wood. With fabric and thread, I work to create the textures of runneled bark and plush moss. I use hand dyed fabric and threads, as well as commercial materials. Light and shadow are always a challenge to portray, but are one of the fascinations when walking through the woods. Because we often take trees for granted, and as more and more green spaces disappear due to the felling of old trees, I am endeavoring to show through stitch a close-up view of bark, leaves, moss and the interdependence of the flora and fauna. Both machine and hand stitch are used to create the subject matter.

My artistic journey at the Gail Harker Center has given me many different techniques in stitch, use of colour, texture, value, and has taught me to persevere and push through difficulties. A very important lesson is to value ‘art time’ and to set priorities. For me, art is not only an important mode of expression, but it feeds my soul. Sheila Asdal

Working Towards Abstraction in Landscapes – Guest Blogger: Ruth Lane

August 24, 2022

Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch – Class Name: Bachelor Buttons – Blog 5 in a Series of 8

Daily walks in the woods of Montana inspire much of my artwork. The morning light filtering through the trees revealing shadowed dark values contrasting with bright sunshine on a myriad of greens makes me stop and snap a photo. I squat down to admire the lichen and moss on the forest floor. Hundreds of photos go into my inspiration files. I have explored the use of colors that are not ‘normal’ forest or tree colors. Working towards abstraction in landscapes and moving away from my comfort zone of realism has been a real plus in how I am now working. After reading an article about trees communicating, I loved the idea of the vast underground network where the forest is interconnected. I think of what the trees might be “saying” and how important listening to what the forest has to tell us. My tree wall hanging represents my ideas about trees “talking”.

Our second major project was to develop a story and create a book or series. At the time of the assignment, I had just adopted a rescue dog named Edgar. As a proud fur mama, I took loads of Edgar photos and decided I would create The Book of Edgar. Edgar’s antics inspired multiple book pages. When I finished the book, it needed a special box to hold it. A dog house theme for the box was the ‘only’ option. Stitched fabric book and box construction was a new venture that I really enjoyed. Thank you Gail and Penny for all your guidance and hard work. Ruth Lane

Ethereal Layered Bottles – Guest Blogger: Alana Koehler

August 21, 2022

Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch – Class Name: Bachelor Buttons – Blog 4 in a Series of 8

When I first started the bottles project I was intrigued with how the lines from the fake stained glass window were distorted through the clear blue glass of the various shapes of the bottles. I was inspired to take the photo when I walked in the room and saw how beautiful the light was coming through the window. Then I became interested in the contrast between the hardness of the glass of the window and bottles, and in my piece, the medium of soft cotton cloth with batting and free floating translucent chiffon and tulle. I wanted the bottles to hang loose from the top, and catch the air currents and move gently.  The background in the original photo suggested watercolors, which inspired the final piece. The colors I chose were pale and ethereal, so I call it Ethereal Bottles.

The waves project was based on a sketch I did in Art & Design Level 3, of a Japanese-inspired stylized sketch of waves.  I first made a paper version of the piece, then did a version with handstitched appliqué on cloth that I dyed. Alana Koehler

Using Ideas from Historical Needlework – Guest Blogger: Val Gleeson

August 18, 2022

Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch – Class Name: Bachelor Buttons – Blog 3 in a Series of 8

When I began collecting ideas for the needlework narrative, I envisioned a poster that could be used in a children’s library or bookstore with the subject being Reading is the Pathway to Adventure. However after I started researching needlework from the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, the poster morphed into a small needlework piece using both ideas from the historical needlework and those I developed by creating paper pieces that I moved around until I reached what I was hoping to accomplish. Val Gleeson


Inspired by Unusual Designs from Day-to-Day Life – Guest Blogger: Bobbie Herrick

August 15, 2022

Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch – Class Name: Bachelor Buttons – Blog 2 in a Series of 8

I get my creative inspiration from nature. I am also inspired by unusual designs I notice in day-to -day life at home or when traveling. The challenge for me is translating these ideas to fabric and stitch. There were unique challenges during this class due to the a pandemic and an injury. I found myself forced to be more self directed and independent in working. I learned I enjoy problem solving, especially when committed to an idea. It had been fun to work out the technical challenges, being fortunate to have great resources for my project’s stitch and technical structure. I feel I have grown a great deal as result of the class. I look forward to working with a wider variety of colors and stitch techniques in the future. Bobbie Herrick

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