Fibre Arts Course — online from South Carolina

While my main form of artistic expression is painting, working with textiles has a big appeal for me too.

Playing with fibres in the studio.
Playing with fabric and fibres in the studio.

At different times in my life I have woven, screen printed on fabric and sewed with appliqué.

Cotton warp.
Hand woven cotton warp.

My approach to textile work is very similar to painting. In both cases I use strong colour; I enjoy lots of texture and I use the interplay of light and dark and complementary colors.

Fabric painted with acrylic, printed with bubble wrap.
Fabric painted with acrylic, printed with bubble wrap.

Many, many well-known painters have worked in this medium. Last spring in Los Angeles I saw some beautiful paper appliqués by Matisse in the museum there that inspired me to sew this little bag.

Cotton, arctic fleece, netting and ribbon.
Cotton, arctic fleece, netting and ribbon.

My daughter Emily is an animator and I am inspired by how she integrates her animation sensibilities into her sewing.

Emilys handmade doll.
Emily designs, sews and paints dolls and creatures.

Another source of inspiration for me is artist’s blogs and sites on the Internet. I check the daily blog of my friend and fellow painter Barbara Muir. I love her use of colour and we had many shows together in Toronto. Her persistence at writing a daily blog about painting inspires me to create and make better use of all the precious time I have.

Barbara drew me while we talked on Skype!
Barbara drew me while we talked on Skype!

Recently I came across the site of Susan Sorrell, a fiber artist. Her work excites me because of her bold use of color and texture. I signed up for an online class with her called Personal Symbols — who could resist signing up for a course with the name like that!

Susan Sorrells work
Susan Sorrell’s work.

Susan has been teaching for a number of years and the course comes with PDF handouts with lots of photographs. She has a forum on the Internet for the class where participants can show and tell their progress. I haven’t used the exact materials on her list. I’m adapting what I already have. Susan suggests painting fabric dye on interfacing fiber, but I’m using canvas and watered-down acrylics.

The assignments use a combination of drawing, painting and sewing which is quite exciting for me to combine.

Combining symbols
Combining symbols.

There are at least three assignments connected to each of the six lessos. Ingeniously she had each of us draw and make up some of our own symbols.

My symbols
My Symbols.

In the following image I have cut out and combined some of my symbols. The fabric is cotton and I ironed a stitch witchery product to the back of the cloth before I cut the pieces out. In this way the pieces stuck down when ironed. Then I embellished it with buttons and beads.

I would like to try some of these techniques in acrylic on a large canvas. It’s nice to know that it’s possible to take a course online and to feel so inspired by it and by the links to images and blogs and websites of other participants.


Susan Sorrell offers quite a few different online courses. Her enthusiasm comes across loud and clear and I would recommend any of her courses. She also hosts a monthly chat with people in the creative arts and that is quite inspiring too.

The course is opening a new world for me…a truly virtual community of people combining paint and fabric and a passion for creativity.

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