Long Winter Nights

Peajack, part of Piece by Piece, 2018
I've been so incredibly busy this past year I realize now that I entirely forgot to share the art society's most recent group show at the Bread Gallery, Long Winter Nights

With a last minute change we found we had some extra wall space to fill, so I brought in a few selections from my collection, Piece by Piece, and a couple of other not for sale works, which included a preview from my new collection, Adapt.

Honestly, 2018 was such a roller coaster and at some point I'd like to  sit down and, even in point form, list off the intense changes that took place from month to month. 

Just a few days ago Facebook presented me with the anniversary of my Octobaby dream, which really stuck with me at the time, coming back to me over and over again, so haunting that after several months I needed to felt it out! This led to a wacky piece revealing that I had far too many balls in the air and I needed to severe off a few of my attachments that were no longer propelling me forward, only draining my focus.

So that is what I did, I cut many things loose last year, and what a relief it was!

Detail of Octobaby, 2018
Funny enough, I may have even more balls up in the air at this moment and devoting time to me, as an artist and a business (especially this part), just isn't happening - but it is totally ok! 

In September I hit a glorious well of creativity, and the art just free flowed out of me for months - it was amazing, I learned and grew so much. 

Now though, I need to focus on earning some cash to help make up for the 3 solid months of deep emersion (read: not making $ only making art).

Luckily my winter project is really quite creative and interesting (can't wait to share!) and it's been nice to step back and look at my artistic practice with a wider lens. With that being said, I suck at keeping up with the digital world, blogging especially. Sorry about that. I'm going to try and make more of an effort. I've got a lot to tell you about.

Until then, sorry if you missed the show. The next one will most likely be the 21st Great Little Art Show, opening on May 3rd at the museum in Avondale. I have already completed my work for this show (this is a first, usually I'm still framing the day of) and I can't wait to see everyone's response to my series of portraits (yes - portraits!) of a few of my favourite stewards for our beautiful community.

Long Winter Nights, upper studio of the Bread Gallery, December 2018
Long Winter Nights, main gallery of the Bread Gallery, December 2018


Free the Flow!

On the morning of September 10th, 2018 I found myself with some very unexpected free time on my hands. My previous commitments had been put on hold indefinitely and I suddenly had the space freed in my mind to bring myself back to thoughts of me. 

I'd been so wrapped up all summer taking care of business (so to speak), I hadn't had time to think about me; what did I need? I had been balancing work and volunteering for so long that I was surprised at how cathartic it was to sit down and take some time to really consider who I am at this moment in time in my life, in my career and as an artist. 

I was reminded of my previous ambitions to apply for funding to create a giant felted map depicting the entire Bay of Fundy and her tidal river fingers. All that old inspiration I'd bottled up while I was tackling Makers and the museum was starting to bubble back to the surface and I immediately had to sit down at the computer, pouring out a self motivational post that I quickly discovered that I wasn't quite brave enough to share with the world just yet.

Later that day and over the next few days I completed three pieces of art, the next week (with Makers still closed) I did the same again, and then, having to adapt quickly to change I found myself with the opportunity to share my series of recent works, Piece by Piece, as a part of Culture Days, with a pop up show at the Bread Gallery in Brooklyn.

How I envision Option C for the highway 101 upgrade.

 Option C and Option D for the highway 101 upgrade.

Heather Desveaux from the Valley Harvester, who believe it or not was the person who first introduced me to the community of Avondale, stopped by the gallery to ask me a few question about my recent work. As you can see our familiarity made it easy (maybe a bit too easy) for me to express my passion for her majesty the bay and this beautiful county we live in.
Now that this article has been put out into the world I'm finally ready to share that post that got me fired up and released this recent rushing flow of creativity!


Artist, that is a word I've struggled with. As a child when asked the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?" I answered an artist. I was told that wasn't a real job. That only made me more determined. I took special lessons as a youth and eventually ended up at art college and earned my BFA... but still I wasn't comfortable saying I was an artist. Artistic sure, creative and inspired indeed... but after earning a degree and seeing what it actually takes to make it in this world as a professional artist I still didn't feel entitled to bear that title.

Here I am decades later and I still struggle with living up to what it is to truly be an artist. It's one thing to be able to make pretty pictures and even sell items you've made by hand, but somewhere in the back of my mind I feel like my work needs to really say something or evoke some sort of emotional response from the viewer to be considered real honest art. Honestly, as much as it pains me to say, the majority of my work this last decade has been decorative art. Oh what a dirty word. Decorative. Yes, they are beautiful and may make you feel good, but I'd like to push more.

I must say however that I am incredibly proud of the non-decorative work I've contributed over the last few years and I think going forward, to truly fulfill my need to be a true representative of what I feel most passionate about, I need to focus on telling those stories.

I'm not saying that I'm going to stop felting pretty landscapes and doing portraits of nature's creatures, because I don't think I could ever stop, they are a continual source of love and inspiration and sometimes it feels really good to felt an adorable fox or an elegant Great Blue Heron... but for now I think I'm going to take a wee walk down a more challenging path and felt out all my feelings about the irresponsible acts that are shaping our environment.  I need to speak up about what I believe to be a horrible mistakes that needs to be rectified immediately before we start referring to the genocide of much of the aquatic life within the Minas Basin.

Yeah, you can see why I sat on that one a while. Promptly after hitting save draft I went and started making the first in a series of portraits of sturgeons, whales and fish that had recently passed through the blades of the abandoned turbine followed by a series on the Windsor causeway... still continuing with that series to date with a plan for a proper exhibition.


Special Preview of Piece by Piece, part of Culture Days


Long Winter Nights

Happy to be a part of this group show for Avon River Arts, formerly the Hants County Arts Council.

Over the past year this group of Nova Scotian artists and artisans has been hosting a number of events in the area and this is our sixth time showing as a group at the Bread Gallery in Brooklyn, Hants County.

Last night we had a packed house for the opening and it was great to catch up with many creative folks who we had not seen in some time. If you missed the opening, not to worry, the show continues until December 31st.

This year's collection features work by:
Kelly Mitchelmore​
Tacha Reed​
Elizabeth Robinson​
Sue Robinsons​
Karen Harvie​
Jonathan Charles Trenholm​
Mary Lou Bennett
Stuart Taylor
Ruth Ross
Christene Sandeson​
Rose Marie MacDonald​
Nick Haentjens​
Michelle Heron​
Lexie Barkhouse​
Terrie Greencorn​

Brian Fraser
Anne Clattenburg 

Her Majesty, Tacha Reed, 2017
Glimpse of the Fault, Tacha Reed, 2017


What we leave behind...

The Marks We Leave, Tacha Reed, 2017
This September and October The Flying Apron Inn & Cookery is showcasing a collection of my recent feltscapes.

What we leave behind... continues to explore my attachment, respect, and sense of responsibility towards the Avon River, those who call it home, and the powerful salt water that pours in twice daily from the Bay of Fundy.

I found this past winter to be a difficult period of time, a dear friend passed away after a surgery gone wrong and I found myself greatly affected by several claimed natural disasters that took place throughout the province. 

These events compelled me to work through my emotions via a sequence of finely detailed needle felted pieces, starting with FORCE, a response to the massive herring kills in November and December of 2016. 

Clogged Artery, Tacha Reed, 2017

As winter continued on I found myself not wanting to dwell on any events beyond my control, there were simply too many terrible things going on on our planet, so I threw myself into my work, challenging myself to lighten up, both in my mind and in my process.

Getting ready to frame Thinking of You, for Kristie Sheehy
Kristie Sheehy had always wanted me to felt her a poppy, but in the past I had only done so for memorials, so it had never felt appropriate.  
Thinking of You led me down a less serious road in terms of subject matter and I made the decision to really challenge myself technically, so I began a botanical series. These bright and cheerful pieces helped to carry me over until the daffodils and other signs of spring were beginning to emerge.

Daffodils, Tacha Reed, 2017

As we entered a new season I felt the need to give myself a reprieve from incorporating such fine detail into all of my pieces, so I began experimenting. I began at first layering wool under glass, but then explorations with wet felting promptly ensued. Personally I feel that this current collection truly reflects my evolution towards a new method for creating that is uniquely my own. 
Fingers of the Fundy, Tacha Reed, 2017

Wet felting has brought a new freedom to my creative process, and as a result my work has become more relaxed and expressive. I'm no longer so caught up with the fine details and this new process provides me with the security that my finished artwork is durable and will stand the test of time.
Detail of A Window Through, Tacha Reed, 2017

The majority of my more recent pieces share a dreamy softness, even those exploring the harsh realities of environmental disasters that constantly face us. As we all wait for decisions to be made on our behalf about the installation of multiple turbines in the Bay of Fundy and the addition of another causeway across the Avon River, the ruddy silt continues to persevere and new land slowly forms before our eyes. Wave patterns change as new habitats are created, and others are destroyed.

Guillotined Glooscap, Tacha Reed, 2017

Life goes on, I choose not to dwell in anger and frustration, I can only acknowledge my emotions, felting them out, eventually offering them to the world for your consideration.

As mankind continues to influence change, we all learn to adapt, yesterday becomes a memory and the future is something that always has the potential to improve.

Shifting Current, Tacha Reed, 2017

A Change of Perspective, Tacha Reed, 2017
Shakey Graves/Electric Feel, Tacha Reed, 2017
Taste for Poultry, Tacha Reed, 2017
What we leave behind... on display now at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, Hants County


A Drifting Mind

Finding it difficult to get much done today, mind constantly drifting back to yesterday's encounter.

There are some sounds you hope to never hear in life, the sound of someone's life potentially being altered forever. 

I've heard this sound twice now. 

The fist time it started with a loud crack and then the ground shook a few times before all was still.

Yesterday it was a screech, followed by the snap and crunch of metal and plastic and a large crash of metal on pavement.

Both times I've heard these unnatural noises I've felt myself instantly engulfed in a blanket of dread... was I about to encounter a dead body?

Miraculously the first accident, a jeep taking the turn too quickly, over compensating and then taking out the neighbour's 30 year maple and about 75% of a forsythia before rolling across our property and settling, upside down, just between ours and the neighbour's wells. 

As I approached I could hear the sound of liquid pouring out from the vehicle, relieved when I saw it was house paint and booze. I momentarily had visions of the whole thing exploding like in the movies, luckily my train of thought was interrupted by a shoe-less man emerging from the vehicle. After asking if he was ok and letting him know that Bryan was inside calling 911 he promptly started rooting around the vehicle, collected what looked like some rum and beer and then he took off down the road in his sock feet. I tried to follow his direction but it wasn't long before the giant emblem of the Zig Zag man printed on the back of his hoodie disappeared into the darkness.

Yesterday while visiting with Darren Porter, collecting research on the species that inhabit the Avon River for a new exhibit at the museum, we heard that tell tale sound again. One wrong move and your life is forever altered . One moment of poor judgement that you can never take back.

As I stood up and looked out the window I saw what I expected to be a dead body. As I walked out I approached very slowly, as I got closer I became aware that my hands were folded in prayer, which is odd for me as I've not had religion like that in my life, but I believe the instinct must be in my DNA. 

There were two people on the bike, the man quickly indicated his leg was broken, then finally I heard the most relieving words, "oh baby" coming from the woman who was face down on the shoulder of the road, twisted, bruised and bleeding. 

Further relief arrived a moment later when a man came running letting us know that he had first aid. He asked all the right questions and promptly whipped off his shirt to address her bleeding leg. Moments later friends of the victims arrived to provide comfort and support and a few minutes later a nurse emerged. Within 15 minutes the ambulance was there and from what I've heard the couple will survive if the surgeries are successful.

After witnessing something like you can't help but think of how quickly your life can be ripped from you. Miraculously these people will most likely survive, but they'll never be the same. The gentleman's daughter has started a campaign on kick starter to help cover the costs of lost wages and bills.

As we returned home Bryan and I couldn't help but think about how quickly your life could change and the long lasting effects it could have. 

I dreamnt about car crashes all night; Bryan is considering selling his bike. 

Although we were just witnesses on the peripheral, this accident has left a scar. 

My mind keeps going to those who rushed in to provide support; the trained people who deal with situations like this on a regular basis, what strength they must have.

Today I'm grateful for all the near misses we've encountered on the road, be it animals or other vehicles. Never assume that the other drivers on the road are going to make the move you'd expect them too. Make sure to leave everyone lots of space, and for heaven's sake, don't speed. It's just not necessary.


An Old Dog Learns New Tricks - Experiments in Wet Felting

At the last felting workshop I taught someone asked me about wet felting, and, as per usual, I kind of blew it off as just not being my thing.
Afterwards I thought about it and realized it had been a very long time since I'd even given wet felting any thought, and although I remember it as being exhausting, maybe now, with my current skill set, I'd find it to be a different experience.   
Recently I stumbled upon another wool artist thanks to Facebook, Jill Harrison, and I was in awe of what she was accomplishing with fiber. At first I thought her highly detailed pieces were needle felted, but after further study I realized that they weren't felted at all,they were made by layering fibres under glass.
Her process is very similar to how I needle felt, minus all of the extra physical activity. One upshot to her process is that by being under glass dust would no no longer be a worry... although I have heard wool will rot under glass, so the pieces life span may be limited.

Looking to experiment I took the glass out of one of our framed prints (I'll put it back later) and started a portrait. Usually that is my go to when trying something brand new... always a self portrait... which tend to end up looking nothing like me at all.

If I was going to spend more time doing something like this I would make sure to work at a high counter top as I really tweaked my back leaning over this piece. I found the process quite fast and liked the look of the fibres smooshed under the glass... but I wasn't sure it was something I'd stick with. 

I put the piece aside for a month or so and began thinking more about wet felting and I considered that maybe my piece under glass might be the perfect piece to experiment with. I went to the internet and watched a few quick videos and then headed to the dollar store for supplies. One bamboo mat, a rubber grip mat, and some plastic wrap later, I was ready to experiment.

Now wet felting was just as exhausting as I remember, and after spending nearly a decade needle felting and rug hooking my wrists are very tender. I found it difficult to roll the mat for longer that 2 or 3 minutes, so in the end my piece wasn't as felted as it could have been, but I was still impressed with the results.

That was until my wrist started throbbing a few hours later. The pain lasted a really long time. Too long. I was beginning to think that wet felting just wasn't going to be an option... then I remembers someone a long tine ago said they did it with their feet, rolling the mat on the floor. 

With that my inspiration came back and I started coming up with lots of ideas to combine needle felting and wet felting and started production on some roses and poppies that I've since turned into brooches and used to embellish pouches.

I let my wrists heal a few days before I was ready to give the wet method another go.... this time only rolling with my feet. This turned out to work really well as I found that I could multi task and work on some planning, writing notes in my journal while exercising my calves. Ten minutes passed by in no time!

I'm really thrilled with how my flowers turned out any my brooches serve as a lovely compliment to my recent botanical series of feltscapes.

So, needles to say, I think you may find wet felting creeping into my work more and more... and I couldn't be more excited with the possibilities!

My experiment under glass

Things got a little wonky in the wet felting process
Touching up the composition with needle felting

I decided to embellish the piece with roses
Flower production has begun!

New brooches and pouches that I'm taking to Halifax Crafters this weekend!