07 August 2018

Kathy Tidswell Interview: Painter, Quilter, Teacher

Transitions II by Kathy Tidswell (2017) w22” x h34”
Kathy Tidswell is a New Brunswick fibre artist and teacher, well-known for her thread-painted pieces, quilted wall hangings and wearable art. Kathy’s work has been widely published within Canada and beyond. She has taught at five Quilt Canada conferences and is a recipient of the Canadian Quilters’ Association Teacher of the Year Award.

Kathy’s wearable art has earned an Award of Excellence and an Honourable Mention at CQA National Juried Shows. Her wall quilts have made it into The Grand National Juried Quilt Exhibitions, CQA National Juried Shows, SAQA regional juried shows and the Contemporary Canadian Art Quilts Exhibition. Her thread paintings have hung in solo and group exhibitions including Threadworks 2010 and 2013.

Kathy Tidswell sells her work from her home studio and gallery in Burtts Corner NB. 

How would you describe your work?

My work is usually realistic. Whether it’s a small thread painting or a larger wall quilt, you can generally see the influence of nature. 

Much of my work begins with my own painting on fabric which I then enhance with thread painting. Sometimes I work with commercial fabric to create wall quilts but even those often include some of my own painted fabric as well. 

Winter by Kathy Tidswell (2008) w 20.5” x h 24.5”

Describe your journey towards becoming an artist who works with textiles. 

My mother and both grandmothers were embroiders, quilters, rug hookers and crocheters, and taught me all these skills as a child. As a young adult, I had a career in forest genetics with the Canadian Forestry Service. That experience and my scientific background may account for some of my attention to detail and my interest in depicting trees. 

Later, as a stay-at-home mom, I made two quilts for my daughter’s bunkbeds. Soon after, I joined the Fredericton Quilters’ Guild and attended a workshop taught by Anne Boyce, who taught me to use the sewing machine for appliqué and quilting. Around the same time I saw a booklet entitled Thread Painting, by Liz Hubbard. It had beautiful British gardens and cottages done with free-motion embroidery over a painted background. I was hooked!

I took drawing, watercolour and oil painting lessons to better my skills for painting the backgrounds. I worked on my free-motion embroidery skills. And since most of this stitched-over-painted-fabric work came from the UK, I combined a visit to see my daughter with a 4-day course with teacher Allison Holt in Wales. Gradually, I began to develop my own style and approach.

Wearable art by Kathy Tidswell (2017) 

Tell us about your process for creating. Where do you find your inspiration and how do you get from that to a final product?

My inspiration generally comes from nature. I get ideas for the painted backgrounds from photographs. If I’m working on a wall quilt for a competition I often muse over the theme for a long time and draw up several different ideas before I begin. 

Working from my photograph, I make a detailed drawing on paper and then trace it onto white cotton fabric. Next, I paint the background using Pebeo Setacolor. The painting may take two or three sittings to complete. 

When I’m happy with the painting, I add texture and bring it to life with free-motion embroidery. I enhance perspective by leaving a painted area in the distance unstitched. Moving into the foreground, the stitching becomes progressively brighter, larger and more detailed. I sometimes create a 3-D effect by attaching appliqués of birds or flowers that I make entirely from thread, using free-motion zigzag stitching.

Great Blue Heron by Kathy Tidswell (2016) w15” x h17”

Do you have a studio, or do you work wherever you can find a spot?  

My studio is a second-storey porch addition built by my husband. It’s lovely and bright with windows on three sides, but it’s small, so my work has spread throughout the house. My threads and smaller pieces of fabric are stored in a chest in the hallway just outside the studio. I’ve taken over a bedroom for cutting; the kitchen table is where I tend to do the painting. I also have a teaching studio and gallery on the ground floor. The only thing missing is a permanent design wall.

What are you currently working on and why?

Just now, I’m working on a black and white portrait of my grandmother. I’ve been wanting to make it ever since I found a photo of her a couple of years ago. I’m hoping to use the portrait as my entry for the upcoming Grand National exhibition, themed Still.

Do you teach or have a business of your artwork?

I split my time between teaching, creating wall quilts for competitions and producing thread paintings, which I sell at craft shows. Teaching has been a big part of my life for over 20 years. I have a small teaching studio in my home and offer classes in a variety of techniques, including thread painting, machine appliqué, using paints on fabric, creating 3-D thread appliques and using Inktense pencils to create appliqués.

One of the most exciting moments in my career was when I first got word that I’d been accepted to teach at the Quilt Canada conference, which was in Toronto in 2000. That was outdone only when I received the Canadian Quilters’ Association Teacher of the Year award five years later.

I’ve taught and delivered slide/trunk presentations at five Quilt Canada conferences and for guilds and shops in almost every province. I’ve taught twice in Luxembourg and have three presentations scheduled for this fall in the UK. 

My teaching experiences in Luxembourg began with enquiries I made at a quilting and craft shop I came across while visiting that country. Lynne Edwards, a teacher and friend from the UK, once told me that whenever she travels she notifies groups in the vicinity that she will be available for teaching. I’ve since adopted her philosophy. 

When planning an upcoming visit with my daughter, I obtained a list of quilting and embroidery groups from British organizers and contacted several around Portsmouth (England), telling them when I expected to be in the area. This resulted in the three slide/trunk shows I have scheduled there this fall.

Splendour of the Caribbean by Kathy Tidswell (2013) w18.5” x  h14.5”

How do you show and sell your work? Where can it be seen?

Currently, (August 3- October 9, 2018) my work can be seen in a solo exhibition entitled Nature’s Thread 2018 at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre in Fredericton NB.

A selection of my work will be for sale at a Christmas market with the Fibre Arts Network group (FAN) on November 10, 2018 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Fredericton.

And my thread paintings can be seen by chance or appointment at my home studio and gallery in Burtts Corner NB.

Recently, while serving a one-week artist residency in Fredericton’s historic Garrison District, I was interviewed by Mark Kilfoil of CHSR radio. The interview can be heard as a podcast until early September at CHSR-FM 97.9 | The Lunchbox Interview/ Kathy Tidswell (Fibre Artist).

What are your goals for the coming year?

My goal is to enjoy the process more, without worrying so much about perfection. I often get too intense over a piece, especially if it’s for a competition. I hope to develop a more relaxed way of working and to just wait and see how the piece turns out.  


You can read more about Kathy Tidswell and her artwork on her website Kathy Tidswell Fibre Artist.

As Day Ebbs by Kathy Tidswell (2014) w20” x h31”

28 July 2018

AGNS Yarmouth Branch will host Transitions, Aug 2 - Sept 28, 2018

Remnants by Susan Lilley (2016) 36"x36"


Helene Blanchet - Julea Boswell Grace Butland Brigitte Dimock
Cathy Drummond Kristi Farrier Audrey Feltham 
Linda Finley Heather Kellerman Susan Lilley 
Heather Loney Kate Madeloso Regina Marzlin 
Holly McLean Fiona Oxford Deb Plestid 
Anne Morrell Robinson Ann Schroeder Kathy Tidswell

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Yarmouth Branch
341 Main Street
August 2 to September 28, 2018
Opening Aug 2, 5:00 - 7:00 pm

Hours: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm; closed Mondays & Tuesdays.
Free Access Thursday Nights, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m

Read more about the SAQA Atlantic regional textile art show, Transitions, 

20 July 2018

Lois Wilby Hooper contribution to SAQA Benefit Auction

Lois Wilby Hooper, of Moores Mills NB, contributed Beside the Seaside to the SAQA Benefit Auction. The piece represents the foamy edge of the waves on a sandy shore. 

Acrylic paints on cotton, glass beads to form the bubbles, with a bit of debris.

See more of Lois Wilby Hooper's work in our recent feature interview

28 June 2018

Plan a summer road trip to Halifax's Mary E Black Gallery!

You are cordially invited to join Penny Berens and Judy Martin for the opening of their show, Cloth of Time, at 6pm on Thursday July 12, 2018.

Both Penny and Judith are award-winning textile artists whose works have been shown across Canada and internationally.

Judith Martin lives and works on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. She creates large-scale, hand-stitched artwork from found and re-purposed cloth. Judy Martin maintains a popular blog, Judy’s Journal. You can read about Judy in her World of Threads interview.

Penny Berens lives in Granville Ferry NS. Nestled in the woods between the shores of the Bay of Fundy and the Annapolis Basin, Penny works by hand with needle and thread on cloth she has dyed naturally from local flora. Her inspiration comes from daily observations of simple marks, shapes or patterns found in her surroundings. Penny Berens' work can be seen on her blog Tanglewood Threads. You can read about Penny in a SAQA Atlantic interview, Marking Time and Tides in Stitch.

The Mary E Black Gallery is Nova Scotia’s only public gallery with a fine craft mandate. The Gallery hosts local, regional, national and international fine craft exhibitions year round.

1061 Marginal Road, Halifax NS. 
Tel: 492-2522 

26 June 2018

Four SAQA artists juried into Cape Breton fine art show

Congratulations to Helene Blanchet, Kate MadelosoRegina Marzlin and Anne Morrell Robinson, all of whom will be showing their work in the Juried Small Works Show in Inverness, Cape Breton (NS) June 30 – July 29, 2018.
Kate Madeloso, Forest Discovery (2018)

Small Treasures are works of art in all media, that are no larger than 12″ in any dimension. This is a juried show, which means artists submitted images of their work, and the juror, Ray Cronin, made selections without knowing the names of the artists. He has selected work from Canada, 27 US states and four other countries.

Where: Inverness County Centre for the Arts
          16080 Highway 19, Inverness, NS
When: June 30 – July 29, 2018
Opening: Saturday, June 30, from six to eight pm.

18 June 2018

Nearly 450 pieces to choose from! The 2018 SAQA Benefit Auction, online from September 14th - October 8th

Red Giant by Regina Marzlin (2018) 12" x 12"

Regina Marzlin, of Antigonish NS submitted the 12"x12" piece, Red Giant to the 2018 auction. The annual benefit auction supports SAQA's exhibition program. You can see all of this year's record-breaking 444 quilts on SAQA's Benefit Auction page.  

The 2018 auction, online from September 14th to October 7th, kicks-off at 3pm Atlantic Time on September 14th with Diamond Day bidding - an early bird opportunity to purchase ANY quilt for $1000.  


The 12" x 12" auction quilts have been grouped into three sections for bidding purposes. Each week, a different group of quilts will be available for bidding. 

The online bidding form will be live on September 14 at 3pm Atlantic Time for Diamond Day bidding.

Then, starting September 18th at 3pm Atlantic, bidding will begin on the first group of quilts. The starting price of $750 will be reduced progressively throughout the week. The first bid on each piece wins. This same process is repeated for Section 2 and Section 3. 

Throughout the auction, any piece in any section can be purchased at the Buy It Now price of $1000. 

More information on the bidding process is available here.

16 June 2018

News from Kathy Tidswell about two upcoming textile art events in Fredericton

Curry Mountain by Kathy Tidswell

Residency in the Casemates

The Fredericton Arts Alliance has selected Kathy Tidswell for a one-week residency in the Casemates at the Garrison District, 426 Queen Street, Fredericton NB. The theme for this year’s residencies is the Wolastoq (Saint John river), a National Historic site. 

Beginning with her own photograph, Kathy will draw the scene, transfer it to fabric, paint the fabric and then stitch using free motion embroidery to add texture and dimension. The public is invited to visit the Casemates and watch her at work. She will be in residence July 2-8, 2018. The Casemates are open daily 10 am-5 pm. 

Natures Thread 2018

Kathy Tidswell’s thread paintings and wall quilts will be on display at the Charlotte Glencross Gallery, Charlotte Street Arts Centre, 732 Charlotte Street, Fredericton. 
August 3-October 9, 2018.   9:30 am-9:30 pm


Check out Kathy's website: Kathy Tidswell, Fibre Artist.