Linda McBain Cuyler
I have always been most interested in art that involves fibre. It’s not a fascination I can fully explain, so maybe it’s genetic since my mother also loved fabric. After experimenting with several techniques – batik, weaving, quilting – I settled on a favourite. I generally use a combination of acrylic painting and free-motion machine embroidery to produce my artwork – with a smattering of appliqué and hand embroidery.
Background and Education
My educational background includes a Bachelor of Interior Design degree from University of Manitoba. I have also taken a wide variety of fibre art workshops and courses, including a few on teaching adult students. After a short career as an actual interior designer, I worked as a swiss embroidery designer. In 1989, I started my own company - Bannerworks! - designing and sewing appliquéd fabric banners. My two children grew up hearing the whir of the sewing machine and picking pins up off the carpet with a magnet. My husband, David, has had to vacuum thread off the carpet since we were married; no rest for the wicked! As fine art took over from banner art, I became a full-time fibre artist and my company morphed into my current fibre art business.
Inspiration and Method
Most of my inspiration for design comes from landscape or nature. I take a large number of photographs to use as reference. This working method is a result of beginning my art career with small children at home and no time to sketch on site. I crop, edit, combine, and adjust to improve the images. I design in my head, and with rough sketches before I rush headlong into a project and worry about the details as I go along. Though people think I am a patient person because of the kind of work I do, I am still too impatient to do much hand embroidery. A lot of my work is traditional landscape or garden imagery. I usually paint the background fabric first and then add threads to create depth and texture. I like bright colours and contrasting textures which work well in landscapes and gardenscapes. Not all of my landscapes are traditional views. I also incorporate aerial views of the land into my work. I like the patterns and textures of satellite images, but it also reminds me of the interconnectedness of land use and its appearance.
I have been developing my technique and selling my work for more than 20 years. It has been said that you need to put in 10,000 hours to become really good at something. My machine and I have been together for those hours – becoming the best of friends. These days I divide my time between creating large, framed, one-of-a-kind pieces (for exhibits and commissions), producing a line of small embroideries and greeting cards (sold at many gift and gallery shops), teaching workshops and participating in retail craft/art sales.