Pop Quiz with Jason Skinner

Posted in: Pop Quiz — By on November 16, 2011 6:35 AM
Our latest pop quiz puts Nova Scotia-based artist Jason Skinner to the test!

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I am an emerging artist living in beautiful, historic Lunenburg, Nova Scotia as one of three lucky community artists in residence. I graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2011 with a BFA in painting and from Sheridan College with an Applied Arts degree in 2008. My work focuses on the relationships that Canadians have with their communities and how these relationships form individual identities.

Your fabric canvases are amazing — where did that idea come from?

Well thank you for saying so, but it was really just a matter of recycling at first. I had a lot of left over scraps of canvas from paintings gone by and thought I would experiment with how a painting would look using the stitched together scraps (or if it would hold up). I found that it added a depth to the painting that I really enjoyed and have since expanded to use any sort of cotton based fabric.

Do you approach your paintings differently (planning, composition, subject) when you use a fabric canvas versus a traditional one?

With the series of paintings I am producing now I make certain considerations for my composition, but I never used to. Before the pattern left by the stitched fabric was a fun compositional challenge that I enjoyed overcoming. Now I try and pick out fabrics that compliment my subject and arrange them in such a way that they do not overpower my painting, but still add to it. For example, I am working on a piece inspired by the local farmer’s market, so I am using harvest coloured fabric, floral printed fabric, burlap and screen printed linen.

Is this the first sewing that you’ve done?

Admittedly yes. I used to have a friend sew the canvases together with a machine for me. Two reasons for this: one, I do not know how to use a sewing machine. Two, I thought machine stitches would be the only thing strong enough to be stretched and painted on. However, I eventually just fell in love with the esthetic and calm visceral experience of hand sewing and had to try it for myself. With some more help from friends and some good old-fashioned Boy Scout training I started working with embroidery thread and a basic stitch. I am still no expert or anything but with a little more practice under my belt I plan on attending the local quilting bee to strut my stuff and get some pointers.

Where do you get your fabrics?

Because the focus of my paintings is the local community I am trying to use local sources. There is a chain of second-hand clothing stores in Atlantic Canada called Frenchy’s that I frequent. I sift their bedding and fabric bins for pillowcases, sheets or scrap fabrics. I also hit up the Sally Ann and VV Boutique whenever I can.

At Sewing School, we’re all about learning new things. What’s a new technique or project you’d like to try using fabric?

As all artists should be, I am also all about learning new things. Because sewing is such a new thing for me, I think I’d like to try and understand more about sewing in general so I can make more informed decisions. Things like knowing the strength of fabric weaves, what to look for, different blends, etc. as well as other stitch patterns that I could incorporate.

Who are a few of your favourite artists who use textiles?

I come from a painting background, which as a medium has such a strong historical tie with textiles. I like to think of painting as being a textile craft but that is up for debate. Nonetheless here are a few of my favourites:

Robert Rauschenberg, Yinka Shonibare, the women of the Gees Bend Quilter’s collective, my colleagues who opened my eyes to fabric arts at NSCAD and of course my mom.

 What’s next for Jason Skinner?

I used to do a lot of screen-printing and would like to try working with fabrics that I have printed on or perhaps doing devoré printing. For now I am just taking baby steps.


A big THANK YOU to Jason for chatting about his art and process with us — a fellow with plans to visit a quilting bee definitely gets an A+ in our books! Check out Jason Skinner’s website for more of his paintings and illustration work, and his blog to hear about his adventures in Lunenburg and latest works in progress.
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