Friday, September 7, 2018

Things Happen....

Some things that happen, I record in my sketchbook. Harry Potter had a "20th birthday," and that seems like something that needs to be celebrated, at the very least by a sketch of this young "Gryffindor."

A R&B legend passed away, one who long ago demanded that women be treated with respect!

Summer is ending, along with the juicy Colorado peach season. Fall will bring in apples, pears, wine grapes, and seasonal-change migraines. But, like summer; these things will move on, as well.

And that is a Good Thing, in this world where daily news is rarely good anymore.

In spite of 'things happening,' I try to make it to the loom, at least several times a week. The "Duet" tapestry is progressing, not quickly, but at the speed a tapestry should progress. Loom time, and sketching time, help make the very stupid and unbelievable things that happen in the daily news fade into that space in oblivion where they belong. So, I will weave on.....!

Friday, August 10, 2018

A Very Busy Week!....

We've had a HOT and busy week, but I have managed to do a few creative things. For one: I finished filling my 17th sketchbook! It was a Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook, a brand I find that I truly love using! It takes pretty much any media I throw at it. And I love decorating the covers!

I begin and end all my sketchbook journals (such as this one) with a sketched 'selfie.' So this is the last sketch in this sketchbook. It is on the page across from the back endpaper, where I have tried out paints and markers and scribbled reluctant pens, so the page had smudges and splatters already on it.

My new sketch journal, which I began with this self sketch, is a Moleskine. I used to love Moleskine, but have not been real fond of them since they changed out their papermakers. The old paper, made in Italy (I believe) was lovely and creamy, with a sizing that just resisted water media, giving some unexpected, yet always lovely, results. The new paper (I believe it is now made in China) is thin and slightly tinted, and my ink bleeds through and water media must just be used in small bits, to avoid crumpling the page. There are a lot of pages in this sketchbook - so I am truly hoping I come to love it, or, if not love it, at least to form a working relationship with it. 

I still have a lovely larger Stillman and Birn sketchbook that I am filling with sketches inspired by photos shared for artists on the #Sktchy app. I did these two sketches this week because yesterday was International Cat Day. (Gus hopes you did not miss it!)

And I also have spent some time, a good bit of Studio Tuesday actually, in the studio at the loom. Here is an update photo of the progress I have made on this tapestry, which has a working title of "Duet."

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Studio Tuesday!

I was able to work a bit in the studio today, even though we are busy with a big family transition. I am still waiting for some yarn for this new tapestry design, but I realized that I have what I need to at least get it started, and I should have the rest of the yarn by the end of this week.

I had to finish tying the warp back on the loom first. (This shot shows overlapping harnesses, and the wonderful reed holder my husband made me on my 6-ft Shannock Loom.)

Then I pulled all the yarn out that I thought I might use in the tapestry. I found that I don't normally stock orange, which is one of the main colors in this tapestry. So I went in search of orange yarn, and some should be arriving from several sources by the end of the week!

Today I got the weaving of the tapestry started, after realizing I do have what I need to begin. I cannot tell you how good it is to be back at the loom! I realized today, as I was weaving a guitar, that it is so good to at least occasionally do something that I know I am good at. That occurred to me because I do play the guitar, but I am not really very good at it. I can, however, weave a guitar (and pretty much anything else) pretty competently. At this stage of my life, it is a Good Thing to feel like I sometimes know what I'm doing!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Creation of a New Tapestry Design...

A new tapestry design has been working it's way into my consciousness in the past week or so. It coincides with a direct 'prescription' from my doctor at my annual physical last week to 'get back to work.'

The process of working a design idea out of my head and onto the loom is not always exactly the same for me, but it is pretty similar each time. It usually begins with the idea, and this idea combines my love of Nature with my love of Music. From that idea, I choose images that will fit. This time I began with a photo of a bluebird I had taken at Sand Dunes National Park last year. A song about a bluebird had been going through my head, and this lovely bird just appeared, to sing along with me! It was such a special moment, I felt the need to work the memory into a  'visual song.'  I have been using big chunky acrylic markers a bit in my sketchbook, and, since I didn't want this to be too detailed, that is what I used to do the sketch.

I then put the sketch into Procreate in my iPad. (I do not have an iPad Pro or an Apple Pencil, just a mini, with a stylus pen I got free at my bank. That also keeps me from getting too detailed.) The result was the image above.

This morning I did a ballpoint pen sketch of an image from the Sktchy app of a girl playing the guitar.  The photo was very backlit, which is what I wanted. I painted the sketch with gouache (not my favorite medium, but I wanted boldness and opacity.)

Next, I imported that sketch into Procreate, and merged it with yesterday's bird sketch. The image below is of the design in progress in the app.

Then, to the computer. I put the digitized sketch into Photoshop, and worked with it to make some corrections and adjustments, saved it as my maquette, then changed it to black and white and sized it for weaving. At that point, I cropped it into printable pieces, printed them out on heavy card stock, and taped the pieces together to create my cartoon.

The cartoon is printed and the maquette/design is ready. The loom is warped, and just needs the warp tied on to the front beam. The next step is to choose the yarns and to get weaving. I am excited! .... and I'll keep you informed as this tapestry, which is tentatively called "Duet," progresses.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Collage! (or, what a mess!)

I have been having a lot of trouble getting my studio work done. In the past, my work was done in solitude. But I now have a retired husband and frequently others are around, and I am having trouble  adapting to these new situations, and making myself get to work anyway. However, I had my annual checkup this week, and my physician pretty much prescribed that I get back to work! I am beginning to have the kind of troubles that creative people develop when they are not able to create.

So. One of the things I have done recently is to take an online class, to help me with an illustration project I've been dreaming of doing. This week, the 'homework assignment' was to do collage illustrations. I have never really pursued collage much, although I have saved papers and magazine pages for years.

The first topic to be illustrated was 'dangerous.' That came on a day that actually felt very dangerous for our country and the world,  so this sketch journal spread was my attempt. Except for the minimal line work, it is all collaged papers.

Last week, my son's family, including my 12-year old twin grandkids, were here. We went to our cabin and, among other things, we went fishing. My grandson caught a couple of lovely rainbow trout, and my granddaughter helped gut and scale them. So this double spread in my journal was my next attempt at collage. I painted the yellow and blue backgrounds with acrylic markers, and the rest (except again for minimal line work) is collaged papers.

I have discovered several things in doing these pages: 
First, I can make a huge mess, doing collage! But it is a pretty fun mess, and (truth be told) I can make a huge mess doing pretty much anything.
Second, while I am cutting and pasting, my mind is busy doing creative work. While doing these 3 pages, I have been thinking a lot about the illustration project I want to pursue, and have made some good mental steps forward on it. I have also begun to think about a tapestry.... 

So now I just need to get to work, like my doctor ordered me to do.

Friday, July 13, 2018


Summer is definitely here, and it has been here for quite awhile.  (My husband says it's been here since February, as we are having an especially long and  HOT summer!) My sketchbook, when I've had a few minutes to sketch, is showing summery images, with the top three of these being from the Sktchy app muse photos. I have been making an attempt to use more of an illustrator style in these sketches.

The sketchbook hasn't been as active as it should be, as I've had other fun summer activities going on, like fishing with my grandkids, and dealing with fresh Colorado fruit. In fact, yesterday I baked a pie that I call my 'clean out the refrigerator pie,' using up tail ends of fruit. This one had blueberries, strawberries, rhubarb, and a cupful of gooseberries from our yard in it. It was actually pretty tasty, with a scoop of ice cream on top!

If I'd have been more observant, there were a very few apricots left from our tree that I could have also thrown in the pie. I guess I'll have to make another one. This final sketch is of some of our apricots. We didn't get as many this year as we have in the past, but they were sweet and are now mostly in the freezer, ready to fill future pies.

I do have my Mirrix loom warped, ready to weave something, when I get inspiration and time. And I have begun, in my mind at least, a new project! If anything comes of it, you, dear blog followers, will be the first to know!

Note: I have shut down my FaceBook account for the summer. Some very strange things were happening, seeming to give me less control of my account access. But you can find me here and on Instagram. Stay cool.... and I will try to do the same!

Friday, June 29, 2018


The last month has been very busy, but not necessarily with creative things. We have done a bit of traveling, and I have used car time to do a bit of sketching along the way.

We first went on a three-day road trip to the Grand Canyon, where neither my husband nor I had ever been. Here are a few of my travel sketches. They are not 'great art, ' but they will do what they are intended: help me to remember what I have seen, and the feelings I captured there. The last sketch, of the canyon itself, is the sketch I am least 'happy' with. I sat sketching it en plain aire, in 100 degree heat, with people all around me, interrupting me constantly. I have discovered I don't enjoy that at all!  I think I need to be in a quieter (and cooler) place to sketch or paint from life. When I look at the sketch, I feel hot and irritated.

One of the things I love to do is to have my pages stamped at National parks. I also have pages with photos, postcards, and things I collected along the way.

We also have been on a second road trip. These two pages are from one looooong day, as we traveled by car across the entire width, west to east, of both Colorado and Kansas, to see my father-in-law for Father's Day and his 97th birthday. (Not a typo; he is 97!) I sketched a bit as we went across the 800 miles. While in the Colorado mountains it was mostly still dark and I hadn't had enough caffeine, so I missed sketching the most scenic and familiar part of the trip. By the time we left Denver and were out on the plains, the scenery doesn't change much. But I was fascinated by the roadside signs in the wheat fields! It was very hot (again above 100 degrees) and windy like only the Kansas plains can be windy. I have done, and am working on, a few more pages dedicated to that trip, so I may share them soon. I try to at least plan the pages as I travel, and complete them as soon as I can after the trip, if I can't sketch as we are traveling.

Other creative work has been on hold while we've been road-tripping, having company, and doing some house and yard work. I do have a small loom warped, but the month ahead looks much like the past one, so I will just try to steal some moments to design and plan for the time when I will have the time to weave again.