Friday, September 16, 2016

"I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it! I'm about to lose control and I think I like it ..."

So. My loom is empty. I haven't had an empty loom, with no plans for another tapestry, for a long time, even though I have not been able to work steadily for several years.

I pretty much took a 'sabbatical' last year, while my Mother was facing the end of her life. I had more important things to do than work in the studio. At the same time, my husband retired from his 40-year career. So, more folks around = less solitary studio time. In fact, I finished the last two Calendar Series tapestries in tiny bits of time,  pretty much with the idea in mind that I would probably need to sell my large loom, and retire myself from weaving when the series was complete. I have already made the choice to retire from teaching. It was probably that attitude that has kept any tapestry ideas at bay. I have sketched, but I have not painted, and I have not designed for tapestry. In other words, I have let my creative life shut down (which does make me grumpy, and more.)

But the past week or so, there has been a nagging little image that keeps cropping up in my head. I have stuffed it back into the closet of my mind several times, but it just keeps coming out. And I haven't been able to go into my studio, even to clean it (which I always do after I finish a tapestry.) That empty loom, and the prospect of leaving it empty...... Just couldn't deal with that.

This morning I woke up very early, because that nagging little image jumped out of that closet, and flat out refused to go back in! And I recognized it immediately as a tapestry. And I have to weave it! It's more or less a self-portrait, so who else would weave it?

It has been creating itself in my mind and heart long enough that it took me about 20 minutes to come up with the cartoon and maquette. It has designed itself, while I resisted. I don't think it will weave itself, though. So.... I need to get in there and clean the studio, re-tie the warp on, find the proper yarns, and get busy!

This one is for me. I'm saying that up front. This one. Is for Me!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

An announcement, and another announcement! (And maybe another, for good measure...)

I have been looking forward for a loooong time to making this announcement: My Calendar Series Tapestries, all twelve of them, will finally be shown all together! Not only that, but they will be in the very good company of the diary tapestries of some of my favorite tapestry artists: Tommye Scanlin, Janet Austin, Janette Meetze, and Geri Forkner.

We will be exhibiting together in an exhibit entitled  "Time Warp... and Weft" an Exhibition of Handwoven Tapestries.  The exhibit will begin in the NOTO Art Center, in Topeka, Kansas, for the months of November and December, 2016. It will be at the same time that ATB11 is in the Mulvane Art Center in Topeka, on the campus of my alma mater, Washburn University.  I am pretty excited about having my work shown in the place where I grew up!

Also, I will be having an Open Studio here in Grand Junction on Sunday, October 16th, from 1-4 p.m. so folks here can see all twelve of the tapestries before they leave the area.

And finally, to mark the completion of these twelve pieces, plus the Four Seasons tapestries, I have had a 2017 calendar printed, with images of all the tapestries. I began the Four Seasons series in 2003, and it led into the Calendar series, so I've put a bit of my life into these works! If anyone is interested in the calendar, they'll be available at my Open Studio, and at the "Time Warp... and Weft" exhibit. I'll also have a few for sale on my Etsy shop (link at right.) Or you can contact me (in the comments or on Facebook or Instagram.)

Happy Days.... and Months.... and even Years! Behind us and before us.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

From my sketchbook....

I have been doing small (about 4"x6") sketches almost daily. The half-hour it takes me to do one of these rejuvenates me, so I usually do one in the evening, when I'm too tired to do anything else. All of these, except the hummingbirds, are from photos people have posted on the Sktchy app, for artists to paint and sketch from. At first, I was not sure how I felt about that: it felt like folks were asking for 'free art,' and that artists were too lazy and uncreative to create from their own images. But, as I've been using the app more and more, I have come to enjoy and appreciate sketching from images that I have no personal ties to, and that don't have to please anyone but myself. It is a truly relaxing way to sketch, and, (dare I say it?) it is FUN! I find myself looking forward to my Sktchy time, and I somehow have accumulated 550 'followers' on the app! Sktchy has allowed some of the artists to have their original work (not prints) for sale, including me, so I have a few sketches offered on the link on the right. They are all watercolor and either ink or permanent marker. I seem to have developed a 'style' using those materials.

Anyway, here are some of my sketches from the past several weeks. I have accomplished a few other creative things, but I will post about those things in the next few days.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Calendar Series tapestries...

©Kathy Spoering, 2016 Please do not reproduce or share
A huge accomplishment!  Should've had champagne. But I didn't.  (Yet...)

Yesterday I completed a series of 12 tapestries that has taken me eight years to complete (although there was about a year and a half in the midst of that when I was working on a commission.) The creation of these tapestries has involved  journaling, photographing, sketching, painting, digital designing, warping, weaving, blocking and slit-sewing, framing, living, blood, sweat, tears... and joy. In other words, these tapestries represent my life. The images in them are images I live with: the winter scene from my window, the lake I fish in and my dog swims in, the area I live in which produces four distinct seasons and a harvest of plenty.

These tapestries also represent to me things you cannot see. There is woven into them joyful times, when I took time out to be with my grandchildren, as they have grown from toddlers to adolescents during the creation of the series. Sorrow is woven in, as I lost my beautiful mother while weaving the final tapestries. 

The series will finally be exhibited together as a whole. Several of the tapestries have been exhibited separately, but my final goal was to exhibit them together. I will be having an Open Studio showing of them here in October, and then they will be exhibited in my growing up 'home town' of Topeka, Kansas at the NOTO Arts Center, for the months of November and December. The exhibit there, 'Time Warp.... and Weft' will include the weavings of myself and four other artists whose work I truly admire. It will be in conjunction with the American Tapestry Biennial 11, which will hang in the Mulvane Art Center at my alma mater, Washburn University. I am so excited to have these bits of my life go to Kansas, where I still have ties and history.

I will be posting more about the exhibit here soon, so stay tuned....! In the meantime, if you have a flute of the bubbly at hand, celebrate this completion with me! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

This I know about myself:

Yesterday, I was grumpy all day. I woke up in the morning knowing my time was to be spent sewing slits to finish a tapestry. Alright, I will confess it: I HATE sewing slits!! As I weave, I try my best to avoid leaving slits, and I sew the longer ones as I go, but it's not the longer ones that I dislike sewing up, it's all the smaller ones. Hours I can spend, sewing up little slits. I know that I even sew slits that don't necessarily need sewing, because I want my tapestries to last a looooong time.

Anyway, knowing that was my work for the day yesterday (and today, and likely throughout this week and next, as I have two to do) made me exceedingly grumpy. It was the kind of grumpy that I get when I know I will not be doing anything creative that day. Sewing slits is not creative. It is necessary, but like many necessary tasks for art creation (like prepping canvases or winding skeins) it is not creative. It is mindlessly boring.

By the end of the day, I noticed that my husband and the dog were avoiding me. Even I would have preferred to be in another room, away from myself. So I sat down and did a quick sketch in my sketchbook of my grandaughter. That half-hour restored me! Grumpiness cured, joy back in place.

I know this about myself: if I am not able to create, even in a small way, I am not a happy person. The creative urge in me is so strong, it is 'who I am.' It does not matter that I am not creating anything Great, a small sketch will suffice. I just have to be allowed, by myself and by the world, to use that urge on a regular basis, or we all will regret it. Just sayin'........

Monday, August 15, 2016

Getting With the Program...

I plan to finish (sew slits, block, and mount) my two unfinished Calendar Tapestries this week, NO MATTER WHAT! Don't you just love that phrase: "no matter what?" I heard it a lot growing up, from parents and teachers, too polite to say the alternative 'come hell or high water.'

Anyway, barring the appearance of hell or high water (which is highly unlikely here in the desert,) I will be spending my time in the studio in the coming days, hunched over a couple of unfinished tapestries until they are finished tapestries.

I have my motivation now: an upcoming exhibit, which I will announce here in a more formal way soon, has been in the works to coincide in time and location with the American Tapestry Biennial 11, in Kansas this winter. I'm pretty excited about that!

I did a few more Olympic Sketches, which you can see on my Instagram site if you wish. But then I went back to musicians, whom I have more in common with than athletes. (Hearing a big 'DUH' from those who know me.) So here's the latest Sktchy sketch, which will probably be my last effort in the sketchbook until the tapestries are completed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

2016 Olympics!

I have a confession: I am a huge Olympics fan.  I think I first watched the Olympics on TV during the winter games of 1980. My husband was a rarely-home resident, also moonlighting in an ER so we could someday buy a house, and I was pretty much home alone in the icy Missouri winter, with an infant and a toddler. The Olympic games were all that was on TV, and the drama of the 'Miracle on Ice' hockey team totally hooked me. So it's probably a good thing that they come around so infrequently, or I would get very little done. I am normally not much of a TV watcher, but when the Olympics are on, be they Summer or Winter, you can find me watching them almost every evening. And this year, they have been a real relief, after the political mess that has been served up all summer!

I have been doing more Sktchy sketches in my little sketchbook, and these are all inspired by the Olympics, even though they are not of any actual Olympians. Who knows, though.... maybe some are future Olympians!

I know there are a lot of knitters who knit through the games, completing large and complex projects. But if I do that, I find myself sitting with a hot pile of ignored yarn on my lap (often with a hot cat on top of that,) so I haven't even attempted it this year. I catch up on laundry and sketch a bit during the many, many commercials.

More Olympics to come! I was so excited to watch the amazing gymnasts last night - I cheer for them all! And Michael Phelps - those tears in his eyes as he accepted his 20th Gold Medal brought tears to my eyes, too. Well, enough of this;  I think there's a volleyball game that needs my attention.....