Monday, May 23, 2016

Giving a hoot.....

I have not been getting much weaving time, again. How was it that I used to be so productive? And I have reached that frequently reached point in this tapestry where I look at it with despair, knowing it will be a total failure, as it doesn't look at all like an Amaryllis. It looks like a weaving, though, so I trust my work, and keep going. What else can I do?

One of the things I can do is go out in Nature, so my husband and Booker and I went on our annual owl hunt the other day. The owls were out of their nest, so we were afraid we'd missed them. But Mom was in a nearby tree, keeping one alert eye on her young ones, and the owlets were in the nesting tree, out on a branch, huddled together against the spring wind. We got a few good photos, and I sketched Mama Owl in my sketchbook.

I also got some new markers I wanted to try out, so I also 'tried out' the Sketchy app, for the first time. It is probably something I'll do again! It is fun to sketch someone I don't know - all the pressure is off. I was happy enough with the sketch, but not thrilled with the markers. They were expensive, and they bled through even my heavy Stillman and Birn sketchbook paper. Oh, well. Live and learn. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Working, worrying, and a bit of playing....

I did not have a Studio Tuesday last week. My Dad ended up in the hospital and had a Pacemaker 'installed,' so we spent last Tuesday and a good bit of the early part of the week there with him. He is doing very well back home now, so my husband and I took a few days to go over to see two of our grandchildren (dare I say 'Very Brilliant and Talented Grandchildren?') perform in the Denver Public School's annual Shakespeare Festival. The kids (now ages 10 and 12) have done the festival for the past three years, but this is the first time we got to attend. They amazed us! Each of them had challenging lead roles in their scenes and did a wonderful job! What a great thing this festival is: exposing even the youngest kids to this great literature and language! The photo above is of a small portion of the kids parading in, sadly in very bad weather, though their spirits and enthusiasm did not seem to be dampened. Below is this years 'Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth,' which we were told are honorary roles, to be earned by top high school seniors.

In our few days away, we stayed in a VRBO apartment in Lake Dillon. We have a tradition of taking a small trip for my birthday each year, and this was that trip. My intent for these trips is to do a bit of painting or sketching. It was rainy or snowy our entire time there, until the morning we were to come home. So we mostly just enjoyed relaxing, reading, and watching movies. The last morning, the sun came out and we could finally see our view of Buffalo Mountain from the living room window. So I sat and began a sketch of it, and the next door cabin. Above is as far as I got before we came home.

I was tempted to quit at the stage I was in the above photo. I often don't know when to stop a sketch, and frequently regret continuing. So I decided that, for awhile, I will take pictures of my sketches in progress, and see if I like the 'less completed' ones better, and can then convince myself to 'quit while I'm ahead.'

When I got home, I 'finished' the sketch from a photo of the scene. I am not sure I improved it at all. In fact, I believe I like the 'less finished' version best.

This morning I decided to continue my 'experiment' by doing a small sketch of some lilies of the valley from my yard. Gus, as always, was my assistant and advisor.

Here are three stages of my sketch. I think I like the middle one best - before I felt compelled to add shadows with a grey Copic marker. I have trouble blending that marker, so the shadows look a bit stark to me. As always, I begin a sketch with pencil and watercolors (photo#1,) then add colored  pencils to intensify areas and add contrast (middle photo,)  then finish up with markers, as in the final photo. I'm not sure the markers were/are needed, especially in a sketch of a somewhat 'delicate' topic, like this one.

I did do some Studio Tuesday work this week. I am mostly working on these petals on the left side of the tapestry, though I also keep trying to even up the fell line as I go. I am past the mid-way point on the tapestry, so will share an overall photo of what I can see on the loom later this week (hopefully, after a bit more work.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Take a Walk on the Wild Side....

Yesterday was, once again Studio Tuesday. I did not get to work for a great deal of time, but I worked one petal to completion, and worked on another today. This is the one I finished yesterday. I have been having some back pain, so am being smart and not working too long.

Yesterday was also the beginning of several #100 Day Challenges, on Facebook and Instagram and various other social sites. I did not officially join one, but have decided to challenge myself to walk every day for the next 100 days, and either sketch or take photos to document the walk. Yesterday I walked in the nearby city park. Today my husband, Booker, and I took one of our annual 'owl search' walks. We found the Mama Owl in her usual nest on the Audubon Trail, which is part of the Colorado Riverfront Trail. This nest is the one that, several years ago, got blown down, so the Audubon Society replaced the nest with this platform and basket, which she has happily used since then. Isn't her camouflage amazing?

We always see other fun things on this trail. Today, my favorite 'drama' was this one: First, the squirrel peeking over the top of this dead cottonwood tree...

... then she disappeared, to reappear looking out the hole. Then a flutter...

... and she was chased away from the hole by this Flicker. Whose nest is it?  I'm not taking sides, but we did see a flicker nesting in a similar hole several years ago. Just saying....

This is a photo of a dove observing us, that my husband took. We love these photo walks!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Studio Tuesday, revived.....

Yesterday I 'reinstated' Studio Tuesday, knowing life does sometimes interfere, but hoping to keep at least that one day as a day when studio work is top priority for me. I have still been struggling with bad-back issues, so did not weave too long, but I did reach the half-way point on the December tapestry yesterday! Today and tomorrow are not days I can weave, but I hope to get back to the loom by Friday.

Gus has been rushing out the door whenever he can, to roll in loose garden dirt, so today he got a bath. He is actually a very clean cat, and I think the dirt rolling is part of his cleaning ritual, but spring cleaning applies to him, too, and it caught up with him this afternoon. He tolerated it, but it was not the best part of his (or my) day. The little sketch in my sketchbook was fun, though!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Moving on into April.....

March was a busy month. We had company: my sister, my high school BFF, then my brother and his wife. A blessing of guests.

We went and watched the crane migration. And I have sketched a tiny bit in my sketchbook; mostly experimental, trying out techniques and materials I haven't used before, as I'm a bit tired of my 'same old sketches.' This one was trying pastel pencils. I've had them for many years, but I am so messy with them, I never use them. I was afraid to put them in my sketchbook, because I thought they would just smear onto the facing page. But I used fixative, and so far, so good. However, I don't think this style or these materials suit me.

This was a lazy sketch, using watercolor and ink. But I wanted to 'document' all the time, and pleasure, we've had watching the live cams of "Mr. President" and "The First Lady" and their 2 babies on the eagle cam at the National Arboretum. Watch this amazing family here. We have watched them since before the eggs hatched.
My sketch was 'lazy' because I have, once again, done something terrible and unforgiving to my back, and pain is making me quite creatively lazy, I am afraid. It hurts to knit, to weave, and even to sketch. Which is why the 'December' tapestry has not progressed much.

I also did this simplified sketch of my beautiful granddaughter, getting a new hair color recently. She is a to-be-envied natural blonde, but she looks just as gorgeous with purple or bright red hair! 
Since her experimental bravery inspired me, I decided to try sketching her with a heavy black marker, rather than with the tentative pencil scratchings I usually use. I do love the simplicity of this style, and will try it again.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

O'Brien, in all her chickin pickin glory!

Here she is: O'Brien! She is woven, blocked, lined, and tagged.... everything but wrapped and packed and shipped, which I will do tomorrow. She will then fly her way on her little woven chicken wings to the ATA small tapestry exhibit in Minneapolis, Wisconsin, where I am sure she will be admired by many for the lovely chick she is!

As this is a small tapestry exhibit, with a maximum size limit of 10x10 inches, O'Brien is just 8 inches wide by 10 inches tall. About life sized, actually. I loved weaving all the little bits of color in her feathers! Tiny, tiny threads made up each bit. Many tiny, tiny threads! She was woven sideways, as I just don't think she could have been woven from the bottom up! Lovely fun I have had with Miss O'Brien in our time together. She'll be gone quite awhile, and I will miss her stern eye on me as I weave.

And now, I must get back to the December tapestry on the big loom.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Off the Loom and finishing begun....

"O'Brien," the small tapestry, is finally off the loom and onto the cutting board, being blocked! Tomorrow, after she's rested a bit, I will line the tapestry and get it ready to go off to ATA's small format exhibit. Before I send her off, I'll get a better photo, as this one clearly is not a straight shot!

(My blocking and lining method can been seen here.)