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.....

Friday, July 29, 2016

Summertime... and the living' is.... continuing.

I would love to be posting the finished images of the last two woven tapestries of the Calendar Series, but, oh woe, that is not to be. They are still 'resting,' awaiting mounting. In fact I haven't even nagged my dear husband/woodworker into making the stretcher frames for them yet. But a new week is coming....!

My creative energies have been used tearing into a far-too-long-neglected house, sorting things I no longer need and use, to discard and donate. The completion of a tapestry always does this to me: I get the cleaning urge, first in the studio and then it spreads like falling dominoes throughout the rest of the house.

I have also been doing an occasional sketch, most of them inspired by photos from the Sktchy app on my iPad. It is easier to do a 20-30 minute sketch of someone I don't know than to try to sketch someone I know, love, and want to please. Above are some of the sketches I have played with. What is amazing me about them is that I seem to have developed a 'style,' without really trying to! I post the sketches on the app, and also post many of them on Instagram (search for kjdspoering.) These are all done in a Stillman and Birn sketchbook (which has lovely paper) with watercolor, watercolor pencils, and ink. The exception is the woman drinking coffee, which was a special challenge and was done with floral dyes in the same sketchbook.

Other than this sketching and cleaning, I am surviving the summer heat and the political craziness with my pets and men (husband and dad) and am singing and playing a couple of times a month at assisted living places in the valley.

I am also at work planning a potential exhibit with some other tapestry artists whom I admire.... but more info on that to come soon!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Cutting Off, the last of a series....

Although I was determined to get this tapestry off the loom by the end of June, I still had this much to weave when I finally got to the loom after the 4th of July holiday. I spent most of the past few days in the studio, and I finally wove the upper hem this morning.

As this is the last tapestry in my Calendar Series, which I have been working on since February of 2008 (!!!), I had hoped and planned to have a big cutting off party for this tapestry. Completing the weaving of 12 tapestries over the course of eight long, and several difficult, years is something that should be celebrated.

However, today did not feel like a day for celebrating in this sad and crazy world. So I completed and cut off the tapestry alone.

This is the 'December' tapestry, the twelfth in a series which includes a tapestry representing each month in the year, following the weaving of the Four Seasons series tapestries. I now have the finishing part of creating a tapestry to do: trimming all those weft threads on the back, sewing slits, blocking and mounting the tapestry: still a good bit of time to spend to complete it.

The backside of the tapestry, after the top was cut from the loom

I have posted several things from my sketchbooks recently. Sketching has become a form of meditation for me, along with knitting and playing my guitar. I am finding life requires quite a bit of meditation time lately! I begin and end each sketchbook with a self-portrait, so this is the beginning sketch in the most recently begun book.

Pray for peace in our nation. Put as much good out there as you can, for we reap what we sow.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

End of a sketchbook.....

I have still been enjoying sketching guitar players from the Sketchy app. Here is how I work, with a simple line drawing to begin with, then added watercolor or watercolor pencils.

After doing a number of guitar players who are total strangers to me, I decided to brave-up and sketch the guitar player I play and sing with. It is pretty scary to sketch someone you know, and it is harder than sketching a stranger.

Even harder, is to sketch myself! But I begin and end each sketchbook with a self-portrait, like it or not. And this happened to be the last spread of my current sketchbook, so I added myself in my Taylor Guitar cap. My husband told me the cap and the glasses look like me. The rest? Not so much, according to him.

But another sketchbook is filled, and on the shelf! I already have a new, empty one, just waiting for me to pick it up and make my messes in it!