Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ya' got ta have Faith...

Sometimes when I am weaving, I am focusing so hard on the small piece of the image I am weaving, and thinking of what the image "should be," I find myself thinking, 'how I'm doing this can't turn out right!'

On the tapestry I'm working on, the image will be of skiffs (boats, for we land-locked folk). I actually didn't design this piece as a tapestry. I did it as an oil painting first, but as I looked at it more, it demanded to be woven. So, that puts me at a disadvantage to begin with, because when I paint a maquette (which is a painted image to work out colors and design problems and is intended from the start to be woven), I paint with weaving in mind. I did not do that for this piece. So now, I have several things going on: I have Boats, I have a Painting of boats, and now I have a Tapestry in progress that will be of boats.

Often when I teach, I will have a student that just gets frustrated. (It's usually a perfectionist.) She will say, "but it just doesn't LOOK like a mountain (or tree, building, or whatever)." I have to gently remind her, "No, but then it's NOT a mountain, my dear, it's a TAPESTRY of a mountain." Therein truly does lie the solution, if only she can see it.

So, back to me: I also frequently have to remind myself that, 1. I am not weaving a Boat; 2. I am not weaving a Painting of a boat; 3. I am weaving a Tapestry of boats. And, because of the way a tapestry is woven, I can only see a little bit of the tapestry at a time. So I have to remind myself to have Faith in what I see in the maquette, in my skills to weave something in tapestry that approximates the colors and shapes I see in the small area I'm working on, and in my experience that it will all come together to be the image in fiber that I have imagined it to be. Sometimes that does require a LOT of faith! I know a number of weavers who tell me they do a lot of un-weaving and re-weaving in the course of creating a tapestry. When I feel like un-weaving an area, I get up and stand back and look at it from as great a distance as I can; I isolate only that area in the maquette and reconsider it; and I tell myself to "Have a little bit of Faith." I rarely un-weave.

I have had to talk myself into having faith in the area I've been working on the past few days. As it is progressing, I'm getting more confident that the design choices I've made will turn out to be the right ones. I hope I'm right. Faith has a lot of that in it.... Hope, I mean.

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for..."

Monday, May 14, 2007

RED! (or the lack thereof...)

No, not this "Red" (tho' this is my grand-daughter's favorite Red).

I'm thinking about the color red. Red has always been an Important color to me. It's the color I use most consciously to move a viewer's eye about in my work. When I paint, I generally paint an undercoat of various mottled reds under everything I do, so that, if the top coat doesn't cover well somewhere, the red shines through, creating a glow.

And now I am working on the first tapestry in maybe forever that has NO red in it! I really just noticed that. At the same time, I am seeing red everywhere else. The Textile Museum has an exhibit called (you guessed it) "Red". On other tapestry blogs I visit, Meabh is weaving exquisite red squares, and Marilyn has done an amazing portrait in warm reds. But still, I have no red in my current workbasket.

Just for fun, I went to one of those meme sites, to see "What color of red am I?"
You Are Red Orange

You are a very genuine person, although it takes a while for you to show the true you.
A bit introverted, you desire respect and affection from those close to you.
You are quite empathetic, and you have a true concern for the well being of others.
Many people have warm, heartfelt memories of you - even if you don't remember them well.

Well, OK. That works, I guess. I mean, is that me, or what? And really, although I have no red in my basket, it is full of rusts and bricks (the color, not the object) and a number of shades and tints of oranges. They are the first cousins of red, and sometimes close enough will count... it will have to this time.

Here's how attached to red I am: Once, long ago (great story beginning, don't you think?) I decided I was over-saturated with color. I had spent several years weaving very pure primaries, and I was sick of them. So I decided to weave a tapestry that was totally neutral - no color whatsoever. Just tan and black. I wove the piece three-quarters of the way through, then couldn't take it anymore. I ran to the shelf and pulled out a small ball of red, wound it into a butterfly, and wove it in, gasping a sigh of relief. That small spot of red saved both me and the tapestry! It would have had to have been made into a dog-rug without it.
(By the way, the diagonal lines in this tapestry are lazy-lines... just a side-note for those who might wonder. Did anybody wonder?)

So anyway, I may not make it to the end of this tapestry without grabbing the basket of reds. We'll see...

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Begin again, already!

The hardest part of anything for me is just beginning; just getting in there and starting again. I had a hard time getting back to the loom yesterday. I finally DID get in there, though. Yea, me! It truly was a triumph, as I really wanted to sit and read, or just take the day off and do nothing.

I tell students that every time you stop, whether it's for the day, for a week or more, or just for a cup of tea, you will have to begin again, and beginning is the biggest challenge to any creative project. So much so that never beginning is what keeps a lot of otherwise creative people from ever accomplishing anything.

I always try to stop in a place that I will want to come back to: not at a problem area in the weaving, but at a place where I know what I'll do next or at an area that I'm anxious to see how it will look. That makes beginning again easier.
So, horray for me! I began again yesterday, and today it should be a lot easier. Then why am I sitting at the computer, procrastinating? Begin again, already!

"Sometimes the best preparation is the simple act of beginning - and worrying about the consequences later.... I guess that's the real secret to creative preparation. If you're at a dead end, take a deep breath, stamp your foot, and shout "Begin!" You never know where it will take you." Twyla Tharpe, choreographer

Here I go: breathing, stamping, and shouting...