Friday, May 30, 2008

Baby: IF topic

Well, finally an Illustration Friday topic a grandma can relate to!
Here's a painting that I drug out and played with digitally of my first grand-baby:

And I must post the lyrics to Bobby McFerrin's song, aptly titled "baby", because, as I've said before, words almost immediately turn into songs in my warped mind, and this is the one that's in there now.

baby runnin' everywhere,
baby runnin' here & there,
baby lookin' what we do,
baby watchin' want to do it too.

baby listenin' what we say,
baby walkin', talkin' want to play,
playin', growin', you an me to be,
have you thought of what you're makin' baby up to be.

mama treat your baby tenderly,
papa bounce your baby on your knee,
tell your baby stories, play your baby games,
teach your baby, sharin' makin' love your aim.

what we gonna leave our babies when we leave this place,
how we gonna help our babies take our place,
'cause baby lookin' what we do,
baby watchin' want to do it too.

Here is also a Warhol style graphic I did of my grandson:

And, since this is a mostly supposed to be a tapestry blog, here's the Spring seasons tapestry, which is called "A Time to Wait", of my daughter-in-law expecting our first grandchild!

And if this isn't enough 'Baby' for you, just let me know! This grandma has close to 7,000 images in iPhoto right now, and many of them are our 'babies'!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Summer visitors...

Summer is near. I know that is true, in spite of our still-cool-ish weather, because the middle school children are no longer wrestling through my yard on their way home from school, we have family guests, and the hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies have made themselves at home in my yard and garden.

Spring is passing; we have eaten all the rhubarb from the garden in a pie. Spring was yummy.

Summer is trying to sneak up on me this year, but I am too wise to be caught! I have on a sweater this morning, but the fans are cleaned and ready by the windows, the cooler is ready to turn on. Escape to the high country is as simple as throwing a few days worth of food in the car and running away from the valley heat.

Summer will not catch me napping this year. Unless it is a particularly fine afternoon, and the porch glider is empty... perhaps then.... ahhh, yes, perhaps then summer may catch me a-napping.

Monday, May 26, 2008

From my garden...

Today is Memorial Day. My peonies are just now beginning to bloom! I usually have large vases of peonies on my table by Mother's Day. It has been such an odd year, weather-wise. These are the first peonies I have brought in this year.

This weekend was also the beginning of the week of the Junior College World Series (JUCO), which takes place 2 blocks from our house. We generally spend the weekend going back and forth to the rowdy ballgames. My husband and father-in-law have been doing that, but it's been windy and chilly and I have gotten hepatitis from a reaction to an antibiotic (Did you know that was possible? I didn't, but I do now!), so I have yet to go to a game. So, how can it really be the end of May already? Peonies just now in bloom, and I have yet to see a pitch thrown out or an ump booed?

Can you see me shaking my head like a bewildered old lady? No? Good!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Worry: Illustration Friday topic

This is a small tapestry I did a number of years ago. It is actually called "Shelter Me in the Shadow of Your Wing". It is a soumack tapestry, which I will NEVER do again!! (Just a personal response to the soumack process, but, as you see, a strong one.)
Soumack is how many floor tapestries (rugs with images in them) are woven. Each weft thread passes not only through the warp threads, but wraps around it as well. So the weaving process consists of slowly following the cartoon (as usual) while wrapping the warp with the weft. Then a row of plain weave (which is packed in to not show), then another row of weft wrapping. Repeat forever, and ever, and ever, and.... Oh, sorry, I got lost in the memory of creating this piece!
This particular tapestry was woven of mixed fibers, including a lot of rayon in the wing and the sky areas, so there would be a shine there. Rayon does NOT like to behave in a mannerly way, so soumack with rayon was not fun at all. In fact, so not fun, that I have never really wanted to play with soumack or rayon again!
But anyway, I thought this tapestry was a good fit for the IF topic of "worry" this week.

Of course, my first response to this topic was "What me worry?" ala Alfred E Newman, and it made me think of our president, who has, from the first time I saw him, reminded me strongly of AE Newman. But surely that will be the first thought on many minds! If not, so that you don't see him elsewhere, here he is:
(This is obviously not my own illustration. It came from here.)
...and here is a link to a comparison of the two gentlemen. I'm, by the way, not intending to be offensive to anyone, but really, the comparison is a natural! I can literally see Bush responding to a press question with, "What, me worry?"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wooster's traveling the world... mailbags. I got my invitation post card for the Woven Gems exhibit, and there Wooster is, staring out at me. Hmmm, I say, I recognize THAT handsome face!
I've been sick this week, and expect company this weekend. Isn't that always the way?

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Life Uncommon...

... A post in which I dither endlessly about seemingly unrelated things.

For Mother's Day my son gave me Jimmy Carter's new book, A Remarkable Mother. I've not finished it completely yet, but already Lillian Carter is joining the very small ranks of my heroes. (Her son is also one of the few on it, as is Rosalyn Carter.)

I was listening to music yesterday, as I frequently am, and my iPod was on the shuffle setting, so I didn't have a clue what would come up. But, as I was thinking of the book I was reading, and about some life challenges I am facing in various arenas of my life, Jewel's lovely melodic voice suddenly filled my house with her song "A Life Uncommon," which I'd not heard in awhile. I had to go hit replay several times. I think I will make it my new anthem! (I occasionally choose songs to add to the Soundtrack of My Life - and they can range from Barenaked Ladies' "Who Needs Sleep" to Bonnie Raitt's "I Will Not be Broken" to Martin Sexton's "Diner.")

Anyway, here are some of the marvelous word's from Jewel's song:
Lend your voices only to sounds of freedom
No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from
Fill your lives with love and bravery
And you shall live a life uncommon...
We are tired, we are weary, but we aren't worn out
set down your chains, ‘til only faith remains...
There are plenty of people who pray for peace
But if praying were enough it would have come to be
Let your words enslave no one and the heavens will hush themselves
To hear our voices ring out clear
with sounds of freedom...
And lend our voices only to sounds of freedom
No longer lend our strength to that which we wish to be free from
Fill our lives with love and bravery
And we shall lead a life uncommon

Moving on, or am I?
A few days ago, I felt the very strong urge to 'put paint on canvas.' NOT, mind you, to 'go paint that landscape' or 'paint a picture of...', just to put paint on canvas, in a very literal sense. So I grabbed a random CD, which turned out to be Tchaikovsky, turned it on, squeezed fresh paint on the palette, and started. I finished the painting that is pictured above this morning, after four somewhat lengthy sessions at the easel. One of those sessions was in the middle of the night - I lay awake thinking about the painting and just had to go work on it. This painting is like nothing else I've ever painted. It is a true abstract - there is no subject matter, unless it is color or Tchaikovsky, whom I continued to listen to each time I painted. Though it may look like it, I did not just randomly throw paint on this canvas; each brushstroke, each color placement was carefully and thoughtfully applied. I actually like this painting very much - although I have never been a person who really 'got' abstract painting. For the first time, I think I really did Get It, while doing this work! It is about release; it is a tangible expression of something that cannot be expressed in any other way - like classical music.
I did once do a small abstract tapestry. It was shortly after we moved to this house, and I was trying to sort out a garden someone else had planted. I was also listening to Yo Yo Ma's "Soul of the Tango" CD as the current Soundtrack of my Life. So I called it "Tango Garden." It is small; about 7x9". I had thought about calling my new abstract painting (if I call it anything at all) "Tea in Tchaikovsky's Garden" but then I realized that would be somewhat redundant, wouldn't it be? Must all my abstracts be about music and gardens? Maybe so - Klee's work was often about music, and about gardens! And he is on my short hero list too! See how I worked all this in to relate?
And I believe it does relate... just not sure exactly how right now. But I do have to say, I did paint the new abstract painting with more conviction than perhaps anything else I have ever painted. And, looking at the Tango tapestry after I'd completed the painting, I was amazed to see how similar they are, though the tapestry is a bit more structured. I think they are both expressive of some part of me. Now, isn't that just amazing? Well, it is to me, at any rate.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The river is wide...

The Illustration Friday topic this week is 'Wide.' So I am posting this tapestry called "the Yellow Canoe," because I kept thinking of that song, "The River is Wide, I cannot get Over..." Thinking of songs is a common malady in my family! That's not a song I had thought of in Years, and now I can't get it out of my head. Maybe I can pass it on to you... and go back to having The Weepies song, "Hideaway" back in there again, as it's been playing there all week, until I got the IF topic!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Not blocked, incubating!

I've gotten a few emails, calls, and comments about my post saying that I am going through a time of creative block. Thinking about it while weeding the garden (a great thinking place) I realized that I wasn't being totally honest with myself (or you, I guess) about that. What I am going through now is a natural creative season for me. And, speaking of seasons, it is also what happens at this time of year almost always in my creative cycle (the exception being if I am working on a deadline). In spring, I turn away from the studio and go into the garden, do much neglected house chores, and start filling my sketchbooks. In the summer, we have company. It's the best time of year for people to visit this part of the country. And my work requires long stretches of solitary time. So I am very rarely productive in the late spring and into the summer. My most productive time comes in the fall, when I burst out of my incubation time with a creative fervor that is stand-back astounding!

All those who study and talk about the creative cycle speak of this needed time of incubation. It is a time when the artist is gathering and processing new information, and it is whirring around up there somewhere, ready to pop forth in an idea at any moment. It is actually a marvelous time for artistic growth. And I am, this year, prime for new ideas! I have finished all series work and am not committed to anything concrete. So, welcome all muses! Stir up that creative soup that is simmering on low in my mind, and bring it to a boil by fall!

In the meantime, I'm doing little non-product sketches every day, working in the garden, taking lots of photos, going to graduations and weddings like crazy, getting ready to enjoy family company very soon, reading great books, getting ready for our Honduras mission trip, working on an ATA exhibit, and incubating my next better-than-anything-I've-ever-done-yet work of Art.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Electricity (IF):

The Illustration Friday topic this week is 'electricity.' Our 35th anniversary is also this week! So here's my anniversary take on electricity! It was just a fun sketchbook scribble, which I then put into Photoshop and added the background, which had began as a photo I'd taken of fireworks. Thirty-five years married, and I don't feel a day over 30 myself! Time is such a mischievous liar!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008


We awoke at our cabin this morning to what looked like frosting all over the trees.

A few hours and miles (in both distance and altitude) later, we are home to trees with a different kind of 'frosting.'

Aren't both lovely? The amazing variety of springtime in the Rockies!

"Let all thy joys be as the month of May." Francis Quarles

Thursday, May 8, 2008


I can't be an honest artist if I don't confess to being creatively 'blocked' on occasion. Fortunately, it has always been a condition that has passed, and usually I find I have stepped up to a higher level of creativity once that happens. I find myself with new insights and enthusiasms. But, during the time I'm blocked, I feel like I will never have a creative idea or desire again.

I am experiencing a season of 'creative block' now. I am, like the raccoon in the photo my husband took in Boston a few years ago, hanging on for Dear Life, and hiding out from as much over-stimulation as possible. I am avoiding the studio as if it will do me in... and, being a pretty over-stimulating spot, perhaps it would!

I am still making myself do 'creative' things, but they are not Art or Work-related. I spent the past few days making my grand-daughter a dress and my grandson a pair of shorts. I'm working in the garden. I'm planning on sewing myself a summer kimono/robe. But to paint or to weave? It's like I just don't even know how to do those things right now.

This too shall pass (I sincerely hope). If history and my creative cycles repeat themselves, I will come out of this slump one day (hopefully soon) as if awaking from a bad dream. I'll come to with a jolt of creative energy, and will run to the studio, ready to create as if my very life depends on it.

But for now, I'm just hanging on...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Unicorns in springtime...

I get email announcements from the Metropolitan Museum to keep myself updated about what is happening there, just in case they show my work without notifying me, I guess.

(Well, not really, so far anyway. But you, too, can put your work in the Met here.)

In the email I got from the Met today, they had this to say in the segment about the Cloisters:

The Unicorn Tapestries
The seven individual hangings known as "The Unicorn Tapestries," are among the most beautiful and complex works of art from the late Middle Ages that survive. Luxuriously woven in fine wool and silk with silver and gilded threads, the tapestries vividly depict scenes associated with a hunt for the elusive, magical unicorn. As early as the 17th century, they were collected and exhibited together because they illustrate the pursuit of the elusive unicorn so completely and in astonishing detail.
However, they were surprisingly difficult to photograph. The Chudnovsky brothers (distinguished industry professors at the Polytechnic University of New York) assisted the Museum in 2003 in the merging of a series of digital photographs taken of the tapestries during their cleaning. PBS aired a program on its science show NOVA that documents the challenges in photographing them.

Watch the NOVA segment here.

The Met also has the resulting images online now, so they can be looked at in clear detail.
Much better than the photos I shot of them, as the Cloisters has only natural low lighting. But mine have memories attached (and my husband in the doorway)!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Seed: Illustration Friday

This is an early tapestry of mine, called "Faith." It is based on the scripture; Matthew 17:20
(New American Standard Bible)
And He said to them, "... for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you."

Amazingly, the state of Colorado purchased this tapestry. It is in their (our?) collection, and it hangs somewhere in the personnel division of the State Building in Denver.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Two x 2...

Sometimes I am compelled to create something, for who knows what reason, then I wonder, "so now what do I do with it?" It happened today; I've had these two photos of crows that I took recently demanding to be made into something. So I did a photo combining them, which I call "2," but that didn't cure the creative itch, so I did this collage/painting on canvas, which I guess I call, "two." So now they are are done, they are named, and I spent an afternoon on them. Now what? I don't really know what to do with collages and photos. These are small - the collage is on 8x10" canvas. The photo I really like, but I don't really ever frame photos. The collage is OK, but, really, what do people DO with things like this? Maybe I can make a journal cover out of it? Maybe the photo could be used as a maquette to weave the world's most boring tapestry?
Well anyway, here they are.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

And now for something completely different...

I have had my loom warped since.... when?.... to do a small 14"x14" 'diversionary' tapestry. But the design I had in front of me just wasn't diverting enough. I wove for about twenty minutes one afternoon, then just lost interest. So yesterday I decided to go forward with this idea that has been forming in the back of my mind for a bit. I want to make something that makes me smile - maybe even giggle or laugh. There just is NOT enough laughter and smiles in the world right now!

That said, I have had this memory of my youngest son eating pasta, then, when he'd had enough, dumping the rest of the bowl onto the top of his head. He used to do that - with cereal, pasta, whatever. It was his way of saying, "I'm done now." I'm sure the memory was reignited by watching his own son eat pasta. While my grandson doesn't dump the unfinished remainder on his head, he DOES follow in his father's footsteps by needing a bath after eating spaghetti.

So I decided to do a smallish tapestry of the memory and call it "Pasta King." I started designing it yesterday, by just working in Painter and Photoshop, back and forth. Here's what I ended up with:

I wasn't happy with it. I showed it to my husband this morning and asked what was wrong with it, and he said it looks like a child who, if not demon-possessed, is at least a bit frantic. He hit the nail on the head! So we discussed our pasta-dumping child, both having such a strong visual memory of the behavior, that we were sure we must have a picture of it somewhere. But we've looked, and it can't be found, if it ever existed except in our memories. We did find a couple of good pictures of him in his highchair (where the food dumping took place); one of him dunking his pancakes in his milk (dunking being another favorite meal pastime of his) and one of him, with full mouth, during the saying of grace.

I do not want this tapestry to be a demon-possessed-child image. I want the innocent mischief that shows in the face of my son. So I will work with these two photos and the first digital design, and see what I come up with. It may be time to take it from the digital to the actual drawing board!