Sunday, September 28, 2008

Well, OK, then!

My painting, "The Youngest Groomsman" came home quite beribboned from the Glenwood Springs Fall Art festival today. The exhibit is the largest one in the state, with almost 400 artists participating. This painting won the Reserve Champion award, and the first place award in the professional oils division. The Reserve Champion is the 2nd to the top award for the overall exhibit. The Grand Champion award went to one of my art traveling buddies! Her piece was a watercolor, also a portrait, so the 3 judges must have had a preference for figures this time. I don't take art-as-competition very seriously normally, except for when I do well! So this time, I guess I can say they were excellent judges. Ha! The even nicer thing about being beribboned at this particular exhibit, is that with the ribbons comes quite generous cash awards. Well, OK... I can deal with that, too!
In addition to the awards and money, we cleaned out our box room in the basement this weekend; a job we've been procrastinating over for 12 years. There were boxes of stuff in there that hadn't been opened since we moved to this house. We took a truckload of stuff to Goodwill, and at least that much will be trashed or recycled. An exhausting but quite rewarding accomplishment. Hey, I think I deserve a ribbon for that too!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

"February" tapestry

Here is the completed tapestry, "February," blocked, slits sewn, and now digitally photographed. I will still need to take slides of it, and, since it is small (18x18") I will also mount it on a fabric covered stretcher frame, which my dear handyman husband is at this moment in his workshop making for me.

As you can see, there is not much in the way of 'colorfulness' about it. The bird and my signature have red in them, but a red that is a very close value to what surrounds it, so still not any real color spots. I guess this dearth of color just said "February!" to me this year.

This tapestry began as I sat waiting for a friend in a local bookstore parking lot, at the beginning of the month of February. I was early and the bookstore was not yet open. I didn't have a book or a magazine or even my trusty Moleskin along, but my digital camera was in my purse. This robin landed in the tree in front of my car, so I snapped his picture. The day was grey, and so was my mood, I think, but the robin reminded me that spring would eventually come, though it seemed impossible to me at that moment. My loom was empty, but it had a bit of loose warp left on it - enough for a small piece. This photo kept speaking to me, until I worked with it a bit digitally and decided it would be a fun challenge to weave; all those lines! So... that is where the tapestry, "February," came from.

From it, I have learned that I like the smaller size... better than actual 'small format' pieces and better right now than the large tapestries I usually do. I like finishing in a few months, rather than most of a year. I also have learned that I really miss color when I do a piece like this. I have done other tapestries with little color; they kind of 'cleanse my palette' and renew my love of color. But I would not like to work this way often. The color on my yarn shelves is wooing me... Must. Weave. Color.

p.s. By the way, there is no actual black yarn in this piece. I do not use black yarn, but, as I do with paint, blend two very darks together to read as black. My favorite black is a dark green with a dark purple, but in this blue piece, I used two dark blues, or a dark blue plus a dark brown.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yes, but should it be a tapestry?

As I work in my studio, at the easel rather than at the loom, I have been debating with myself about rather or not the design that is calling me to weave it really 'deserves' to be a tapestry.

I generally have a firm reason for weaving a design. My work also generally tells some part of 'my story' in it. In fact, even if I do not intend it to, I guess it always tells my story. For example, the piece I just finished (which I swear and promise I'll post this week) was one that, like the design I am considering now, did not seems to have any real story or meaning to it, but I think now that it does. I look at it now and it looks just like I felt when I designed and began weaving it.

So, here is what I am considering weaving:

It is a composite of the little oil sketches I have done for the class I'm taking. I would weave them as they are shown here; as four separate sketches together on a white ground. I would weave it to be 18x18", as that is what the warp left on my loom measures, and I am finding that size to be quite appealing, for some reason. I have been thinking of it as "Three Pears and an Apple", but since the last tapestry is called "February" I may just call this one "September." Actually, I like that idea: a bit of a woven journal. If, in February I saw the world as colorless and felt isolated, in September I am filling little canvases (and my tummy, by the way) with colorful local fall fruit.

The design keeps calling me to the loom, though I can't right now say why. I just want to weave those colors; to see if I can create those soft lost edges. Perhaps just because I want to see it woven and to sit at the loom and weave it are enough reasons to create it as a tapestry....?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In search of color...

Tomorrow is "Color Sunday" here on the Grand Mesa, which sits on the east side of our valley. Color Sunday is supposed to be when the aspen are at their peak of fall color. When the naturalists were in charge of deciding when Color Sunday would be, based on weather and what they could actually see happening in the trees, the drive over the Mesa on that day would be gorgeous and breath-taking. But now 'activity directors' have been making the choice, and have decided that it should always be the third Sunday in September. They have missed peak color badly since they made that decision. The aspen are not changing much at all yet. It will be another good week, and probably more like two-three weeks, before they reach peak color.

We went up to our cabin for the night and the past day-and-a-half. The undergrowth is turning, but our aspen grove is still summer green. Well, green is a color, I guess. It did rain today, and when we left, it did look like the aspen on the other side of the lake had changed a bit more. But in a few weeks, this will be a golden glow of a mountain.

We saw a group (a flock? a cast? a covey? a parliament? an unkindness? a kettle?) of birds which we couldn't readily identify from a distance, down by the lake. Then this afternoon as we were leaving a huge osprey swept past, a fish in his beak. We saw it land in a tree close to the road, so stopped to watch it until it flashed over the lake away from us. We have never seen osprey there! I looked them up on Wikipedia, and this picture looks just like the one we saw. We have seen many of them in Wyoming and Montana, and it seems they migrate to South America, so they must just be passing through our way. How lucky we were to see them!

It is the beginning of hunting season, so the deer are heading into the park to avoid their human predators. The fat chipmunks and speedy, swarming ground squirrels were also very active, stealing as many of the sunflower seeds we put out for the birds as they could fill their little cheeks with. The ground below the feeder looked like it was alive, there were so many of the little thieves.
So, OK, ... I know these posts are often not about my art. But what is art without observation? The natural world has always been fodder for the creative artist's imagination. No input, no output...

Wooster update: Thanks to all of you who have expressed concern for Wooster! He is doing much better. The cabin is his favorite place on earth; he turns back into a puppy there. He forgot he was 'sick' there this weekend, went exploring to his favorite spots and took all his usual sniffing rambles. He only had problems when he wanted to go up the stairs. It was hard to believe he was the same dog we thought we would lose last weekend! He still stumbles a bit, especially after he shakes his head. We're pretty sure what he had was an inner ear thing that older dogs get, but he seems to be recovering. Good old boy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New tricks...part 2

My second painting class was last night. Most of the evening was spent in demonstrations, but we did glaze over the small pieces we had done the week before. And I remembered to take my camera! I am taking this class to learn to loosen up. It is an excellent class for that, because we can spend no more than 10 minutes, and preferably half that, on any of these small paintings (they are between 5x7" and 8x10").

So... first, last week we were to paint a pear directly, from start to finish in about 7 minutes. Here's my pear:

Then we were to use just burnt sienna, and smear it all over the canvas in a wet glaze, then very quickly, rub out the light areas in both pear and background to 'reveal' a pear shape. We left that to dry all week, and last night we glazed over all of it with yellow, then in the places we wanted darker with blue (both transparent colors). Here are my glazed pears, before and after glazing:

I got my pear done so quickly last week that I also did an apple, which I glazed last night, as well:

The last thing we did was to do the same procedure with flowers... put down a wet layer, rub it out for the lights, let it dry, then glaze over it last night. Mine were very dark, so the glazing process made them even darker, but here they are:

This process is very fun and fast. The person who teaches this class literally does her gallery paintings all in one very quick session. She will often go back and do glazes on top to 'fix' ones she is unsatisfied with. I told her last night that I am a tapestry weaver, and that I paint like a weaver, one bit to completion at a time. She said I must be crazy! Yeah, well, I am a tapestry weaver... aren't 'crazy' and 'tapestry weaver' synonymous? Anyway, I'm not sure how this all will translate to the subjects I want to paint, or to the painting I do to design for weaving tapestries. I can see these small studies as fun small tapestries, though. And, in the meantime, I am having a good bit of messy fun!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008


I got up before the sun this morning to go stand in line... again! I stood in the hot Colorado sun for 5 hours. I am tired; I am sunburned; I am fired up and excited; I am hoarse from cheering; I wish I could vote more than once!!! The people all around me felt the same way. Nothing makes people more excited after economic news like was in today's headlines than to believe there is someone out there who can really make things better. We were all T-shirted, hatted, buttoned, and bannered for a real change! I loved this woman's shirt...

We listened to our regional public representatives. Then Senator Obama was cheered on to the podium, which I was about 20 feet (max) away from. This man can make you BELIEVE! Wouldn't it be a wonder to have a man in the White House who didn't make you wince when he opens his mouth?

And can he smile? Oh my yes! Now THAT is a presidential smile!!

A presidential candidate has not come to western Colorado since Truman came here. We are happy people here in the valley... I truly hope it makes our state swing the right way!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

He's coming, he's coming...

...and I'll be there!!!

There are some perks to living in a swing state! This morning I spent almost 4 hours in line to get tickets to see and hear Barack Obama, who will be here in our small metropolis on Monday. Tickets were limited to 2 per person, and would be available at noon today. So, at 8:30 we walked the half dozen blocks to the Obama headquarters and got in a line that was a couple hundred people long. Soon the line went around the corner of the block... then down that block and around another corner... then down that block and around that corner. Before noon, the line completely circled a city block and went clear down another block. There were only to be 1500 tickets given out, and I'm sure at least the last half of the line had to be turned away. We were getting tickets for myself, my friend who is out of town this weekend, and her teen son, who volunteers at the democratic headquarters, but couldn't get tickets there, and one of Craig's partners.

It was actually a fun morning, sitting with like-minded folks and seeing such enthusiasm in a traditionally republican area. Lots of cars drove by and honked their support. I bought buttons and a car magnet and a new hat, which I needed anyway to keep the sun out of my eyes (any excuse for a cool new pink hat!) It was a gorgeous day, cool and clear. All of my neighbors were there, and most of my husband's work partners. A group of happy, perky teens walked up and down the line, handing out handmade 'messages' they had created (they had made hundreds of them!). Here is the one they gave me:

It worked: I stayed positive, and I came home with my tickets!

I can hardly wait for Monday!!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Illustration Friday Topic: Island

This is a small acrylic 5x7" painting/sketch I did a few years ago when a few artist friends and I went to Whidbey Island for a sketching vacation. It is called "Island Girl," is of one of my friends, and is one of the few acrylic paintings I have done. I discovered fairly quickly that I do not like working in acrylic as it dries too quickly.

The water really was that turquoise color! I have done several paintings from source photos I took on that trip and on a later trip to the same location I took with my husband, including the "Penn Cove" one that UPS is still (hopefully) searching for.

When I saw the IF topic, I pulled out my travel journal from the art trip. Ah, what a delight to relive those joyous days, just looking and looking at water and water-full things! "Oh, to go back to Island Time!," cries out the dried up desert rat!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Oh, woe!

It appears that UPS has lost two of my paintings! They were on their way home from an exhibit, and are actually due at another exhibit before the end of the month. They are "The Youngest Groomsman"

and "Penn Cove."

On top of that, our dear doggie Wooster is not doing well at all today. Soon, we may as well just sign all income over to our vet! We are taking Wooster to the dreaded vet this afternoon.

On the up-side, it's grey and rainy here. I love gloomy fall weather; just suits the mood today, too. The cat is having a good day, and it wasn't a tapestry that was lost; so we will survive... hopefully, even Wooster.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New tricks...

I guess I'm not such an old female dog after all, as I am learning some new tricks! I signed up to take an oil painting class, and it began last night. I am basically a self-taught oil painter, and I paint like a tapestry weaver... one bit at a time. So I signed up for this specific class and teacher, because it is clear from her work that she does not paint like a tapestry weaver! And I was right in making that assumption... she wants us to paint very quickly, doing everything wet-in-wet.

In last night's 3-hour session, I did 5 small studies. Granted, they are not all complete, as we will do some glazing over a few of them when they are dry next week. She wanted us to get the basic subject down in less than 10 minutes. It was a fun and, for me, very different way of working. One thing I decided is that, for this class at least, I will have to choose simpler subject matter than I am used to choosing! Her work has a large emphasis on fruit and flowers, which are lovely and quite popular in galleries, but not what I am most drawn to. So this morning I went through some of my photo stash and chose a few things I can take to work from next week. I think they will all work with the techniques we've learned so far. Yeah, I know, birds and cups; what else is new?

One of the techniques we used is a subtractive method, where you cover the whole canvas with paint, then rub out the lights of the subject, and some lights in the background to 'reveal' the subject. Very fun! Those are the ones we will then glaze over next week when they are dry.

I didn't take my camera last night, and we left our work there to dry, but next week I'll take some 'in progress' photos to share with you. But right now, back to the studio to work a bit, doing what I already know how to do....

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cups and Students exhibit...

The exhibit at the local Presbyterian Church has been hung, and I went today and shot some photos. The exhibit is basically the same exhibit of my work that hung last winter at Barnes and Noble, and the work of my local tapestry students from the workshop I taught last fall. That is what they requested.

First, I have to say that, though I am not a member of the Presbyterian Church, I truly appreciate the support they give art and creative gifts. Our Presbyterian Church here is where the local fiber guild meets, and other art organizations meet there as well. The building has a lovely gallery space, and they host a changing exhibit every month. They have invested in skylights, for natural lighting in the space, and they have one of the nicest hanging systems I have seen in any gallery space. The Presbyterian Church also owns Ghost Ranch, in New Mexico. My several times of teaching there have been lovely experiences! So I just want to 'go on record' for my appreciation of their understanding and support of the creative gifts as coming from God, and as needing to be supported as such.

The mosaic at the side includes the work of my students. Please click on it to enlarge it, and take the time to scroll down and look at the pieces. I am very proud of their work! These are first tapestries for most of them. In fact, except for some Navajo weaving, I believe they are first pieces for all of them! Aren't they wonderful?

The photo above shows how beautifully the exhibit is hung...(Tho' the photo makes them look unevenly spaced, which they are not, and poorly lit, which they are not.) The paintings and photos are some of the small ones I have hanging. The larger pieces and a number of my small tapestries hang on other walls. I also have the small tapestries of my two pets hanging together for the first time! Possum on the left, and Wooster on the right:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A private affair...

I usually have friends, students, and other guests to my tapestry Cutting Off events. Today, I cut a piece off all alone, except for my cat, who truly wanted to help. (He is sitting on my lap, helping post this, as a matter of fact.)

This tapestry is not a big one. I haven't measured, but I think it's about 16x18" or thereabout. The colors do not show well in these photos, as it is evening, so I had to use a flash, which seems to have robbed it of what little color there is in it. I will share a better photo after I have sewn slits, blocked, and finished it. (You can see more about my finishing process here, if curious.) The photo above shows the tapestry still on the loom, with half of the warp threads already cut and tied off. The photo below shows it 'resting' on the floor. I will move it to the dining room table, where I do the finishing work. Tonight, I will let it (and me) rest overnight, and then I'll tackle the slits, etc. tomorrow. I would like to have it done to show in an exhibit I'm having with my students, which will be hung this Friday. Guess I'd better hustle!!