Saturday, January 31, 2009


This week I have been at the computer, rather than at the loom or easel. I have perhaps vaguely alluded in the past to the exhibit that I am working on for the American Tapestry Alliance. It is a juried exhibit of international small format tapestries, and you can find out more about if you go here. I mention it now because I feel like I have been 'chatting' with all of the artists who entered the exhibit, one by one, all week. The jury results came back, so my task has been to get a letter out to each artist to let them know if their work will, or will not, be in the exhibit. Although the letters I am sending out are, of necessity, form letters, that does not mean I, as the sender, don't take each of them personally. You probably don't realize that when you receive one of those letters. You are just relieved and excited to have your work accepted, or disappointed and a bit angry to feel like you have been 'rejected.' But, having lived and worked with the tapestry images for quite some time, inputting them into my computer, and putting together the slide presentation for the juror, I do feel a personal connection with each tapestry, and through them, with each maker and weaver. I do feel the disappointment that will be felt with each letter that bears the news that there is not room in the exhibit for their piece. And that is the reality... there is only room for so many pieces. Some absolutely stunning pieces by some wonderful artists will not be in the show. And, as the jury process is so subjective, any other juror would have chosen a totally different show. I entered the "All Passion Spent" tapestry, and it will not be in the exhibit, but I KNOW that I am in good company, so I don't feel too badly about it. I really wish I could share all the entries with all of you. It would be a true gift for you to be able to see, as I have, 184 amazing small tapestries from weavers who work in our medium all over the world. If you get a letter from me this week, on behalf of ATA, know that I was truly thinking of you when I sent it, no matter what the jury results may be. And, Thank You for sharing your work with me as I have worked on this exhibit! It has truly blessed me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A bit of Progress...

The mornings have been foggy here lately. They remind me of the photo I took last winter, which I developed into a tapestry maquette. It will probably be the next thing I weave, if I can find where I put it! The above photo was taken yesterday from my sitting room window.

I think I mentioned before that the piece I'm working on now will be called "September." The last one I did was "February," so the foggy one would be called "January." Maybe I will get all the months woven, but I'm not making that promise/commitment to myself just yet. Here is where "September" is, progress-wise, at this point. There are only 7 inches left to weave, but I may not get my 3" woven this week, as we'll have houseguests for several days, and I am cleaning (or taking a short break from cleaning) right now to prepare for that.
Across the room from the loom, I've made some progress on my painting, too. I have the 'first layer' of paint almost covering the warm underpainting, which you can still see in the lower right corner area. I have a lot of reworking to do before this will be done, but it is always good to at least get it blocked out. I may get a few snatches of time to work on it this week. I don't want it to be completely dry before I work on it again.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Illustration Friday: Climbing

I did this tiny oil sketch, with my no-drawing method, for Illustration Friday this morning, as the topic is 'climbing.' It isn't a great sketch, but it was a good warm-up for the painting I want to do today. It is of my grandson climbing some playground equipment at the park near our house last summer. The sketch is about 5"x5" and is oil on canvas.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Beginnings....

This is today's beautiful sunrise from my sitting room window.

Seeing the day begin, and thinking of President Obama's new beginning, I am thinking of how difficult beginning can sometimes be. When I begin a new tapestry or a new painting, I look at what I want to create and I think, "I don't know how to do this... This is beyond my skills... I don't remember how to paint/weave!" Yes, I do think those things - even though I have been doing this for over 25 years. I went through it earlier this week when I began a new painting.

But then I fill the water bowl, squeeze out some fresh paint, pick up the brush and begin. As I begin, that voice is still there, saying, "This is not going to look right... This is going to be really awful!" But I keep moving the brush from the paint to the canvas, or the yarn through the warp, doing what seems to be right for each mark, each area of color. Then, when I walk away from it and later return, I am surprised to see that it is looking like I wanted it to look like; it's beginning to become a painting or a tapestry!

This process of doubt and surprise happens to me over and over. You would think it would eventually go away. The process for weaving is the same, but I have learned to trust my cartoon and my maquette, even when I don't trust or believe in myself. I guess this is why I don't feel like "An Artist." I know that all I really do is to move paint from the palette to the canvas, or carry the weft threads through the warp threads. I know that I am as surprised as anyone, or more so, when the resulting painting or tapestry turns out to look like I wanted it to. That element of surprise makes me feel like a fraud... Surely a 'real artist' would always expect success!

I imagine President Obama is having some doubts that he is up to the huge job ahead of him. But I have faith that, if he just keeps doing what seems right for each task, he will do very well.

Addendum: If you want to see something to make you smile, go here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh, Happy Day!

I finished the apple and the first pear yesterday. I am pretty happy with the apple. The lost and found edges worked pretty well with it. I don't expect to get much weaving done this morning, as I intend to be watching the inaugural events. Tissues ready for President Obama's speech. I believe a man who can bring us to tears with his words can find and soften the hardened heart of America. I have great hopes for us under his leadership. Today is the first day of a better time for our country. Let's all get behind this president and make it happen!
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. ~Barack Obama

Friday, January 16, 2009

... and a Pear

As you can see, I did reach my goal again. I won't weave any more this week, but will try to get some painting in. And cleaning. And laundry. And that biggest job category of all right now: ETC.....

Next week's goal (another 3 inches) will take me up to the bottom of the upper two pears, which will be past the half-way mark. All 'up-warp' from there!

Illustration Friday: Pale

The IF topic today is Pale. Hmmmm. It made me think of this tapestry that I wove long, long ago called "Northern Lights." It was so long ago that I didn't have an image of it in my computer (maybe a pre-computer piece), so I had to scan a slide of it. It's not the best image, but it is pale! (In fact, the image itself is pale in comparison to the more colorful tapestry.)

I looked it up in my invaluable green book; the one that has all my tapestries listed, with all pertinent information about each of them. It was woven in 1995 and is 35"x35".

An added tribute: Andrew Wyeth died early today in his sleep, at the age of 91. I don't have many walls for art in my home, and the few I have are covered with my own tapestries, or paintings by myself or my friends. The only print I have is the one below, by Andrew Wyeth. It so captures reality, as does all of his work. We have caught Wooster doing the 'life imitates art' bit, in this exact pose. I have always been so influenced by Wyeth's work, and the work of other illustrators, that I don't refer to myself as a 'tapestry artist' but rather as an illustrator of life who works primarily in the medium of handwoven tapestry. When someone like Wyeth leaves us, there is a huge gap in the world of illustration and art. It will be quite a challenge for us all to fill it!

Now I'm back to the loom to finish up a quite UN-pale pear!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Apple....

I have the apple woven (sans stem), and should even everything up with it by the end of my work time today. I thought I'd post this image, though, so you can see that I don't weave straight across, but shape weave, then weave the negative space around the shape. Of course, technically, in tapestry weaving there is no 'negative space,' as everything has to be woven. As the pear is also a diminishing shape (sides slanting inward, so needing to be woven before surrounding areas are woven), I will probably weave an inch or so of it next, then will catch up the spaces around both fruit images before topping off the pear. And all that probably only makes sense if you have woven this way before....

For those who find it pure gibberish, I will post a picture of Mount Garfield, which is a huge formation at the east end of the valley. I think it looks beautiful with a frosting of snow on it!

Monday, January 12, 2009

This week's goal

This week's goal, if reached, will take me to the top of the apple. I am again setting a modest goal of only 3 inches this week, though I could possibly exceed it. I only had 2 real work days last week and I wove that much. I should have 4-5 work days this week. I would, however, also like to begin an oil painting - not just one of the little sketches I've been satisfying my painting urge with, but a full painting... Something that will take more than 1/2 hour.

One of my greatest challenges to overcome this week in my work is that Gussie has claimed the studio and my work chair as HIS territory. When I demand my chair back, he gets quite vengeful, and does things like dump my paint water, or climb the chair back and sit on my head. I actually had to forcefully evict him from the studio the other day, and then listen to him cussing at me on the other side of the shut door while I painted. This cat needs to learn who is boss in the studio.... and a few cat manners. All of our other pets have always understood that the studio is my space, and they are not really welcome there. Wooster would never go into the studio, uninvited. He thinks Gussie is a very bad boy - and he's right.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Illustration Friday: Contained

My grandmother's 'pocketbook' contained everything a young girl thought was necessary: a sharp pencil, a small blank tablet of paper, chewing gum, and often a piece or two of peppermint.
The topic for IF this week is contained, so I did a small oil sketch of this old leather purse, which reminds me of Grandma's pocketbook. As a grandmother myself now, I try to contain things in my purse that will entertain my grandchildren when they are with me. As a child I was easily entertained. Fortunately, my grandchildren also love blank pages and drawing pencils. And they love occasional peppermints.

We are home from a night away in the mountains. Here is a sample of what we did there:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Making the goal...

Well, almost. As you can see, I'm creeping up on this week's weaving goal, which is pretty remarkable, since I've really only had about a 2 1/2 day 'week'! Monday I 'dismantled Christmas,' Tuesday I was sick, and tomorrow we're going to the cabin for a few days to see if we can get snowed in. So I've had to cram all my work, (studio, house, and exhibit work) into yesterday and today. It's just a bit after noon, and I'm hoping to complete those remaining few passes and make it up to my goal line before the day is over, but I still have a lot of non-weaving things to do before the day is out, too. So I thought I'd post this on my lunch break, as I'll not likely get a chance later.

For those who haven't seen what I'm working on, the maquette is here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Peppermint tea...

I have had the tummy bug that seems to be going around here for the past few days - hence the peppermint tea. And, yes, that is a piece of candy cane in the tea. One must do whatever it takes on a day like today! We also have a weather inversion sitting over our valley, that keeps it c..o..l..d and grey outside, and also makes air quality very bad, making everyone crabby, as it's like living in a cloud of smog. I know, I know, some people live with grey skies most of the time, and they have my sympathy. But here in our desert valley, we are used to sunshine, and we don't deal well with inversions.

In spite of how I felt yesterday, I did sit at the loom and weave a bit. Here's what I got done, as I creep slowly toward the line that is this week's goal. I'm going at warp speed here... and whoever thought warp speed was fast, well, they just don't know warp speed now, do they?

Monday, January 5, 2009

For Sweet Feet....

In the spirit of keeping my resolution to paint more, I painted this little (7"x7") oil sketch of a pair of boots one grand-daughter is 'hand-me-down-ing' to the other grand-daughter. They were left here with a lot more hand-me-downs for us to deliver when we visit the younger one in a few months. The boots are sweet little suede ones, and I kind of feel like the suede texture shows well in oil.

I am also hoping to weave this week. This is where I had to stop weaving for other things, about a month ago. I hope to weave about 3 inches this week, which will take me up to the red line I added to the photo. I guess posting this is a way to motivate me to meet my goal! Even though this isn't a big piece, and 3 inches isn't a huge goal, I have a lot of other things to do this week as well, so I think it's about all I could possibly do. At the top of today's list is de-Christmasing the house. That will take all day, so I doubt that any of those inches will be woven today.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Illustration Friday: Resolve

The Illustration Friday topic this week is Resolve. One of the things I have resolved for this new year is to paint more frequently, even if I just paint small everyday type paintings. So, yesterday I started the year off by doing a small (about 6.5x7.5") oil sketch of Gussie. I did it in the quick wipe-out way I do the small oils.

In the spirit of the topic, I would also like to make some resolutions for Gussie:
- I resolve that he will no longer attack all of my scarves and handknits, pulling out threads that shouldn't be pulled out.
- I resolve that he will stop getting on the dog's bed in the night, pushing poor Wooster off and causing a general commotion that wakes us all up.
- I resolve that he will stop stealing balls of my tapestry yarn, making me have to go look for it, and to rewind it back up.
- I resolve that he will only jump up onto areas that are cat-proof, and will quit knocking over Christmas trees and other non-cat 'toys'.

And for myself... I guess I must resolve to become more realistic, and to realize that I cannot change things that will not be changed.