Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I DO complete things, although it often feels like I do not. These days I am doing things in 'fits and starts,' as my grandmothers would have said. I do a bit of inside work, then a bit of garden work, then I attend to some needful tasks for the Connections exhibit, then I spend a few stolen moments in the studio. So working any of those things from start to completion just doesn't seem to happen very often. But, as a tapestry weaver, that is not uncommon for me. I know a started task will eventually find it's way to the end.

Several things seem to have found that state recently. The alpaca scarf I was knitting is done, and put away in the 'gift' stash.
And I have completed (I think, but changes might still be made) these three paintings:

"Mon Vieux Lucien", which is the song the lady on the left was singing on the streets of Quebec, (Oil, 16x20")
"Interlude" (oil 12x16"), of Penn Cove off Whidbey Island, Washington,
and "Memories for Sale" (oil 9x12").

I have also completed the swapping of my heavy winter clothes for my spring/summer ones. So happy to see those cropped pants and T-shirts, after all those weighty sweaters and jeans!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"April is the Cruellest Month..."

Well, that is the only line of poetry that I remember that mentions April, tho' I'm pretty sure Wordsworth wrote one, too. (The line is from TS Eliot's "Wasteland", which my favorite bit of poetry at one point in my adolescence.)

Actually, I'm posting about poetry because OzWeaver has several good posts on April being poetry month, which I didn't remember. I should have remembered, because one of my favorite bookmarked links is to The Writer's Almanac which Garrison Keillor does for NPR. In fact, today's poem is about April, and is a very good one!

Also on her ArgoKnot blog, Brenda has posted some great paintings of poets, so I decided to post this at-best-adequate little oil sketch of Lord Byron that I did when I was experimenting with the oils I use. I used only burnt sienna and a bit of white and black, at the end. I painted the whole thing with burnt sienna, then wiped out the light areas, then added touches of white and black in a few little places. Painting from a photo of someone I never knew personally helps me 'distance' myself from needing perfection, and, oddly enough, those paintings usually turn out more satisfactorily than those I am worried about 'getting the mouth right' on. It really is delightful to do a small portrait this way - with no drawing involved at all!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Illustration Friday: Theatre

I did this little 5x7" oil sketch of my grandchildren's feet from a photo my daughter-in-law posted on her Facebook page. I think the shoes were in their Easter baskets, new Croc sandels for the spring and summer. I thought it was appropriate for the IF topic of Theatre, because these two, at 3 and 5 years, already are choosing roles they want to play for this stage of their life. My grandson's shoes, though I can't see the details closely in the photo, surely must have Spiderman on them, and my grandaughter's will be either fairies or princesses.

I also love that my grandson has on mismatched socks. His father, from the time he was allowed to pick his own socks until now, I believe, never wore matching socks. I think they both have always had a bit of Dobby the House Elf in them, who is sure wearing matching socks is a boring oversight to be avoided.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts...
Wm. Shakespeare, As You Like It

Friday, April 24, 2009

This I know for sure...

In my position as 'committee chairperson' in the organization of the Connections: Small Tapestry International exhibit, I have had the opportunity to look many times at images of the small tapestries sent to me for consideration. As I look them over, both the ones that will be in the show and ones that will not, some speak more loudly to me than others, and I ask myself what the difference might be. I have come to believe the difference is passion.

Jean Lurcat has said that tapestry, to be true to the medium, must be very large, even "lofty" in size. It needs to fill our vision to get our attention. That is no longer true. I have seen some very small ideas woven into large lofty tapestries, and I have seen large ideas fully realized in small tapestries.

In these times of economy, when we are told constantly that we must conserve our resources; that everything must be smaller and less to survive, it is natural for artists to also 'go small.' I'm seeing this trend in all mediums, not only in the medium of tapestry. And perhaps with tapestry, a costly medium, it is a natural economy. Buyers cannot afford large pieces in tight times; artists cannot afford to create and stockpile large works, hoping for better times to come. But one thing we artists must not conserve on: we must not conserve on the content in our work. While we may 'go small' in size, now is not the time to 'go small' in message.

Artists have the power to be social spokespersons, cultural mirrors, and spiritual healers. And if we work on a smaller scale, we must make sure that we speak in louder voices. We must create what is true and noble, what is encouraging to others and of value to ourselves. In hard times, perhaps more than in easier times, the world needs from us the beautiful and the specific, the original and the universal, the small statements filled with large affirmations. Even when we work small, we can be large.

If we create expressions of what we love, what we value, we can make life better and stronger for ourselves and for those who view our work. We can have a part in the healing that needs to take place. Creativity is a necessary medicine to heal a 'sick' world.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Springtime in the Rockies....

We went up to our rustic mountain cabin for an overnight, just to check on things and to see if winter was turning into spring there yet. There have been a number of really warm days, even up there, but the lake is still mostly frozen. The snow around the lake and cabin is almost all gone, though, so fishing season won't be far away!

I have made a tiny bit of progress on the tapestry, though not much, as I had my parents here for a week, and I just spent that time enjoying their visit.

Since they left, I also began a small painting, which I hope to finish soon. Studio time has competition right now, though. My garden is growing, whether I'm ready for it to do so or not. The spring bulbs are mostly done, and the lilacs are beginning to scent the yard. Time to open the windows and let that glorious sweet smell inside! The flowering crab and the iris' and columbines are ready to burst as well, and the strawberries are already setting on, trying to compete with the rhubarb to see which will be savored first.

Thank you all who wished me a happy birthday. Your wishes were greatly appreciated, as my birthday is a very low-key thing at our house. No bowing down, very little saluting...

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Bow down to her on Sunday...

...and Salute her when her birthday comes!"
This little oil sketch is for the Illustration Friday topic, "Impossibility." My birthday is in a few days, and here is what I want: I want to go to a lovely little cottage I know of on Whidbey Island in Washington. It's big enough, so I want all my children and grandchildren to come be there with me. I want it to be a lovely day, so we can go to the beach and pick up seashells together. Then I want to have mussels for dinner, followed by chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. And I would also like to be about 37 years old again. All lovely impossible birthday wishes... at least for this year (and any year for that last wish, which is pure impossibility.)

The quote is from the song that is going about in my head today, "She Belongs to Me" by Bob Dylan, which starts out: "She's got everything she needs, She's an artist and she don't look back..." Well, OK. When I blow out the candles, I won't wish to be 37 again. Sigh... but the rest of it stands! Impossible or not...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hot off the press!

I got my hot-off-the-press copy of the Connections: Small Tapestry International catalog today. They will shortly be available to everyone here. The catalog features color photos of all pieces in the exhibit, so, especially if you can't attend the exhibit in person, I know you will want a copy! I am looking forward to seeing all of the pieces 'up close and in person' in San Jose in a few weeks time.

My parents are here for a short visit, so I am not getting into the studio this week. However, I did get this beginning woven on the 'January' tapestry last week. It will be the same size as the 'September' and 'February' tapestries, at just 18x18 inches square.

I got the jury results from the Fiber Celebration 2009 exhibit recently, too. Both pieces I entered were accepted, so "The Gift" (Fall of the Seasons series) and "February" will both be there through the summer. If you happen to be in Colorado this summer, stop in and see them, plus a lot of other great fiber art! The Loveland Museum is a lovely place for an exhibit, and it is in a very fiber friendly place, with Interweave Press just down the street, and several great weaving/knitting shops nearby.

PS. Oh, yes! I forgot to mention that we put a detail of Jan Austin's "Chaotic Fragments Part 2" on the catalog cover. Jan's work can be seen on her blog at her Tangled Web blog. In fact, her latest post is more about her work in her Chaos series. Her piece looks great on the cover, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Grandmothers Rule!

I saw this news blurb and it excited me enough to post it, even though I should be doing other things:


(ANSA) - L`Aquila, April 7 - A 98-year-old grandmother rescued 30 hours after Monday`s earthquake in Abruzzo said she had whiled away the time ``crocheting`` amid the rubble.
Firemen on Tuesday morning found Maria D`Antuoni waiting in her bed surrounded by fallen plaster in the small village of Tempera.
D`Antuoni ate some crackers and told television crews ``at least let me comb my hair`` as they waited for an interview.
``What did I do all this time? I was working, I was crocheting,`` she said.

Photo: A rescuer searches through rubble in Tempera.

And now, this somewhat younger Grandmother must get back to dealing with my much less threatening rubble. Puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring Break!

I will be taking a bit of a break from blogging for awhile. The Connections exhibit is taking a lot of my time now, and I have family visits and needs coming up, as well as a garden that needs me badly! I hope, while I am not blogging, to also get some creative work done, which I will share with you when I return. In the meantime, have a wonderful Spring!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Met's featured work of the day...

The Met Museum's Featured Work of Art for the Day:

The Unicorn Is Attacked is one of a series of seven tapestries that have been displayed at The Cloisters since its opening in 1938. Probably designed in Paris and woven in the southern Netherlands around 1500, the tapestries are among the greatest works to survive from the period and they are a favorite of visitors to The Cloisters. Peter Barnet, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, recently spoke with Met News editor Jennette Mullaney about this beloved tapestry.

"The seven tapestries were once thought to constitute a single series, but they seem to break down into smaller groups. The Unicorn Is Attacked is one of four tapestries that belong to the largest of these. They all depict a unicorn hunt set in a landscape with a stream in the foreground below and the sky above. … In The Unicorn Is Attacked, sometimes called The Unicorn Leaps across the Stream, the unicorn is trying to escape the hunters who surround it with lances and a variety of weapons. The hunters are accompanied by realistically depicted hunting dogs. The unicorn was associated with Christ in the Middle Ages and the four tapestries in this group can be understood as an allegory of the Passion of Christ. Late medieval Passion literature, for example, describes the tormenters of Christ as dogs."

This is what I received via email today. You can also sign up for the artwork of the day on the Met website, or just read and see more about this piece here.

Jennifer, from Finding the Real Me honored me with a Kreative Blogger award. Thanks, Jennifer! So I am supposed to let you know about eight more creative blogs that inspire me. So here they are, in no particular order (kinda like my house right now, which is in no kind of order at all!):

Woolgathering and Karen Blados' Sketch Blog both amaze me with their persistent and consistent sketching disciplines. Bedlam Farm has the most amazing photos, and often touching tales of farm life and many other things. The Earthly Paradise has interesting posts about all things relating to the romantic Pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts eras, which I love. Daily Paintworks always inspires me with amazing little paintings, created daily by incredible artists. Karen Jurick's work also inspires me. Mason-Dixon Knitting inspires the knitter in me, and often just gives me a good chuckle. And the tapestries of Cornelia Forster amaze and delight me. And, of course, all of the links I already have on my blog, to the right, are ones I visit regularly to get a creative boost. I hope you have a few minutes to visit some of these blogs, and maybe find a few new favorites among them!