Monday, August 31, 2009

Just peachy!


Western Colorado is know for it's wonderful, juice-dripping-down-your-arm-to-your-elbow peaches. Really - that's what people look for, and find, in the peaches grown here! I have been having home made peach ice cream almost daily for the last month. I haven't eaten cereal without huge juicy chunks of fresh peach on it for about that long, and my most common breakfast is just a peach, a slice of cinnamon toast, and a cup of coffee. These aren't wimpy peaches, either! They are the size of a softball, not a baseball. The Peach Festival here is a big deal... bigger than the Corn Festival or even the Wine Festival. (We are big on festivals.)
My small paintings have been doing pretty well in the gallery. I got a call Saturday that I need to replace ones sold. So yesterday I began this 6x6" oil painting on masonite, and I finished it this morning. At least, I think I'm done with it. I had at first painted in a very dark background, then I wiped it out, thinking I'd re-paint it, but I just really fell in love with the scratchy left-behind background the paper towel left behind, and I think I'll leave it. In response to the loose background, I decided to paint the rest of it loosely, and I like it, too. What do you think?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Illustration Friday: Magnify

The Illustration Friday topic this week is magnify. I have actually been thinking about this tapestry, which I wove long, long ago, in a studio far, far away (well, across town, anyway), and I decided it would fit the theme well. "Magnify," according to my computer dictionary, means several things. It means 'to make something appear larger than it is (as with a microscope)'; it also means 'to exaggerate the importance of' something; and also it has been used in spiritual terms to mean to 'extol, praise, or glorify' the Lord.

This tapestry includes all of those definitions. It is titled "The Lion and the Lamb." I was noticing the true beauty of the common dandelion as I walked near our cabin one day, where they are very large, the blooms and seedheads being 3-5 inches across. Then it occurred to me that in that one plant, a 'noxious weed' at that, there appears a lion-type flower along side a lamb-type seedhead; the Lion lying down with the Lamb, as it were. I wondered if that was an intentional thing done by the clever Creator? So, of course, I had to weave it.

The tapestry greatly magnifies the dandelion. It is 36x40". It was woven at a sett of 5 epi, which is quite a loose sett for me. But I used huge bundles of weft yarns together... all kinds of stuff, (rayon, silk, textured yarns) blended with wool. The 'black' background actually has no true black in it; it is purples, dark blues and greens. The seedhead is mohair, as are the seeds floating away.

Even though this piece is an old one, (and who would ever buy a tapestry of a weed?) I still like it a lot. It brings back to me that moment when I saw the lion and the lamb lying down together in this humble plant. And, as I am a pacifist, that concept is a very inspiring one to me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

From my fridge to yours...

These aren't actually still on my fridge door, but they once were, and I found them while searching for something else, so decided to share them with you.

They are about creativity and deadlines, so I tore them out of the paper years ago - (literally, as I never can find scissors when I need them!)- and have kept them, I guess so you could have them, too! As always, click on the image to see it larger.

I have been having trouble leaving comments on some of your blogs. I'm not sure why, as sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. I think Blogger is somehow at fault, so if you have trouble leaving a comment, come back and try again later. OK? I like hearing from you! For instance, I have tried several times to comment on Jennifer's blog about her great story about pet fostering/adoption. Love it Jennifer! Sorry I can't seem to comment there...

(You may also enjoy this that I found and posted earlier.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

'Not at the bottom, and not at the top...'

I am at the halfway point in this tapestry, and I am finally beginning to like it! Some pieces go that way. I like the maquette and I trust that, if I follow it, I will like the resulting tapestry. But sometimes it takes awhile for me to see enough result from all that trusting and following to be able to imagine that the tapestry will be what I want it to be.

This photo shows what is visible on the loom right now... about six inches. There is more wrapped around the beam, but of course it can't be seen. I am beginning to see the shadow shapes. The tapestry, "January," is to be of bare trees and their shadows on the snowy street in front of my house as seen from above (from my second floor window, in fact.) Not only am I liking how it is beginning to look, but I am really enjoying making those small organic shapes! And I'm even liking the greys! It helps to be having a bit more work time the past few days. Just as my husband says, "a tired puppy is a happy puppy," it is also true that a working artist is a happy artist.

(By the way, the quote at the top of this post is from AA Milne's poem "Halfway Down the Stairs," which I still frequently sing to myself when I get to the landing halfway down our stairs. You can hear it sung by a Muppet here... which is from whom I learned the song version many years ago, when I had small voices to sing it with me! )

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The call of the Siren...

It seems like everyone is going somewhere. Janet of the Tangled Web is in Switzerland for three months; Ann of Mason-Dixon Knitting has been in Estonia and Mary Anne from Dispatch From LA has been in Portugal. My to-the-right neighbors are packing to go to France for a month, and our preacher and his wife just returned from there. Our across-the-street neighbors are on their annual month-long+ backpacking trip in the mountains. I meet many people from all over the world who have come here to Colorado when I work in the gallery, or even at the Farmer's Market.

It has been a while since I have gone 'on vacation,' but I too have been hearing the call to pack my bags and seek adventure, to re-fill my visual bank as I empty out my literal one. I have traveled several times with a couple of artist friends. We first went to Whidbey Island, Washington (that is where the video is from), then to Santa Fe, then to Boston. The Washington trip resulted in several paintings, though no tapestry yet. The Boston one also yielded several paintings, and the "Rockport Skiffs" tapestry, which was stolen.

My relationship with the mountains is a strong one. I had never, though, felt any relationship with the ocean, having only seen California beaches peopled with tan, thin, surfers - something I have not ever related or aspired to. But when I saw the wild unpeopled oceans of the northeast and northwest, I felt that I was watching the heartbeat of the earth in their surf. And I do now sometimes long to hear that pounding roar, and to feel that spray; to race the waves up and down the rocky shore in search of her treasures.

So... my artist friends and I have booked a vacation to Maine in October. Already I am flipping through the travel guide, planning where we can go to make the most of our short week there. The land of the Wyeth's and where Edward Hopper painted! "The Country of the Pointed Firs" that Sarah Orne Jewett wrote so beautifully about! Rugged shores and rugged people. And L.L. Bean, to boot! Oh, I can hardly wait!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Illustration Friday: Caution

The IF topic this week is caution. So I am posting this tapestry, which is called "FALL / don't fall." It is about caution... about the fear of taking risks... about being willing to occasionally allow yourself to risk falling, failing, looking a fool, just to take the risk to DO something. It is about "throwing caution to the wind" and just stepping out into the unknown. These are things I need to prod myself to do frequently, because I am a very cautious person at heart.

I have a quote framed in my studio by Elinor Roosevelt. She said to "Do one thing everyday that scares you." Hope you have an amazing, if frightening, week!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When hands are stilled, the mind doth wander...

I have not been at the loom or easel for some days now. My days have been filled with company, cooking, and such mundane things as puppy vomit (do not ask). But in my mind, I have been visiting The Lady of Shallot. I don't know why - perhaps because I was trying to think of some good literature with strong little girl heroines for my grand-daughter, and I thought of Anne Shirley (of Green Gables), and Anne often quoted Tennyson's poem. Or perhaps it's because I saw this Waterhouse painting of her not long ago, and I had never seen it, having only seen her painted dead in a boat, not at her loom. So I got out Tennyson's poem and reread it. I'll share these phrases with you today, so the Lady can leave my busy head, and begin to haunt yours!

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay....
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,...
But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,...
She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.

You know the rest... or, if not, why not check it out? Quite dramatic for weaving lore! But we weavers... ah, what dangers loom ahead when we think and dream too much as we weave our webs!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

WWJD? or What Would Jane Do?

In the past 2 1/2 months, 1 1/2 months worth of my time has been spent in either having or being guests. That is how Colorado summers go.

But that, in addition to having a new puppy in the house, have added up to a realization that my goal of having this oh-so-small-and-quick-to-weave tapestry off the loom by the end of August is just not going to be met. I truly hate not meeting my self-imposed goals! Although I have let nobody down but myself, it is still always a huge disappointment.

So, I ask myself, what would my heroine Jane do? Jane had her own ambitions. For the most part, she kept them to herself, as nobody took them seriously. Well, that I can relate to.

Jane would sneak off into her private sanctuary, a room with a squeaky door so she would know in advance if anyone was coming, and she could hide her work away. I can also relate to the squeaky doors - and floorboards and stairways. I always know in advance if anyone is coming!

But I don't have a maid in my kitchen cooking for me and my guests, as Jane did. Nor do I have a loyal sister in the house, willing to take on some of my share of the social duties of hostess for me, as Cassandra did so Jane could work.

So, drop Jane into my life, and what would she do? I don't think she would give up on her goals. Perhaps she would sneak into the studio to work when the rest of the house was asleep? But, Jane, how tired can you get for your work? Will your passion to meet the goal overcome exhaustion? And would you never feel cranky and put upon? Yes, actually, you would feel cranky and put upon.

Well, this "What Would Jane Do?" exercise is not yielding me much respite from my frustration, as I know she had her frequent frustrations, as well. Perhaps I need a different heroine to help me solve my problems.

WWHD? (or What Would Hermione Do?) Now she would have a solution for me! Does anyone have a spare working wand they can loan me? Or perhaps a 'time turner?' (Though I think I prefer the wand... ah! what I could do with a wand!... and maybe a Wonder Woman lasso...)

More company arriving tomorrow, for a week's stay.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Booker and the bag

Playing catch-up...

With a busy, busy puppy in the house, I am falling far behind in my work, and in housework (which is also 'my work'), as well! In addition, our internet provider was out all day yesterday, and I had this feeling that I was missing important emails all day long.

I did the 9x12" painting above in small moments this past week. Actually, I did all of the underpainting in one half-hour puppy nap, then finished it up whenever I could sneak in a moment or two. The Winefest is coming up, and it is evidently a very good sales time at the Blue Pig Gallery. So they have suggested that we do something that might appeal to people who come to it. I don't want to do anything large, expensive or too time consuming for it, because I have never found that kind of 'creating to sell' to be profitable for me, but I wanted to do this painting anyway. It is of the lake where our cabin is, viewed from the Lodge porch. So I guess it will be called "Lodgeview, Vega Lake." Nothing like the obvious! I guess I could call it "A Fine Colorado White Wine" or just "Colorado Wine," but those seem like pretentious little titles, with a somewhat unctuous bouquet.

Monday, August 10, 2009

On the easel...

I began this 16x20" painting of my grandson at work at the gallery a week and a half ago. I have it now to the point that it needs to dry, then I'll assess any needed changes. What I love about the scene/image (other than the adorable child) is the brightness of the colors. But I'm wondering if I have made the sand too bright?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Illustration Friday: Impatience

For this weeks IF topic, "Impatience," I did a digital drawing of Booker, using Painter. It was pretty fun, and the furry brush was perfect for his furriness! He is now always impatient to be doing and finding new things, and we are impatient for him to learn the ways of a 'good dog,' which he actually is doing, though sometimes not quickly enough for his impatient humans.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Life is what happens...

I got an envelope in today's mail that included last week's issue of "Explore" (the entertainment magazine) from the Farmington, NM Daily Times. The cover has my "September" tapestry on it! A nice surprise, as was the award check that also came in the envelope.

I have not been weaving this week, nor have I painted in the studio since last Saturday. Sometimes there are other things that are more important. This week, sidewalk chalk art and crayons have been the house mediums, as my son and two of my grandchildren have been visiting. The watercolor below of flowers (her current specialty) was done by my 5-yr. old grand-daughter, and the marker bird was done by her 3-year old brother. He also did a hummingbird (same look, in a smaller size and with a longer beak) and several amazing portraits of Barack Obama, a family hero.

They left this morning, and this afternoon, I painted with the Alzheimers patients. A gentleman and I both painted a jersey cow, and I met several new Alzheimer's painters, though I am missing some of my previous 'regulars.' So I have not been totally uncreative, just haven't been doing my own work. I will get back to it soon, though. I am almost at the mid-way point in the "January' tapestry and have an underpainting done of a large oil painting that I am anxious to complete!