Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I don't know why....


... but for some reason I have really been wanting to paint a cow. Well, a picture of a cow, at any rate. So today I did! It's small - just 5x7". And it just took Booker's naptimes to do. Fun! I will call it "Outstanding in Her Field."

Another thing I have been doing is knitting baby sweaters. Among our acquaintances, babies come in flocks or herds or litters - well, not litters, because they all belong to different families. But there are half-a-gazillion babies due in the next several months in our church family. So I've been knitting tiny sweaters whenever I sit down to watch TV. This one was from a cardigan pattern, but I did it in sock weight self-striping yarn, so to keep the striping somewhat even all round, I had to change it to a pullover, then had to put an opening on the raglan shoulder seam, to make pulling-it-over easier on Mom and baby. I also had to knit three sleeves for this sweater, not because the sweet little baby will have three arms, but because Booker got hold of one of the finished sleeves and ate a hole in the middle of it. I am very careful where I put my knitting down now.

So no weaving again today. But tomorrow my husband is off, so maybe I can sit and weave a bit while he plays "Booker-dad." Then I'll plop down in front of the PBS National Parks episode to begin another baby sweater tomorrow night!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More National Parks...

I have not ever been to an 'ugly' National Park. Last night, Ken Burns' series talked more about Yellowstone and Yosemite, but also about Mesa Verde, here in Colorado. It is an amazing place, well worth preserving. In fact, I live fairly near to several wonderful places. Here in Grand Junction we have the Colorado National Monument, and Burns talked about how those came about, as well (Thank you, Teddy Roosevelt!). Several weeks ago, I went with two of my grandchildren on the train to Rocky Mountain National Park, and they became Junior Park Rangers there.

The tapestries here are ones I did (in my 'travel sketch' series) of some of Utah's gorgeous parks. The one of Zion is of the "Great white Throne" which towers above the park. The one of Bryce National Park is of the amazing 'hoodoos' covered with a dusting of snow, which is how we saw them in April several years ago. And the one below is of the Arches National Park in nearby Moab. I am especially glad that these parks are protected, because there is no doubt in my mind that they would otherwise be totally ruined by now. As it is, some spectacular petroglyphs in the Arches were vandalized with paint a number of years ago, and were permanently damaged. What is wrong with people that they do not see the value and necessity of Beauty?

Each of these tapestries are 8x10". They were all mounted together, and sold to a private collector (and, presumably, a National Park lover).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Highly recommended!

I sat down and watched the first episode of Ken Burns' "National Parks" on my local PBS station last night. I can't praise it highly enough! The photos, old and new; the soundtrack; the research and historical information, all told so beautifully...! Everything about it makes me proud of our National Park system, and thrilled to be one of the 'owners and stewards' of such beautiful creations.

I have woven several small tapestries of several of the National Parks. Above is the one I did of Yellowstone a number of years ago. It is 8x10".

Below is a small oil sketch I did of Yosemite, which I saw for the first time two years ago. Those are the two first parks and the ones covered last night. If it broadcasts in your area, watch it!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

May old weavers never disappear...

I found this fantastic photo in the copyright free (common) image library over at Flickr. The original can be seen here, where the person who uploaded it said about it, "The location of this photograph is something of a puzzle: it was posted in Paris and it was sent to the Orne department (where there is a town called Aubusson), but also, in the background you can see "Manufacture de Tapis à Aubusson"... but the Aubusson of the famous tapestry workshops is a different town in the Creuse department!"
I wonder if the folks in the photo are weavers on their way to or from work? Or just passing people in the street? - tho' they look too interconnected for that. Don't you just love old photos? And also the new ones we take today, which will hopefully make somebody wonder about us in the future...
Is the young boy a bobbin winder? An apprentice? Are the loaves of bread under the men's arms to share for lunch, or to take home to their families? And what is in the ledger that the uniformed man is carrying? A lovely photo to wander around in my wondering imagination for a bit of time!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Illustration Friday: Pattern

I had figured I'd probably not participate in IF today, as I have a lot of other things to work on. But when I saw that the topic is "Pattern" I HAD to post something! Pattern is my all-time favorite, hands-down (or up, or wherever) design element! I LOVE pattern! I am more in love with it all the time. In fact, just earlier this week I was looking through magazines in Barnes and Noble over coffee with a friend and we were discussing our mutual love for pattern. So, anyway, not to get carried away with what I love, (which surely is more of a Facebook thing and I still don't get Facebook), I decide to post this watercolor which I did a number of years ago. I still like it, and have it hanging in my sitting room. It is of my Grandma Maisie and her mother (my great-grandma). What I love about it, besides their expressions and body language, are the patterns in their house-dresses, and the pattern I added in the 'hankies' painted around the edges, painted from actual handkerchiefs that were theirs. The photo of it isn't very good, as I had to take it through the glass (it's a watercolor.)

I am also loving the pattern of the shadows of the tapestry I'm weaving now.

Although very irregular, it is still a pattern (any other repeating element, ie. line or shape, creates a pattern). I'm using pattern more and more in my work. I loved the pattern in the "Dama con Mangoes" tapestry, and also in the "February" tapestry, and my favorite parts of the Seasons tapestries were the patterns up the side borders.

So, see, I just had to post about pattern!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Yesterday's crop...


I have discovered that, if I plan a painting the day before, and if it is small enough, I can complete it during one day's worth of Booker naps! This is a good thing, because the gallery (which is ever encroaching on my weaving time) is having a miniatures exhibit during the months of November and December, and we have been told that we have to keep our spaces filled, and I already know that small pieces sell pretty well.

So yesterday I did this small (5"x5") oil on canvas. I'm actually pretty happy with it, too! It is on a canvas with deep sides, which I also painted, so it will not have to be framed. Yea! (Frames are hard for me to choose, and expensive.) So maybe today I can weave a bit - tho' the day has not started auspiciously, as Booker grabbed the tablecloth and ran as I was eating breakfast, pulling my cereal and milk with him. He is outside 'thinking over' his bad deeds (aka, digging a new hole in the garden.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Yippie-ti-yi-yo, get along little doggie!

At the risk of sounding like a tired mother of a toddler, I am not getting much done here, thanks to my puppy parenting. We take our puppy parenting pretty seriously, so I don't just throw him in the yard to dig holes to his heart's content, though I am often tempted to do so. He does have a crate, which he sleeps in, but I also don't put him in it unless he is sleepy, or unless it is absolutely necessary, like I have to go somewhere for a short while. He naps about 2 hours a day. During that time, I have figured that I need to do the following things, which I can't easily do with puppy supervision:
- Anything in the studio; painting or weaving or design work. He is NOT allowed in the studio, for very good reasons!
- Cleaning. While I can do some cleaning tasks (ie.dusting), I can't ever finish them up. And vacuuming is even hard to do when he is asleep, if I want him to stay that way.
- Laundry. He is not allowed in the basement... same problem as the studio. He just finds too many 'puppy toys' and whatever I'm trying to do just turns into chase and retrieve time (with me doing the chasing and retrieving, which is NOT a good thing.)
- Bathing. He likes the taste of soap and shampoo, but I really prefer to rinse with clean water, rather than a puppy tongue.
- Actually, pretty much anything that I used to just 'do' without having to plan around puppy naps.

So there are not that many things that I can do while he is awake. I can sit at the computer for short periods of time... a blog post works occasionally. I can cook; the kitchen is easy to keep him closed in with me. I can read, if I do it outside. I can also use the laptop and do some knitting outside. He is a very good puppy outside, if I'm out there with him. I can do yardwork, if I do it in the puppy yard, so it is getting more work done on it than ever before! It is starting to get cooler, though, so sitting and working outside are soon going to be things I don't want to spend much time doing. But pretty much anything that I can do with him under-foot can only last about 15 minutes, before we must move on to something else.

I know that this, too, will pass. And we will have a very good dog as a part of the family. And all of the time and attention we are giving him will have been worth it. (So, does this paragraph sound well-rehearsed speech? Like I say it to myself a billion times a day?)

Since I'm not getting much weaving done, I PhotoShopped the picture of my husband carrying Booker to somewhat 'simulate' a tapestry. As opposed to months, it only took minutes! I can no longer carry Booker, and soon my husband won't want to, either. He is 3 times bigger than he was when we got him.

News update on the kitty that was here for awhile: My neighbor tells us that it is now an indoor kitty that loves lap-sitting and being petted. A lovely happy ending!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

...and speaking of infinite books...

I mentioned that I often buy books for their cover. Here is one that clearly falls into that category: I actually recently read it, during a time when I didn't have library books to binge on and get back in on time. It was a cute old romance, with all of the typical twists and turns, ending up 'happily ever after' for most characters (and the ones who didn't end up happy had of course gotten what they deserved). It had a number of weaving metaphors, as well. A fun escape read. And a pretty book to have on my shelf.

Here is another book I have been enjoying recently.It was given to me a few weeks ago for my 'unbirthday' by a friend who knows me very well, and knew I would love it! The Queen's sketches are very 'accomplished-British-lady-of-means,' much like Beatrix Potter's countryside sketches.

As I'm getting ready to travel, I have also pulled a few more sketchbooks off my shelf.
I love Maira Kalman, and I also love the little sketchbook of Jackie Kennedy's travels! I think it's wonderful that she had an artist travel with her to sketch her adventures for children, rather than having a photographer along. I think Michelle Obama should do that on her upcoming trip to propose Chicago for the Olympics. And I volunteer to do it for her!

My house is filled with infinite books. There is not a room in the house (no, not even the bathrooms) that does not have books in it. Most rooms have filled shelves, and, if not shelves, then piles!

Have you ever been in a home without books? It just feels 'wrong' - like something vital is missing; some true life sustaining force. Well, my house has a LOT of that force! And may that force be with you, too!

(I am now going to sneak past the dozing puppy and go to the loom!)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Illustration Friday: Infinite

The IF topic this week is Infinite. I decided to post this oil painting, which sold in an exhibit. It is of the Lowell Library at Harvard. The library is filled with old classic books, which I see to hold infinite hours of pleasure for anyone who can stay awhile and delve into them. Unfortunately, I think most of those who use the library are studying for other infinite rewards, so the first edition novels by Austen, Twain, Dickens, et al mostly are left to get dusty and are ignored. But, in my imagination, I sneak in and spend endless hours pulling one after another off the shelf and pour over the infinate images they secret within. I actually did get to read a Willa Cather novel from the library last fall when we were there; an old copy that felt like a treasure of infinite value. I love reading old books that feel like the history of the volume, who has held and read it before me, adds to the story somehow.

The painting is a 16x20" oil on canvas.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Illustration Friday: Welcome

Even though Friday is past, I'll post this page from my sketchbook to say Welcome to my favorite season, Fall! The leaves are beginning to turn and fall here, and the weather is cooling down. Autumn always energizes my creativity, so the season change is indeed very welcome!

The sketchbook this page is from is a handmade one, with very heavy, highly textured handmade paper. It is almost filled - just a few more sketches. Then I can say "Welcome" also to a new sketchbook!

Water: A current obsession (pun of course intended)

A month from now, I will be along the Maine coast. Perhaps that is why water has been on my mind lately, tho' water in it's many moods has been of interest to me for quite some time.

I just returned home from a lovely weekend trip to take 2 of my grandchildren on a train trip up into the Rockies. Even on that short trip I saw water in many forms: in both a slow and a fast river; in a large lake; in a small beaver pond; in a rippling mountain run-off stream. I saw it both in light sprinkles of rain and in torrents which blinded me to everything around me. Most of these images of water I didn't take the time to photograph, as I was busy enjoying my grandchildren or driving at the time. So all of the images in the slideshow are not from this weekend, though some are. Some are images I have photographed at other times, (but all are my photos.)

Water has so many colors and moods. It can be still and peaceful, but it can also be frighteningly destructive and deadly. Water is the source of life, both physically and spiritually. Water can grant us peace, or be a force to fear, both because of it's lack and because of it's excess.

Water can transport us, nourish us, cleanse us, entertain us, and destroy us. As a desert dweller, landlocked all of my life, water is not something I can easily take for granted. As a visual artist, I am drawn to the many images water makes. She is the ultimate shape-shifter. But water is such a large and changeable force, I have never been able to successfully capture her portrait in either of the mediums I work in...

My grand-daughter (age 5) clearly shares my
interest in water!

This is my 3-year old grandson's watercolor painting of a beaver pond, complete with beaver, and done on site. The stripes above the pond aren't a rainbow, but are quite accurate color stripes representing the background mountains and clouds! I wish I had the confidence he exhibits while he is painting!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gone to the dogs...and cats

I feel like we have been living a chapter  from All Creatures Great and Small around here for the past week. Not only have my life moments and activities been directed by a small dog, but we have had an ongoing saga with a neighborhood kitty.
It moved into our and our next-door neighbor's yards about a week and a half ago. It lived part-time under their deck, and when their three dachshunds drove it away, it would come into our yard. It also would lay in a space between the two yards, where none of our resident pets seemed to upset it at all. My neighbor confessed to me on about the third day of it's 'visit' to us that she had been feeding it. I had to confess back to her that I had been feeding it, as well! It was a sweet, timid little thing, and Booker would go look at it on the other side of the fence, not a foot from him, and not seem to faze it at all. But we couldn't get our hands on it. Finally on Tuesday, the neighbor decided that her dachshunds were getting too stressed by it's presence, so she got  a live trap from our vet, and we trapped it, determined to find it a home that didn't contain three dachshunds or an overly enthusiastic puppy. We went through several friends, who we thought might want it, but who all decided against it, as it is very young and not yet domesticated, though (we were sure) sweet and tame-able. The neighbor, on our vet's advise, contacted two cat rescue facilities, but both said they were full, and wouldn't take it! I would have opted for continuing to feed it, and gradually making more contact with it, until we could bring it in when the weather gets harsh, but the neighbor's dachshunds were just too obsessed with it, and Booker and Gussie were becoming a bit concentrated on it as well. So we spent the last day and a half, determined to find it a good home. I had decided that if we didn't find one by yesterday evening, I would just bring it in and deal with whatever happened. But yesterday afternoon, my neighbor's grandson's girlfriend came by and fell in love with the little thing and took it to it's new home. She (the girlfriend) lives on a small farm, and has had many cats, though she was without one right now. Lovely ending! We feel quite satisfied, in a 'James Herriot' sort of way! Bless you, neighbor's-grandson's-girlfriend! And may you have a lovely life, sweet little visitor kitty...

Monday, September 7, 2009

A bit of labor...

At the gallery on Saturday there was a constant stream of visitors - mostly tourists from out of the area. In spite of the traffic, I set up an easel (which is encouraged there) and worked on an 8x10 painting throughout the day. It is an image from a public garden in Quebec. Greens are hard for me, so it was quite a challenge! Anyway, here it is at this point.
I also re-did my little corner, changing some summer-ish paintings to some that feel more autumn-ish. Here is what I have there now: 
There is an all-artist gallery meeting on Wednesday, and I plan to talk to the gallery manager about having a tapestry show in the winter, which will probably drag us into the always dreaded 'A vs. c' debate. Harrumph!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Wet and prickly situations...

We went up to the lake for the early part of the Labor day weekend. We have always had swimming dogs (retrievers and labs), and Booker loves mud puddles and the resulting baths, so we figure he will also love the lake. It was a bit chilly, though. You could see him thinking, 'you want me to do what?' or maybe it was more like, 'you're really going to let me get wet and muddy?' At any rate, he didn't really swim, just waded in up to his chest. I think the lake looked a LOT bigger than our bathtub to him.
He had lots of sniffing around to do, and we had to watch what he put in his mouth, as there is a lot of wildlife there. Fortunately, he did not run into the porcupine without us!

We went up Thursday morning, and came home just as everyone else was going up Friday evening, as I had to work at the gallery yesterday.  I hope you all are having a restful Labor Day weekend - which seems somewhat oxymoronic to me, but then what do I know?

We didn't get our typical 'sunset over the lake' photo this time, so you don't have to look at another one of those, but I did take a shot of the full moon reflected in the lake. That's a bit different, but I guess it still qualifies as another of my 'number one motif' photos. Sorry 'bout that, but evening is so lovely there, it always seems like something that I should try to capture. And then to share...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Illustration Friday: Strong

Here is a little oil painting I did this week, of some women on a "Sunday Stroll," which is the name of it, I guess. So what does it have to do with the IF topic, which is 'Strong?' Well, I know a lot of widowed women who, when they lost their lifetime mate, people said of them, 'I just don't know how she will get along! She was so dependent on him for so many years!'  But these are strong women. They have dealt with loss before, some have lost a lot in their lives.
Women deal with the loss of their children when they leave home, some lose them forever.
Women deal with the losses of war.
Women lose heart, lose faith, lose their health and their beauty.
But women just go on.
They are strong, especially when they have strong women friends to shore them up. I look at these widowed women who have been so 'dependent' all their lives, and I see their strength and I wonder who is dependent on whom?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pink Moon...

Even though they are several states away, the California fires are visible here in very red sunsets and, tonight, in causing us to have a very pink full moon! Last winter I saw pink snow for the first time, and now a pink moon! I wonder what that says about our changing atmosphere?

Anyway, now Nick Drake's song, "Pink Moon" is going through my head, so I thought I'd share it with you in this YouTube video.