Sunday, February 28, 2010

Milo's Duck!

Well, "Milo's Duck" is off the loom, and just needs to be lined, packed and sent off to the Enchanted Pathways exhibit. It is 8 1/2" x 10", and the sett was 11 epi. I used mostly fine 2 ply wool, though I split a lot of it so I could color blend. It was high-contrast color blending that created most of the texture on the neck and head. Clicking on the image will give you a closer view, if you want to see it even larger than life-size.

I don't see this piece as being terribly 'artistic.' It was more of a technical challenge for me, which is often true of the smaller pieces I do. I wanted to try to weave water. I'm not sure that I feel this attempt was overly successful, in the water areas. But I did learn some things from it, which is, as Martha would say, a Good Thing.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pressed duck...

Well, not pressed, yet, but soon to be! I finished the weaving of the duck, and had my own private cutting off this evening, foregoing even watching the Olympics in my enthusiasm to finish. So tomorrow I'll sew up all the slits and block it. (My blocking process can be seen here, so I won't bore you with that again.) Then I'll take a decent (as in 'in the daylight') photo and will post it here. By the way, this photo makes it look like I had serious draw-in problems at the top, but it's just the photo perspective and the way the piece is lying on the back warp, after being cut from the front. I am now off to relax for what is left of the evening. ¡Pato, pato, final!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Making progress!

Maybe this duck will be done in time, after all! I have consigned poor Booker to his favorite mud-holes and snowdrifts for more of the past few days, plus luring him into his crate with a peanut butter filled Kong for an afternoon nap each day, and I have been ducking and weaving like Mohammed Ali! Gettin' im done.

Now, though, as often happens, I look at it and think, 'whatever possessed me to want to weave this?' Some things should be woven and some maybe shouldn't. When I start asking myself these questions, I am just firmly telling myself to shut up and keep weaving. Weave all these duck parts in their rows. Get 'im done.

It is often a good thing for me to have to finish up quickly, mount it and send it, and not see it again for a number of months. Then it comes back and I can look at it and like it again. Maybe even remember why I chose to create it. But that is not today's concern. Today's concern is to get 'im done.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


In keeping with the Colors of February posting by Life Looms Large, I am posting this photo I took of Gus looking at some beautiful tulips my husband's office sent to cheer us up when we returned home the other day. I love the photo. I like how the backlighting made the whole background just disappear, so there is just Gus and the flowers. I know the photo isn't really out in nature, but our outside natural world is still pretty much just grey. I did see a crocus leaf peeking through the ground yesterday, so maybe this interminable winter will one day end, after all! The tulips give me hope.

Monday, February 22, 2010

She who clearly cannot leave well enough alone...

I decided I didn't like the cereal in Version 1/Plan B. It was a Kashi cereal, but looked like _____? I'm not sure what it looked like exactly, but not exactly like cereal. So I put in more milk, and a few Cherrios.The cereal reads better, but the overall composition is a bit BLAH to me. Oh, well. Must quit sometime. And it may as well be now. No promises, though. I may come up with a better fix before the night is over. But then it will have to have the rest of the week to dry.

Plan B

I did this small (8x8") painting, and will call it "Mourning News," as I was going to call the other one. I actually like it fairly well, though I may see more to do on it later in the day. Right now, I am going to walk away from it for a bit. It is loosely and simply done, but that is appropriate for it's size.

I should never try to be 'clever!' It just doesn't work for me. Working in a more straightforward manner is always a more successful thing for me to do. Take a lesson, Self, and avoid 'clever' shortcuts! I am clearly not clever enough myself to pull them off.

I will probably also donate an additional painting, depending on how full the exhibit is. But it will be one that is already painted! Now, on to the duck!

Believe me! Haste makes waste...

Yesterday was the day I HAD to finish the painting for the Haiti benefit exhibit, which will be hung in the gallery a week from today. Oils do take a while to dry, so I needed to get 'er done. So, in my physically and emotionally exhausted state, I drug myself into the studio and worked on it. "Just Do It" was my mantra. But I made some bad decisions, and one of them was to finish off the whole thing with a coat of medium, which would make it dry faster and have a gloss finish. I didn't test it on the newsprint areas first. Bad move. Here is the result:

The backside of the newsprint bled through. ARRRRGH! I walked away from it, hoping that, when it dried, the back print would disappear. No such luck. So this morning I had two options: I could either try to 'fix' this one, or start all over. When I pulled at the newsprint, thinking I'd pull some of it off and paint the newspaper, more came off than I wanted. In fact, it was all quite eager and willing to come off, so I think it's a good thing I didn't sell this piece, as I don't think it would have aged well. The gesso clearly didn't attach the paper well to the canvas. Here it is now:

So, on to plan B, which will be to do a small painting all in one go today. Those usually work pretty well for me, so I am painting with crossed fingers for this one. (A real trick, I must say!) No haste, though. Taking. It. Slow. And. Easy....

(...and doing it as quickly as possibly can be done, without making hasty decisions.)
And, of course, I MUST also get back to duck-weaving.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

There's a bit of a hole in our hearts...

I have lost a friend, a sister-in-law; a true sister. But I will find her again. I will find her when I pet my puppy and scratch my cat's tummy, because she loved her pets, as well as mine. I will find her as I pass a garage sale sign and feel the urge to stop and make someone else's trash my treasures. I will hear her laughter when I do something silly and want to laugh at myself with someone, because she and I could make ourselves the butt of our own funniest jokes. I will still beg for her help from above when I dig in and urge my garden to grow, because she had the greenest thumb I knew. I will think of her and smile when I continue my search for the perfect purse, because while I have searched for my perfect purse, she was frequently with me, searching for the perfect pair of shoes. I will hear her laughter in the laughter of all of my friends, because of all my friends, her laughter came the easiest. She was brave and fun and was a person who truly knew how to find and share joy. There are many things in my home, my heart, my memory that will keep her here with me, and for that I am truly blessed to have had her in my life.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Life is what happens...

We will be leaving home in the morning for about a week on an unexpected family trip. As I have not been getting the duck tapestry done as quickly as I'd hoped, and as the deadline to get it to the exhibit is coming up very soon, and also as we're really not sure how long we'll need to be gone, I have realized I may need to accept the possibility that I may not get the tapestry done in time. I may need to pull it from the exhibit. I had thought about packing it up and taking it along, as I am sure there will be quite a bit of time there when I will want busy hands. But I don't think I could take the pipe loom in my carry-on, and, frankly, I'm a bit concerned about how it would be treated even in a checked bag. So I'll probably just take some knitting and a book. And, of course, my sketchbook.

The photo above is a shot I just took of the corner of my desk. I liked the way the light was hitting it. I have been wanting to paint some interiors. Maybe, when I can get to it, I will paint it.

I'll let you know when we are back, and when I have some progress to report on the duck. Perhaps, if I weave like a fiend when I get home, I may get it done in the nick of time even yet!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Some progress, and a confession or two...

I am making progress on the duck, but oh, so slowly! I can't help but think that I could be progressing at a much more reasonable speed on a larger tapestry. Or do 'reasonable speed' and tapestry in the same sentence constitute an oxymoron? Some kind of moron, I'm thinking!

As I weave this little duck, which is not yet 4" tall, I have to confess to myself that I do much prefer to work at a larger scale. I believe if I had woven this same duck to be 3 times as large, I would have been done with it by now. Small is slow, for me.

I have made a bit more progress on the painting for the Haiti exhibit, too, but not much, as most of my studio time has been at the loom. I will get back to the easel when I reach my weaving goal for the week.

However... I am headed to the TV for a bit this afternoon and evening. While I watch the Olympics, I am finishing up a knit baby sweater, then I hope to actually knit myself something! I'd love to do an 'everyday' sweater, but these socks are also calling my name. I love the Olympics, for knitting! I will also be doing some Olympic scale laundry while in the basement at the TV. The commercials are perfect for catching up on laundry. Well, I'm off to see what Apolo Ohno is up to! (And to scrounge through my yarn stash.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Illustration Friday: Adrift

It has been awhile since I have done anything for Illustration Friday. I have just not had the opportunity to 'sit down and play,' which is what I generally do for IF. But this morning, I woke up with one of those 'storm-is-coming-headaches,' so I have been sitting a bit, letting my husband deal with the pets, in my jammies and robe, letting the Excedrin kick in, and playing.

First I put this little oil sketch (above) into PhotoShop and played a bit with it. I kinda' like it now.

Then I did my sketch of the day in my sketchbook. Since the headache was still there, I didn't want to do anything complex. I saw a bit of Zentangle on Lauren Finley's blog a while back, and have been playing with pattern (my favorite design element) in that way since. It is very relaxing. This morning, I was also trying out some brush pens in my sketchbook. The sketchbook I am using for my daily drawings was a costly mistake. It does not accept wet media well, and I was also disappointed in the brush pens. Oh well. It whiled away a bit of time, and now the snow is approaching, the Excedrin has kicked in, and I may even get dressed and head to the studio to work! Playtime was nice, though. A real necessity for artists - even those without headaches. Must. Remember. To. Play!

p.s. If you are interested in doing some Zentangle, do a search on YouTube. There are a number of videos there about it. It is really just doodling with pattern. Fun and quite right-brain.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A bit more work done... and FOUND!

Most of today was spent running errands, and helping a friend who just had some surgery. But I got into the studio this evening long enough to finish this little painted sketch of my neighbor's house, which I think I posted before while in progress. I enjoyed looking out my sitting room window so much to see that bit of red, when all else was grey this winter, so I had to paint it. I will take it over to them for Valentine's Day.

I also posted this portrait while in progress earlier. I think I am happier with it, now that I made some needed corrections this evening. I will give it to the girl who posed for me also this weekend.

Last March, almost a year ago, I posted that I was searching everywhere for a photo I wanted to do something with because I couldn't get it out of my mind. I looked for weeks... to no avail. But, looking for something else (of course) I FOUND it! In a place I would never have looked for it. It is the one of the woman in the cowgirl outfit. My dad told me she was someone he had worked with, but he had no idea why she was dressed like this. The photo had belonged to his parents. I just think it has such a 'story' to it, even though I am not sure what the story is. It's in the 30's or 40's, and I don't think adults dressed up for Halloween then, plus, this is a pretty fancy outfit for Halloween. Look at those open-toed boots! The other two photos were hiding with this one; one of another woman on horseback from about the same era, and a much older one of two women in gardening hats. I don't know if I stashed them all together for a reason? But I am glad to have found them.

Today was lovely! The sun shone, and I went about town with no coat, gloves or boots, and I had to wear my sunglasses for the first time in months. I usually wear my sunglasses always. We are at such a high altitude, that the sun is very bright and warm when it shines. I believe it only made it to the upper thirty's today, but everywhere I went, people were smiling and chatting about the wonderful day. We've been a pretty grumpy town this winter. We are clearly all fair-weather folks. It is forecasted to possibly hit 40 degrees this weekend, for the first time since November. We will all be quite giddy with joy if that happens!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Little bits of progress...

I have been working as much as possible the past couple of days. And, as you can see, there was some time to work, but not enough to make great leaps of progress. My goal for the week on the tapestry is to reach the bottom of the duck's neck at the very least by the end of this week. Get moving, lady!

I also began the painting for the Haiti exhibit, "Mourning News." I gessoed the newspaper to the canvas, then gessoed the areas for the plate and the cup. I have a goodly bit done on the cup, but have just started working on the plate. I hope to get more done on it today, as well.

In the meantime, Booker continues to need about the same supervision as a toddler would need. I started some chili yesterday afternoon, then went to the studio to sneak in some more work, hoping he would be good. In a few minutes, he turned up at the studio door with the can opener in his mouth. I guess I had left it on the counter. He loves to jump up and check out what I've left 'for him' on the counter (which we forbid, but...). I think maybe he brought it to me as a message that he's pretty sure that what comes out of cans would be better than his dry Puppy Chow!

Actually, I think I have inadvertently trained this bad behavior... When he gets something he shouldn't have, I tell him to 'drop it' and 'leave it', then when he obeys, he gets a treat. So he has learned that, if he wants a treat when I'm otherwise occupied, all he has to do is to find and bring me some forbidden item. He is too smart for my own good. And, as far as progress goes in our Booker training, I'm not sure this is it!

Monday, February 8, 2010

First sign of Spring...

No crocus leaves poking through yet. But the sun is shining and Booker has found some mud! It is supposed to be above freezing today, after 2 months of below freezing temps, so Booker will be in hog heaven - that's where you get to wallow in the mud, right?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Not quite ducky yet...

I wish I could show more progress on this little tapestry, but I have not gotten in as much weaving time as I'd have liked this week. The deadline for sending it to the Enchanted Pathways exhibit is creeping up on me, though, so soon it will have to 'paddle' it's way to the very top of the old priority list.

Yesterday I spent part of the day baking little Blue Pig cookies, for the Project Linus reception at the Blue Pig Gallery this afternoon. They are yummy and, quite oddly, pork free!

Today, I was at the gallery all day. I took the duck-on-the-loom and a basket of yarn with me, with high hopes that I might get a bit of weaving in, as it was snowing (again!) and I thought I might have a quiet day. Not. It was not a busy day, like summer days there are, but traffic was pretty constant, and there were enough other tasks to do to keep me quite busy the entire day. No weaving done, again.

I shot this photo of Gus this morning, as he was looking through the sitting room lace under-curtains, clearly thinking, "MORE SNOW? REALLY?" He gets to go outside and graze on grass, when there is grass to graze on, but hates snow on his paws and thinks this winter has gone on quite long enough, too. I like the back-lighting of the photo.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The morning after...

This is a photo this morning from the same spot that I took last night's sunset from. See what our inversion looks like? Now you see why I am yearning for spring! This inversion has lasted since early December, and doesn't seem to be planning to leave anytime soon. This is a town that 'normally' has 360 days of sunshine a year - just ask our Chamber of Commerce, if you don't believe me! Those statistics are going to be seriously upturned by this oddly dismal year.

I just finished reading The Geography of Bliss, which is our county library's One County, One Book book for this year. Oddly, Iceland is a very happy place. But they have very low expectations, where weather is concerned. Unfortunately, I live in a place where I have learned to have high expectations for the weather, and this year is challenging my happiness in a big way. An interesting book, by the way. I enjoyed it.

In spite of the fog outside, I expect to have a good day. My husband is off work, so he can trouble-shoot Booker's plans. I will spend the morning in the studio, then paint with the Alzheimer's group for an hour this afternoon before I go back into the studio! I expect great things of myself... Bliss will abound!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Who would have thought...

... that the sunset could be so gorgeous, when there really wasn't any sun to speak of today? It was inversion-fog-grey all day, and then this sunset appeared. I shot this from my porch just a few minutes ago. Maybe, now that January is past, we will see a more colorful world here. I will take this as a sign!

I decided that I am tired of running a puppy day-care here, and doing nothing but trouble-shooting Booker's next plan of action. So I made myself work a bit in the studio today, in spite of the dog. I got the cartoon for the 'March' tapestry done, and tied the warp on the big loom. I also gessoed down the newspaper pages on a canvas, preparing it to do the piece for the Haiti benefit exhibit. Booker quietly ripped a giant hole through the rug from in front of the entry door. Small price to pay for some work time, I think. (A great deal of 'rug pieces' are spread around the entry way and living room, so I am hoping he didn't eat much, as a vet visit would not be a good thing. Anyway, so far he seems to have the constitution of a goat. And the teeth of an industrial metal shredder.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Doggone that Phil!!!

I guess you know that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, predicting six more weeks of winter. What does a rodent know, anyway?

Anyway, I took another still-life setup photo, replacing the nutbread with toast, and simplifying the set-up somewhat, which I think may be helpful in having the 'news' more the subject. In fact, rather than painting all that text, I am considering doing a collage treatment. I have seen oil paintings on newspaper that are quite stunning. I just wonder how stable they are over time?

At any rate, if you have an opinion as to which of the still-life setups works best for this sensitive subject matter, I'd really appreciate you sharing it with me. Thanks, to those of you who are helping me with this!

Monday, February 1, 2010

I could use some input....

The gallery where I show my paintings will be having a special exhibit in March. All of the proceeds will go to Haiti relief. So.... I set up this still life this morning and am thinking of painting from it for my donated piece. It would be called "Mourning News." But is it too frivolous looking? I think my point is that when these things happen, our lives are touched, but we continue on. I don't want to seem like "let them eat cake" or anything. It's just that this is often how we learn of things that happen to others; while we are safely enjoying our own fortunate lives.

I thought of painting a picture of some of the Haitian children. But I also know what kind of art sells, and what someone would be willing to maybe spend money on and live with. I would like what I spend time on to profit the cause. Especially since artists cannot deduct a donation such as this. I could sell it, and donate the money myself, and that would be deductable. But when I donate a painting (or a tapestry) I can only deduct the cost of the materials. Of course, it's not about the tax credit either.

Golly, I'm thinking I sound pretty crass on this post! But my question that I need help on is this: would this still-life as a painting be insensitive, or would it fit the cause and possible sell? I don't want to waste my time or be insensitive.

ps. By the way, while I was posting this, Booker jumped up and got and ate the banana nut bread. He knew better, but just didn't care. BAD DOG! Good thing I took photos of the still-life.