Sunday, May 29, 2011

In my garden...

I love my sweet smelling lilies-of-the valley!

This is when my garden looks best, when the peonies are blooming. Roses are starting to bloom, too, but they are never as exuberant as the peonies. The hot pink peonies are just beginning to open. I don't know why they open later; perhaps just to give the white ones their days to be my favorites.

And, as a native Coloradan, I have to have columbines, tho' I do prefer to see them in the wild at the cabin. The wild ones are not as colorful (they lose their color after a year or two, then are just white for a few years before that plant dies off.) But the wild ones are bigger, and I don't have to keep the weeds out of them! It seems like my garden columbines invite grass to come grow among them. They want to feel wild, I guess. Toward the end of the summer, I usually just let them have their way, as they are in the back of the garden and the grass seems to make them happy.

My strawberries are also ripening a bit now. They are a few weeks later than usual, due to a cold, wet spring. My father-in-law comes for Memorial Day each year, and he is usually bringing in a big bowl of berries for me each day. So far, we've just had one small bowlful of ripe ones. But there are more to come! Home-made strawberry ice-cream is always on the menu when he is here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Summer is on the way...

I have been away from my work a bit. I have been off watching small sweet children play soccer.

I have been away cheering a young roller derby jammer on to her first victory.

I have been keeping an eye on the mountains and the sky, as the season seems determined to change with much activity this year, less here than elsewhere, but more than is usual for our part of the world.

I have been getting ready for family guests and celebrations; for picnics and birthday parties; for JUCO, barbeques, camping trips, and fishing; for rhubarb, strawberries, cilantro and tomatoes to grow and be harvested; for flowers to bloom. I have not been at the loom or the easel this past week. But I have kept my camera close, and the summer will not pass me by without my taking notice, though it has come upon me awfully quickly this year. I will capture as much of it as I can, at the easel, through the lens, or at my loom.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In the beginning...

Photo by Lisa Trujillo, of Centinela Traditional Arts

The tapestry in the photo is from the University City, Missouri (St.Louis area) Public Library. For a time, when my husband was going through Washington University Med. School and doing his internship and residency, we lived in U City. In fact, we were within walking distance from the library for three years, and still quite close for another three. I went to that library once a week for all that time. Two things stand out in my mind when I think of the library: the first is this large, beautiful tapestry by Muriel Nezhnie, which dominates the stairwell. All of the art books and the children's books were upstairs. So we always went under the tapestry on our way up. When our sons were born, they went with me to the library. Our oldest son was just 3 years old when we left St. Louis, but he was already an avid library enthusiast. In fact, the second thing I think of when I think of the library is a book by Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Good Night, Moon. The book is a fantasy called The Steamroller, and it is no longer in print. It is a very bizarre story about a little girl who gets a steamroller for Christmas, and proceeds to roll over and 'smash flat' everyone and everything she comes into contact with. My toddler son LOVED the book! We checked it out every week, then would renew it until we could renew it no longer, then would get it again as soon as we could. (This son is at this moment probably trying to build his own steamroller in his basement metal shop.)

Ah, yes. Back to the tapestry. At the time I was going to the U City library, I was not a weaver. But I saw that tapestry and I wanted to know how it was done. I did have a small Sears rigid heddle loom which I had played around on a bit. But I couldn't see how the tapestry had any possibility of coming from such a loom. So I went across to the Craft Alliance Center, across the street from the library at that time, and asked about weaving classes. All they had was a backstrap weaving class. I signed up for it. I still have the backstrap loom we made, with the original warp still on it. It was not until we moved to Colorado that I found Rachel Brown's book and Peter Collingwood's book, and set about to teach myself how to weave a tapestry, still inspired by the memory of the U City Library Nezhnie tapestry.

I was thrilled to see Lisa post a photo of the tapestry on Facebook this week! All those years that I was passing under it, looking up as I walked down the stairs, I never got a photo of it. Except for the image that has always lived large in my mind.

(If you are as fascinated by this wonderful tapestry as I have always been, Linda Rees has written a terrific book about the artist, called NEZHNIE: Weaver and Innovative Artist. A black and white image of this tapestry is in the book, along with so many other tapestries by this amazing artist.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Empty Nest Syndrome....

I said I wouldn't force my favorite owl family on you again, but I guess I lied. Yesterday the news in the Denver Post was that two baby owls had been blown out of their tree, and had been rescued by the Audubon Society here along the Riverfront Trail. I was afraid it had been 'our' owls, though they were described as much younger. So we went out to check on the owls this morning. (As it turns out, the rescued owlets are along another part of the trail.)

At first, we just saw the empty nest. But as we returned along the trail, we saw owl #1 in the nest tree, but out on a higher limb.

Then Owl #2 was spotted in the same tree, higher up on the opposite side.

Owl #3 was the one that was booted out of the nest early, but it was spotted in a nearby tree, and looks like it is a bit lonely, but otherwise growing and able to fly, as it was in a different tree from last week.

Some other walkers with incredible vision spotted Mama Owl watching over the owlets (and us) across the river in a tree, well camouflaged, but visible.

I also took a photo of this baby Flicker (we think, as I saw an adult flicker go into the same hole earlier.) There had been two babies looking out the hole, but when I switched from the binoculars to the camera, one disappeared.

And I couldn't resist this quail, calling her heart out on the top of this old tree.

My husband thought I was crazy to photograph this ant hauling an elm seed, but I like the photo.
Such a hard worker! I need to post this somewhere to motivate myself.

And, lest I be accused of doing nothing but owl-watching anymore, I will post this proof that I have also made a bit of progress in the studio. Not as much as I would have liked to make, but some progress is still some progress!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What a hoot!

The owlets are out of the nest! Mom was nowhere in sight today - undoubtedly, off celebrating some much earned solitude and rest for Mother's Day. The trail, which we usually have mostly to ourselves, was packed with people this morning! I figured when I saw the busy nearby parking lot that the word was out that the babies were up and out of the nest.

We came across the first one in a tree near the nest. It was alone, hunkered down in a crotch of the tree. We had heard speculation that there were three owlets, but had only seen two previously. A fellow owl-watcher said that this one appears to be the runt, and must be cast from the nest. I don't think they are flying yet, so Mom must have put it here. Another owl fan said it seems to be growing still, so must still be being fed. I hope it survives!

Meanwhile, back at the nest the other two owlets were posing for all those with cameras and binoculars. I say there were 'a lot' of people there, but there were really probably only several small groups of walkers there at a time. So they were not really being 'bothered' by crowds of spectators. And they don't seem to mind the attention at all. In fact, the owl on the right seemed to be snoozing the whole time we were there, and the single owl across in the other tree was sleeping as we passed back under the tree to leave.

OK, you're probably tired of my owl obsession. This will probably be the last time I force them on you. But I do love owls! I have woven at least two owls, and I feel that there must be at least one more in my future. Or maybe a whole parliament of owls, well, we'll see.

In other birding news: the hummingbirds have come back! I put the feeder out yesterday and there were two there today.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tell me why?

After my last post, Mary asked in a comment what I will do with the Calendar tapestries once I have them all done. Will I have an actual print calendar made? My response answered her actual question, but I'm not sure it addressed what might have been what she really was wondering about (and I could be speculating wrongly on this, Mary. If so, I apologize!) I got to thinking, while working in the garden, that perhaps Mary is wondering what has motivated me to do 12 tapestries, working over a number of years, to commemorate the months of a year. That is a good, if unasked, question!

Here is the true answer: I love to weave in a series. It seems that I cannot get enough content in one tapestry to fulfill all I might want to say about a subject. For instance, my Heritage Series (which I do not necessarily considered finished or completed) started with one tapestry, and ended up with five, so far. I couldn't do one homage to Van Gogh tapestry; I had to do two to say it all. I have woven at least seven tapestries that are about trees or leaves.

So, what about the Calendar tapestries? Why weave 'months of the year?' Before I started these pieces I did the Four Seasons series. There were only four of them, but they are large pieces, absolutely crammed with content. Content is what a piece of art is all about, it is what motivates the artist to create it and what draws a viewer to it. The Seasons tapestries are about the seasons, and much, much more. Even so, I didn't get to say in them all that I wanted to say about the passage of time. Or about the uniqueness of the seasons: how each makes me feel, what I love about them. So it occurred to me that the seasons change even within themselves. Each month has it's own character. Like the unpredictability of March; the almost painful beauty of October; or the seemingly endless length of the shortest month, February. I doubt that I will get that all said in these tapestries. But I will be saying something more about time's passage and changes. And I will be saying it in tapestry, the medium I love.

I set these series up for myself as challenges. Can I say something unique and interesting about each month of the year? I don't know.... but I can sure try!

As for Mary's original question; what will I do with them when I get them completed? I probably will have a printed calendar or some such thing made of them, though that is certainly not my reason for creating them. I also would like to exhibit them all together somewhere, perhaps along with the Seasons tapestries. They are individually already going out into the world a bit.

Perhaps I do not say enough here about the content of what I weave. It is a highly personal thing, but I think it is the most interesting thing about art: in fact, the reason for Art altogether. I will try to be a bit more open about the why of the work I do. Each series, each tapestry has its own story...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May tapestry....

The 'May' tapestry originates from this small oil painting I did some time ago. Of course, the calendar series tapestries are all square (18x18"), so the image is cropped to fit that size. In addition, I have added some of the cows from the multitude of cow images I have photographed over the years. They will be in the foreground. I am very excited to be weaving cows! Don't know why... I just am.

This is the 6th calendar tapestry. When it is complete, I will be halfway through the 'year' - although it will have taken me much longer than a year to create them! I began this series in 2008, with the "February" tapestry. Sometimes, a year is not a year.....

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

So begins the month (or more) of "May"....

I began weaving the "May" calendar tapestry yesterday. It would be lovely to weave it 'in real time,' as in get-it-all-woven-in-May. However, since I have a lot going on otherwise in May, I am sure that won't happen. I will try to weave it efficiently. It is very good to be back at the loom! Lots of green to weave. Lots of green to garden, too. It is the merry, green month (and tapestry) of May!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Taking Time...

Gus, taking time to smell the flowers.... or tip-toeing through the tulips? Oil on canvas, 11x14".

Title: "Curiosity"