Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sketches from a train...

I am just back from a trip to visit my parents in northern California. When I go to see them, I generally take the train. I do not enjoy flying, and, because we are somewhat off the beaten track, it takes much more effort, often as much or more expense, and often even more time to fly from here to there. I spend a bit less than 24 hours on the train, both going and coming.

There is not much to do on a train, except relax and watch the country go past my window.

I spend the night, and wake up to a new day in a different part of the country.

Between western Colorado and northern California, I pass through some beautiful scenery.

On this trip, I took a very small set of watercolors, and a small sketchbook (4"x5") of watercolor paper.

The sketches I did on the train all look pretty much alike.

I did not spend a great deal of time or effort on any of them. They were done for my pleasure. I did no pre-drawing; no drawing at all, actually (except on the snail, where I added some line work after the sketch was dry.)

I just let the wet colors run together, capturing the early fall colors as they passed by my window.

I read a bit, ate good Amtrak meals, and visited a bit with fellow passengers, many of whom were traveling from California to New York on the train, simply to see the country and relax a bit.

But my favorite part of the train ride this time was painting these tiny little sketches.

I also took some photos, though not many. This cloud-scape is my favorite.

Today I went and picked up artwork for myself and an artist friend at the largest annual Colorado Art exhibit, in Glenwood Springs. My friend was awarded the first place for portraits, and I got the first place award for still-life for my oil painting, "The House Call." The painting also sold, which was another pleasant surprise.

Back to work in the studio tomorrow.... sadly, the weaving elves did not get anything done on my tapestry while I was away!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I had hoped to get the entire right tapestry border done this week, but it has been a busy week. I am pretty much done with the grapes, though. They have a bit of line work, in the leaves and the curly, vine-y things (what do you call those?). I like line work sometimes, and I have done the line work on this in just about every way I know how to do, which was fun! Variety is good in weaving.... as it is in life and in grapes, too.

This is a photo I took with some experimental app on my iPhone at a local coffeeshop where I meet a friend regularly. It has been so nice, we have been sitting outside, and the patio fence is covered with grapevines. They tell us to help ourselves to the ripe fruit, and we munch them as we sit and sip and chat.

I have also gotten a few knit items finished lately. This is a scarf in my favorite Mistake Rib I did for a friend. I will be getting a lot of knitting done tomorrow, as I'm going on a long train ride to see my parents. Train time is perfect knit-time! No weaving will get done this next week, though, so I'll have to come home ready to dive back in!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's always lovely to see something new...

We are back from a few days at our mountain get-away cabin. We have been going to the cabin for close to 30 years now. We watch birds, deer, elk, chipmunks, snakes, and occasional porcupines, foxes, bears and the mythical moose. But until yesterday, we had never seen tree frogs there! My husband called me out as he was grilling burgers in a light rain to see what he had rescued before Booker stepped on it. Our trusty North American wildlife guidebook identifies it as a striped chorus frog, though a bit out of it's natural territory. I wonder if our wetter than usual spring and summer invited it a bit further west than usual? Or if they live here, but are so few and far between they didn't bother to include us on the map?

At any rate, we were delighted to make his acquaintance! (And to move him back off the dog path.)

As the burgers cooked and the frog hopped away, a lovely rainbow appeared above the mountain. It was nice to see. Always a hopeful sign... and always appearing just when we need some more hope, it seems.

We did a bit of fall cleaning at the cabin. It looks so cozy and inviting after we have cleaned and packed all our clutter back in the pick-up to go back down the mountain to our daily life. I hated to lock it up and leave. But it will be there with more surprises and another dose of hope and wonder the next time we can get-away, the next time we go up to the mountain...

Thursday, September 8, 2011


As I weave this week, I have been thinking a lot about communication. I believe Art is about communicating; about the artist sharing something with the viewer. Edward Hopper said," If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint." I feel the same way. If I am not communicating something that I need to share in my work, why would I bother to create it?

I've been thinking about this, because there is so much 'art' that has been coming to my attention lately that communicates nothing to me. It's not that it communicates something I don't agree with, or don't really understand, it's that I see it as purposeless, except for maybe the purpose of generating income for someone. And in this economy, I doubt even that purpose.

I have always viewed art and music in the same way I view languages and literature. We use the visual language of art to say something. I know it's not always possible to speak clearly to every viewer, but I walk away almost as quickly from a painting that says nothing to me as I do from a work that communicates something, but something I do not like or agree with. In fact, I remember the ones that communicate disagreeably, but I easily forget the meaningless ones. Still, as I work I ponder this communication thing. Why does a person create something that is meaningless? (... and I know a few specific pieces that even the artist will admit to mean nothing.) And why, then, would a creator of such meaningless 'stuff' expect a viewer to fall in love with it and pay to have it to look at every day?

Perhaps Edward Hopper and I do not understand all Art. Perhaps meaninglessness has become what people connect to in ever widening circles of their lives in today's strange world. What a horrible thought! If you do understand why a person creates work that means nothing to them, and expects it to mean nothing to viewers and even buyers, please leave me a comment and explain it to me.

In the meantime, I am at the loom, weaving grapes.

I occasionally take a break and run down to the freezer and pop a few frozen grapes in my mouth. One of the tastiest snacks ever! A purely natural grape mini-popsicle!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lower border #1 woven....

I have the lower border of the right side Nativity tapestry woven. Well, mostly woven. I will even it all up along the top edge when I have the left border woven, so they will be the same height. (Which is why there are still some butterflies hanging about.) Then I'll put a narrow golden band between the border and the upper part. It is not quite as dark as this photo shows it to be. I am having trouble getting a good shot of it, as the summer lighting becomes more like fall. So far, this woven border is 20 inches wide, and 9" high.

I have the left tapestry border begun, but barely. You can see a bit of it to the left on the loom. I want to have it completed, and the two evened up, and the cartoons for the upper tapestry portions drawn up before I leave to visit my parents in a couple of weeks. So I have my work cut out for me!

I will do a post here later today about the religious symbolism of the Rose of Sharon, which the flowers on this border represent, and the Grace banner. But first, I must paint my kitchen cupboards! ... and then get all the paint out of my hair and off my body, as I seem to be that kind of painter, when it comes to walls and cupboards and such.