Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Dose of tapestry 'Glory'

Today I visited the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA to see the " Invention of Glory, Alfonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries." The four large tapestries are stunning, and amazing in their detail, including stylized waves, incredible woven chain mail, and fabric and faces and flowers enough for any tapestry enthusiast.
I love the color palette of the tapestries. All colors that remain are seen in the image above, which I have shared from the Museum website ( no photos allowed in the exhibit.) I believe some color has faded over time, as there are some 'ghost- like' images that seem to have resulted from faded bits- possibly a faded green. But I love the remaining red, blue, gold and tan that remain. Everything is colorful enough with this limited palette, and there is certainly enough detail visible, in spite of the faded bits.

For more about the exhibit, check out the museum website:

Posted from my iPad

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tapestry in the News

Our local paper had an article in today's paper about the tapestries I did for the Church of the Nativity.

Nice to read some Good News for a change!

- Posted from my iPad

Friday, December 21, 2012

On the third day of Christmas....

...or is it now the fourth? Anyway, I have another gift link for you! This one is for those of you who, like me, take thousands of photographs, and who love Photoshop, not to make your photos garish, like some we have seen done, but to just 'change it up a bit.'

This awesome link is a tutorial on how to add realistic looking snow to an image. I took the top photo in Kansas last winter. The lower photo is with the snow effect added. I also added some text, and have sent a few of these out as holiday cards. I'm not sure that I prefer the bottom photo to the original, but doing it was a real blast! A virtual snowy winter blast, I guess. Try it. It will give you 20 minutes of true fun! And just maybe, a photo you will enjoy on this first day of winter.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Getting ready... again...

As this year began to wane, or anyway after my last trip just last month, I just decided putting my suitcase away was a waste of effort. As I began laundering and readying to pack to go to our oldest son's family's house for the holidays, I wondered how many times in 2012 I had performed this task. So I got out my calendar and checked; this is my eleventh time to pack for a trip in the past 12 months.

In spite of that, I am not a 'traveler.' Most of my trips were family related. One trip was to teach at Convergence. And the highlight trip was with my son to Paris in May. (OK, I did feel like a 'traveler' on that trip!) 

I am becoming a very efficient packer. I have learned that I generally wear the same few things on a trip, just like I do at home. So it is smartest to pack light and plan to do laundry.

The sketch above is from my 2012 sketchbook. I got a larger sized Moleskin for this year. It is the 5"x8" size. I wasn't sure about it, to begin with. I thought maybe that much blank paper would overwhelm me, but I actually found the opposite to be true. The smaller size makes me sketch so small, that I think I tighten up. Sketching and painting bigger helps me stay loose. I love the paper in the Moleskin sketchbooks! NOT the watercolor books, just the sketchbooks. It is a cream color, and it resists the paint just enough to give it a real sketchy, painterly look. This Moleskin has a lot of pages in it, and I have been doing two-page spreads. I had hoped to fill this book by the end of this year. I have filled well over half of it, but I have only a couple of weeks left to go. I haven't decided how to deal with that yet. I might do like I do with my journals, and just keep going until it's filled, then start a new one, whenever that may be. Or I have thought of doing a spread for each month on New Year's Day, which, along with what I do between now and then, might fill this book.

As I look back through the sketchbook, it gives me an accurate picture of what my year was like, with the exception of the Paris trip. I used another sketchbook for that trip. I actually wanted to sketch more of that trip, so I could also sketch from some of my photos to fill this sketchbook. That is a completely legitimate way to sketch, as I noted that Van Gogh often sketched and painted from prints and pictures when I went to the exhibit of his work last week.

Well, whatever I decide, it is always exciting for me to see a new year coming ahead. And I also love to finish a sketchbook, and begin a new one. Perhaps those things will coincide this year, if I plan it just right!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On the second day of Christmas....

...your fiber friend gave to you, two knitted slippers! I am counting my link to the Met in the previous post as my first Christmas gift to you, dear blog readers. That gift should be a very valuable one, as you can go to the Met site and find other tapestries (and paintings) to look at 'up close' as well as the one I posted.

My second 'gift' to you (and even more so, to me) is a link to the knit pattern for these cozy slippers. I decided to make myself a pair, as we're going to my son's house for the holiday, and we take off our shoes in his house. The pattern is a free one that I found on Ravelry and it can be found and downloaded here.

So put "White Christmas" on and settle in with your needles and a cup of hot chocolate, and you'll have slipper #1 done by the end of the movie! You can do the next one tomorrow night, as you watch "Holiday Inn" or "Christmas in Connecticut" (can you tell that I like the old movies?)

Let me know if you make these. I am already enjoying mine, and plan to make another pair in non-holiday colors.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Beautiful Holiday Inspiration

The Morris and Co. tapestries like this one, designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, do so inspire me. I love everything about them! If you want to share my excitement in this tapestry, go here (the Metropolitan Museum website) and click on 'full screen,'  then continue to click on the image to enlarge it more. You will be able to see the actual weaving details, better even than you could see it in the Museum, where you have to stand back a bit to view the work. I am so happy that the Met has shared some of their work to this extent! What a wonderful opportunity to study it gives us! I intend to spend some time looking up close at more tapestries and paintings, when I get the time. Perhaps a worthy New Year's goal would be to closely study a master work like this once a week, at least. I can hardly wait!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Van Gogh and the Weavers

Last weekend, at the 'Becoming Van Gogh' exhibit in Denver, I was delighted to see one of Vincent's Weaver paintings and one of the sketches he did of a weaver. I'm pretty sure the painting was the one above, based on notes I scribbled in my tiny notebook.

Van Gogh painted images multiple times. He painted, and sketched, a number of weavers. They were of the working class that he loved to paint.

I am assuming it was from these weavers that he begged, borrowed, or bought the yarn he used to figure out how to get his color effects that I mentioned in the previous post.

I also copied own a quote from his letters. He said, "I assure you that there's a lot involved in compositions with figures... It's like weaving... you must control and keep an eye on several things at once."

I am delighted that one of my favorite artists was familiar with, and appreciated, the work of the weaver.

(Again, as no photos were allowed in the exhibit, these images are from the internet.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Winter has arrived!

We have, up until this weekend, had a dry, warm approach to winter here in Colorado. But, just like washing your car is bound to bring rain, scheduling a trip over the Rocky Mountains here makes snow a certainty at this time of year!

Our oldest grand-daughter (soon to be 9) was in a concert this past weekend that no amount of snow would have kept us away from! It was the holiday concert of the Denver Pops Orchestra, and they had invited the Colorado Flute Association to join them for the second half of the concert. The Pops concert was excellent, but when the flutists joined them (especially when the youngest ones came in for the last four pieces) excellent became Spectacular! There were 30-40 flutes, ranging from advanced adults to beginners like our Katie, joining the 100+ piece full orchestra. Katie is the darling little blond with the large red bow on her headband, and the curved piece on her flute (to make it shorter.)

Before the concert we had gone with our son's family to get their Christmas tree, and for the kids to see Santa (lest you think they look 'grown up.) After the concert, we went with them for a bit to skate - them, not us this time.

When we knew we would be going for our grand-daughter's concert, I also purchased tickets to go see the "Becoming Van Gogh" exhibit at the Denver Art Museum.

As always, his work takes my breath away. I discovered two very small paintings I had never seen before that I absolutely love! The first one below is "Sprig of Flowering Almond Blossom in a Glass." It is just about 8x10 inches. It looked like it was lit from behind; the light in it absolutely glows!  The one below it, the "Lane at the Jardin du Luxembourg" was 10x20 inches. It also was filled with light. Having recently been in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, I loved the Paris light and the familiarity that this painting had for me. As always, these images do not do justice to the actual work. They were framed and lit perfectly to show the glowing light that Van Gogh's work often captures. 

As a painter, I know I stood and looked way too long at these two works, trying to see how he captured that glow. All I could figure out, was that he used paint straight from the tube, without mixing colors at all. Then, as a fiber artist, I was thrilled to see a little side exhibit, showing how Van Gogh used yarn to see how colors would look side-by-side, without mixing them. The museum had a basket of his yarns in a case to show them wound together in balls, just like a tapestry weaver would wind them! He then painted the colors side by side in strokes, to look like the yarns looked wound together, with both colors showing separately, yet blending visually. This effect was more visible in his later works, like the almond branch painting. Both paintings were from the years Van Gogh spent in Paris. The exhibit included work from every stage of Van Gogh's much-too-short career. (These images are from the internet. Photos were not allowed in the exhibit.)

While at the Art Museum, we went and saw the El Anatsui exhibit, there through the end of the year.
His work, mostly done in Africa, is very fiber-like, though it is made of found objects. I especially loved the large quilt-like pieces, made of old labels and can parts.


We had a beautiful view from our motel window. The Cherry Creek Reservoir is in the foreground, with the Denver skyline and the mountains behind. In spite of the wintery road conditions on the way home, it was a lovely beginning to the  season!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Presented and Dedicated...

Yesterday was the day for the presentation and dedication of the Nativity  Tapestries. You can see the placement of the tapestries, which are still covered before they were presented by the donor family in the above photo.

They invited me to tell about the symbolism in the tapestries. Most of what I said can be found here. You can see the right side tapestry behind me.

Here is a photo of the donor couple and one of their sons with me and the tapestry that hangs to the left side.

I did not get a good photo of both tapestries installed, because they were either surrounded by people (after the service) or covered up (before the service.) So I will go back and get a good photo that includes them both on site in a few days.