Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Taxes....



I have spent the last couple of days doing a necessary task: my annual taxes. I don't mind it as much as many people do. I keep receipts in an orderly way throughout the year and when the time comes, I get out this lovely old ledger book and, month by month, analyze my finances for the past year. I also have this snazzy jazz era pencil, with a lovely floating swim-suited girl inside. I only use it to write in my ledger book.

 

The past year was not a big financial year for me. Art is one of the first things people leave out of their budgets in slow times, I know. So I am grateful that it was at least a good enough year that I don't have to grovel to justify my existence as a small business! I made less than usual, but I also spent less, though I did my bit to help out art suppliers as much as I could. I am quite thankful for those who supported my work this past year, whether it was in buying a painting, a card, or in supporting art exhibits with monetary awards.

The tax task is done for another year. I can put my heavy ledger back on the shelf and heave a sigh of relief. This is also the time I start thinking in earnest of new ways to market my work. I haven't yet tested the selling tools of eBay or etsy, but I am thinking of dipping my toe into those markets and seeing if it gets bitten at all. In the meantime, I must get back to my loom! I do not really weave to make money; I weave to make tapestries.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Here's Grace....


"Grace" is ready to go! She has been blocked and lined. I love to use a 'surprise' fabric to line these small pieces. Not because they will be seen by anyone but the exhibit hanger (and later on, my students), but I remember how lovely it was to see what tapestries had on the back; some showing just an extra bit of care that said to me that the artist valued their own work.

Right now, the cat has a small blue star charm for his tag. I'm not sure I like it, though, so it may change to something else, if I can find just the right charm. For some reason, I envision a small gold heart, but have not yet found one the right size.

"Grace" is just 8"x10". She was woven at a sett of about 10epi on a small Mirrix loom. "Grace" began her existence as a small painting, which I posted here. I never framed or showed the painting anywhere but on this blog, as I knew from the time she made her appearance that I wanted to weave her.

"Grace" will be in the Pacific Portals 2012 exhibit; an American Tapestry Alliance small format exhibit which will be at the Long Beach, CA Public Library gallery between July 7 – August 30, 2012, in conjunction with Convergence 2012. As an aside, I will be teaching at Convergence, and I hope to get to see a few of you there! If you go, say hello to "Grace!"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More exhibit work....


 As you can see from this invitation, there is a one-day exhibit of works by artists involved with this local art organization, including myself. The work is due tomorrow. I am still not sure what I will take. To be honest, I would really like this to be a sales opportunity. That would keep my tax accountant happy, too.

So I have prepared 4 small works, which I could sell at affordable prices. I can only leave 2 pieces in the exhibit, so if you have any opinion about which might sell best, I'd appreciate your input!


This is "Easy Rider," an 11"x14"oil painting on canvas.


This is "Fresh Daily," a 15"x20" watercolor (image size, not framed size.)


This is an oil painting on canvas (also 11"x14"), ironically titled "Watercolor."


This is an 8"x10" photograph on canvas, called "Winter Bloom."

The 2 oil paintings would be priced at $180.00 each; the photo at $100.00, and the watercolor at $200.00. All are nicely framed. So, if you can help with an opinion about which would be most appealing to a buying public, I'd love it if you would let me know!

On exhibit....


These are the two pieces I have on exhibit at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts Members exhibit.  The oil painting is "Barista" and is 16"x20".

The tapestry is the January tapestry from the calendar series. When I was at the opening reception, I noticed that the tapestry was not well lit, and was hung a bit low, underneath a painting. Several people asked me where my work was, and I would take them to the tapestry. They were amazed, saying they thought that piece was either a painting or a photo. I think if it had been hung and lit differently, the textile nature of the tapestry would have shown better. Oh well. Or, as I am trying to learn a bit of french, I guess I should say, 'C'est la vie.'


Another short-term local exhibit hangs tomorrow. I haven't decided what I will put in it yet, so that is on today's agenda.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"No Place Like Home..."


We are back from a trip to Kansas. Unlike Dorothy, I was not able to click my red slipper heels together to get back. We chose to ride the Amtrak there and back again. The train trip through the Rocky mountains is beautiful. Between here and Denver are too many tunnels to count, including the 6-mile long Moffett Tunnel. We always enjoy that ride.

 

I usually take a ridiculous amount of photos while traveling, but didn't take many on this trip. It was a family trip, so most of what we took were of family. Having grown up in Kansas, there is not much there that I haven't seen before, but Kansas does have a few things we don't have here in Colorado.
Notably, I saw an armadillo for the first time! It was running across the yard of my husband's cousins place. When I grew up in Kansas, there were no armadillos there! I guess in the past 20 years, they have become pests to the farmers, digging holes everywhere. Global changes have encouraged them to move north.


I grew up seeing squirrels everywhere, so was quite surprised when we moved here to discover that we have very few here in Colorado. And the ones we do have are smaller and grey, not brown. This one helps himself to the warm water my father-in-law keeps in the bird bath.

  

Cardinals also do not come to Colorado. I love the more subtle female. She is my favorite, though the male is not as shy, so I was able to sketch him in my Moleskin.

 

 We do have wild turkeys in Colorado. We see them frequently in the mountains near our cabin. But they are always surrounded by brush and trees, which camouflage them well. This pair was part of a good sized flock (more than a dozen) grazing openly in a field. It must not be turkey season there. I did take a number of photos of the turkeys, as that is a subject I have been wanting to do a painting of, for some reason.


Now that we are home for a bit, I sat in front of the final episode of Downton Abbey last night and sewed all the slits in the small "Grace" tapestry. She is 'resting' today, then I will block and line her. So a photo of her will show up here soon!

So good to get away for awhile, and so very good to come back Home!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dear Gentle Reader...


You may have found little reason to visit my blog lately. I have not been getting much that is reportable done. It has been a season of medical check-ups and procedures, not because of poor health, but just keeping up with all the demands the medical community seems to have on wanting to check up on my awesome body as it ages. I will be kind, and spare you all details.

I haven't been carrying my camera around with me lately, as this winter has seemed too brown to get excited about. We have not had the beautiful snows that we had last winter, and I miss that winter feeling. I regretted being camera-less yesterday though, when I spotted a beautiful golden American Kestral well within the range of my long camera lens!

The altered photo above was taken in my favorite music shop, where I go once a week for guitar lessons, trying to prove to myself that you are never too old to learn something new.


This is part of the mantle in my sitting room, where I do some guitar practice,  I recently wove my small tapestry, I do my morning sketching and journal writing, drink some coffee, and often just do some sitting.


Gus likes it when not much is happening, as he seems to get more of my attention. He thinks everything he does is photo-worthy.

I will be going on a trip soon, and I always travel with my camera around my neck. Even though this trip is a family visit, I hope to see things worth photographing, worth sketching, and, who knows? maybe even worth a tapestry down the line. If so, I promise to keep you posted. In the meantime, thanks for your visit!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Grace set free.....



I cut the "Grace" tapestry from the small loom this morning.  I've posted the bottom half, and now the top half, while on the loom. I'll post the whole of it when I get the finishing work done, most of which will be done on the train! I'll try to get a better photo than the one above, as well.

And, speaking of photos, here is my favorite photo of this past week:


Booker and Gus napping together on our bed. Just like kids, they look so sweet and peaceful when they're asleep, don't they? You'd never dream that Booker occasionally tries to mop the floor with Gus when they're awake!

Friday, February 3, 2012

What I owe to Rachel Brown...


Rachel Brown died yesterday. Rachel Brown of the Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing Book, which was the first weaving book I ever owned. I devoured that book. It is literally in pieces on my book shelf. Rachel Brown of Weaving Southwest, the beautiful tapestry gallery in Taos, New Mexico. Rachel Brown, who taught and influenced many weavers and encouraged generations of weavers to keep going in a hard and often discouraging art form.

I met Rachel several times. Her work was included in several exhibits I put together, and she was one of the jurors I worked with on the third American Tapestry Biennial. I cannot claim to have known her well; she and I mostly recognized each other by the work we did. But Rachel did have a huge impact on my life and my own work.

Rachel was part of a panel discussion I once attended a number of years ago. The panel consisted of all New Mexican weavers. The moderator asked the panelists how their 'cultural heritage' influenced their work. Rachel, being the only Anglo on the panel, said that she didn't really feel like, as an Anglo American woman, she had a heritage to draw from in her work, so she allowed herself to be influenced by the rich cultures around her. For some reason, that hit me smack in the chest, like a physical blow. It actually made tears run down my face. Rachel's background was much the same as my own. But I didn't want to feel that my own cultural heritage wasn't rich enough to inspire my work. That niggled in my mind and heart for some time, and when I went home, I began to delve into old family photos; into my heritage, to search for tapestry inspiration.

What I came up with became my Heritage Series of tapestries, beginning with "Watermelon Girls," an image of my grandmother and her friends. The rest of the series can be seen here.


I always say that the series, which includes five tapestries so far, is not a finished series. I have one more piece in my mind and heart, and many more potential pieces I would like to weave. All of the tapestries come from my family history; that of a middle class Anglo family of German ancestry living in America's heartland. What has amazed me about these tapestries is that every time I exhibit them, and especially when I had the opportunity to exhibit them all together, people tell me that I have woven their own lives, their own stories. That, to me, is a cultural heritage.


I always think of Rachel when I think of these tapestries. If I had not been hit so hard by her admission that she didn't feel her heritage was rich enough to weave, these tapestries would probably never have been woven. Rachel wove wonderful tapestries. Her  'borrowing' from the cultures around her was greatly enhanced by her own vision in her work. I believe who she was truly shows in her own work, and many weavers have bits of Rachel Brown in their weavings. She created a heritage that will live on in her work. I believe that is the mark of a true artist; to take what you can from where you are and to make it your own.

I will always be grateful to Rachel for sending me in the direction, even though unintentionally, that took me to my own heritage, and to the creation of the resulting Heritage Tapestries. Thank you, Rachel Brown.