Saturday, December 28, 2013

Out with the old, in with the New....

Last year, I filled two sketchbooks. The first was a red Moleskin, with it's lovely cream pages that resist watercolor. The second was a lovely little square spiral-bound book, with beautiful white heavy watercolor paper inside. I enjoyed working in both books. I filled the second one on Christmas day, so I got to begin a new one the day after Christmas! I am again using a Moleskin, and was amazed again at the resist of the paper to watercolor, and at how much I like the effect that gives.

I keep a sketchbook just for me, and you know that, though I might sketch almost daily, I rarely share my sketches here (or anywhere.) If I think I will show my sketches, they feel like I must make them 'pretty,' or at least 'viewable.' I don't want that pressure in my sketchbook.

I usually start out the year with a self portrait - the original 'selfie,' I guess! The one I did in last years Moleskin sketchbook is below. It was of my child self. I looked so sad in the school photo that I sketched from, I guess I felt the need to comfort my young self with the surrounding words. The sketch above is one I did in my new sketchbook. I am reticent to post it, because the last time I posted a self-sketch, several people told me it didn't look at all like me, though I had felt it did. I guess I didn't put in any wrinkles. (Notice that I left out the wrinkles in my new sketch, as well! Hey! It's MY sketch, and I can see myself as I'd like to be if I want to!)

This morning I did the sketch below. I have always wanted one of those artist-model-hands for my studio, so I gave myself one for Christmas this year! Right now, it holds a ball of yarn, but what it holds for me will change as time passes. It may hold paintbrushes, small paintings, or large secrets. Who knows?

I am always so excited to begin a new sketchbook. It is like a new year: seemingly empty now, but chock full of possibilities. I am intensely psyched to see what the year will have me putting in my lovely black Moleskin.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

have a merry, merry....

I took this photo in an antique shop in Kansas

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Wonderland...

Earlier this week, I took the train over the mountains for a very quick and short visit with my son's family, and to see two of my grandchildren perform in their school holiday 'Gala." (Needless to say, they were the hits of the evening for me!)

The train ride over the Rockies is a spectacular ride, at any time of year, but I especially love the scenery in the winter. I had my new camera with me, and I was not very familiar with the differences between it and my 'old' beloved camera. So I spent a bit of train time trying to become somewhat acquainted with it. I barely caught the eagle lunching on his giant fish as we went past, so that photo is a bit blurry, as we were in motion. I saw the same eagle sitting on the same spot of the river on the return trip (I knew it was the same spot, because the snow was still blood red there, even though he was not eating the second time.)

I like this photo because it shows how colorful the mountains can be, even in winter. To me, the photo already looks like a painting.

I took this shot on the way home, as the sun began to go down. I love the naples yellow effect the sun has on the clouds. I shot a series of photos about this time, and I am itching to paint one of them!

This was a spectacular thing! As we rounded the mountains and saw the city lights of Denver below us, the full Orange moon came up over the horizon. The young girl across the aisle and I saw it at the same time, and we both gasped out loud. She came over to my side of the train to see it better, and was soon on her cell phone, excitedly trying to describe how gorgeous the moon was to someone. I was just trying to capture it in my camera. I finally got this shot, by tracking the moon, and just ignoring the fact that the city lights are blurred. There is also a smaller reflection of the moon on the train window to the right, but I guess I can live with the imperfections, as the shot brings back the memory of that spectacular orange moon, hanging in the sky above Denver. (The moon was actually much more orange than this photo shows; it was a pumpkin orange, probably due to moisture and pollution in the city air. As it rose, it got smaller and less orange.) It also brought to mind another time I caught a glimpse of an over-sized orange moon; that time was as friends and I were driving into Maine for the first time. Of course, I know the moon is talking to me; telling me to go back to the moon that is on my loom. I am listening! The holiday events will be over soon, and I will be back in my studio, where I belong, and long to be. Until then, I am delighted that these long dark winter days are giving me inspiration and wonder along my way.

I still have a December tapestry to design and weave after the "November' one on the loom is completed. I am beginning to have a vision of it as a landscape....  but time will tell me more.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lunar Update....

I have stolen a few minutes to weave in the past few days! So I have the moon woven. AND, I have a new camera body (didn't need new lenses) so I can even take photos! However, I apologize for this photo: it's poor angle and lighting has nothing to do with my new camera (thank you, Santa, by the way.) It is just really hard to take photos of my loom in the newly configured studio arrangement. In fact, that is just one of the problems with the new arrangement, and it may be 'newly configured' again after the holidays.

Anyway, a tiny bit of progress has been made. I am not quite at the half-way point on this tapestry, but am creeping up on it. It has reached the place that I always reach, in every single tapestry I weave, I believe: it is at that place where I don't know if I like it or not, or if what I imagined it to be will be realized, or if I should just chuck the whole project and move on to something else.  It is at this point when I think many new weavers give up, but we 'old thread-movers' just talk some sense into our own heads, and trust the process and the design, and keep on going.

So keep going, I will do.

Monday, December 9, 2013

My Song about the Moon...

"Moon Madness"  by Andrew Wyeth
I truly do become obsessed with things... I especially become obsessed with what I am weaving, and NOT being able to work on it creates  an obsession that is like an ache. My tapestry is LOUDLY calling to me to come to work. I think of it every night when I look out at the winter-rimmed moon. I post moon art on Pinterest, like the magical Wyeth painting above. I hear the tapestry singing in my head, and it is singing Paul Simon's "Song about the Moon:"

...If you want to write a song about the heart
Think about the moon before you start
Because the heart will howl
Like a dog in the moonlight...
...If you want to write a song about
The human race
Write a song about the moon
If you want to write a song about the moon
You want to write a spiritual tune
Then do it
Write a song about the moon.

I have been gone for a bit over a week, then busy with the weekend, which involves some time-consuming events for me every week. Now I realize it is  December 9th and two of my precious grandchildren have birthdays, and we all have Christmas before the end of the month! And I have done quite close to NOTHING to get ready for those things, and all the activities they include.

I am always a holiday foot-dragger and procrastinator, but this year, with it's seemingly shortened calendar, has really accentuated my reluctance to delve into shopping and decorating. I am very involved in my church's music, and am enjoying that, but it has been eating a lot of my time, as well.

So the dialogue in my head is much like this:

Me: I MUST shop today, or at least get a reasonable list made!
Tapestry:  Come weave me.
Me: No, I have unpacking and trip laundry to do.
Tapestry:  Come weave me. At least finish my moon.
Me: No. I need to throw something in the crock pot for dinner and plan next Sunday's church music before this afternoon's practice.
Tapestry:  Come weave me. At least finish my moon. It will not take long.
Me: No. I have a couple of things I need to finish making for the kid's birthdays.
Tapestry:  Come weave me. At least finish my moon. It will not take long. And you will be happier and more productive if you weave first.
Me: No. I have to clean the house so we can put up the tree.
Tapestry:  Come weave me. At least finish my moon. It will not take long. And you will be happier and more productive if you weave first. Would you really rather do those things?
Me: No. I would not rather do those things.
Tapestry: Then come weave me.

If I want to weave a spiritual tune, I will go weave my 'song' about the moon. I'll let you know who wins the argument.....

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Where is the Wizard when you need him?

We are visiting my husband's family in Kansas. The Great Plains are beautiful at any time of year. I confess that I appreciate them more now than I did when I lived in the midst of them.

My oldest son, who did not grow up on the plains, met us in Kansas for a few days. He and I went to the local museum, where this big early McDonalds sign is on exhibit. I swear this was the sign on the place we would go for burgers, after my mom scrounged through purses and couch cushions for change. Burgers there and at the local Griff's (which I believe still exists here) were $.15 each, and $.10 on Thursdays.
Ah, tis great to delve into one's personal history!

We also went to this house, which was built in 1870 by my Grandfather's grandfather, or my son's great-great-great-Grandfather. I had been here before, but my son hadn't been, and he was fascinated with our family history. In fact, he and I also went to the local state archives and did a bit of very interesting research. Both sides of my husband's family, and my father's family are all originally from Germany. My mother has ancestors who came over on the Mayflower, originating in England. We are melting pot people, as are most Americans.

I have had one or two difficulties on the trip. The worst is a true tragedy, in my eyes: my beloved camera seems to have a serious ailment. I am hoping that it is not a fatal one, and a new motor will fix it. All the men-folk tried to revive her, to no avail. So I have not been able to take the hundreds of photos that I usually take on a trip, which is sad, because I was determined to get a Prairie Hawk close-up this time. These glorious birds are everywhere, and of course now they seem to be posing just for me. My iPhone just will not let me attach my long lens, though, so that photo will have to wait until next time, I guess. I long to follow the yellow brick road to have the Wizard fix my beloved camera, but I can't find the road, this is not tornado season, and I left my red shoes at home.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Life is a Feast....

Only a few countries in the world celebrate a day of Thanksgiving. I'm glad I live in one of those places; the United States. Some people think this holiday is all about eating a LOT and falling asleep in front of a football game on TV. And, OK, we do that. But mostly, I believe we all find, or at least try to find, things to be thankful for. It is a holiday that reminds us of the importance of gratitude in our lives.

I have many, many things to be thankful for. I have a rich family life, with many to love and be loved by. I have a comfortable home in a good community; I have good neighbors, and friends I can count on to be there for me, and whom I am glad to be there for in return. I have the riches of having people of age and wisdom in my life, as well as having those who are young and still eager and curious. I have eyes that can still see beauty, and ears that can still hear music, and a sensibility to truly enjoy both.

I find true Joy in simple things, sketching a found object, seeing birds at my feeder, working at my loom, the antics of my pets, and discovering humour in unexpected places.

I also am thankful for this place to share my life and work with you, and I have been very blessed by some of your blogs and comments and Facebook postings, as well.

Whether or not you will be celebrating Thanksgiving with us in the US this week, please remember to allow gratitude to be a part of your life. We are all richer when we recognize that we have much to be Thankful for.

Friday, November 22, 2013

On this Winter's Night...

"The lamp is burning low upon my table top
The snow is softly falling...
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
On this winter night with you."
 (Gordon  Lightfoot)  

I know it is not winter yet, but the first snow of the season is falling. I took the top photo from the front porch. There is a fire in the fireplace, and good music playing in the stereo. My sweetie and I sipped hot caramel cider, with a content dog curled up at our feet and a sleeping cat across the way. Is that all not just quite enough to be thankful for, as we enter a season of Thanksgiving?

May you be equally blessed...

View from my sitting room window

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Obsessed with the Moon....

I know I have said before that I am what I weave. Or maybe that I weave what I am... or what I am obsessed with at the time. I really don't know which is the cart, and which is the horse. But lately, a full moon draws me outside, unable to ignore it's light... probably because I am weaving a full moon, so it is with me day and night.

Gus would love to be outside, howling at the moon. But the neighborhood cats have been having 'gang fights,' so he has to stay in. I have told him the loom chair is my territory, so he is now trying to claim a spot on the loom tray. Sadly, he gets evicted from that spot pretty quickly, as well.

I have been very busy with other life activities, which will probably keep me from weaving as much as I'd like through the holiday season. But I will get to the loom as often as I can, and I will keep you posted on my progress there.

 “The moon is friend for the lonesome to talk to.”
Carl Sandburg

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November progressing...

As the month moves along, the autumn light continues to bring me excessive joy. When I let Booker back inside this evening, I saw the light hitting the trees above my neighbor's roof, and I had to run for my camera. I truly wonder how many hundreds of photos I have taken of the light coming through the autumn trees? It never gets old for me. I hope it never does...

Booker loves the autumn, too. He loves to roll in the leaves on the ground, and bring them in on his oh-so-heavy-coat to fall throughout the house, so we can have a carpet of leaves inside, as well as outside. It is one of the many services he provides.

And, as the days get cooler and the nights get longer, Gus has once again claimed my weaving chair. We have to battle over it whenever I go into the studio to work. He believes it is His Chair, and I occasionally have to beg to differ.

The "November" tapestry is not progressing as quickly as the month is, but it is moving up the warp a bit. It is such a dark tapestry that I actually went out and bought twinkle lights to hang above my two studio windows, just so I'll not get lost in the darkness!

As you can see in this close-up, there is color in the darkness. It is not all blackness.

I have had a lot of activity filling my non-studio time lately. Musical activity. Is there such a thing as 'too much' music? I've never thought so. But lately, my life is so filled with music, that I've had a hard time turning the Off/On switch in my head to off when I go to bed. It may be 'too much' when lyrics and tunes awaken you in the night. I am still taking guitar lessons, so practice my beloved Taylor guitar daily. And, for the past few months, I have been pretty active in the music each week at church, and about 8 hours each week have been going into the planning, practice, etc. for that. I have also just begun directing an 'occasional choir' at church, a group of people who will get together to sing for the joy of it, and who will occasionally share it with others. I am trying to limit the planning, etc. of that, so that it does not rob me of too much work time.

Music has always been a big part of my life, and it seems to be trying to claim an even bigger part, lately. You probably already knew that music is important to me, didn't you? After all, this blog has the same title as a Carol King song.....  my life IS but a tapestry!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Weaving a Connection with the World...

Yesterday I did this self portrait sketch in my sketchbook. I occasionally do a self portrait, because I'm generally the only one around, or at least the only one who will sit still for a few minutes. I like to try different styles when I do a self portrait, since the subject is so familiar. I really like this pared down line style; it leaves out all the extra lines my face has on it now!

I'm sharing the sketch because of the quote I found and put along the bottom of it. I love the quote! It is from Anais Nin (whose words I frequently love.)  She said:
"All of my creation is an effort to weave a web of connection with the world. I am always weaving it because it was once broken."

What can I say to that but, "Yes!"

Over on Tommye Scanlin's blog, "Works in Progress," she says weaving a tapestry is like watching grass grow. More true words. In fact, I almost hesitate to even share the tapestry on my loom now, because it truly, at this point, looks like nothing at all is happening (except the sun is shining through the prism in my studio window and adding a bit of color to my woven header!) This tapestry will have very little contrast for a bit, but I will still let you know how it is progressing.

Back to my attempt at weaving a web of connection with the world....

Saturday, November 2, 2013

New Etsy Print...

I first posted this small painting here, though the photo I posted wasn't a very good one. I painted it several years ago, after an autumn trip to Maine. It was just an 8x8" square painting, and it actually sold fairly quickly. I decided to add it to the prints I offer on Etsy. (You can get to my Etsy shop by clicking on the link on the right.) The print is about 5x5" and is printed on canvas and double matted. I decided to offer it after I got to thinking that I need some new-to-look-at fall art hanging in my house, and I remembered how much I liked this little painting. So I mainly have had it printed for me! I can't wait to put mine out. I like to just perch these little pieces in corners of window sills, or on a shelf in front of books, and sometimes I don't even bother with a frame. Just a spot of autumn color to make me smile, and to remind me of a beautiful day in Maine.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

As October ends, "November" begins!

We have had a few colder, stormy days here, which makes me think perhaps our house painter was right, and fall will be short, leading to an early winter.

On our walk yesterday, Booker and I saw that most leaves had been blown from the trees in our neighborhood.

I have been back at work in the studio. I have the cartoon and the maquette done for the "November" tapestry. I have re-warped the loom, and yesterday I wove the header and began the hem. I have the yarn selected and pulled out of the storage bins.

I am excited to begin this tapestry. It has some challenges inherent in the design. I love a challenge! The biggest challenge of this piece will be of color and value contrast. I need to get the dark areas dark enough that they read as true, pure darkness, without using a plain black, which I never use. (I always at least blend colors into the black, as pure black tends to look lifeless to me.) And I need the other darks to stand out enough to be seen, but to still read as darkness, as well. This is a night-time tapestry, and I believe weaving it will be as big a challenge to me as night photography has always been for me.

Although I may not be ready for winter, I am ready to begin "November," both the tapestry and coincidentally, the actual month! Wouldn't it be something if they ended together, as well?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Oh, the light, the glorious light!

It has been great to be with my parents in California for the past week-and-a-half. California is always beautiful, and the weather there was lovely the whole time I was there. In the middle of last week, my husband told me a bit of our yard was in the newspaper, and sent me the photo above (which was taken from our paper, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.) It is of the median in our street, and you can just see the box that covers our backflow preventer in the background.  We live on one of the few residential streets that still have a median, put there long ago to cover tracks from the cable system that used to run down our street.

At this time of year, people tell me that they often drive past our house, just to see the beautiful trees that line the street, as they change colors.

When my husband picked me up from the airport Saturday evening, and drove me home (to our newly painted house!), I saw that autumn had truly arrived in my absence. The evening light shining through the leaves at this time of year almost makes my heart ache with it's beauty. I can think of nothing more beautiful to me than autumn light!

This is my St. Francis statue in my lily of the valley bed. Prettier than even when they are blooming, don't you think?

October is not Halloween to me; it is color and light. It is the most beautiful of months. I do hope October has been that to you, as well.

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables 

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
Lauren DeStefano, Wither 

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
George Eliot

Monday, October 14, 2013

Chasing rainbows...

I have been very busy for the past week or so. Unfortunately, not really creative, just very busy. The painters finished painting our house... and their busy-ness prompted me to do my 'spring cleaning,' a season or two late. (Or early, depending on how you look at it.) I polished woodwork and wood floors. I also made quince jam and green tomato relish (that I believe rivals the jar I purchased in Maine a few years ago) and made and froze home-grown-and-made marinara sauce.

Tomorrow, I will go visit my parents in California for a bit, to see what fall is doing in that part of the world. The trees here are beautiful as I drive down my old street!

Today, on the way to the grocery store there was a double rainbow ahead. It was one of the brightest I have ever seen here, and I could see the full spectrum! I don't always see the violet end of the spectrum here, but it was quite visible today. I wished I wasn't driving down the road, and that I had my camera along, instead of just my phone camera. But I enjoyed it, just the same.

When I return from my trip, I will be excited to get into my studio again. It has been rearranged, and I am anxious to see if I have set my loom up where I'll get a bit more natural light. I have the "November" tapestry designed, and yarn ready for it. I also have several paintings I look forward to working on. But, until then, I will not be posting on the blog. So, happy creating, my dear blog friends! And I will catch up with you in a few weeks time.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On exhibit...

The opening reception for the bi-annual fiber exhibit at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts was last Friday night. The Art Center was given a large and impressive collection of Native American textiles a number of years ago, with the stipulation that they are exhibited on a regular basis. They have been shown, filling one of the Center's three galleries, at least once altogether (or at least most of them.) But for the past number of years, the Center hosts an invitational fiber exhibit every few years, showing a selection from their collection along side work from fiber artists from the region.

The exhibit usually has a LOT of art quilts, but they were strangely absent this year, possibly because the quilters have had a large exhibit in the Court House Gallery for the past few months. So Art-to-Wear was featured this year. There was a fashion show early in the evening, and the models took turns throughout the reception standing on pedestals in the gallery. The three pieces above were all made by the same young lady. The white dress in the top photo was completely constructed (quite beautifully) from plastic Walmart bags! The little boy in the next photo is the artist's son, wearing a jacket made from magazine pages. I was amazed because he was a 'rough-and-tumble' kid, but his jacket held up beautifully! Her work all seemed to be constructed to survive. My favorite piece was the beautiful southern-belle style gown, made completely from phone book pages! The bodice is from the Yellow Pages, and the skirt from the white pages. This model was on the pedestal for a while, then went out and danced in the lobby, where there was music playing. People touched and looked closely at the gown, but it moved gracefully with her, as if it was made from the finest silk! The artist must be an amazing seamstress!

The reception was well attended, and even quite crowded at times (I was worried that the gowns might not survive the crush, but they did.) At the end of the evening, my husband took a photo of me by my pieces, hung in the corner. I look a bit tired, don't I? I should have had him take the photo in the early part of the evening!

There was good response to my tapestries, and my small 'process' poster helped, I think, though I should have made it larger. Next time....  I always learn something from exhibiting! And that is a Good Thing.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

You Are Invited...

I would love to see some familiar faces at the artist's reception at the Art Center tomorrow night! I will be there from 7-9 p.m., trying to look 'artsy', and listening for those comments that can either make or break my creative spirit! ("Where can I buy the kit you used to embroider that?"  "That looks like a photograph!" (grrrrrr) and the always popular, "You must have a lot of patience.")

Tapestry is a very misunderstood medium, and that seems to be especially true here in the outback of Colorado. I don't know why that is the case. We're pretty close to New Mexico, and it is fairly well understood there. But, as the only professional tapestry weaver between Denver and Salt Lake City (and there aren't but a few there) people here just do not 'get it.' Sad, but true. 

So, every few years, I stick some work up at the Art Center, on their generous invitation, hoping that this year they will remember and maybe even appreciate what I do. And, who knows, this just might be the year!

If you come to the exhibit on Friday, please find me. (I'll be the one with the 'yes, I am very patient' look on my face.) If you go later in the month, let me know, and I'll meet you there if I can.

I am working on the designs now for the April and the November tapestries. I'm not sure which I'll do first. Most likely, the one I am most excited about when the designs are complete!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast!

Over the weekend, we went up to our mountain cabin to do some pre-winter repairs. It was 'color weekend,' so we expected to see the beautiful golden fall Colorado colors. But the aspen have barely begun to turn gold. Just the tops of some of the trees have turned, and the stand on our property hasn't turned yet at all, though the scrub oak and some of the undergrowth is beginning to have some color.

We planned to work on Friday, and we did a bit of prep work on Thursday afternoon, but Friday we awoke to sleet, which changed quickly to snow. The forecast was for more of the same all day and night, so we packed up and came home. One of the main things we need to do is to repaint the support posts that come out from the front of the cabin; the ones you can see in the photo below that are already coated with snow. They get the brunt of the weather; the very close sun in the summer, and a constant coat of snow in the winter. But we couldn't scrape and paint them when they were wet with snow!

We clearly did not expect such an early winter. Though... our house is being painted, and our painter, who spends much of his time outside watching the weather, told me the other day that it looks to him like we will have an early and long winter. Oh my, but I hope he is wrong! Autumn, please do not leave so soon!

I have spent the past week reorganizing my studio, and moving the 'furniture' (the loom and the easel) to fit new shelf units in. A HUGE mess! I have taken a truck load to Goodwill this morning. And I took a trunk-load of books to a book re-sale shop last week. Yet our house is still full! How did it get this way? I almost never shop, but stuff just seems to 'be here.'

I have to confess that I am a bit reticent to post photos of my studio. Looking on Pinterest the other day for something, I ran across pinned photos of my studio! What a surprise! Fortunately, the photos were from on a 'fairly tidy' day. It makes one more careful to find that people are really looking at what I post here on a whim!

The rest of my morning will be spent in finishing up the cleaning in the half of the studio that I didn't post here today! Then on to my busy Monday afternoon; filled with guitar music (or attempts at music) and practice. Monday is music day for me, with a guitar lesson, then planning and practice for church music, getting home just in time to drop into a comfy chair, wishing for a tasty dinner to just magically appear on my table (which doesn't happen, sadly.) If I were more organized, I'd have something already in the crock pot, but, as I'm not, it will probably be a rotisserie chicken from the market today. 

And that is quite enough to be getting on with on this fall day.....

Isn't it still September?