Tuesday, April 30, 2013

At Weft Speed, (which is NOT the same as Warp Speed)....

I AM making some progress in the studio, but it is not fast progress. Of course, tapestry progress is never fast progress, but I am progressing more slowly than usual lately. I don't know if it is allergies or something else, but my eyes have been giving me a real spot of trouble this past few months. They are red and ugly, and I have trouble seeing clearly much of the time. I have used a number of 'solutions' on them, from antihistamine drops to antibiotic drops. but they haven't yet solved the trouble! I'll see the doctor again early next week, and am hoping this time will fix it! 

In the meantime, I am weaving when I can on the October tapestry, and am about 6 inches from the top. Seeing the top is always an inspirational prod to me, so maybe this next six inches will progress more quickly than the last six inches have.


Across the studio, I also made a bit of progress on the daffodil painting, blocking in about half of the large flowers. I haven't worked much on the painting, but hope to work some more at the weekend, or maybe even when I have my palette out of the freezer tomorrow for the portrait session at the Art Center. No rush on this one, though. I just want to hang it somewhere where some bright color is needed in my dark house for the summer.

A storm seems to be headed our way this afternoon, as Booker is insisting that he needs to be in the studio with me. He only does that when it is thundering (or is going to maybe thunder) and he always seems to know a few hours before the storm hits. We'll see if he's right this time. He usually is.... I do not really like him to be in the studio, but I allow it on occasion.  

Back to the studio with my big chicken of a dog!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

An Under-the-Bed exhibit...

"Cabin Fever" tapestry 24"x36" 1988

I am doing my spring cleaning. Well, okay, I am supposedly doing my spring cleaning, though you know I am really at the computer (any diversion helps in these situations.) In cleaning the bedroom, I pulled a big box out from under the bed. It is a box that only gets pulled out once a year, during spring cleaning. Sometimes I don't even open the box; I just clean the floor where it was, then cram it back under there. Out of sight, out of mind.

But, knowing what lives in the box, I decided to open it today, and check to make sure everything was doing well in the box, and not being eaten by moths or an unruly cat. What lives in the box are about a half dozen of my very early tapestries. I truly do not know what to do with them! I have considered stitching them all together and using them for a studio rug. I have considered letting the dog sleep on a couple of them. But I just can't destroy them. They not only constitute my technical learning years, but they also contain some of my 'visions' and 'visual thoughts' of those early years, simple though they be.

This tapestry, woven in 1988, was a pretty ambitious piece for me at the time. Each of my tapestries back in those days were woven with certain technical challenges in mind. This one, I remember, had a couple of challenges. I wanted to figure out how to use lines in a subtle semi-transparent way. So I included the shapes in the background, which you can see if you click on the image to make it larger. Also, I was working my way through the weft-faced techniques in Peter Collingwood's rug book (which is how I learned to weave tapestries.) I wanted to work on using joins, and I wanted the joins to leave a jagged, irregular edge. So all of the sides of the house shapes are joined, using a couple of different techniques. Where I wanted clean edges (the sun and moon shapes,) I used slits.

I was loving the work of Paul Klee at this time. I had been to the San Francisco Art Museum, which then had a "Paul Klee Room." I remember walking into that room and seeing his work for the first time, and being reduced to tears by it. It was actually a pretty embarrassing situation, as I was the only person there, so the docent came over and asked if I was OK. Probably not too many people weep at Paul Klee's art, but I did. I loved it! So this tapestry still speaks to me of his work, and his colors, and my love for what he does.

I designed and wove this when my sons were young, still playing with Legos in the family room where my floor loom was. My husband was very busy building his pediatric practice, and was gone a great deal of the time. This tapestry was woven during a very long, hard winter. It is called "Cabin Fever," for obvious reasons.

If you read my post a few days ago, you saw one of my other tapestries from my under-the-bed exhibit, woven the same year as this tapestry was. The technical challenge of that piece was to learn to use an outlining technique. As you can see from both of these, I was in my 'bright colors on black' period.  1988 was a pretty productive year. I designed and wove four pretty good-sized tapestries that year. Those little boys with Legos didn't slow me down anywhere near as much as age and a tendency to over-detail my work has done lately!

Back to spring cleaning. Wonder what else I'll find....

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A better week ahead....

This week has started off much better than last week did, and I hope it stays that way. I got a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my parents for my birthday yesterday. I've taken what would have been a whole roll of pictures of them, back in the day of film rolls. I'm so glad to have gone digital, because it often takes me a roll or two worth of shots to get the one I want! The one above is one I like well enough, but it is not the one I am saving to paint from. That will have to be a surprise, I guess. (And the surprise may be if I get around to the painting!)

I have been weaving more, and my reaction to the original  image is starting to come about from the tapestry, FINALLY! This morning when I started weaving, I actually felt myself back at the place where this image is from, remembering why I wanted to weave it. I actually felt, just for a moment, back in that time and place. Yes! That is what I want from this particular tapestry! So I'm glad I didn't give up on it. (Sorry I have so many butterflies covering up the right side. The weaving itself is really not that dark and messy!)

If I turn my weaving chair around as I weave, sitting on the easel behind me is the start of a painting that I began over the weekend. The painting session at the Art Center is postponed tomorrow for the local public school art week, so I plan to spend the morning painting here. This will be a larger-than-life painting of the daffodils I bought myself earlier this spring. I normally don't paint a lot of flowers, but this spring has been so on-again/off-again, I think I feel compelled to provide my own spring! The funny thing about this painting is that I had prepped an 8x10" canvas to do it on, then at the very last minute, I put that canvas aside, and grabbed a 16x20" canvas and just jumped right in. I have done the beginnings of the vase and the background, but will start on the daffodils tomorrow. They will fill all the white area at the top. I can't wait to see how they turn out!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A girl can dream, can't she?

"Night Garden"  26"x36"  1988

I have been trying to envision what I will want to weave after the October tapestry is done. As it's past the mid-point, this is when I begin thinking of, and even designing for, the next piece. I want the next one to be the April tapestry. So I already know a few things about it: 1) it will be a square format (as all the Calendar tapestries are), and 2) as April is my birth month, I really want to weave this one just for me!

For some reason, I have been thinking back to some of my very early tapestries. I loved the simplicity of them (especially as I weave complex, fussy shapes on the current piece.)

The tapestry above is the first tapestry that I designed in my sleep! I dreamed that I walked into a gallery that was hosting an exhibit of my work, and this piece (which didn't exist even in my head then) was the first piece I saw. I still remember thinking, "wow, I love that!" in the dream. It is also the only image I remembered from the dream. But I didn't dream it clearly enough to just 'take a photo' of what was in my mind. It took months before I was able to sit down and, in one sitting then, paint out a maquette of the image and have it click in my mind as what I had seen in my dream. I still have a great fondness for this bright piece, mainly because of how it was created. Also, it was included in the Tapestry Now exhibit, and a few other exhibits where it did well, and made me feel like maybe I really was a tapestry designer/weaver.

So, with the memory of this piece in my head, I have been trying to fall asleep and dream the next design. Sigh. I wish it worked that way; that I could just tell myself to dream up my next design. So far, though, no luck. I may just have to hammer a design out of my hard head. Sometimes it works that way. I am often amused by the question, "how do you come up with ideas?" because there is no magic formula. Not that I've found, at any rate. Sometimes you will be gifted with an idea in a dream, and sometimes you have to really fight to get one.

I still have awhile before the October tapestry is off the loom. In the meantime, if you know of a magic dream potion, let me know, OK?

Friday, April 19, 2013

From today's sketchbook....

Once again, as a nation we are weeping. My son and his family are locked in their home, a short distance from where police and military tanks are searching for a young man who has caused grief and terror. I do weep, do you? 

I weep because my grandchildren have never known what it is to live in a safe society. They have never been allowed to run the streets freely in play, like I did as a child. And now they are told to not even leave their homes, because it is not safe today.

I weep because two young men who seemed to be full of potential for some reason found it easy to arm themselves and to wreak havoc at a social event, meant to celebrate life and patriotism. I weep for those young men. I weep for their family, and for their friends, and most of all, for their victims.

I weep because our leaders do not take our safety more seriously than they take their campaign funding efforts. I weep because they seem to have lost the capacity to care, to weep with us. And I weep because I do not want us to become that numb, to stop caring, to stop trying to make it a better world and country. I weep because tomorrow we might all stop weeping and life will go on as usual, until the next tragedy makes those of us who still can, weep again.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Springtime in the Rockies....

My Quince bush in full bloom, covered with snow

This weekend is my birthday. I had made plans. My youngest son had invited me to come for the weekend, and he and I were to go out to eat and to go to the O'Keefe exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. And my grand-daughter has a music event which I was to get to attend. I was pretty excited about it. I don't like to drive over the mountains alone anymore, so I had tickets to go on Amtrak. I love riding the train, and the ride over the mountains is a truly beautiful one!

Then my father ended up in the hospital, and had to have a minor heart procedure done. I wanted to be there to help out as he recovers, so I switched my train tickets from going to Denver to going to California. The train goes almost door-to-door from my place, there. So I packed my bags and re-made my weekend plans (I will go to my son's when the Textile exhibits are up in Denver, and we'll pretend it's my birthday then.)

Yesterday I got up and looked out the window. The view below is what I saw. By the time I got my painting stuff together to go to the Art Center to paint, we had six inches of heavy wet snow in the yard.

While I was at the Art Center, having a pretty unproductive morning (the model and most of the artists didn't show up), I got a call from Amtrak, saying there had been a rockslide in the mountains, and the train I was to catch later in the day would not even arrive in Grand Junction until Saturday, at the soonest.  So I gave up on painting, and went home to look for a flight to California. I discovered that, because of delays and overbooking both in Denver and here, I could not fly out either.

Gotta love Colorado.

I have two wardrobes. I have winter wear, consisting of wool sweaters and long underwear, jeans and boots. My summer wardrobe is basically lighter weight cropped pants and T-shirts. I am never in a big hurry to swap out my wardrobes (the off season one is in a cedar closet and boxes in the basement.) But I always make sure I have a few things warm to wear in the summer when it feels like winter, and in the winter, when it can feel like summer. So, when it hit 'very warm' and everything bloomed here several weeks ago, and I was seeing folks out in their shorts and tank tops, I just stuck to my few Tees, and kept my sweaters and boots at the ready.

I have lived in Colorado a long time. I know the ropes.


My daughter-in-law, who has lived in Colorado all her life, posted this photo on Facebook yesterday. It seemed pretty appropriate to post here, too. Yep, sir.

I am still here. Snowed and rocked in. I have on my favorite sweater this morning, and I enjoyed a fire in the fireplace yesterday afternoon. My Dad is doing well, and my brother and sister are out there to help out where needed. It is warming up, and I'm sure all the snow will have melted before the weekend. Then I will make new plans, knowing that I am certainly not the one in control here, and my plans can change just like the Colorado weather.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

From Life....

Still working away on the "October" tapestry. You can see I'm past the mid-point. I've put a color maquette behind the upper portion, because it is all about color. Fiddley little tiny bits of color to bounce off each other. So the upper half will weave even slower than the bottom half did!


My world is all about color right now. Our apricots, which I posted had bloomed early, have now frozen in a late freeze. So I'm glad I still have some jam and pie fillings from last year put by. I thought I had lost my tulips, too, just as they were about to open, but this morning, there they were, and I am happy to see that they survived our past two nights of freeze.


The bees are happy, as well. There is a bee in the lower left tulip; you can just barely see his tail end sticking out.

I'm still painting once a week from life at the local art center. This is this week's attempt. The model showed up in a lovely bright and colorful outfit, so I went with COLOR this week! Again, don't be too severe on these paintings. They are done in just a couple of hours, in a room of other artists who are painting or drawing, too. I don't mess with the painting when I get home. This one is pretty large, like the one last week. It is 15" x 20". I have learned some things about myself as an artist, doing these life paintings. Mainly, I've learned that I do much better when I get out of my own way, and just let the brush do the painting. Those 20-minute blocks of time don't leave room for rumination. If I want to cover the canvas, I just have to jump in there and put some paint on it. I need to weave more like that, too. Maybe I could get more warp covered, if I wove 'from life.'

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Live and Learn.....

I have been going once a week to the local art center for a 3-hour portrait painting session. It is not a class. Basically, all the art center does is to provide the model and a place for us to paint. This a totally new experience for me, so I began it with the usual 'newbee' anxieties; would I make a fool of myself? Would everyone else be so much better that I would hate it? You know what those feelings are, and if you don't you have not taken enough risks in your life!

The first week, I stared very ambitiously, and did the full model, but I painted it on acrylic paper, with my usual oil paints (being cheap, and not wanting to waste canvas.) Big mistake! The paint soaked into the paper, and made such a mess, I just threw that away. But the model did a second pose, and I did the above head profile on canvas. It was OK. It actually looks like the model, pretty much.

The second week was cancelled, as two houses right across the street from the art center blew up, from a gas leak. So the following week (which was last week) was the second session. I had two of my grandkids here for their spring break, and they went with me. They are terrific, well-behaved kids, so I can't blame my horrible painting on them, but I was distracted by having them there, by the explosion scene, which we'd had to pass to get to the art center (within a mile of my own house), etc. Those are my excuses, anyway, and I'm sticking to them. All that I came away with last week was the above sketch in my sketchbook. My grand-daughter (age 9) did a watercolor from the model, though. I love it! The model had long blond hair, blue eyes, a colorful black dress with bright splotches on it, and some very cool cerulean and gold cowgirl boots on.  She sat on a hot pink armchair. Katie captured all of that!

This morning, the model did 3-4 five minute poses, then kept the same pose for the rest of the morning (with breaks every 20 minutes.) So I decided to try to do a full painting. I used a 15x20" sheet of canvas from a canvas 'tablet.' I think I'm pretty happy with the result; especially  considering that it was done in about two hours.

This has been a fantastic experience, so far. It is great to just jump in there and create something with no expectation: these will not be framed, or exhibited. They are strictly for the experience of looking and learning. Awesome! Why haven't I been brave enough to do this before now?

Yesterday I got back into the studio and at the loom. The "October" tapestry is about to the half-way point. I know.... you'd think I'd be further by now, wouldn't you? But I have been dealing with my second cold in the past two months, I had the kids for a week, and garden work has begun here.  Lots of excuses. (I may not be good at some things, but I'm pretty good at excuses!)

But now I have run out of excuses, so I am heading back to the loom....!