Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Shelving another year...

I have been keeping a sketchbook for the past several years, and I did the last page in this year's book today. I have used Moleskine's 5x8 sketchbook for the past 3 years, and I have loved it, but have discovered that it has changed. It is now being manufactured in China instead of in Italy, and, though the price has not been lowered any and has in fact been raised, the paper is not the thick creamy paper of the past Moleskines. I went ahead and purchased one for 2015, but if I do not like it, I will get something else. I hate it when things I love change for the worse!

I have shared pages from this year's sketchbook several times throughout the year, but here are a few more. The more personal ones, I'm not sharing. I do not have a 'personal style' I guess. I just sketch what I am wanting to sketch at the time; usually something to do with my life and what is going on.

I have begun and ended each of the past few sketchbooks with a self-sketch, so here is the one I did today. I am somewhat tired, and am not 'fixed up' in any way, but, as this is how I often look, I guess it is appropriate. Sadly, I do think I look at least a year older than I did in the sketch in the front of the book. That's the way it goes!

Tonight, I will shelve this sketchbook with the ones from the past few years. Tomorrow, I will start the new sketchbook, as I start a new year. 2015! I hope it is a good year for us all. As Tiny Tim would say, 'May God bless us, every one!'

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Every little bit helps!

I did get a bit of weaving in yesterday, for Studio Tuesday. The holiday season and it's demands has slowed me down a bit, but I now have 3 inches done on the "July" tapestry. I know, that doesn't sound like much at all, but it is 1/6 th of the tapestry! (That sounds like more to me.)

Sand and rocks and a hand and most of a foot. That's what I've done so far. And I will keep going until it is a tapestry!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Whatever happened to Studio Tuesday?

I did actually spend several hours in the studio yesterday afternoon, though not enough was added to the tapestry on the loom to share with you. But I missed the two Tuesdays before, as we were away from home. The closest I got to 'studio time' was the few minutes I spent sketching each of the four lighthouses we saw on our trip!

We went to our son's home in the Boston area for Thanksgiving, and spent almost two weeks enjoying our son, his wife and a couple of exceptional grandkids. We went with them to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem to see a spectacular Calder exhibit. Then we took a couple of days and went to southern Maine, while they were all working or back in school.

We got up to the Kennebunkport area just in time to watch the sun going down on the ocean. It was beautiful and we had the area pretty much to ourselves. (If you look closely in the photo below, the building structures in the distance belong to the HW Bush compound.) We had hoped to see all the coastal homes lit up for the holiday, but we were a week too early. It didn't matter; the ocean is always beautiful!

We decided to go on a lighthouse hunt the next morning, to see more of the ocean. We don't have much ocean in Colorado! We saw four lights before we quit for the day. In the photo below, look for my white arrow on the left, pointing to an artist painting on the windy beach. I must say I was somewhat overcome with envy!

Near the Portland Head Light, we came across this ruin, which we decided was definitely a 'haunted house,' especially after I turned from taking the picture above to see the view I took in the one below!

As we were leaving Maine, we drove down to Prout's Neck. I knew the new Winslow Homer Studio/Home Museum was not open (it is seasonal,) but I want to take a peek at where Homer painted from anyway. We got to the drive that leads to his home/studio, but it is a private residential area, and was closed off. I did see the top of his studio through the trees, and took this shot of the cove he overlooked and so often painted. I will go back 'in season' to tour the studio. Something to look forward to.... 

Back in Boston, we went to the finally reopened Fogg Museum, at Harvard. I was a bit reluctant to go, as I have always loved the Fogg, and sometimes am very disappointed at what 'rennovations' do. But I can honestly say I still love it, and maybe even more, as it is larger, so more of their amazing collection is on display. I was happy to see one of my favorite Van Gogh shoe paintings, and, for the first time that I've seen, several tapestries were prominently displayed! If you are ever in the Boston area, don't miss the Fogg Museum, on Harvard's campus. They have some of my favorite pieces of art, from Renoir to O'Keefe to the stunning pre-Raphaelite Arts and Crafts artists I so love. In addition, they have on display a special exhibit of the Rothko Murals that had been created for Harvard, but that had faded so badly they have been in storage for years. They have not been restored, but have been 'recreated' to their original brightness with projection. It is really a creative solution, and there is more about it here.

Now that I am back home, I plan to get back to work - especially on my Studio Tuesdays!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Studio Tuesday, Nov.18th

Lots to get done in the studio again today! I had to get the little tapestry, "Grace," ready to ship off to The Art is the Cloth exhibit, which will be in Newton, PA (see info on side) soon. "Grace" will replace my tapestry which sold in the exhibit in New Hampshire! May "Grace" be so lucky as to find a new home, as well!

I also was determined to begin the "July" tapestry before I leave town this weekend. So I finished warping the loom, tied on the warp, wove a header and a hem, and got a bit more than an inch woven on the tapestry! A good beginning!

Finally, I completed mounting the "April" tapestry, which the full title for is "April, Come She Will," a musical title for a piece that is largely about my love for and involvement in music.

All in all, I spent pretty much the whole day in the studio, and feel I got a lot done. Can you even imagine what I'd get done if I had two days a week in the studio? It boggles the mind......

Friday, November 14, 2014

My heart yearns for Paris...

Paris Salon, oil on canvas, 11"x14"

Can you be 'homesick' for a place that is not - and will most likely never be - 'home?' I occasionally feel a very strong pull towards Paris. The last time I felt such a yearning for a place was when I lived in the heartland, and I spent a number of years yearning for the Colorado mountains; listening to John Denver's sappy music and feeling 'homesick' for the place I was born, but had not, in my memory, ever really lived.

Paris Gothique, oil on canvas, 11"x14"

But, with the weather here in Colorado leaning towards winter, getting grey and cold, I find myself thinking that if I'm going to be in grey, cold weather, I may as well be in Paris, where all weather is beautiful. And, if it's not, I could just spend the day in the Louvre or in front of the Unicorn tapestries.

Pont du Neuf, 5"x7" print on canvas

Reasonable desires, I believe. Am I not right?

But I am not in Paris today, nor will I be there tomorrow. So, I'm adding a few Paris paintings to my Etsy shop, in case there is someone else out there who yearns for Paris. And I am pulling up my Paris photos, and thinking of painting another view of my time there, because the act of painting a scene is a 'take me away' activity. It will sweep me over the miles and the hours and will take me back to where I am today longing to be.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Studio Tuesday, Nov. 11th

I had a productive half-day in the studio, 'tho I didn't end up doing what I had planned to do, which is often the case. 'Best laid schemes' quite 'aft gang agleyfor me! 

My plan was to mount the 'April' tapestry, as I had done with the 'November' one last Tuesday. And I  did begin that process. But I discovered that I did not have all the materials I needed, and I decided I'd prefer to stay in the studio working, rather than to run after what I needed.

So I went from the worktable to the computer, and I firmed up the design maquette, and created the to-size cartoon to work from for the next tapestry, the 'July' one.

Then I went from the computer to the loom, and got busy rewarping the loom. The warp is already on the loom, as I'd warped enough for several tapestries, but the threads all needed to be re-threaded through the string heddles, and through the lovely reed holder my husband made me. I have that done now, and just need to tie all on to the lower beam. 

 But this work day is over, so that will wait for another one!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Studio Tuesday...Nov. 4th

Today was a fairly productive studio workday. I have plenty to do there, so I decided to concentrate on getting a couple of the woven pieces mounted. I have a small one I needed to prep to go off to exhibition, and both the "November' and 'April' calendar tapestries to mount. So the tools of my trade today were scissors, a staple gun, screwdrivers, pins, and an iron, plus the odd stereo remote, stretcher frames, fabric and batting, and the very necessary cup of coffee (usually set a bit further from the action.)

Once again, I was joined by the studio supervisor, who decided to pull half a dozen skeins and balls of yarn from several baskets, in order to settle himself in the most comfortable supervising spot. (Do you see him trying to look 'not guilty,' as he knows he was in forbidden territory, and would not  be allowed to stay there long.)

At the end of the work day, I have the 'November' tapestry mounted as well as the one that will soon be shipped off to an exhibit.

I still have another mounting job to do, and the warp yet to be tied onto the loom for the next piece. I am glad there is at least one Studio Tuesday each week! I intend to be weaving again by the end of the month.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Studio Tuesday (on Thursday)...

I missed my 'Studio Tuesday' this week, as my husband wanted me to go to the mountains with him. I have to confess that all day I felt like I was truly missing something important. I've committed to this one day a week to work, and it did not feel right to me even to postpone it for a couple of days. And today, being a Thursday, with my Thursday chores and commitments, does not feel 'right' for a Studio Tuesday. So I guess I am going to have to be more firm about my commitment, or I will be having 'Grumpy Tuesdays' and maybe even 'Grumpy Thursdays!'

This morning then, after I did some Thursday work, I went to the studio and finished hemming the 'April' tapestry, though I have not yet prepped the stretcher to mount it on. I have the stretchers my husband has made for both it and the as-yet-unmounted 'November' tapestry. But my mind was not in the right place today for doing finishing work. I wanted to do beginning-work!

So, I began to design the 'July' tapestry. I have been given permission from my 10-year-old grand-daughter to use an image of her from last summer. I am putting together several photos to use as source images, so, though I may primarily work from the photos for detail work, I need to compose the layout: how and where everything will fit into the 18 inch square that will be the tapestry. I'm going back and forth between photos, the painting in progress, and the computer; adding and subtracting elements, making some things smaller and some larger. I have to confess that this is my favorite part of the design process! And I wouldn't want to do it without using ALL the tools: the paint and canvas, the camera and the photos, and the computer. It seems to take them all for me to find the image I will be happy enough with to weave. And of course, I really want this tapestry to be special, because the subject, my beautiful grand-daughter on a hot July beach, is a wonderful and special subject. I want the tapestry to feel warm and sunny and young! How to do that?

It is difficult for me to have a studio work day with my husband now retired. He is quite used to dropping in to check out what I am doing, but I am not used to having visitors in my studio during a serious work time. It is hard to switch my brain off, then back on again, while in creative mode. I pointed out the "No Trespassing" sign at my door to him, but he was just amused. Only Booker takes my 'no visitor' policy seriously, only ignoring it if it is thundering. Of course, Gus thinks I cannot work without his supervision, but he doesn't disturb me, other than moving into my chair as quickly as I vacate it.

In spite of the postponement of 'Studio Tuesday' and the no trespassing issue (which I may have to resolve with an electric fence,) I did get a bit of design work done today. As soon as I post this, I will do a bit more at the computer; cropping and subtracting and adding, and then I hope to get a maquette into a usable form before next Tuesday, which will be a Studio day. It will hopefully be a loom warping and cartoon enlarging day for the 'July' tapestry!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Studio Tuesday, Oct 21

I was back in the studio today, for my Studio Tuesday workday. The 'April' tapestry has been 'resting' quite awhile, so I spent the morning sewing slits (thankfully, not too many this time.)

After a break for a haircut (my own hair, having already trimmed all the 'hair' from the back of the tapestry while I sewed slits,) I pinned the tapestry out, and blocked it.

Quite awhile ago, I posted a tutorial about my blocking method here. I still block all my tapestries this way, and they have all stayed flat and even, whether they have been hung, mounted, or rolled up and stored.

I have my next tapestry in mind, so will begin to work on the maquette for it - hopefully, even before next Studio Tuesday!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Time Out" is over!

I sometimes 'put myself in time-out' for a bit of time. I stick my head in the sand, or in the corner, and do not allow myself to see the work of other artists. I do this on purpose, because I often feel either over-influenced by, or overwhelmed by, the work of other artists, and even by any visual images. So I just keep to myself for a time, and try to work my way through it. 

But then I start to feel depleted and something from the outside world will come into my little corner, and it jump-starts my creative mind! That happened to me this morning. I opened my mail to find the catalog from the 'The Art is the Cloth' exhibit, and each image I looked at excited me more and more! Then I reluctantly put the catalog down and picked up an Elle Decor magazine my friend had recently dropped by for me, and each advertisement spoke to me of color or of pattern or some design element. I haven't even gotten past the advertisements yet!

I did not realize how creatively dehydrated I had become; a truly thirsty desert rat. I think my 'creative time out' must have been over-long this go-round, so I am glad it has come to an end! I have a stack of magazines I have just been putting aside for 'later,' and now 'later' seems to have come! My parched eyes and mind are ready to look, and to be inspired.

By the way, the catalog shown above will be available for everyone to purchase next week. I will post the information when I get it. The tapestry I have in the exhibit is the one below: "Dama con Mangoes." I am thrilled to have a piece in such a terrific exhibit, and I hope to see it in one of it's venues before it is over.


Thursday, October 9, 2014


I actually did have a 'Studio Tuesday' this week, though I doubt anyone would be interested in seeing what I did. I impressed myself, however, by cleaning the studio, which is a necessary job at the end of each tapestry. I put away all the yarns I'd been working from into their appropriate color-sorted bins; I cleared all piled spaces; and, in effect, I got the studio ready for starting the next tapestry.

I have done a few sketches in my sketchbook lately, but nothing spectacular. In helping move my parents here, I ran across a number of tiny black and white photos of myself as a child. They always amuse me, because it looks like I was a bit of a grump as a child! The one I sketched the above sketch from was from a birthday party, and I look like I am not really into the proceedings. In my defense, I was about 3-years old, and it wasn't my birthday party, so why should I have been excited? It seems that life confused me as much at that age as it does now!..... and that, dear visitor, is saying something, right there!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Autumn is my favorite kind of light....

Gus enjoys the new slant of autumn light, the changing trees, and the passing birds as much as I do! He also enjoys the warmth of the newly-turned-on radiator.

Today I have many things to do, as usual. I'm going to bake some cookies and take them out to my folks, do some of the TON of laundry I need to catch up on, and, if I get the chance, I will pick the ripe quinces from my bushes to make some jam with in the morning. In addition, I am determined to add a sketch to my sketchbook today, and get in some guitar practice.  A busy day ahead, but it was nice to spend a few minutes enjoying the morning light with Gus, as I sipped a cup of coffee my now-retired husband brought me.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Studio Tuesday... not quite, but almost....

In truth, I have not been in my studio since I cut the 'April' tapestry from the loom. I have been away from home, moving my parents here from California. But this Tuesday evening, even though I was extremely tired, I really felt the need to do some little thing that would keep my 'Studio Tuesday' practice alive.

So, having completed the tenth calendar tapestry, I set my mind thinking about the two that are remaining to design and weave; the July and December tapestries. I pulled up my photos on the computer and started looking through images I had taken in July, just to give myself a starting place.


The top photo is of a painting I did from the National Monument, which is a local Park, filled in the summer with ring-necked lizards. The second photo, of the mule deer, was taken at our cabin.

The two sea gull photos were taken in Massachusetts last July. I confess that I truly love this last photo, of the bird flying away. But I also am pretty sure that it will not make the 'final cut' in my choices of images to pursue for a tapestry. I also have a few other ideas, one of which I will do some sketching and painting of before I decide whether or not to pursue it further. At any rate, it was fun to get at least my mind, if not my body, back into the studio. Before the next Studio Tuesday, I need to really clean the studio! It is a job I do after taking each tapestry off the loom, and it truly needs it this time!
Plus, I have two tapestries now to mount; the 'November' and the 'April' ones. Need to get to work!