Sunday, October 16, 2016

Coffee Conversations

I just completed the finishing on a series of tiny faces and I'm feeling mighty proud. When you get from this...

to this
Coffee Conversation No. 2, 6 x 6 inches mounted

it's an accomplishment.

I like this group of people, they share a common story (they like coffee).

It all started with a trip to the coffee shop one very hot day this past summer (coffee drinkers without AC need to travel for their morning cup). I brought my sketchbook of course and spent more time drawing than drinking. My experience is, no one notices.

You get very good at cell phone and laptop poses and begin to wonder if there really were any conversations but be patient, they happen.

Later I chose the ones I was most intrigued with and drew them again, this time with a big black crayon, one of my favorite tools (no erasing there). I had used my acute eavesdropping skills to flesh out the stories of these people...with a bit of poetic license of course.

oh those 3/4 faces in weaving, so tricky when small...

I have to say my first was one of my favorites, this woman ordered iced coffee to go. Trust me, it was hot outside.

As always on the pipe loom, 10 epi and 3 1/2 inches wide

The final piece in the series of 5 came back to wedge weave (yes indeed Connie Lippert). There was a lot of action that day, the perfect opportunity for a bit of wedge weave.

I used to do far more tiny faces years ago and it was such a pleasure to return to that practice. The connection to my drawing makes it even better, the stories of each person a bit richer.

Winter is a few months away. I wonder what a trip to the coffee shop will look like then?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sketching Through Spain

Sketching really must be the basis for all types of art. It certainly helps me. So you won't be surprised to know my recent trip to Spain included obsessive sketching, enough to fill a book I'm happy to say. I've mentioned before I've lost interest in recording places with a camera except for a few people pics. Somehow I see more when I draw what I see.

The birthday girl was my daughter, nice to start with a celebration...

In Madrid, my home base for these past two weeks, life focused on cafe stops (my request). Sometimes the drawings were tiny objects, occasionally with odd commentary.

El Bosco, once in a lifetime amazing show

Then again there was The Prado, a gigantic challenge of a building. I focused on the lengthy line for the amazing El Bosco show ( painter Hieronymus Bosch ). I was lucky, I snagged a ticket online.

We moved to Cordoba and Granada in the south and I began to see why artists are so attracted to the landscape there. My biggest challenge was how to approach the large scene I saw before me. What was the feeling I wanted to convey in the sketch? How could I show that moment and do it quickly?

Patio de los Naranjos by the Mezquita in Cordoba
View of the Alhambra, Granada

I like to think the person pointing on the right was awestruck by my sketching but I think it was the wonders of The Alhambra that fascinated him.

Then there were the people, always my favorite subject. Flamenco dancing was especially challenging, but what a great experience.

I think I'll add some color on the sketch to the right...
A lot to think about and who knows what will come of it. The looking and observing is invaluable no matter what art medium you work in.
Tapestries to follow....

This all would not have happened without the help of my delightful daughter, rightfully given the title "Sketcher Manager" for the duration of the 2 weeks. She faithfully sought out the best sketching chair at various cafes and then waited patiently while I filled page after page....Muchas, Muchas Gracias!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tapestry Unlimited

Alone again.
the living room is bare...almost.

Tapestry Unlimited, a small format unjuried show sponsored by American Tapestry Alliance has closed. The pieces are making their way back to the 227 participants. It has been such a large part of my life (not to mention my daughter) that I thought a blog was in order. I have an important point I want to make.

There was of course the waiting for the tapestries to arrive this winter.

The organizing and mounting the boards part....
Porkchop knows his job.

Hanging the show

and the mailing it back part....
yes, it was raining

But that's not what I want to talk about.
It's this.

The amazing response to this show.

From the moment we walked into the Milwaukee Public Library (an incredible venue downtown) people were interested. While trying to hang this show I had at least a dozen people stopping me and asking incredible questions, truly interested in the things we make. They wanted to know the process and who the people were who made these incredible things. When I said they were from all over the world (we had 48 foreign entries) they were dumbfounded.

Our opening that Friday afternoon allowed many weavers to connect face to face, friends I had on Facebook became people I had conversations with. A large group of Japanese nursing students stopped to look, their guide translated as they learned.

My favorite moment came as we took our show down. Kristina Gomez, our library contact, talked about favorites she and coworkers had decided on. Another employee walked by and asked, "Are you coming back next year?"

Sorry, it will be a different time, a different place. But it all means something, doesn't it?

Get ready... two more years. And start weaving now, you're already in.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

16 New Faces

It really is amazing.

When you teach a group of motivated weavers the sky is the limit. In this case I was in Milwaukee teaching a 3 day workshop at Convergence 2016  and we were weaving faces. Sixteen (okay, 17 including mine) new personalities emerged and naming ceremonies were in full force. Diplomas were issued to all and the class photo is the proof!

Graduation Day, Convergence 2016

These weavers had a lot of skill. I'm interested that there was not a loom issue in the bunch, everyone warped their loom with ease consulting neighbors who shared advice. Weavers really are a generous,  sharing bunch of people.

Each day we stopped to look at our important.

I provided plenty of color choice and coaxed folks to let the process guide their choices. Nancy suggested I do a sketching demo showing how I might draw out an idea and I was grateful for that; overcoming the fear of drawing can be very daunting. In the end you often have to let that idea adjust itself. Tapestry language is so very unique. Archie told us in a workshop to sit on your design.

all those cardboards....everyone saw what cereal I eat all winter.

Examples abound, each one different and reflecting the weaver's personality.
Most of all I was proud of these students who took a risk and kept going despite their uncertainty.

So often you hear teachers talk of how they learn from their students and this, once again, showed that to be true. I'm grateful and honored to have spent time with 16 new friends, taking advantage of the power of a group and the knowledge they share.

on to her second one!

May our paths meet again.

Thanks HGA, it was a marvelous Convergence.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Convergence Here We Come!

Summer is flying by. I looked at the calendar last week and realized I better hunker down on some of those post-its accumulating on the Convergence list.

The 3 day workshop is Expression in Woven Faces so first I gathered my bag of skin tones to see what gaps I needed to fill.

I promise I won't wear this outfit at the workshop.

Then I headed out the The Dye Studio (that left hand corner of the garage) and spent Monday dyeing and over-dyeing, my favorite way to get those tricky variations on orange.

Porkchop remains as enthused as ever.

Watching a couple movies gave me the stamina to wind and ball up all the skeins. I think I have a good range of values to choose from.

Today I was rooting through various face samples, plenty of those, some good examples of what not to do. Naturally I got distracted and started putting things in the yard to photograph.

Only a little more than two weeks until we all meet in Milwaukee. I'm throwing out these post-its but I have a feeling more will appear shortly.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What is Tapestry?

Well that was a wonderful Saturday last weekend. It didn't even matter that it was 94 degrees (thank you, there was a box AC unit in the window) , I was among like minded people making stuff. More and more I believe 'making stuff' might be the key to something anyway; those of us who work with our hands are the lucky ones.
But I digress.

Entrance to the Arts Center

Last Saturday I was back at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts in the old (for WI) restored mining town of Mineral Point, southwest of Madison. Five eager weavers spent the day with me discovering what tapestry could do, four had never woven before.

The Potter's Barn

This is such a special place to spend a day in, complete with gardens, walking down paths from another time long gone. We worked together in a building called The Potter's Barn creating process driven landscapes, each very individual; start the piece, see where it takes you. Throughout this experience I tried to show my new friends what tapestry language was all about and if they choose to do it again, there's a whole wide world out there.

I realized at the end of the day I had no photos of their work (fire the photographer)! However this day was more about the experience of making and the discovery of possibilities, so I'm okay without the documentation.

If you ever get a chance to be in Mineral Point stop by and enjoy the view, walk around and take a class at the Arts Center.
Be good to yourself.
Make stuff.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Time for Dyeing!

Yes indeed the Summer 2016 dyeing season is in full swing. Porkchop remains unsure whether this is a good or bad thing.

I'm using my favorite approach, gradations. I love seeing the little skeins hanging in a row on my metal rod.

 After that comes the exhaust baths. These light colors can be so subtle and surprising. I have some light grey Norsk yarn coming from Sidsel any day now and I love to save that for the dye exhaust. So much fun ahead.

The great magazine Fiberart Now published a variety of studios in their latest issue so I figure I need to share a full view of my dyeing studio, my little corner of the garage. It seems to suit me.

Next week I teach a day class at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point called Tapestry Sunsets, today I dyed our treasures.

Yes I know....I'm a lucky person.