Friday, April 17, 2015

Sketching Faces

If you have read this blog before you know that portraits and the stories of people's lives never ceases to interest me. There is an endless amount of material out there, the key is to get out and notice it. No better way to do that than to sit down and draw.

Madison winters take me to mall food courts and coffee shops, but occasionally I look at photographs. The ones I used this month were found in a pile at a flea market, so no family ties to confuse things.

I used ink pen to avoid the erasing temptation and spent more time looking at the photo than the paper though they aren't completely blind contour. I didn't worry about resemblance, only gesture. These people are a mystery to me anyway.

In my final drawing I picked 4 photos randomly from the pile and drew one person from each drawing left to right. I like the potential for story telling here and hope to do more.

Tomorrow I'll be back to observing, this time the Earth Day gathering down at the park. The farmers market is opening up too, no problem filling up the sketchbook now that spring is here.

Social Graces continues to grow. Yarns are finally set, time to sit down and do it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Social Graces Moves On

Last month I shared the beginning of my new tapestry with the working title Social Graces. The title fits so well I may not have to change it. This month I thought I'd tell you a bit more about how the idea came about.

I was flipping through a Martha Stewart mag from the library give-aways, tearing out shapes and objects. It may not be my style, but you can't deny the high quality of the pics. When I'm trying to get ideas I will glue random shapes in my sketchbook without much thought and see what shows up. One of her fancy serving platters intrigued me. It looked like a hairpiece so I painted a face in the spot where the cookies had been.

This is a tiny idea, the sketchbook is about 3 x 5 inches. I lived with the idea for a long time and enlarged it with a watercolor sketch. Then I came across the cotton gloves my mother bought me when I was 13. I needed them because I was signed up for an etiquette class in town, you did things like that back in the early 1960's. Another class confronted me at  boarding school a few years later, but by then it was 1966 and social graces were disappearing. It was mostly unpleasant so I find it interesting that I enjoy having the gloves.

The colors for this tapestry are very unplanned and grow from what has been woven before, I have picked up the drop spindle fairly often and still wonder what the colors around her face will be.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Ice Age Trail

It all started with sock yarn.

Those of you who follow my work are aware I like a very lively surface on my tapestries. Basically I will use whatever it takes, within reason.

While in Minneapolis teaching a workshop I began to consider sock yarn, the self striping knitting yarn, more carefully and dug through my basket to find the appropriate WI winter skein. I thought of the Ice Age Trail and some walks I had taken on this 1,000 mile hiking path that extends throughout Wisconsin. Seemed appropriate to think of that landscape on a below zero day a few weeks ago.

I gathered together a few yarns I had bought at the Madison Knitting Guild's recent Knit In event. And yes I realize I already have "enough" but....

As I think about the landscape workshop I'll be teaching at Siever's School of Fiber Arts this summer I realized I wanted to create a few more stories that focused on my local landscape. I did very little planning for this design, letting the yarns guide me through my memories of those walks with Porkchop.

I need to finish this. There are rumors this week that temperatures will climb above 50 degrees and a new landscape with hope of taking off the beloved red coat will be in order. New yarns will be needed.......

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Weaving Big

The cold winds of February make me hide inside and work on art. Often I find myself trying something new and so I warped my Hagen loom a whopping 20 inches wide. I was working big.

Perhaps not big to some but I rarely venture beyond ten inches. It's been a whole new mindset in my approach to design. Instead of working 10 warps in an inch, I'm down to 6 for each inch. Few choices, bigger groups of yarns to weave with. Pieces I wove 20 years ago were done this way and after so many years of tiny t's it's interesting to think about how this change of scale can affect the shapes I make. The slits are mighty big too, check out that "r" I use as my woven signature.

Just observations and no long term switch to "big" in the works, I have too many ideas to get through for that.

Monday, February 2, 2015

New Faces in Tapestry

The Birthday Bash continues.

Seven eager weavers meet in Minneapolis, ready for a 2 1/2 day workshop with the daunting task of creating new faces. What sort of character will they create?

This group was the most skilled class I've taught so far. I enjoy teaching beginners, explaining the bones of tapestry and watching their understanding emerge. This group already had the basics and there were no fires to put out. Let the personalities emerge.

When I teach a class about weaving new personalities I focus on surface texture and face expression. Ok, we are always thinking about value. And the farther we get to the finish line, the more difficult the use of value becomes.

Meet the new ladies ( why are there rarely any men?) I bet you might even know some of these folks.

Happy Graduation All!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Landscape in Minnesota

Tapestry in a day?

We did it in Minneapolis last week where I spent my birthday weekend at the welcoming Textile Center in Minneapolis. Thirteen enthusiastic weavers came for a one day workshop to weave a landscape.

It was intensive and non stop, but Traudi still found time for coffee.

I stress values and surface textures when I do this workshop so hand spinners have the advantage. Not interested in spinning? Look at some of the hand painted roving available on the market.

In a one day workshop I prefer a design as you go attitude, letting the weaving determine where the landscape is and what the details might be.

Discoveries were made and as always I made some along with my students. I only hope this taste of tapestry leads some to explore further.

Stay tuned for part 2 , Face Expressions, a 2 1/2 day workshop was a big birthday bash!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sketchbook Update

I visited Florida last week for the first time and I didn't bring my camera. Well ok, my daughter did. But still, what fun it is to sketch  your way through the wonders of Miami.

What glorious weather - we WI folks appreciate something like this in January, I had a hard time remembering it wasn't summer. Here you see me working on a quick sketch of the Cape Florida Lighthouse at Key Biscayne.

Drawing helps you slow down and really look at your surroundings. I can completely understand how people get excited about painting palm trees now. When we walked past a street of houses days later I realized there was my painted house, I knew it instantly.

Who knows what ideas will emerge from all this, I don't try to quantify, I'm just glad I had the chance.