Monday, September 26, 2011

Newly mounted piece

Here is a piece that I just finished mounting.  Once I got lighting on it, I saw that the mounting still needs some tweaking.

It is a small experimental piece 4 inches wide by 6 inches tall.  It is the first piece in which I have tried shaping a tapestry with pulled warp.  In the aqua weft, I would leave small rectangles every inch or so and used paper to hold my space.  In the green grass section I just continued to weave.  I did this piece on a small copper pipe loom.  Once finished, I pulled the warp to form pleats in the grass.  It supposed to be reminiscent of waving sea grass.  Unfortunately, you cannot see the pleating in this photograph.  I am not sure how to light it to see the pleating.  

This piece was a study for a larger piece I was thinking of weaving, but I decided I did not like the results as it did not turn out as I had envisioned.  So, rather than scaling up this piece, I am thinking of a new piece working from a photo I took on Lake Champlain while in Vermont.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fiber Transformed Group Show

The fiber art group, Fiber Transformed, of which I am a member has a  show open right now in Suffolk, Virginia.

September 11 - October 28, 2011
"FT: Fiber Transformed Exhibit"
Suffolk Art Gallery
Bosley Avenue, Suffolk, VA 
Call for gallery hours and directions: 757-514-7284
This exhibit includes the the Fiber Transformed show, "Wish You Were Here" plus additional work by each of the group's members.  "Wish You Were Here" is a show that uses travel photographs taken by members as inspiration for art pieces.  

Hopefully I can make it down to view the show before it closes!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Growing Garden

Sometime ago I posted photos of our front yard after we moved back in after our renovation.  Then it was a bare plot of land with a wall and a sidewalk.  The sidewalk was new, and the wall quite old.  Here is a photo of our burgeoning front yard.  After 15 years of marriage I find out my husband doesn't like those messy cottagey gardens.  So we ended up with a different kind of yard.  After looking through scads of garden books, I found one picture where he said, Oh, I like that.  It was by Piet Oudolf, a garden full of grasses, he loved the structure and look.  So, grasses it was.  I have fallen in love with all of them.  They look different at different times of the year and of the day.  

The grasses in this photo are quite small and will take a while to mature, the ones on the left which are hard to see are quite beautiful and standup against a wall.
These grasses are a bit larger, but hard to tell in this photo.  It is hard to be patient sometimes with a garden, but in time the grasses will all fill in and be quite beautiful.  These grasses, pink Muhlebergia look lovely in the winter with their pink blooms that glow in the morning sun.

I do have one area that is more like a cottage garden which is filled with grasses and very tall wild flowers.  They are supposedly deer proof, but several gotten munched on pretty heavily this spring and summer.  This garden has a wild unmanaged look with tall grasses with while puffy flowers intermixed with flowers.  About 90 percent of the garden is native.  We did put in four crepe myrtle trees because we couldn't find a native that fit in the space with the same structure, and there are a couple of flowers that are in the garden that are not native, but otherwise....

One thing that I love about my meadow garden is the visitors.  The butterflies and bees have loved this plant which started blooming in June and is still blooming now, although not as pretty as it was in June, it is still attracting visitors like this Hawk's moth above.  My children observed that the bees tended to come in the morning and the butterflies in the afternoon.  I even saw a Monarch butterfly yesterday visiting.

I haven't gotten any weaving done, but I do love my garden!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ruminations on Style

I have been struggling to find a unique voice in my artwork.  Do I have a unique style?   What does wikipedia have to say on this topic?

" refers to the aspects of the visual appearance of a work of art that relate it to other works by the same artist or one from the same period, training, location, "school" or art movement. This may involve all the elements and principles of art, and other factors, often very difficult to analyse precisely.

By changing the way they paint, apply colour, texture, perspective, or the way they see shapes and ideas, the artist establishes a certain set of "rules"..."

Hmmm, when I read this definition I think that I don't have a definite "style".  Although as I start to think of the art that I have made over the years, it pretty much has one thing in common, with the exception of two pieces done for art classes, it all represents something in nature.  No matter how hard I try to do something else, I have not produced any pieces that represent the "made" landscape of humans.  I have a few pieces that are fairly abstract, but again they are abstracted from nature and not from anything in the "made" environment.

However, it seems to me there is no defining way that I apply thread or yarn or weave.  There seems to be no unifying color scheme, I guess the only defining way I see things is often to see the little things in a big way.  I tend to overscale my views of nature.  I paint (just one piece really, and I don't really paint paintings anymore), quilt, embroider or weave things that are either the same scale or oversized so that you see details that you don't normally see.  I love to look at the inside of flowers for their defined structure, I like to look at the patterns that the waves form, I like to look closely at fauna.  Is this a style?  Who knows.  Could someone recognize my hand if I put all my somewhat disparate pieces in the same room?  Just my musings as I drive from the orthodontist to ballet to soccer back to ballet back to soccer home to feed animals back to the kitchen to cook dinner....

Does an artist have to have a style?  Is it something that is an unspoken requirement?  Will I develop more of a style as I spend more time at the loom?  I guess only time will tell.

Finally "framed"

I wove this flower tapestry last year for the open small tapestry exhibit for the ATA biennial.  It was an experiment in combining the use of a regular weave with one in which I used two warps under and two warps over.  What I found was although the weaving went faster, it of course pulled in more.  Then, I found that I didn't pack the weft tight enough and a third of the way through the tapestry when I decided it needed to be packed tighter it changed my composition completely.  I couldn't go back and reweave it since I didn't have time to finish it to get it to Albuquerque in time, so I had to improvise a change so that the composition was more balanced.  I have to admit that when I cut it off the loom I was not very happy with it, and have not been happy with it since. 

I have been trying to get it mounted on some type of frame or canvas since.  I tried painting a canvas for it, but it looked really flat.  I went through my stash of fabric and found a piece that worked perfectly, but wouldn't you know it--I didn't have enough fabric to cover the canvas.   I went to the quilting store where I bought the fabric but it was long gone. Since then, I have been letting the tapestry sit with the fabric for the last couple of months on my studio table, looking at it when I enter my studio and letting it percolate through my brain.  I finally came up with the idea of quilting a piece for the tapestry to be mounted on.  So I cut the fabric in strips.  I cut out two large pieces of muslin, one as backing and the other to sew the green fabric strips to and I sandwiched cotton batting in between.  Once I sewed the strips together leaving a big square of exposed muslin which the tapestry would hide, I quilted the piece.  Next, I sewed the tapestry to the quilted piece. I wrapped the piece on the canvas I had sized everything to, and found that I it was too small for the look I wanted.  I happened to have a larger canvas that I had just purchased and so I layed the piece on top and liked the look.  BUT, now the quilted piece was too small for the larger tapestry so improvising yet again, I had to piece more strips to cover the sides of the canvas.  I finally stapled it to the canvas yesterday afternoon.  I liked the look, but to pull it together a bit more I decided to embroider more seeds flying out of the flower head and across the quilted backing piece.  I really like the whole effect now.  With it mounted in this way, I have decided I actually like the tapestry.  The overall size is 13x13 inches with the tapestry being 8 3/4 x 8".

Now I need to get back to my studio to get some more pieces mounted.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Update and Question

The last three weeks have been very busy.  Between recovering from bugs with the kids (why does the start of spring always seem the worst for catching yukky stuff?) and other commitments, I have not been able to weave at all.  In fact, my studio is covered in dust, dog hair is rolling in tumbleweeds down the hall amidst the leaves and dirt the kids track in from outside.  Oh well!  Onto other stuff...I finally submitted the National Endowment for the Arts grant for the American Tapestry Alliance.  I did it two years ago, so I had all the text more or less together, but it still took much more than the two days I thought it would take.  They changed some of the format and things they wanted documented, and I had to update all of our information.  I happily submitted it last Thursday. 

I recently had my fiber arts group meeting.  I showed my new pieces and their was a bit of discussion.  There has been quite a bit of feedback on the way I mounted the piece I showed in the last post, not just from the fiber arts group, but from other friends and family.  Overwhelmingly, I got a negative response from the tapestry being mounted on the white, however, I did have two people who liked the overall look, but here are the comments that I have gathered in the last few weeks...

How about mounting it on red?
How about mounting it on red or lime green?
The painted canvas is much too small, make the background canvas at least 2 - 3 inches larger in each direction.
How about leaving the white, but putting another layer of an intermediate color in it between the white and the painted canvas?

Does anyone else have any suggestions?  I am going to try and get back to work on the mounting soon.  Would love to hear any other suggestions.  The tapestry piece is 4 3/4 X 4 3/4 inches, and the outside canvas is 8x8".  I have tried to find a blue or grey fabric to use, but all the ones that I have or found look too dull and lifeless. 

Any suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Finished Piece

I finished another piece of weaving in the last week.  While weaving, I liked the blue and white piece shown in progress below the best.  But, I am having problems figuring out how to mount it.  I played around with paint and acid free tissue paper on this canvas and found I liked it.  However, once I place the little tapestry on the canvas it faded into the background.  Instead, what I decided to do was sew the tapestry on a cloth, then attach it to a small canvas, and then sew the smaller canvas onto the larger one.  I am pleased with the results and now find I like this little tapestry.  Now what to do with the blue and white one....

Just a note about living in the country, this past Sunday as I was in my studio weaving I heard a large crash of something hitting one of our large windows followed by ferocious barking by our little muttly dog.  I looked out the window to see that our dog Elsie had cornered a young racoon who was putting up a game fight of defending himself against the approaches of our dog.  I rushed out to realize that getting too close was not too bright not knowing if the raccoon was rabid or not and seeing it in a state of panic.  I shut the back door and ran around to another door and with much shouting convinced Elsie she should leave the raccoon to its own business.  I later looked out to see my horse snorting and galloping around the field and ran outside in time to see the raccoon scooting up the tree next to his field.  I ran and got my camera and took photos of the little guy as he tried to recover from his panicked state.  If my horse had not called attention to him, I would have never seen this little guy in the tree, his coloring really helps him melt into the tree.  Luckily, he did not find my two chickens who are the only souls left from recent dog attacks in our barn. 

All is quiet this week.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Weaving Progress

Through the summer and fall little weaving progress occurred.  Between my back saga, the holidays, and other unrelated family happenings I just didn't get any weaving done.  I am finally trying to get back to my looms.  Last spring I visited Susan Iverson in her studio and mentioned some problems I was having with my sand pail tapestry, the sides were really pulling in.  She encouraged me to unweave it, and reweave the problem areas.  I did that, and I lost about 3 inches of weaving.  I am so glad that I did unweave it even if it was painful to see my progress disappear.  Now the tapestry looks much better and I am finally more than halfway done.   I have six more inches to weave and will try to stay focused on weaving just a little each day.  Here is my progress thus far....

The other weaving that I started was something unexpected.  I first started weaving some linen to try and make a shaped tapestry.  I was having a really difficult time with the linen and it kept pulling in the warp no matter how hard I tried.  I eventually gave up.  In the meantime, my Sylvia Heyden book arrived.  It is a beautiful book showing the tapestries she has made throughout her life and some of her approaches to tapestry weaving.  As you can see above, the sand pail tapestry is a painterly effect with the sand and bucket.  I wanted to try and expand my horizons and I enjoyed reading Ms. Heyden's approach to tapestry that indicates that the weaver should weave tapestries that are unique to the medium and not just be copies of paintings or drawings.  I decided to try this approach.  My fiber arts group has several photos that are to be inspirations for us to develop works that can be part of a show called "Wish You Were Here."  One of the photos is of a beautiful rowboat in the waters off the Swedish coast.  I used this photo as a jumping off point to start weaving an improvised water tapestry.  The green at the bottom will be part of the selvedge.  The blue yarn is much brighter in person and shows up dull in this photo despite my best efforts to brighten it a bit. 

This is a small tapestry and will be one of a series of small water-like pieces.  Now I have to figure out how to mount them.