Wednesday, October 29, 2008

and yet another post from Hambidge...only a very few more to go here...

I'm here at Rock House, the house with the dining room at Hambidge Center. This is where we have internet access, either at a shared computer or wireless for laptops. I've been posting my entries for the past few days from here in the daytime. However, tonight, it's 8:45 or so and it's after dinner. All other residents have gone back to their studios for the evening; we've cleared the table from the yet-one-more wonderful meal prepared by the chef, dishes are in the dishwasher, and I'm back online for a few minutes to post a few photos of the last two days' work. After spending the past week + with larger and more spontaneous drawings based on the wonderful world all around me here, I've begun to draw from observation of smaller details. These are of nuts and leaves of selected trees on the property.

I ran out of drawing paper, but someone had left a pad of small black sheets suitable for drawing media in the studio. I've taken it on, drawn or painted white areas of the sheets into which I'm drawing. Also, last night, one of the other resident artists offered me some gesso--which I took a bit of to paint onto a few more of the black sheets. Those were dried today; I sandpapered them smooth and began drawing on them this afternoon.

I still haven't really woven very much but I feel that the time spent in this exploration of site and season may prove to be productive for future tapestry weaving. It surely is productive for my spirit, I can say!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hambidge... five more days to go!

Here are my options for art making--so far, I've been using the paper not the yarn. Looms still wait with blank warps, though! And I'm running out of paper. Maybe I'll be weaving for the next five days!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Slide show of my first week at Hambidge Center

Here's some of the work done during the first week at this incredible place in the north Georgia mountains. The fall colors are astounding. I've spent the last five days intensely involved in looking, looking, looking all around me. The first couple of days drawings were straight from observation. After spending a good bit of time on one of the trails, the works have begun to change. They're becoming more symbolic of the experiences and the sights. I am not sure where these will lead but am willing to follow.

Part of my work here is to sort through old letters and scrapbooks, saved from my four years in undergraduate school--1965-1969. I've gone through things daily for shorter or longer times. I'd thought the memory travels might lead me somewhere visually but not so, thus far. I'm trying very hard not to push the process but to allow it to guide me in these days here.

I got away from home in such a rush that I left a number of my art supplies in my studio. Got here with only a couple of boxes of used oil pastels, some pastel pencils, my prismacolor pencils, and the small watercolor set I use in the woods. No big brushes, no acrylic paint, no paper! Since I was in Asheville on Saturday I went to an art supply store there, got a pad of bristol vellum and of newsprint. Trips into Dillard to the hardware store and the local cheapie store (Fred's) yielded some "decorator accent acrylics", foam brushes, cheap bristle brushes, metallic markers, and some tracing paper. Challenging but fun to see what these limited supplies allow me to do. So far, the only limits seem to be my imagination!

The loom sits warped ready for something to happen on it. Next week? Today? Not at all while here? I'll see what happens when it happens. I've been reading Trust the Process, by Shaun McNiff and have gotten permission from what I'm reading to work as I am. Of all the inspirational books about creativity that I've seen through the years this is one of the most helpful for me. Glad I brought it with me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Back at Hambidge for a couple of weeks

I have another two weeks of residency at Hambidge Center. I'm in a different studio this time than I was in a few weeks back. The one I have now is spacious, with lots of windows from which I can see the beautifully colorful world of the fall woods all around. There's one large wall on which drawing paper can be pinned and I'm putting up drawings I've been doing at the end of the each day. I'm working in oil pastels, mostly. I have 18x 24" bristol vellum to draw on and have worked from observation of these wonderful woods in large, loose renderings of color and shape. I'll post some photos in a day or so, maybe, of what I'm doing.

I also have my Archie black pipe loom set up again, reconfigured as a narrower width. I warped it yesterday with a wool warp and have gotten the header woven this morning. So far I don't have a clue about what I'll be weaving... but I'm hopeful that the surroundings will create the spark I need to start.

I got to the Blue Ridge Handweaving Show on Saturday, heard Bethanne Knudson's (the juror) talk, and saw the weavings. This show is always such an inspiration to visit! This may be the last time it's held at this location, Asheville School, but the Western NC weavers guild is committed to continuing it, I'm told. An open exhibit, juried after works are hung, is a very democratic way to approach a collection of works. I feel that there are many weavings included that might not have been submitted if there were the constraints associated with many juried exhibit entries--pulling together slides and digital images may be daunting to some who feel they can enter this show, since no images are necessary with the entry form. With the two categories of entries, amateur and professional, anyone who weaves for love or living are encouraged to enter, and this year there are over one hundred weavings in the exhibit. There's both a list of the award winners and a show catalog at the BRHW link.

So, here's a shot of two of mine hanging in the Blue Ridge Handweaving Show... both of which won awards! The ATA Award for Tapestry was given for "to the essence of every nature...." and a second place in category of decorative, non-functional was presented for my most recently completed tapestry, the one of fiddleheads that I named "Spring Profusion". Kathe Todd-Hooker received the Best in Show with a wonderfully complex tapestry--and Barbara Burns also won a first place award for her tapestry--so tapestry works were quite well represented among the awards given. There were also many other beautiful tapestries in the exhibit and I enjoyed seeing them all.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

who are these people and what are they doing in my attic?

It's been quite a few days since my last post, the final Arrowmont class day photos and comments. Since getting back home I've been quite involved with a massive "edit"--as my husband calls it--of things accumulated for the past forty years. These very important things are like those that possibly many folks have lurking in their attics or closets... letters, photos, memorabilia of events past.

OK, so have a quick trip down my memory lane. I'll start with this photo from 1966. Who are these people? I'm not quite sure. I'm thinking one of the lovely girls is someone who I went to elementary school with, who's family moved to another state during her early adolescence, and with whom I kept in touch sporadically through high school. Maybe she sent me a picture of herself and her date, and a double-date pair, taken before the senior prom. I know it was before because how could any of those hair dos survive the next few hours of partying?!?

I was in 4-H club in the little rural elementary school I attended in the 1950s. Here's the cover of a cook book I'd kept from those times. I remember using the biscuit recipe and the cream of tomato soup recipe during my early cooking experiences. Since I don't do the cooking thing very much any more, I'd have to say those youthful instructions didn't age too well with me.

The attic at our house has been the place to deposit those items that I didn't have either the time, energy, or desire to sort through. Several boxes of the collection came from my Mother's house after she passed away five years ago. They'd been out of sight/out of mind in the closet of the bedroom I had when I live there. Since we sold her house after her passing, I brought the things home with me to sort. Because I was so sad when she died I didn't have the heart to go through more memories from childhood and adolescence at that point. But now the time's right, for many reasons--not just because my husband is nudging me along.

The editing included tossing out notes from past art history classes along with term papers and other class project work. Many of the term papers were written hastily--who'd have thought I'd keep them for forty+ years? I glanced through several before throwing them out.

I've also gone through four portfolios of drawings, class studies, paintings I've saved for the past four decades. I threw away most but kept a few drawings from each point in my life. We didn't have an art teacher in our public schools. In fact, my first experience in an art class came during my second quarter in college. Even so, I'd always been considered the "class artist" when in elementary and high school although looking at early drawings I can't imagine why! My Mother was quite artistic herself but she didn't actively practice making art. There were several drawings in the house that she'd done when in her twenties--copies of other art works. So she was very interested in my budding art abilities. I believe that those two things, home and school recognition, were what gave me the feeling that I was destined to be an artist.

Now, looking back through those saved "art works" I realize that it has been mostly just dogged persistence that's kept me on the path I'm following. I certainly don't see a spark of giftedness in the early work. But I see a lot of work. I did many, many drawings through those years before I began to have art classes. Most of the work was copy work--I probably did hundreds of drawings of hair styles copied from Breck girls shampoo ads in Seventeen magazine during the early 1960s. I also copied photos of friends and families, portraits in pencil or charcoal. There were drawings of JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy in the early 1960s; Ray Charles showed up, as well. I did very little observational drawing, most things were either copy or were from imagination.

Discouraging to see how little natural "talent" I really have, based on those early things. Yet, I'm realizing that dogged persistence really does make a difference. I thought I was an artist, by golly, and others around me thought I was an artist... and so I've lived my life that way for the past many years. The rewards I've gotten from this pursuit are great and I hope to have quite a number more years to travel this path.

In the meantime, cleaning house has its own rewards! More space to put more artwork--maybe not so much of it as bad as what's contained in these trash bags.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tying up loose ends from Arrowmont...and moving on

The last day at the Arrowmont class, Friday, was a whirlwind of activity in the class. Each finished off the tapestry sampler as a small hanging, including making a display background and attaching the weaving to that. We used a simple method of cutting foam core board (a couple of pieces used together as one for more sturdiness), covering it with a thin layer of quilt batting and then a neutral cotton flannel fabric. The fabric was stapled into place at the back, trimming and tucking in the edges neatly. The tapestry was then stitched onto the mounting board, around the edges using a sewing thread to blend with the tapestry and a curved needle to do the stitching.

This mounting method is one adapted from that shown in a workshop years ago by Archie and Susan... (and, yes, Gerda, that's one more mark for Archie's name! Gerda started making hash marks to show each time I'd used his name throughout the week.)

There are several methods for displaying tapestry given in an ATA online article at this link. And, when I checked up with Kathy Spoering's blog after I got home yesterday I saw that she's just posted a great tutorial at her blog about mounting a small tapestry. The link to that is here.

With all of the flurry of final activity, packing up the studio and moving it out by 5:30 on Friday, then jumping in the car and driving for a quick session of pet and woods walk therapy at Sapphire, I didn't post on our last class day. So those last day photos are here.

Phyllis completed the sampler, cut it off and rewarped for a wider width on her loom before she had to leave on Thursday afternoon. Her weaving was a beautiful example of the effect of small and bright focal point within a larger field of darker values. The bright yellow reminded us of a doorway with warm light drawing us in.

Gerda warped her wood frame loom, made heddles on Friday and was happily weaving the header by the end of the day...getting ready for her next tapestry to be done when she's back home again.

Jennifer is stitching her tapestry onto her mounting board and here's the finished piece below.  The tapestry really turned into a wonderful journey on the warp, suggesting a resolution of image to her along the way.  The colorful doorway or window through which other world of reality can be seen was woven eccentrically so that the edge projects out of the piece there.

Jennifer's finished tapestry

Gerda's finished tapestry

Gerda used yarns she'd brought with her, many collected by her mother through the years.  Gerda's very involved with knitting afghans for Afghans and also doing quilts to send in relief efforts to other countries.  She's done hundreds of both by now and has knitting with her everywhere she goes.

All in all, now with the week completed I feel the class was successful. I'm happy to have had the time at Arrowmont to introduced two new budding tapestry weavers to the challenges and joys of the process.  I'm also glad to have helped the other weaver with whom I've worked before be able to move more steps along her way toward mastering tapestry.  That weaver gave me a quote that I'll be using in the future: "Life's a mystery, not a puzzle."  Thank you for that, Phyllis!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lots of accomplishments today

New tapestries were cut off looms today! All three of the new tapestry weavers at the class here at Arrowmont

cut off their tapestry samplers today. Each tapestry had turned into the "journey up the warp" that Archie Brennan promotes. One student had to leave before class ends tomorrow but this afternoon at 5 she'd finished up with one warp on her own loom that she'd warped on the first night of class, cut it off today and rewarped the loom for 12" wide, using a continuous warp. She also made and installed heddles on her loom, a Hagen loom--all quite a lot to accomplish in four days.

Here's the happy three + one (me) at the end of the day on Thursday:

Most of the images from today will be of the weavers and finishing stages. There's also a photo of a view of the exhibit currently at the gallery, "Utilitarian Clay V: Celebrate the Object" that will be on display until late November. A symposium held in September was associated with the exhibit.

Arrowmont has spacious and well equipped studios in several buildings including ones for clay, painting, and wood. Metals, fibers, and glass studios are in the main building where weaving is taking place. I hope I'll have time to photorgaph more of the campus tomorrow as well as some other students' work from the different studios this week.

Things in downtown Gatlinburg stayed quiet last night and are again tonight, although it's gotten colder. I'm hoping for another good night's sleep tonight--makes quite a difference in the day to my state of mind and body when I've had enough sleep!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

OK, another day and many more trips of the bobbin

Well, things are moving right along in class here at mid-week. Great concentration and hard work by everybody for three intense days just past. We have a full day and evening to look forward to tomorrow. Friday will be a complete day in class as well although there are no planned evening activities and studios will be closed for the week's session by 5:30 that day. Finishing, possibly mounting onto small fabric covered boards will be involved for Friday.

So, not many words tonight...but a few photos, beginning with a view as I started my day with a walk toward the main building of campus (on the left) where the weaving studio's located. Following that are a few shots of the weavers and/or their work in progress. I'm pooped tonight since there's a bar on the Gatlinburg main street, just down from here, that's had LOUDDD music playing for the last two nights--until midnight and beyond. Bought ear plugs at the supply store today just in case the party was cranked up again tonight...but so far, it's quite as a mouse down, with fingers crossed, I'm going to get to bed in a few minutes and hope for silence to continue! I'm feeling sleep deprived now--getting tired and need to keep up the energy for the rest of the week.