Thursday, June 30, 2011

the end of this retreat draws near!

Here's where I've spent part of the time... on the porch with the weavings.  I've also used the porch as a drawing/painting studio.  

Here are a few of the drawings I've done while here--although they're more mixed media that straightforward drawing, I guess.  I tend to use whatever medium seems to be needed to make the marks I want.  And that might be soft pastel, oil pastel, acrylic paint, graphite stick... or in one case, even Georgia red mud, charcoal from a fire pit, and rain!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A few more days here on retreat...

Pat Williams at Focus Gallery
although I took a break yesterday from the Lillian Smith Center to go to Asheville along with friends, Pat Williams and Peggy McBride. Pat has an exhibit of her tapestries in the Focus Gallery at the Folk Art Center, headquarters of the Southern Highland Craft Guild in Asheville, NC. Pat's a juried member of the Guild and has the opportunity to show along with one other person for six weeks. My work was there last year along with Diane Getty's fabric collages. The chance to have a small show in a location that has hundreds of visitors daily is unique for artists--at least for those of us who's work isn't in the Met or the Louvre! Pat worked for a year and a half to create a new body of work specifically for this exhibit; it will be up until August 9. The Folk Art Center is open daily from 9-5 and if you're anywhere near Asheville, I hope you can get to see it.
So... here's Pat standing in the gallery area.  
Before we left Asheville yesterday afternoon we went to the River Arts District to see the new location of Sutherland Handweaving Studio. It's now in the old cotton mill building. Pat and I are going to be collaboratively teaching a tapestry class there in November--just got that finalized yesterday with Karen Donde and Barb Butler, the owners of Sutherland. Contact Karen at this link for more information about the class.
Now... on with the day here at Lillian Smith. The walk this morning presented several interesting views of the tree tops and the sky. Seems to be getting overcast now, though. We've had storms here almost every afternoon or evening. Nice to have rain; not nice to have lightening and wind!

Monday, June 27, 2011

More from today...

Thanks to Kathy Spoering's comment to my earlier post--I'm now trying the BlogPress app in my iPad. So far, so good! Thanks again, Kathy!!

Here's the loom with the leashes installed:

Here are the small tapestries done so far. All have been done without cartoon attached, just looking as my sketch as I weave. Each are done with Spelsau as warp, sett at 8 epi. Weft is either 5 strands of Victorian tapestry wool, or one of Spelsau and three of the smaller Victorian wool. Each one has been washed and steam pressed using a slightly damp press cloth.

Today's drawing, done on a sheet I'd painted with Georgia red clay yesterday then made quick gestures of tree trunks. Today I continued the drawing with pastels-- it rained on the drawing as I was making it-- fine with me to let nature take over. Later I photographed it with the iPad and further manipulated the drawing with the SketchBook express app. Very interesting to go from natural materials into a digital way of working.

Learning about iPad and photoshop mobile

My residency continues through Friday and my small four selvedge tapestries grow daily. I've woven eight now and I've got two larger warps ready to use. I'll put another warp on the extra frame after lunch. I installed leashes on the warp I did this morning-- wanted to try them with four selvedge; I didn't have a loom with me that I could hang the leash bar from-- so my solution? Go to the hardware store and buy parts for yet another loom! Less than $40 and I've got a new loom, one that I put Ts at the top and 6" copper stub out. I'll post a photo of that weaving as it gets underway later. I'm still challenged with getting photos into blogger via the iPad. Transferring from digital camera to the laptop then to iPad is irritating but I'm working with photos taken with the iPad, manipulating them with photoshop mobile, then e-mailing to my blogger account.

Whoops, got to get offline! A quick storm has come up and I need to unplug everything!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

More about Lillian Smith...

Quotes are from a brochure about The Lillian E. Smith Center for Creative Arts:

"...Dreaming, talking, acting: this is the way to bring change about."

"...Lillian E. Smith (was) one of the country's eminent writers, civil rights activists, and humanitarians. Smith held at the center of her being her function as a creative artist. She also deeply valued the power of the arts to transform the lives of all human beings."

My residency here this summer is giving me time and place to explore my thoughts about making--both the object being made and the process being used. How does that happen differently at a retreat rather than in my home studio? Well, for one thing all my concentration is on my process--no dilution of energy toward others. That's a selfish desire, I know. But sometimes immersion in making is what I need to help me make my way to another level.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Lillian Smith Center -Red Door Redux

I'm trying out my new iPad and learning how to post photos from it to my blog... I'm really getting more done on the retreat than playing with a new toy... Five small tapestries so far and many sketches as well as hundreds of photos!

Anyway... Think this is the way to do it... Have to e-mail the photo to blogger. Going to be slow but can be done.

Monday, June 20, 2011

More from Lillian Smith Center

On the walk this morning I saw this lovely drip of rosin slowly making its way down a pine tree. Earlier drips have solidified, leaving a wonderful amber colored trail.
Today's four selvedge tapestry was started yesterday although I didn't weave much... laundry and a few other things took a bit of time so I finished it today... it's based on this watercolor of the path that leads away from the cottage where I'm staying here at the Smith Center.
I've worked outside on the porch all day -- not too uncomfortable although I've got a fan going there now. The cottage faces to the west so the porch gets hotter from now until sunset.
These three small tapestries were done last week... all less than 4" high and from about 2 1/2 to 3" wide.
The one of the path I finished a bit ago is 3" wide x 3 1/2" high. It's been washed and pressed and will dry overnight on the ironing board where it's pinned now.  Photographed it in the bright sun so the colors are a bit washed out.

I'll set up another four selvedge warp before the afternoon's over... maybe I'll weave a snippet of marigold --a petal or two. Maybe something else... we'll see what happens!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lillian E. Smith Center for Creative Arts

"To find...the place where fantasy and earthy things are metamorphosed into a work of art...this is what the journey is about..."  Lillian E. Smith

I'm very happy to be back at the Center this summer for a two week residency.  I'm painting and weaving daily, and doing photographs of whatever catches my eye as I walk each morning.  Quiet time away to look around me and to think.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More quilt design, tapestry diary and four selvedge weaving going on

My days are filled with weaving.  Still in creative doldrums but have decided to use this time in a fractured way by having several tapestry things underway.  In the last post I mentioned the quilt design tapestry and it continues to grow, piece by piece (do you think a pun is implied there--or does one "imply" a pun)... anyway, here's where it stands today:

The tapestry diary is continuing each day with a shape and its color and background color selected by a roll of a die.  Six colors and shapes are assigned to each spot of the die.  The background is black, gray or white, with a roll of 1 or 3 being black, 2 or 4 as gray, and 5 & 6, white.  This is a simplified variation of something Archie Brennan mentioned in the recent workshop where he used a deck of cards to determine shapes and colors for a tapestry.  Here's what it looks like on June 11:

Then there are the four selvedge weavings... I just finished the eighth one today and it's now washed, pressed and pinned down to dry.  Today I realized I could probably use the 100% Spelsau wool as the warp rather than the 12/6 cotton seine twine.  I was hoped it would be strong enough for the tapestry warp, especially for the small sizes I'm doing right now.  So I tried it and it held up just fine during the weaving.  I think the loops at the top and bottom will become more invisible--at least that's what I'm thinking will happen.  I'll know more about that tomorrow when the piece is dry.

I still learn more each day about warping with this method.  Susan also has an alternative finish noted at the website and I'll give it a try, maybe tomorrow.  At this point, though, I feel comfortable to have this as my primary goal during the next two weeks of residency at Lillian Smith Center--weavings daily with inspiration drawn from the property at the Center.  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

new tapestry underway -- from old design

I mentioned in the last post that I'm looking to the past for inspiration for tapestry making.  I must continue to weave and while the "creative well" is empty I'll turn to an image from a few years ago to use for a tapestry cartoon.  This is from a batik based on a drawing I'd made of one of the quilts I have.

One of my grandmothers made quite a few quilts of the simple pattern "Wild Geese Flying" and most of the time the fabric was from scraps of fabric from her daughters or daughters-in-law, all of whom sewed many of the clothes for their families.  If I look closely in this quilt I can see some bits and pieces of dresses I had in the 1960s.

A couple of decades ago the house I lived in (a college rental house) was a bit chilly in the winter so I often used the quilt over my lap when I was reading or watching TV in the evenings.  Most of the time I'd nod off on the sofa at some point before the evening ended and then when I woke up to stumble off to bed, the quilt would spill off my lap.  I began to notice the interesting "puddle" of fabric made by the quilt the next morning and drew it a few times.  Later I did three batiks based on the drawings.  I rediscovered the batiks a few years ago stored in the attic and thought then that I'd like to do a tapestry from one or more of the designs. Now seems like the time to do that since other inspiration is pretty much dormant right now.

Here's a portion of the quilt:

Here's one of the batiks:

And a few photos of the beginnings of the tapestry:

I'm also working with four selvedge weave to learn about the process.  I set up a third small warp of that method earlier this morning... I'm getting better at it; the first warp was a total disaster, the second warp (the one described in the link) was better, and today's went pretty smoothly.  I'll weave off this little piece before leaving the studio this afternoon, cut it off and be ready to re-warp again tomorrow.  I wrote more about the process of setting up the loom the first time at the Tapestry Share blog--here's the link to that.


Day by day by day by day... got to keep doing something.