Sunday, January 31, 2010

kudzu thoughts

A bit more progress today but not a lot.  I'm nearing the 1/2 point at the left--the uppermost part that's woven on the left side touches the bottom of a vine that's located half way across the design.  I'll fill in at the right tomorrow before winding more of the tapestry onto the beam.  

I almost always reach a stage about half way into a piece when my energy begins to drag.  Wonder why that is?  Is it because the excitement of starting the new design and making color choices begins to fade away?  I'm challenged to select blends of colors but now it begins to become a tedious challenge--not a fun one.  I start thinking to myself "Why don't I just decide before hand what color combinations I'm going to use so I can just weave?"  or "Why not just use a single color instead of color mixtures anyway?" And so it goes:  Whine, whine, whine... doubt, doubt, doubt.  

Yesterday I spent a good bit of time weaving and unweaving; did a bit of that today, too.  I'm changing the cartoon as I go along and that causes me to stop, look and think.  And I'm adding smaller vines in the background that weren't in the original drawing, putting them in where I feel the space needs to be broken up further.  I'd mentioned that I want the feeling of this piece to be dense entanglement so the addition of more vine suggestions fits my intent.

I was thinking earlier today about the preference I have for working from my drawings or paintings rather than a photograph I've taken.  I came to the conclusion that, although I've occasionally worked from photos directly as my cartoons, I usually need to take the idea and image to another stage.  I find either observing photos I've made or working from life for drawing or painting gives me the way to filter. And for me, that filter gives me both distance and closeness to the subject I'm rendering.  For instance, to me this tapestry is about one of the critical aspects of kudzu here in the Southeast--the overwhelming quality of it.  The plant's vines entwine and tangle around themselves and everything they encounter.  There's quite a sinister feel to seeing mounds of kudzu covering everything it grows over.  Yet the plant itself is so visually beautiful.  In working from the photographs to develop the cartoon I selected what I felt was the essence of both of those ideas--the overwhelming and the beautiful.  Hope I can make both work out!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

a few more inches of kudzu...

When I weave a design sideways, I like to occasionally see it in the direction it will hang--hard to do by sitting with my head turned to the side but easy to do with the digital camera and the rotate feature in Photoshop Elements.   Here's the view I have now--a few beginning inches are already rolled around the beam so those can't be seen.  Thought I'd try taking a look at it in grayscale, too, since one of the things I'm attempting to do with the design is give a sense of dense entanglement of the kudzu vine and leaves.   I think it's working OK so far with the values.  The dark areas are actually of several hues, close in value to each other.  I like to use that effect--similar values but different hues.  I know it makes the pieces problematic to photograph in black and white and even color--but when seeing the actual pieces the richness and depth of the color differences within the same value range enhance the tapestry, I believe.

Friday, January 29, 2010

another slow growth day...

... but some progress made.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

not so much growth in kudzu today, but some...

I didn't work on the tapestry too much today because I've been doing a few other things.  One was to visit the university's weaving studio to see the work of some of the advanced weavers who'll be having their senior exhibits this semester.  Each of them is going in a different direction and all are producing quite exciting work... I'm eager to see the finished results hanging in the gallery in a few weeks.

Another distraction was to pull together an entry for an exhibit... been putting it off after the disappointment from the recent rejection.  So good old Mr. Avoidance has been staying with me for the weeks since that notification came.  But today I told him he'd have to take a hike... make room for Ms. Keep Your Fingers Crossed to come to stay for awhile!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

and continues to grow!

Here's where I've stopped for the day.  I'll roll a few inches up onto the cloth beam tomorrow morning before I start again so thought I'd photograph it now.

Since I'm weaving this sideways, here's a shot of what the intended viewing direction will be:

I know, I know... the vines are more tannish -- but I like the contrast of the grays with the greens.  The whole design is quite simplified and stylized so I think these grays will work fine with the whole composition once done.  At least that's what I'm hoping for!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

... and grow...

Not quite a foot a day, Jennifer... but inches, at least!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

kudzu begins to grow

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Devastation is too small a word to contain the thousands of points of pain being felt in the Haitian earthquake crisis.  How does one even begin to know how to help with conditions as they are?  This link to the InterAction's web list is one of several sources for other links to organizations that are scrambling to assist.  InterAction is a coalition of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations focused on the world's poor and most vulnerable people.

The horrific scope of this disaster puts the rejection to an exhibit I received yesterday into proper perspective--that of being totally not important.  I'm happy for my friends who's work was accepted yet I know the making of and exhibiting of art work means absolutely nothing when placed on the scales of life's significance.

I find it hard to believe that prayer makes any difference at all.  But right now I'm putting whatever thoughts, hopes, and wishes for rapid assistance I can muster toward the people of Haiti and those who are trying to help them.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cartoon development

I decided on the design for the kudzu tapestry yesterday--at least the first of what may turn into several tapestries based on these ideas.  As I finished the more complex vine drawing I found that it gives me a sense of what I'm hoping to portray--the twining and entanglement with which the plant grows, overwhelming anything in its path.

Because of the vertical dominance of the vines in the drawing I wanted to weave the design turned 90˚ on the loom to achieve as smooth a movement as possible.  I also wanted the image to be quite larger than life.  Cropping was the next step so that I could find a section of the drawing that still gave me an essence of what I was looking for and also allowed for the enlargement.  After trying several crops using Photoshop I decided on this portion from the upper part of the drawing:

Next I placed tracing paper over the cropped and printed version and drew outlines of the major shapes:

This outline was scanned and import into Photoshop where I then resize the line drawing to the dimensions for the cartoon--24" x 48".  I set the pixel size at 72 because I don't need anything greater for the outline.  I next selected and cropped, then pasted separate sections from the overall drawing into a new blank file, making sure to have the same dimensions for each crop and paste--a size to fit onto an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper...

... then printed each section...

... and assembled the multiple pages with tape.  For this design I had 18 separated printed sections that were pieced together a strip at a time and then those strips all taped together.

Next I placed a sheet of Mylar over the assembled line drawing and traced with permanent marker.  The Mylar sheet will be stitched to the back of the warp as I weave.

And, yes, I do have boo-boos as I trace!  Glaring ones are XX out and I also made some contour changes as the tracing was done.  When I weave other changes will happen as well--I want to leave the color and background quite loose to interpretation as I weave.

  On the loom, here's the direction the cartoon will be:

Tomorrow's goal is to stitch on the Mylar and begin!

Friday, January 8, 2010

sort of a snowy day in Georgia...

We had maybe 1" of snow yesterday afternoon and evening but the temperature is still in the low 20s so the little bit of snow is mostly staying around today.  Here's what I saw on my walk to the studio this morning:

doggies always need their walkies...

cars and trucks have been out and about, too...

but only a couple of us have walked this way...

up the street to my studio...

and, lo and behold,  one of the sets of footprints belonged to my niece who'd gotten to the studio first.

She's helping me out by winding skeins into yarn balls...

while I continue to work on kudzu drawings.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Weaving for 2010 has begun--and kudzu drawings are underway

I just finished the 7th day of the new year on my new tapestry diary.  I'll post progress on that occasionally at the side bar like I did the one for last year.

Designing for the next tapestry is well underway now.  I've been drawing from my kudzu photos each day, and have taken several of the drawings into Photoshop for further manipulation.  Here's a sampling of those, so far.

drawing from the photos

several of these are the Photoshop versions pinned up along with the pencil drawings

Here's an example of one of the drawings that I've manipulated through Photoshop using the cutout filter.  I'd first cropped this grouping of leaves and seedpods from the original drawing that included two bunches of leaves and seedpods.  I wanted to emphasize the single grouping rather than the hanging vine with several included.

This is a cropped portion of a drawing of overall leaves that's manipulated with the accented edges filter.  

And here's a portion of the overall drawing that was from the cropped version, then copied and pasted with the magic wand tool being used to eliminate a portion of the side on the left.  If you look closely you can see the point of the overlap.

Next, I'll try some other things with overlapping the detail drawings onto the mass of leaves.  One of the most important things about kudzu is its overwhelming quality both visually and actually.  That's part of what I hope to show with this design.  Still quite a bit of work to do before the weaving begins.

AND, there's what's been happening outside while I've had my nose glued to the computer screen!  First snowfall of the new year... predicted to be about 1".  It's falling slowly and might not reach that amount but I think it's at least going to make the ground white for awhile.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tapestry diary for 2009--off the loom; next warp for 2010 underway

Here's the cutting off stage:

And here's the piece hanging up last night.  It's 12" wide x 42" long.

Lots of finishing to do since the back is absolutely hairy with ends!