Tag Archives: painting

A Few Steps Back…

Time really flies, especially when I get into the rhythm of weaving.  I fall into just the right state of calm focus and inspiration, and the colors and shapes flow from my fingers.  It can be hard to stop and take a step back, view the work, and take note of the progress, but this is one of the most important aspects of art making.  I first learned this from my painting instructor in college.  He would always remind us during class, while we were deep in the process of painting still lifes, to step back from the easel and view our work.  Up close, you could only see the tiny details, but from ten feet back, you could see the whole picture.  The sculptor, the painter, and yes, the tapestry weaver, need to get some distance between themselves and their work to see how it’s coming along.  How do the shadows, light, contrast, and colors look?  Is the composition still working?  Are any shapes or forms slightly off?  When your face is a mere 14 inches away from the canvas, it can be hard to take in the bigger picture.  Viewing our work from a distance is also how our audience will see it, and it gives us a chance to admire our hard work.

This design is an element from a larger tapestry that I will eventually make…  when I have a bigger loom.

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The cartoon and a colored pencil sketch of the design

The main design it’s taken from was partly inspired by my summer hike up to the alpine meadows of Mt. Jefferson near Bend, Oregon, and partly inspired by many late night moon viewings from my fifth floor apartment.  The moon/star symbol makes an interesting composition without the mountain and trees in the original design.

CompassWIP1So far, I’ve had to take two sections out, about four hours of work, because the areas weren’t following the cartoon (the white paper behind the weaving).  Eventually this “small” error would have thrown off most of the overall effect of the design.   Sometimes I don’t have to follow the cartoon exactly, and I enjoy the spontaneity that comes with improving, but I don’t have that freedom with this design.  Again, another great example of the importance of taking a few steps back to get some perspective!  I can’t emphasize it enough.  *If you’re an artist, take a break every now and then while you are making (not just at the beginning or end of your studio time) and get some distance between you and your art.  Soak in your progress and what you have learned, take note of what looks great and what might need to be improved.  Then pick up the paintbrush, or bobbin, or carving tool, and keep making.

*Even if you’re not an artist, this technique still applies to you; the artwork that you are looking at is your life!

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This Takes Time

I wanted to do a blog post like a week ago, but life happens as it always does and I just couldn’t get to it.  So here I am now, sharing last weeks news:  I am was at the halfway point on my current tapestry and so very excited about the progress I’m making and how it’s turning out!  Check it out….

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I’m weaving it sideways, by the way, so you’ll have to turn your head.

Seeing as though this was last weeks news, I’m now about an inch away from finishing, not including weaving the hem.  I’ve really learned a lot about using hachure, hatching, and color combining to get that lovely, blended look.  I can see similarities between this weaving and my paintings, which is something I’ve been trying to bring to my tapestries.  You may not be able to see it in the photo but there is a lot of depth of color and a real liveliness to the scene.  I think this piece marks a cornerstone in my subject matter.  I’ve always loved animals and storytelling, and have worked with this imagery off and on since childhood.  My thesis for my undergrad was on the interconnectedness of nature and spirituality.  I think this will always be the overall theme of my work, now I’m just fine tuning it.

Two reasons why I chose the title for this post: The first and obvious one is that tapestry weaving takes a loooooooong time.  A fellow tapestry artist posted on her blog a while back a photo of a weaving by a different artist.  I can’t find the photo or who the artist was, but trust me, it’s great!  It’s a simple tapestry that just says “This Takes Time”.  Can’t get more obvious than that.  I could have painted this weaving in a day or two, but the process of finding colors, winding bobbins, pulling warp threads, and working slowly and methodically has such a captivating quality for me.  Even though I still enjoy painting, working with fibers bring my creativity to a whole new level.  Weaving is challenging and rhythmic in it’s linear format, and you have to remain focused on the area you’re working in while keeping in mind the whole picture.  When I sit down at the loom, I set down my worries for a while and focus on what’s in front of me.  Line by line, inch by inch, my creation creeps up the warp threads and takes on a life of it’s own. 

Some big changes have been going on in my life that require patience, understanding, and time, the second reason.  My weaving allows all of this to happen, simply by being in the present moment and taking everything one day at a time.  A lot of time passes and a lot of changes occur while I’m working on the same piece.  I can look at a finished tapestry and remember working on a certain area or using a particular color during a period of uncertainty, or excitement, longing, joy.  I think this is the connection that a lot of artists have with their craft, an outlet for processing the ups and downs of life.  I know it’s true for me.  I can work things out in my head (which never works) or at the loom.  It also helps to look out the window and see this…

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I’m looking forward to sharing the finished tapestry with all of you next week.  Bye for now!