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.
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.
So 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!