Monday, July 21, 2014

Not Ready for Prime Time Weaver

I took this picture this afternoon because I wanted to say I love doing weaverly things. I was happy, doing things I was meant to do. Except sometimes, or more often than some times, experience, and words, fail me.
I suspected I might not have enough of the mid-blue for the middle stripe seen in yesterday's post, so I had a dull yellow for standby. It turned out I didn't have enough for the two narrow stripes on the sides, but also not enough gray also, so I had to readjust and vary the width of the stripes a bit. 

The colors are nice, though.
But I was using all new bobbins for this lot, so I never even stopped to think. Well, yeah, heck. I ran out of the palest by 12 ends, so I had to rejig these babies, too. Yikes. I'd forgotten how short one of these Swedish cottolin bobbins are compared to, well, 1kg of my skinny cottons or soft cashmeres.

I'm not sure if I'll modify the threading as well or just the width of the stripes, but I felt so incompetent. Careless. Stupid. But what bothers me the most is that I think I can wing this. Don't I strive for perfection any more? 

The brown warp is evocative of either the 1970's kitchen, (remember the choice of Harvest Gold, Avocado Green or Brown?) or it's Milk Choc, Mocha, Butterscotch & Meringue; I can't decide, but it's very brown.

And I still have to weave the gray warp before I can put these on the loom.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Weaver's Life

Sometimes I'm told I overthink, but if I don't I'll stop doing things so I keep thinking. I've had a fun few days gathering stuff for the mixed media workshops but I felt overwhelmed by the task and stopped; now I need to be selective and random simultaneously and still comply with the airline restriction of 23kg for check-in and 7kg for carry on. Or be organized enough to send them by the end of this week.
In the interim I had a housework day and came up with a good idea while ironing Ben's numerous shirts; instead of trying to concoct scarf ideas for people I don't know well, to weave at speeds that would make Superman's head spin, i.e. well outside of my abilities, I decided to put on a towel warp. I don't know too many who can't use one more  dish towel, do you? I'll use a modified recycled threading/drafts, but will play around with new treadling/lifting, too.
In real life the warp colors are a little more saturated.
I'm also tying on another warp for Mom and me.

The dilemma last week was we had splendid sunny, calm winter days perfect for Meg's-albatross-ing, (gardening,) while inside was cold and miserable. And I was splayed on the floor at the cold end of the house tearing old mags. I go between dejection and unfounded buoyancy about the garden but I can tell you I'm really looking forward to next fall/winter; it's only eight months away.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

These Two have Radio Voices

That was my first thought when I heard Sam and Annabelle's radio interview. Here's the link; please search for "Art Talk Nelson 14 July".

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Paper Trail

Sam and Annabelle's short interview was finally broadcast yesterday but it hasn't appeared in the download section; I'll repost when it appears, but the program is called Art Talk Nelson. Annabelle sold her big painting, too, so we are very happy.

After I posted the debrief, I vegetated for a day, then cleaned the house, put drawing materials away, did the laundry, but left a big pile of dishes and a basket-full of ironing. Came Thursday, Ben had a strange cold; he was in good spirits, but couldn't stop coughing, sneezing and his nose was running Coast to Coast. Surprisingly he went to see a doc on his own volition, where a lovely young lady doc said he should stay home at least until today. So for the last six days, we've been watching recorded shows and DVDs, making/eating/drinking soups, and he washed the first big pile of dirty dishes. (The ironing pile now obscures a small couch.) We missed a couple of days of braving torrential rain, (terrible flooding at the top end of the country, again,) and a lovely new event in town that started last year while I was away. Ah well, next year.

Residual attraction to watercolor haunts me. For several nights when I tried to sleep I had closeup moving pictures of watercolor spreading on and seeping into good quality paper. Lovely sight, but they kept me awake. But it wasn't a bad place to start putting together my kit for the mixed media workshops in Australia. Staying with the paper, based on color tests on scrap paper for the woven pieces I made, I'm going to make lovely of colors to cut/tear for collage.
I have a strong desire to infuse meanings to the process and outcome of three workshops I'll take from Seth Apter; I don't want to exclude the possibility of the unexpected, but I'm trying to match themes like Dad, Ben, or Ben & Me (we'll have been married 25 years next April,) and my textiles to the most suitable workshop/project.

I learned while drawing/coloring for the exhibition that I work best starting out with perhaps one-third of the hues on the color wheel but with a variety of values/saturation, then add whatever later, so I'm also hoping to assign a base color scheme for each theme. I foresee a similar scenario with texture/material/media as too many choices confuse me, so I'm trying to concoct a loose aesthetic guideline for each theme, and collecting/selecting a deep but not broad range of material.

Ditto re. gazing at gazillion images online; I reached a threshold, so I've gone back to a handful of artists I've admired for decades, Nick Bantock, Gwen Diehn, Matisse, Dufy and Macke.

I've resumed Weavers and Designers work. I know I learned from this process because I felt more discerning while making stuff for the exhibition, but while reading the next chapter I also knew the exhibition experience is feeding back into my study. But if you ask me what specifically I learned, I can't tell you, but the exhibition gave me occasions exercise my study-knowledge, which over time morphed into instincts. Which propels my desire to learn more. 

I took one book on drawing out of the library while prepping, and it was a good one so I thought I'd share it: "Creative Drawing" is by Howard J. Smagula, Laurence King Publishing, 2002. I didn't read much but gazed at the pictures, but it devotes a chapter to gesture drawing, which I understand is rare. And Howard posits gesture drawing is not as much about the model but about the artist, which is what I concluded after some years. It's not all about figure/life drawing, but looked promising as a textbook.
Although I burned a lot of firewood this winter, it's been a warm one as they predicted, and my orchids started flowering in late June, not late August as usual. Little green things are sprouting and growing all over, again, since late June; they look fresh and beautiful, but I can't help regretting I missed yet another winter of garden overhaul. Winter isn't over so I should stay on course, and Ben's taking time off after I get back from Australia, so there is scope for hope, but we did miss the boat with my exhibition and his arm problem.
My hip is better but when I least expect it.. it... I don't know the correct English expression, but it turns into not jelly but cotton fluff and I have to hold onto railings/furniture/Husband/air, especially when I go up some stairs or after I've sat for too long. I wonder if this is how older prople fall?!

I'm still afraid of getting back on the loom bench since the current one is a sensitive warp requiring me to get off/on often, and I don't want to limp around the Eastern coast of Australia with a big-for-me suitcase. I'm fine, though, for most activities most of the time, so this morning I had an idea: chuck the To Weave Before Australia list and work in the garden. I'm working through the associated guilt this afternoon.

And I want to go Kayaking; I so wanted to go with these guys two weeks ago and they had the calmest water and crispiest sunniest day Nelson can offer.   
Ah well, moving on.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


My cousin couldn't see the woven part of the woven pieces so I found another shot. Taken on Sunday night after everything found a home, the colors are evening-y and less vibrant but only a little bit.

I think they are cute and interesting interior decorating pieces, not philosophical, and not challenging. (Except, if you must, for the distorted perspectives I enjoyed making.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Morning After

This morning my mind is not racing and is enjoying this... this... fluffy wordless bliss/emptiness filled with satisfaction and closure. (But it's taking extra long to write the post.)

I shall now conduct a debrief, by myself, here in public, because Annabelle is away and by the time we three meet my head will/should be filled with clothy concerns, and because I'm shamelessly happy. You may stop here and go on to the next blog in your feed if you like.

From the start I was on my usual soapbox of visual cohesion of group exhibits vs. plural persons showing disparate works in a shared space. Early on I was dissatisfied with the time spent  brainstorming but soon realized we all continued to think, shared freely, and held key aesthetic preferences in common. That we are used to seeing all manner of drawing in class helped.

Easy but costly methods like all works in the same colored, same style frame works for larger groups, but fewer constituents and less money prompted us to exercise our imagination. I personally like the clinical look of all white frames, for e.g. but we've seen it before, and in case of Go Figure, we would have lost the immediacy/intimacy of nude gesture drawing, our central theme. I can't remember who came up with the common wall idea, and how to present works; I know it wasn't me and am grateful she did.

Sam and Annabelle go to the same painting class and live near each other, so naturally they discussed ideas often. Early on I kept begging them to let me in on some of the discussions, as I felt I wasn't given the same length of time to mull over matters, but I stopped worrying as their "decisions" were either not dissimilar to my thinking, better than mine, or I didn't have strong feelings. A problem was at times I presented obstacles while I mulled over, and felt guilty but didn't hesitate to halt progress. In once instance, on a rather trivial matter of foamy back board to the matted pieces on the common wall, I dithered while I looked for biodegradable cardboard, but couldn't find any light-weight enough.  

We were lucky we shared a vision of sorts, because with different degrees of busyness, proclivity for communication styles and methods, and "lifestyle", I felt I was left "herding cats" on the admin side while they felt variously harassed by torrents of emails from me, bewildered by my panic, or left out because they hadn't read my emails and attachments. My emails are long. And frequent. Because I can't manage multiple in one go, and make many mistakes.

For me it was an eye-opener to communicate with people, my age or younger, who didn't adhere to what I and people near me consider the bare minimum of "communication" à la the 21st century. I often said I respect those who can resist, but I learned I didn't know how to communicate with them otherwise. This experience also gave me a glimpse into the richness of their unplugged lives. I am humbled but enriched for it. And still clueless as to what I can do should I find myself in a similar place. (Dot uses food to herd real felines, but I can't stress enough what spectacular cooks Sam and Annabelle are. Forget Facebook; let me taste the ginger and beetroot relish!)

We were mindful of the fine line between the common wall looking overcrowded/messy vs joyous/plentiful. That, in the end, was ten hours over two days of trial and error, youngest, tallest and fittest Sam going up and down, up and down a tiny metal stool putting up, taking down, swapping, and holding temporarily works while Annabelle, (with a temporary balance problem,) and I, (shortest and bung hip,) yes-ing, no-ing and good-but-not-the-best-ing, revisiting and revamping, until suddenly we fell silent because what we saw we knew we couldn't improve upon. Annabelle yesterday likened it to a ten-hour performance.

This morning I wondered if the common wall took the spotlight away from individual walls. Initially the entire, big, wall facing the entrance of the gallery was going to be the common wall, and I asked for the small one opposite, the one hidden as you enter the gallery, because my pieces didn't need much space. After hanging Annabelle's and Sam's works, Roger proposed, after much coaxing, we move my work to the left half of the big wall and use the remaining three walls collectively; his logic was to make the right half of the gallery a common space, and the left individual, because he saw four exhibitions put into one room from the start.

At first I didn't like it as it intervened with our vision of the spectacular common wall, and because I felt like I was being treated specially. Annabelle and I thought the space between my vertical and square pieces could be lessened to give more to the common. But I'm glad we went with Roger's vision. Annabelle and especially Sam have strong large pieces you can't ignore; mine are nice/fine but puny unless you took a closer look, and the more visible position works. More importantly the gallery is cleanly divided into two in about the same size, and we love our Women Cave especially after Vicky installed the couch.

I am besotted with our exhibition, to the point of feeling almost smug. Considering the small space; the freedom/support the gallery afforded us; the extremely tight budget; our collective experiences, knowledge and imagination; our body of work; the absolutely unstinting willingness by all three to make this "good"; the lack of competition; and though Sam and Annabelle will shake their heads in disbelieve, the relative abundance of time as exhibiting artists, we managed to show a best, if not the best, show we could.

And I tell you I started wondering how to top this visually, theoretically, cuz I'm not doing another for a long, long, long time. Nice to be so pleased with oneself!
Our hero, Roger Thorn, after he got our go ahead

The one last piece/series I wanted to work on, based on the perils of aging, I decided against after I did a few experiments. Ergo, no further work/photos of the colorful stuff on the floor requested by Donna; sorry. The subject is a personal one so the model would have had to be me and I realized I could either "whip up" something, mull over it, or abandon it, but I didn't want to see me in an exhibition. I have a cute caption that's good for another nine months:

I had all the answers in the world at 16. 
I had all the right questions at 26. 
So why am I so bewildered at 56?

Though I have weaving plans at the back of my mind, and was imagining a few more up until Friday, I'm having a hard time switching from paint to threads today. I must interrupt the natural order of projects and put on a couple of cotton warps, I think. But first is the short black and white warp, then I want a couple of short warps experimenting and attempting pleats.

In 29 days I go to Australia so I need to prep, pay, book, get a visa, confirm plans with friends, and prepare art materials for the mixed media workshops some more. But before all that, dust bunnies on the kitchen floor of all places are complaining of overcrowding. (They are bunnies, so I'm not saying it's my fault.) And Ben has precious few shirts outside the ironing basket.

And then there are fields of that which rhymes with "weaves" waiting outside.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Go Figure

Welcome to our show.
This is what you see as you walk into our gallery. The three drawings in the right, the blue wash, the white lady on black, and my square guy, were in the newspaper article. The pale line on white paper next to my square guy, and further right, halfway down, on the brown paper, were two of three used in our poster. Center top, the curvy lady on gray is the piece which sold before the show started.
Turning clockwise, this is our big wall, and there among others is the face, the third piece used in our poster.
Again turning clockwise are more drawings, our newspaper article on the wooden stand, and price list in the brochure rack. Our drawings are very affordable. :-) Vicky will put our poster on the other side of the plinth.
Moving to the right is Annabell's wall. She enjoys different mark making and relates her drawing/painting with her other calling, music: "Live musical moments and drawing performance can have a similar 'explosive' outcome. There can be an exquisite lyricism to both – the moment passes with live music but remains on paper/canvas."
Turning clockwise we have Sam's wall. She writes: "Colour is exciting to use in the way it gives an emotion to the image and a mood to the scene... In the larger painted works, colour and its application let me create a story about the image."
Turning clockwise once again we come to mine. Unlike in class, where I reach for the biggest papers available, my pieces are among the smallest in our exhibition.
And right again and we are back to what we now call our Women Cave. Please have a seat and another look if you have the time.

While I was pestering Vicky about the final touches regarding labels and blurbs, Sam and Annabelle were being interviewed at the local radio station. I'll post a link to the podcast when it becomes available next week.

We sincerely thank the tireless and abandon support from Roger and Vicky Thorn of Refinery ArtSpace Gallery. And we thank you for visiting our exhibition.
Annabelle Laing, the weaver, and Sam Jensen

EXTRA: if this picture weren't so funny, I wouldn't admit to being in this next one, let alone of its existence. We were completely exhausted Sunday night, but also elated we finally finished. And after observing many models and gazillion drawings, I was dismayed to see photographic proof I have no neck!
Go Figure does Grassy Knoll

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Home Stretch

And I happen to think we've ended up with one of the prettiest exhibitions I've been involved with.


We spent six hours in the gallery yesterday, with me bossing around Sam and Annabelle to move things along, and with Roger's and Duncan's help, got an amazing amount done; all that needs doing today is some tweaking, labeling/admin and our own photo shoots. And the place looks nothing like this photo! 

A great omen for the show was an out-of-town visitor and long-time model who bought Sam's drawing while we were only lining up works against the wall, the third pic. I was truly thrilled for Sam, it's such a good start for Sam Jensen the Painter, and we appreciated this visitor wading through our mess and finding what we made interesting.

Pricing is always an issue and listening to others I was aghast to hear the numbers being thrown around, how out of touch I am to value of money in New Zealand in the 21st century. (No wonder we haven't bought any art in the last... decade?) For me, an added factor is I see drawing/painting as an away game. What I made are the fruits of attending Ronette's classes off and on for six years, and more to the point, my friendship with Sam and Annabelle. (And you all will understand why I insist on using the verb, "make".) I'm still thinking back and forth between prices I would consider buying, and/or doubling/tripling to meet alleged market value.

At the end of last night, the strangest thing happened. We were sticking tiny posts its to our own paintings, identifying the artists, putting serial numbers, etc, for a price list, and I couldn't tell which ones were mine; this morning Annabelle told me the same. This has never happened to me but it could be my first taste of a truly collaborative effort.

Expect more pics.

Friday, July 4, 2014


“I am constantly surprised when a person pops out of a sheet of paper – that I brought that ‘person’ to life.” Meg

"The myriad of ways this can be expressed, by all who are willing to give it a go, has inspired this show. This exhibition is a collection of these from Figure Drawing Classes that we have attended.

"There is a never ending source of expression – often in a serendipitous manner when the energy of the model, spontaneous media and implements and the moment in time captured by good “lookers”, comes together.

"These impressions/expressions are both retrospective and a coming of age for the three of us as we reflect on past drawings, these moments in time, and as we use these to move forwards in our own artistic and independent directions."
by Annabelle Laing; she also wrote the exhibition blurb.
by Sam Jensen; she's done all the running-around work.
by Yours Truly, admin, and my bio reads:

"Gesture drawing is a truly wonderful way to capture a moment. As a child I was taught to dissect complex problems into orderly/manageable steps, but gesture drawing requires I forego all that, so when I end up with an awesome drawing, the joy is elemental.

"Rodin’s Indonesian Cambodian Dancers are among my favorite figures."

It's really happening because I read it in the paper. I hope Sam and Annabelle are as excited. It's going to be a fun exhibition
We got the gallery early so we do half the install tomorrow. I finished my fourth woven piece yesterday but all woven pieces need to be cut to size and framed with Ben's help in the morning. Better go to bed early tonight.