Sunday, September 28, 2014

See Them and Weep

I was going to work on another book this weekend and then have a hiatus from mixed media, but after some discussions with Seth, I decided not to continue at this point. It is ruining this book that really got me down.

This is from the third workshop, Cover to Cover. (See the first workshop description some ways down this link.) Mine is A5, no theme, no end product in mind, just making lovely looking panels; we prepared seven sheets, but I gave away two, had one backup so ended up with six. Some classmates went on to stamping and collating, but I had time for paint/glaze only. We are meant to make a hole in one "cover" panel and thread a ribbon/fabric though to tie all together, not bind. I'm not sure of the order/orientation I want, so this is one possibility.
On one side of each sheet we were able to use fiber paste, with which we could create richer textures than with gesso only. Though I've dulled the sheen, saturation and texture of this page with cheap colors and over-glossing at home, you still get the gist. The line was created by gluing thrums.
I wasn't pleased with some of the duller pages so I added collage which instantly cheered them up, but again I over-glazed. I rubbed paint straight out of the tubes on the left panel, but they dried too quickly and look not at all subtle. The right panel was the spare; it looked quite nice before I over-glazed.
I have no idea what I want to do with the left panel. The right, again, I glazed too much, but at least I can still see the lovely stamped textures from the workshop, plus some I stenciled at home. 
The left was tampered with but not too badly. I had intended to make these simpler pages more interesting but now I treasure the simplicity. The right panel has been worked on heavily, but I can still see the Orange woman's bottom. (She was one of many that didn't make it into the exhibition. I sprayed all watercolor work to use in collages but this is the only one I used. I still have some, and I like them in these projects.)
Again, I reduced the saturation on the left panel, but I'm not ruining it any more. The right, I'm flummoxed. I'd like to wipe away the brown/red paint when I next play with it.

And now, two panels that make me weep.
The right was the page I had tremendous difficulties with; I added depth with hues and values which worked well, but I did not know when to stop, (and isn't it strange when I know I've overdone it, I keep working instead of stopping immediately,) and again I over-glazed.The base shape was made with thrums.

And the page on the right. My favorite. Ex-favorite. I only wanted to enhance the depth a little so I worked and worked and worked until I totally ruined it. You can see a very early stage here, (ninth photo,) and an intermediate stage here. At home I mixed "grit" medium, gesso and molding medium to emulate the texture of the fiber paste, which while not identical to the texture of fiber paste, worked pretty well. You can see I finally walked away. Groan.
Yes, I glazed this page, and put tube paint by finger, but I can forgive myself for this one. I may try to remove some of the reds and some glaze later.

Why mixed media? There is so much depth in Seth's works no pic can do justice; some darker ones resemble looking into an abyss and lighter ones walking in fog or mist or under Japanese cherry trees in late March when the wind blows and I know it's the last day of cherry season for the year. I enjoy experimenting, in discovering how to work with cheap materials.

Since I became more entrenched in weaving I've warmed to abstract art, and what he calls background work also satisfies my need to create my version of play-abstract art; not "real" art, not "real" in the sense I'm not devoting my life to it, but intense playing. And it doesn't require drawing, which still doesn't come naturally. And it's so much fun.

Seth suggested, "Perhaps over thinking led you in a different direction than your instincts did [at the workshop]." My highest hurdle in life has been not to take things so seriously, but as we know, part of what others call "overthinking" is a weaver's perspective, too, isn't it? We need that analytical self to weave well. And when my pages start to look bad, I can't keep the weaver out. Also true the election and the media almost deleted the memories of Australia/workshops in a very short time and the dark, dark colors are how I feel now. 

"My suggestions would be (not that you asked) for a bit more dark/light contrast and a bit more break-up of the color fields." Exactly as I thought, but the first was impossible with the cheap paints, ergo so much gesso, and the latter, my bad, I wrote in the previous post. "And you would be surprised what a little paint splattering can do!!!" Duly noted.

I am a weaver. I can say this with confidence so nowadays I don't say "no" often without trying things out first. But I'm still not completely "there" so I feel I have to defend myself; to redefine my parameters, to reorient myself. And it helps when higher power agrees.

"I think it is wise to 'step way from the pieces' for now. See what you think of them after some time away. You may surprise yourself -- or not." Thanks, Seth.

PS. I haven't touched the Foto Folio from the second workshop. I'm putting that aside, too, for now. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Closure" of Sorts

I've been debating in my head whether to post more Mixed Media, as the harder I worked the less attractive my stuff became.

I've learned more about acrylic paint and media by experimenting on my own, especially how to cope with cheap material and/or not having access to some we used in class, and about colors and simultaneous contrast, and that's been interesting in the way I always enjoyed Chemistry class.

Some days, (and since I've returned from Australia I worked  between five and eight hours a day most days,) though, the effort looked futile, counterproductive, and presently the overwhelming feeling is I ruined a lot of good stuff I did in Australia, albeit incomplete. In drawing, or writing, I ever knew when to stop, and this proved to be the case with my Mixed Media.
However, playing with paint proved to be wonderful "living in the moment", errrr, moments, and this, and Discworld audiobooks, proved invaluable during the weeks leading up to and in the aftermath that was the general election in New Zealand. (Maybe another post; maybe not.)  Plus, I didn't want yet another unfinished project becoming a mammoth in the stash room.

So here is the first of three books. The first Seth Apter workshop I wet to was called Mixed Media Dossier. (If you scroll down on the link, you'll see a brief explanation; it's the second one.) Mine is a tad smaller than A5, portrait, with seven inside and two cover sheets. One day workshop allowed me, and many others, to learn a few techniques and get some backgrounds done.

We could make a notebook/journal, with or without a theme/purpose, or a bound volume with lots of nice stuff to look at. I wasn't sure what mine would end up being, but I had a vague theme of destination addiction/places. The photos are positioned as if I've bound the pages.
The front cover is actually more yellow/gold than green. and far more saturated. I "unified" the look by applying a few layers of very diluted yellows with glitter medium. (Seth says cheaper paints have binders, which make the colors dull; I guess it's like obscuring the pigment.) I used Carol's expensive liquid acrylic paint in class, and tried to modify my cheap tube paint with gloss gel medium and gloss varnish, (I only found glazes after I invested in three bottles of gloss varnish,) to emulate the look, which made the parts I worked on evenly shiny, rather than delicately glistening. Luckily, in some parts, the good paint shines though beautifully.  
I unified the back of the front cover in a similar way, and added a bit of pale yellow greens and pale blues representing patina. I think it was more interesting when the white bits of the paper still showed.  Page one, I did very little; when I came home I saw these as unfinished; now I like pages like these, even though they are unfinished.
When you lift the front cover, this is the folded wings you see. Again, it's much more yellow/gold; the two sides look much better than before, but also flatter, because of the repeated layers of varnish, less delicate. 
The middle part of page two looks half-heatedly finished. But this yellow/gold page was really haphazardly done, so this is an improvement. Page three, again, I unified the look by applying a think layer of pale blue varnish, but it's possibly my favorite. I can't remember now when it had white untouched bits.
Page four is an example of how I ruined my original, bright Australian pages. It had textures, and probably a combination of yellow/gold/copper/dark blue, but wanting to increase the dark blue area, I kept applying vanish instead of straight forward blue and made the whole page very green. Then I applied 2*reds, 2*blues, purple, gray and black paints and then covered it with a diluted black glaze, then added the "badge" with gesso. It's not one of my favorites, but I like that I brought it back from the "definitely not" pile. Page five, unified with several layers of blue varnish, though I'm not sure if it looked much better before the unifying. Well maybe. I like this page.
Page six; another "why am I still doing this" page, and the "white" parts are not white/silver but very shiny. During the day it's a little like staring into a starless night. I worked on this for days and days and days. Page seven, I'm not sure if this is staying as once again, I overdid it with the blue unifying glaze; this one has three or more different blue varnishes.
Page eight was something of a revelation. It was the worst of the dark-blue-layers-gone-completely-green and doubly sad because it had my favorite gessoed textures. I piled paint, then gesso on curvy shapes, more paint, and things to progressively worse, so I applied gesso with a credit card making straight lines and rectangles, not seen in any other page.(Page four gesso came later.) Again came the cool color paints and I was lost in this tiny space, and at one point it started looking interesting to me. I want to keep this as a memento of that experience. Page nine, I gave it the smallest Payne's Gray/blue wash on the left, and I was happy.
Page ten was the worst of the unfinished pages so it was at the bottom of the pile, but after loosing the Australia/workshop feel in so many pages, I am happy to keep it as is, totally unfinished. Page eleven is the only one that looks more interesting in the photo than in real life; it looks very messy in a in-between style; I might touch it up.
I gave up on page twelve for now. Again, it's more yellow/gold/orange. I can't remember what it looked like when it came home, but I made three yellows and two browns, as well as pale yellow green and pale blue, and made up a couple of yellow oranges, mixed some with glitter medium, and used gel medium and varnish, and it looks dirty and flat and overly shiny. Page twelve didn't look so dark until late yesterday afternoon when I got so frustrated I started vanishing everything. I thought I'd do one representing sleepless nights, and what remains is an upstairs bedroom. For the night I used every blue, gray, black and a bit of dark green I had, but I might touch it up again.
Page thirteen, (and twelve) had wings but they were so terrible I cut them off! Clearly I don't like what developed; I even thought of chucking this out, but I just hate to give up, so I'll revisit this. Or not. I always loved both sides of the back cover. This inside one is my favorite gesso pattern, though I never figured out if it's a compass or a seal of some sort. 
Back cover; again I thought it was unfinished but I love it as it is now.
I'm supposed to bind the top but because I may revisit, I've connected them with yellow paper clips for now. I'm walking away from this book because I can't get over the  dread of ruining the sunny, lovely Australia/Workshop feeling, but I know I'll revisit. A glimpse of what this book looked like can be seen in the first photo here.

Blogger changed its photo update mechanism while I wasn't looking, and with that, the photos upload appear bluer than they are when see directly from my hard drive. I may come swap the yellow photos later. Or not.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Goodness Me, All the Noise! (Or Still In Between)

The last time I posted pictures of something woven, other than what I did in Kaz's class, was in May, but make no mistake I'm a weaver; contrary to some speculation, I'm not jumping ship to drawing/mixed media; they are my hobbies. (But you already knew this from the previous post which was supposed to come after this one, right?) I worked hard so far and have too much stash not to remain a weaver. Plus I luuuuuve weaving.

That said, I have been in such a limbo I'm sick of it.
* Between last September and April, after I came home from Japan I was doing alright mixing weeding, weaving and drawing. Even with the protracted problem with eyeglasses throughout January. 
* March/April, my hip started hurting but I didn't connect it with many broken cashmere warp ends.  * Came May I decided to concentrate on the drawing (exhibition), which was hung in early July. I can't remember what I focused on during the three weeks the exhibition was up, but after it came down at the end of July, I prepared, de-prepared and re-prepared for the Australia trip.
* In August, I was in Australia for two fun weeks.
* For the remainder of August Ben was home and we had one of the coldest spell this winter and didn't do much.
* The first week of September I had a pretty bad case of common cold and spent four and a half days in bed.
* This brings us to this past; Monday - Thursday I weeded between two and five hours every day. I was too tired to do much else, except housework and some cooking. I did work on the postcards, and drew once. I ran errands in town yesterday.
* Next Wednesday marks one year since I've come home from Japan. It's important to me that I know I've done some things. 

My right hip is not 100% and it got bad in Sydney, and then last Tuesday morning I woke up to it throbbing. I've been recommended a miracle osteopath but he's so popular my booking is at the end of October. I'm in pain only once in a while but I'd like this over with. Knowing the current many-grays warp is problematic and because I'm afraid of hurting myself again, I'm so reluctant to get back on the loom bench.

I feel compelled to finish the three mixed media pieces first so they don't hang over my head, but I don't have a dedicated space nor half the material I used in class. Seth continues to help me, but I can only get on limited, low-end media in town, which is fine as regards quality, but I get dissimilar and even shocking results so the "progress" has been between bumpy and stalled. I work on the postcards looking for a breakthrough, but it's not happening.

Luckily, I have reached that stage with mixed media where even though every new book, download or free online class promises to solve all my mixed media problems and then some, I know I have all I need to practice and make stuff, so I've been selective in my purchases. Like buying yarns to match to reduce stash.

I have lovely notebook-making and weaving ideas, but trying not to think about them (until I finish the uncompleted projects) has been like eating veggies before meat. Up to the point I went to Kaz's workshop I was focused on weaving so I thought I could handle a bit of fun mixed media, but they gave me so many ideas and I've been drowning in colors, textures and noise.

From time to time I am such an unsavory grumpy old hag, especially on the telephone, I even surprise myself. I've almost picked fights with two call centers in two days and I regurgitate the conversation over and over in my head, even though I know I'm no victim. Many shouty, fast-talking young people are doing their job, though they do shout and talk fast. To be sure, accents are not a problem for me. But when a cancelled appointment turns up at my door when I'm delirious from low-grade common cold fever, I ignore the gentle knocks and stomp around the house insulting call center staff. And my quick wrath surprises me; I've seen the same in Dad, wonder if we share a chemical problem, even.

I love living a weaving-focused life, and I don't like going into town unless I must, but when I am with humans other than Ben, sometimes I try too hard to fill the space with words, and I regret it almost immediately. Then, it's hard to like myself much.
(Blind, quick contours from tiny pics on the Internet or the telly.)

Still finding it hard to grow up.

Thoughts on Mixed Media at this Juncture

With all the noise in my head, I need to summarize my current thoughts/feelings towards drawing/mixed media.

1) These are techniques first and foremost to enjoy, and then to explore elements that may tie in with weaving.

2) To that end, the joy is in the making, and for me to keep/have and not to sell, (although I may give away or flog off small items later if I feel I have something "good enough" to share.)

3) To that end, my mental health postcards are already a vital genre, and I can't see not continuing for a while however sporadic. But if I abruptly stop one day, that's fine, too.

4) I am most interested in bookbinding and/or making things in a book format, be they incomplete "notebooks" to fill in later, or completed to the best of my understanding/intention.

5) I enjoy gesture drawing, but on the whole I'm still uncomfortable with drawing. I have difficulties getting started because I want to immediately end up with "nice" drawings even though I already know that some look bad while I'm drawing but interesting later, the same as weaving.

6) Just as I weave with wool, cotton, silk or these mixes, the only synthetic/artificial yarns creeping into my weaving being binders for bouclé, I like watercolor/gouache, pencils, charcoal and ink better than acrylic. One of my hangups with prototypical mixed media is the myriad of acrylic media/products. (Came home with two more yesterday so I can finish the three I started in Australia.) However, acrylic, when sufficiently dried, travels better, so in the future I shall keep a small acrylic kit for the postcards, but use what feels more natural to me for the other "me" projects. 

7) Knowing when I'm finished is difficult; I often know only when I've gone one step too far. I need to be more self-indulgent and forgiving if I am to explore and get satisfaction out of the process, which to me means making stuff anyway, pretty or ugly, and see if/how it works. By which I mean look/see, walk by, glance, glare at and mull over. See also 1) and 2).

8) I need to practice toning down my mixed media work if that is the look I prefer, and it seems that way. I like depth, but not in-your-face multitude of elements, ditto with weaving, and I haven't had enough practice to create the toned down look. 

When I looked at Seth's work in real life, they were incredibly deep to the point some almost sucked me into their tiny page, the process gazillion-layered, and yet not in-your-face. He also takes great pains to use commercial or everyday stuff to make the resultant look his own.

At present my preference is to have a good proportion of freehand, (drawn and handwritten,) elements; something like Gwen Diehn's sketchbooks but with interesting backgrounds; a heavy dose of Roz Stendahl's joy and neatness but not animals/birds but human folks and as much urban scenes as I can muster in little old Nelson; and the mystery and details of Nick Bantock without the dead, the demonic or the dark.

EDIT: 9) I want to try more printing. That is one technique I throughly enjoyed way, way back in school, and I didn't like art classes back then. 

Pity two more layers haven't done the job; a majority has been addressed and messages written but they still can't fly.
Gotto to work on the post that was supposed to come before this.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

In Between

I've been in limbo since I returned from Australia, especially after I finished blogging about my trip. I've unpacked, even washed paint palettes with methylated spirit; I have ideas and plans, but a little heavy on the bookbinding/drawing/mm side; it's been a little cold inside; and Ben's been home so we've been hanging out without doing a whole heck of a lot. We had planned to visit Christchurch for a couple of days during his time off, but he had a mini dental emergency and he's been uncomfortable on antibiotics; but at least extraction was not called for - it was the tooth next to the one which bothers him usually.
I worked on the postcard some more; they are photographed upside down because when I work on them, I try to make them interesting from multiple sides, though they don't necessarily end up so. I used the methylated spirit to take some unwanted paint/media blobs off the book pages from the workshops; these worked sometimes if the paint and media underneath were piled on thickly, but sometimes they just dissolved the desirable paint layers and made holes.

Hope is mentoring me in making my own Vincent stamps and stencils. I've manipulated his self-portraits into crude gray scale pictures but need to simplify the fields further and then make sure there are no "islands". While in Australia, Carol showed me a book she bound and is in the process of filling; it was beautiful and interesting and unforgettable.

That got me Googling bookbinding images, which got me hocked on artist/bookbinder Roz Stendahl, blog and YouTube, who turned out to be from the Twin cities, which in turn made me nostalgic enough to join the Twin cities Urban Sketchers group on Facebook, and even wishing I could spend a day at the Minnesota State Fair. (I also found out from her blog the authors of the bread book Sam recommended live in Minneapolis.)

I don't know how they tie in with my weaving, but I am interested in some more drawing/sketching.

I read the one book I bought in Australia; it wasn't so wonderful, it's from Tate and a little Anglo- and Gaugin-centric, but it got me back in the swing of reading about art in France in that era, and looking up works by more painters. 

Both Ben and I cooked. Spring is coming regardless of my plans, so at least we're looking forward to the coming salad and fresh veg season. But my breads are still iffy; perhaps I need the bread book to complete the circle.

Tomorrow is the start of September. Ben goes back to work; weeding, finishing my books from the workshops or postcards, weaving, or cooking, whatever it is, I hope to get back on at least one horse. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weaving Thoughts

Lately I've been thinking of weaving with cashmere on my big loom. I've had so many broken warps in the last little while, (is there ever a big while?) it was time I got analytical not just tenacious.

On the 4-shaft Jack with metal heddles and a good shed, I weave with Japanese 100% in 2/20 and 2/26 and Cashmere70/Silk30 2/20 at 12-, 15-, and 18-EPI in twills and plain, usually with the Schacht end-feed with red pirns, and seldom broke a warp.

On the 16 with Texolv and also a good shed, I use the usual suspects mentioned above, alone and in combination, plus a loosely plied 100% 2/14 in combination with the them, as well as Doni's cashmere mix in multiple colors, at 15-, 18-,  21- and 24-EPI, I think, in twills as well as fussy network, using both the Schacht and a selection of Swedish lightweight boats.

The glaringly obvious is never to use the loose 2/14 in the warp: I declared so to Mom when I first saw the cone was mad to think I could get away with it combined with more reliable yarns; I just couldn't resist the colors. But beyond that, I'm starting to think it may not be only the closer setts but also the fussy network which lifts and drops all over the show increasing occasions where warp ends rub against neighbors mercilessly. Maybe cashmeres and fussies don't mix, but this is a theory still because on the Jack, several warps of Log Cabin at 18-EPI presented no trouble.

So, revisiting these gift box drafts has been on my mind; these at 18-EPI never broke a warp. There are endless, (well, many,) combinations I can make with four blocks of 4-end twills, but I can also reduce the background to plain and divide the remaining 14 into a number of twill and basket blocks.

The Saori-inspired idea is to use pickup in my fussis to accentuate small parts; for example, I may use unmercerized, saturated-colored cotton or even cashmere- or merino-silk mix sup weft in a diamond shape to accentuate the jewel-like look in "regal" looking design. (Is it India or Laos that has those looks?) This is also only an idea in my head but potentially useful.

Continuing on the theme of my emerging knowledge/acceptance of my own preferences and subsequent confidence in how I use them from yesterday, I've become unbothered by the flurry of new weaving books. It started out because of financial constraints some years ago, but then I already had ample guilt about buying any books but not reading them. My unsmall stash and (perceived) lack of access to new material (perceived as requisite) to sample/experiment also helped.

Plus, I'm a notoriously slow reader/understander, and even slower to sample/experiment, so not buying meant a more buoyant, unencumbered mindset. I could concentrate on ideas brewing in the background for ages or popping up, as we say in Japan, like mushrooms after rain.

It doesn't mean I don't want books, so if one sounds good, I'll get it later. You must, on your part, keep those reviews coming, please!!

All in all, I feel I've grown up a smidgen, not taller but a tad maturer in the last little while. Kaz reckons 57 is the magic age, when Saori's Jo Misao started weaving, so in my case it's just in the nick of time at 56 and 1/3. 

This afternoon we're going to clean out the storage under the stairs and get to the bottom of that smell! Oh, Ben's home all week. 
Kaz's neighbors: huge, scary-looking pelicans, shot from quite a distance away. The resort I stayed for the mixed media workshops had daily pelican feeding but I was too scared to go.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Thoughts and Pics, Australia

I was pleasantly surprised how comfortable I feel in my making. I see technical weaknesses in things I do, but now know I know a few things about my making; I can work with most colors and/or combinations, (though I desperately needed help with that one hard cover page in my previous post;) I like starting out with a small selection of colors or techniques but will add more if doing so improves the outcome. To that end, I'm not afraid of trying out new things in ways I don't immediately like, nor of discarding things not for me, but then I can usually see ways of using a technique so I don't have to discount anything. More importantly, I feel comfortable in my preferences so I don't have to shout in my defense. Sometimes.

Opportunely we finally had a debrief dinner for our drawing exhibition last night. I said all I wanted to but it didn't take long because I didn't have to think as I spoke; that's a refreshing change and I love the idea of me talking less.

You can take a walker out of big cities but you can't take big cities out of that walker. I live in heavenly Nelson with so much walking/trecking/tramping options in any direction, but I don't do much here except in our tiny CBD/downtown. Drop me in Yokohama/Tokyo, Brisbane or Sydney and come rain or shine I am in my element. Enough said; I'm not as lazy as I thought I had become; just in the wrongish place.

Now for pics.
The painting end of the Indigenous Arts space at Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, looking at probably my most favorite painting from the whole trip.
Best of about a dozen attempts; I saw two kangaroo traffic signs, too, but wasn't quick enough for pics. Shucks.
Another contender for my favorite panting from the trip, in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gallery at Art Gallery of New South Wales, though hardly enough TSI art for my taste.
A Vincent, though I'm not a fan of his Dutch paintings. I loved the sunset colors of Soutine better, and I think the colors were clearer in real life.
A disproportionately large bird on top of a delicate-ish-looking tree.

And this concludes my Australia report. Unless I think of something else. Gotta go put the rest of the stuff away now.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mixed Media Workshops, Australia

Yes. Well, it may have been because I saw it as an extension of drawing or my mental health postcards. Or I needed a technique to commemorate Dad's life and use his many pictures in a meaningful way. (I haven't shown you a box I brought back!) Or I wanted to know how Seth manages to have so much fun day after day after day on his blog. Whatever the reason, I signed up for it. Three workshops, in fact.

All three workshops I signed up for aimed to create a "book" of some kind.  
Day 1: a journal meant to be bound at the top but I had a few winged pages and must cut the tops of the wings so they fold in. (Is that the correct description?) I'm almost finished with the background painting, but there are quite a few more steps left for backgrounds. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but nine days later the pages are still not completely dry. I was so lucky the title on the cover was done by Kaye, an experienced calligrapher in the same class.
Day 2: a small accordion book of photos; again, the pages are not dry so further background work awaits but this is the first book I want to return to. Everything relates to Dad and on the left, I used the map of Bergen Alicja sent me in W2W2. I suspect this is only the first of a few Dad books to come. 
Day 3: an unbound book, (i.e. just loose book covers) showcasing all the techniques we learned; they will be bound/wrapped with a ribbon or a piece of fabric when completed. I had great trouble with residual paint/medium on the protective plastic on the table sticking back to my work in progress, (really bad on second left piece,) so peeling those off would be my first task. We worked on seven covers, on both sides, and the far right backup board has just one layer of paint, because two of my favs decided to stay in Australia.
The left one lives with Hope and the right, with Carol. I was thrilled they liked them enough to want to keep them. I had trouble with some pages, but these two came easily. 
These are unfinished backgrounds only so they are not finished/polished in the way I would have liked; the idea is to work further with collages, stamps, stencils, rub-ons, and I'm also interested in some free-hand drawing and taking off unwanted bits. Hope's on the left has "Unfinished" on the other side, a wonderful reminder for the both of us.

The classes were great fun and Seth a wonderful teacher. We were in a rush to learn all the techniques so not many of us progressed beyond background paintings, but we had sufficient instructions and samples to know how to proceed. Imperfection was labeled the "best parts" and I tried my best to experiment with layers-upon-layers, textures, and complexity.

I'm not sure where mixed media sits in my life, but there is definitely room. I'm keen to use a few material/techniques I already have/use, (collage, stamps/stamp pads, inclusion of my fivers/textiles, gesso, drawing, but I'm so inept with stencils) and one new thing I liked in class, acrylic glazing liquid, which slows down the drying but creates transparent/translucent color layers. I must also learn to work cleanly and to remove the unintended messy bits.

I kept telling myself I like simpler, slicker, flat pages; (can you see the orange bottom, a twin of the top right piece in the pic, in the small collaged piece?)
But then I did this, too. (This started with the red thrums from Kaz's workshop but I didn't like the paint colors I used and piled up glaze and gesso in many layers. In the end, Linda and Seth helped me with color choices.) 
Somewhere in between;
appeals to me the most, more interesting than my postcard in progress.
Finding a new technique is almost as exciting as making new friends but these classes came with a few new cohorts with whom I hope to keep in touch.

How wonderful, this life of making.

Saori Workshop, Australia

Both Saori-style weaving and mixed media art appear to allow, even encourage, spontaneity and imperfections which are the antithesis of how I try to weave, so naturally many questioned my motive for signing up for these workshops. In Australia, no less.

As regards Saori, I was curious why Kaz, who invested many years perfecting her skills, would want to reboot, whether this was a regression, and what she meant by Saori ways of thinking/approach; not exactly to bring her back from the dark side, but to understand.

In class we had five students, experienced weavers, second-generation weavers, an expert spinner and a textile person on her third stint at Kaz's. Unless we brought our warp, we were assigned looms dressed with black cotton in two weaving width and some "irregular plain threading" on two shafts, sometimes sleyed irregularly, for a weft-faced cloth. We were given free range with a big selection of wefts and some slivers and were shown a few mostly hand-manipulated techniques periodically, but otherwise we did as we pleased.

Most, but not all, the techniques I'd seen in Davenport's Hands on Rigid Heddle Weaving, and/or Gilmurray's Weaving Tricks way back, but some were new. I relied on the tapestry technique I picked up last year, because this is how I imagined Saori weaving "should" look like, but I tried others also.

I had a hard time with the black warp, not only because I hadn't woven with black for a long time and couldn't see what I was doing, but I once again had stereotype pictures of weft-faced, black-warped Saori cloths. For Day 2, Kaz gave me a red warp and I became a little flexible and fluent.

I steam-pressed my samples just before shooting, my normal process; these would have looked more "Saori-like" and 3D if I hadn't.
Day 1's black warp, and goodness me, I started with black wefts; Day 2 I recall starting with purples.
Over-reliance on the tapestry technique, thinly disguised by mixing bouclé.
I did a Margery and included some twill pick up, about the only time I felt I was engaged in "my craft", to tell you the truth.

Make no mistake, I enjoyed the workshop. Being with other weavers was no small part and to see what they do on similar black warps. Kaz is a super teacher and Saori looms are lovely to work on; in fact, their foot looms were so quiet every sigh, comment and expletive of mine could be heard by all. And I was the only one who talked while working.

It was nice to rediscover hand-manipulated techniques; I see ways of combining them with many shafts; that includes looks I considered creating by dyeing or embroidery. Beyond that, if I were to pursue Saori style weaving, I'd have to practice so hard to achieve spontaneity and the loose look is not immediately to my taste to warrant the effort at this point.

I pinched a bout of Kaz's hand-dyed thrum; you may see these as wefts in the not-too distant future.
* * * * * 

I can't remember what I was going to show you for a special August 5 post; I remember planning something but on the day I did something else, perhaps relating to Australia, and it feels like a lifetime ago. Anyway, August 5, 1995 was the day I wove my first project on my Rigid Heddle, after several samples including all the hand-manipulated techniques in the two books. Maybe I'll remember the anniversary next year, but maybe not; I didn't weave much while I worked until I quit my last job in late (?) August 2004, and lately I've concentrated on looking ahead rather than back.

What next for all of us??

Friday, August 22, 2014

Back from Australia

A "short" recap.

Wednesday was taken up by errands in Nelson and travelling to Brisbane.

I had only Thursday in Brisbane. I arrived at the Art Shed before their opening time, waited patiently, and browsed every isle exercising great self-control, coming out with relatively little. The most notable purchase was a set of 12 ink blocks; a giant box of the pencil version was on sale in Japan and though that box was too, too big for me, I often wondered about the medium. Now I can experiment. Also many questions answered, but not all; I was too excited.

Then I ventured out to Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Arts a block away from my accommodation. The latter's indigenous arts room is one of my favorite museum rooms anywhere but I've really become a fan of museums' own collections exhibitions since my last visit to QAG, and spent most of the time in there again. In between, (it's located between the two museums,) I really enjoyed this exhibition at the State Library of Queensland. And needless to say, I spent considerable time in each of the museum/library stores, but came out unscathed, in spite of the tax-year-end book sale at GOMA.

I had on hand postcards and drawing material to work on while traveling, and I started working on it in Brisbane.

On Friday I managed some people-doodling at the airport, then arrived at Old Bar to meet Kaz and Sampling and to do a Saori workshop on the weekend. On my flight, the lovely lady next to me wondered how we'd find each other if we never met them before, but I knew Kaz from her blog pics and besides, I reassured her, "I'm the only middle-aged Japanese woman on this flight, so I think they'll manage."

A separate post on the workshop will follow, but I have to comment on the variety/colors of pebbles on Old Bar beach; I don't think I've seen so many of either on one beach before; if you are ever on the North Coast of New South Wales, Old Bar is worth a visit for that reason alone, but as long as you're there have at least one meal at Sai.

Monday was spent tying up loose ends: me finishing my Saori class warp, wet-finishing, translating Saori book passages more hilariously than Kaz ever expected, eating the last of a yummy orange cake, and Kaz discovering my "train ticket" was indeed for a bus operated by the train company. Just in time.

On Tuesday I went to Gosford to meet Hope, (spotted her outside the train station from her FB pics,) had a fabulous Lebanese dinner with Hope and Jonathan, and spent the evening sitting in front of the fire looking at Hope's numerous sketchbooks discussing making, mixed media, and portraits.

On Wednesday Hope drove Carol and me to Lake Macquarie for the Mixed Media workshops; again, I'll write a separate post about Seth and the workshops, but I must mention the venue had a fantastic restaurant; one lunchtime quite a few of us had a second panna cotta and the next day had helped ourselves for a second serving of kalamari. Classes started on Thursday, but since I knew I would need some down time by then, I didn't sign up for any and instead put a warp on Hope's RH loom.

On Monday Hope dropped me off at the Gosford train station, but when I arrived at Sydney Central station it was bucketing down. I arrived at the hotel at noon, was told my room won't be ready until 2PM, (didn't believe it; it's not a small place, but that's what it says on the reservation so it's OK,) but I walked to Museum of Contemporary Arts, in the rain, in the lunch time traffic; browsed the museum shop, didn't like the woman/textile art of, among other things, human innards made of yarns, but enjoyed their permanent collection, had a quick lunch, caught the train to Central, checked into my room, and changed into dry clothes. I was grumpy and prepared to hate Sydney by then.

I met Claudia, who moved out of Nelson a year ago, and before dinner she took me to an art supply shop for me to get some gold-, silver- and copper-leaf pens Seth showed us. We had Mexican, (can't remember where,) for dinner, and went to a funky bar and I got home after 10PM - very late for me!

I was planning to sleep in late and have an easy day Tuesday, but I was out the door by 8.30 and arrived at Australian Museum 25 min too early, so kept walking to Art Gallery of New South Wales and arrived 35 minutes too early, but I waited for this one because I always regretted not going in in 1988. It was so worth it, again, their permanent collections being the best part, including one van Gogh; the museum shop was mind-blowing and it was hard not to come home with a van Gogh book I've only heard about; it weighed 3kg; I had them weigh it. I also descended to their library to ask about books on the Torres Straights Island art, (especially 3d,) I've been looking for over a decade, and was told there are none; only a few pieces appear in some of the Australian indigenous art books. What she got out for me, I looked, but I had seen many before. To date, Otago Museum holds the best collection I've come across.

I took the train to Newtown, but successfully walked past Arts on King, (where I knew a book sale was taking place,) and several other art, book, and herbal shops. I was nearing the end of Newtown and was going to go as far as the last traffic light when I finally found Suzy Spoon's Vegetarian Butcher and had a Viennese Schnitzel most adamantly recommended by Carol. Instead of turning back and walking past those other tempting shops again, I kept walking towards Sydney CBD, past three or four universities and rows of terrace houses, when suddenly I saw Powerouse Museum near my hotel on the map. Since it's only the most exciting art place I found on the Internet of late, I had to go. I was exhausted on arrival and had energy for only their shop, so I bought some Shaun Tan postcards. As I was walking away from the place, I noticed an exhibition he was involved with was still on so I staggered back, and it was oh-so worth it. (Since it was nearly closing time a security guard tried to tell me to come back another day so I told her I was flying back to New Zealand the following day, whereupon she snuck me in free of charge!)

I had Tapas and Sangria with Claudia at a place where we happened to walk past, and was delivered back to the hotel by 9PM, packed and went to sleep. I needed to get up by 5AM on Wednesday, but luckily (?) woke up at 3.48AM so I stayed up, did my morning routine slowly, and enjoyed my last Sydney train ride to the airport. On my flight, I was seated next to a man who smelled like wet contents of an ashtray, but was allowed to move to the last row, so I had a good flight home. Landing in Christchurch and going through the processes, I ever so relieved to be back in New Zealand. And then Ben was waiting for me. In very cold Nelson. (I.e. I can still plant garlic.)

My time in Australia was wonderful. I like Australians, they are warn and enthusiastic, except when they get officious and authoritarian because of their roles, (airport, security, even hotel receptionist,) and then they are a little intimidating. I had horrible weather in Sydney but apparently it arrived after months of dry weather so I can't complain.

I used to tell Ben we should one day have a month-long Australian holiday but it's such a big country a month may just cover the eastern coat of New South Wales and either Melbourne or Brisbane but not both. Sydney alone could easily take up a week. But then Claudia told me about MONA in Hobart, Tasmania, which alone could easily take up two days, so all I can say is there are unlimited holiday options in that huge, our nearest country next door.
My best shot from the trip; Art Gallery of New South Wales.