Friday, August 1, 2014

Bread with Banana in It

I was productive before 10.30AM yesterday, but slowed down gradually, culminating in a three-hour Skype session with Mom, (she's currently working on a tiny tapestry I asked for a while back,) and did not do a whole heck of a lot else, except bake two loaves of bread and scrubbed some pots and pans. Darn.

I've already paid for most of my Austrian trip but still need some Oz cash. Watching exchange rates go up and down is a hobby I inherited from Dad; he started when I went to the US during high school. All this year we've been hearing the NZ$ is going to be strong against the Aussie $, culminating in an all time high around August. Well, have a look.
Alright, so it's just August. Mom always said we are no good at predictions so we might as well stop keeping tabs and relax. But it's worth it; I can hear Dad's exaggeratedly disappointments by the tiniest drops or elation by the tiniest climb, even when nobody is going anywhere and we aren't saving or loosing.

I'm waiting until next week for my cash. 

* * * * *

There's little mystery in my life. By which I mean everything was explained by the most pragmatic or logical terms from an early age, so there was never room for Santa, Tooth Fairy, or ghosts. Or deity. The first I felt my simplistic, one-dimensional life was perhaps lacking in flavor was in Edinburgh and later at Culloden during our honeymoon; I felt a few ghosts were required to complete the landscape. Of course autumnal Scotland appeared much more "romantic" than our crowded noisy life in Yokohama; there was no room for the imperceptible. It took me years to get my head around such concepts as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, but now I can't live without Discworld audiobooks.

What's this all about? Well, while thinking about, visualizing, and harvesting material for the mixed media workshops, first I wanted to stay as far, far away as possible from the brand/product-lead aesthetics of that section of mixed media, and to that end I've included hand-painted paper and thrums as collage material. I've also prepared small pieces of watercolor paper on which I will draw quick gesture drawings at airports and train stations in Australia.

I realize "layers upon layers" is still in in that world, and I don't want to make boring books I could have made in my kitchen, but at the same time I wanted to make something I like, with my preference for relative flatness and limitations on hues.

I tried to assign visual themes for each of the four books I'll be making: Dad, family home of almost 44 years, maybe weaving/textiles, drawing, or travels if finance wasn't an issue, but material concentrating on themes looked too contrived and I foresaw prescribed frame of mind amidst a fabulous environment. 

Wouldn't you know a thought popped up while listening to Discworld: can I infuse magical powers so that each of my books would transport me and only me to a different time or place when I open it?

* * * * * 
My latest bread with Banana in It; my breads have improved, but still not as dry/soft/airy as I like. I need to stop modifying the one no-knead gluten-free recipes.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven...

I leave for Australia next Wednesday.

I culled my collage material. I still think I have too much, but I don't want to edit so much as to restrict my choices, so I may go though them once more, or not, but I'm good on all other supplies. Plus, I found a fabulous art supply shop in Brisbane, within Australian Big City walking distance from my accommodation, so perhaps fewer hours at the galleries and foregoing the heavenly bookshop I found not one block down from my accommodation last trip at 5.30 the night before I left may be in order. The area near the art supply shop seems to be a Bohemian/artsy part of Brisbane, so I'm sure there are other interesting places, meaning I need be mindful of time management.

I wished I had another day there, but I always forget it takes seven hours' travel time from Nelson to Brisbane including two hours in Christchurch. Not that I'm complaining; it is still much closer than most other cities in the world.

What's left is the general packing, but I do these fine at the last minute. I even remembered to put some of my weaving and samples on the pile for brainstorming with Kaz and Sampling
I made some postcards yesterday using cards I prepared for the drawing exhibition but didn't use because I went the finger-painting way.

Weeding, (spring has come much too early this year, daffodils already flowering in places, and I still have two bags of garlic to put in, among my issues,) and weaving, (not even towels as gifts,) are on my mind, but today, I may make a laptop sleeve using one of my very old warp end cloths. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dichotomy/Duplicity

Our wee exhibition is down and the next one is going up as we speak. My drawings are safely under my bed again, except two: I sold a piece that wasn't going into the exhibition until I needed something different-looking for the poster, (first pic, pen drawing on white paper below the big B/W piece,) and the navy blue monoprint that went on the wall because there was space at the very end, (first pic, bottom.) Sam sold not only the curvy ink on gray paper piece at the top of the same pic, but also the beautiful washy piece to the right of it. (Dang, I have great taste: I wanted one of these!) Annabelle sold the big white-and-blue oil painting on her individual wall. And the bonus was, Donna at the gallery suggested we leave some of our work for the shop part of the gallery, so all my framed pieces and some of Sam and Annabelle's paintings were left behind. Thank you again, our cheering section, and Roger, Vicky, and Donna, and husbands.

We've received varied and interesting comments on the way we hung our work, positive and negative. Unfortunately we three haven't had time to debrief, but hope to in a week, after Annabelle the musician survives a couple of concerts/productions, before my Oz trip.

* * * * *

The title of this post refers to my personality.

I love meeting people, seeing new techniques and art works, and talking about them. That's possibly the best part of being a maker. But I have a low threshold of the amount of information I can take in at once, (partially because I talk too much,) and I need longer than others to really understand, and then forever after that to learn from the discourse. And I have to do this by myself, in silence, not just externally but internally, mulling over each word, image, expression. This is why I love my hermit life and treasure my alone time. And I do work completely alone.

And both sides are the real me.

Something like the swapsies-making bring out the best and the worst in me: I want to give everybody something equally well-made and personal, (as much as I can make them personal under these circumstances,) and to that end I don't mind spending a whole day. If it leads to starting conversations and making friends who were hitherto unknown to me, or discovering something new about an old friend, it's well worth it. (Equally I don't like junk, and I'm discerning about trinkets, and I loathe the idea of anyone spending money on what my friend Rosie calls instant landfill just to take part in the swap, let alone giving one of them to me.)

But I have been picturing myself at the dark corner of the room minding my own business making my own books, thinking about Dad and perhaps shedding a tear or two, or balling my eyes out. In other words, my usual MO in drawing classes. The gregarious exchange of trinkets was so contrary to that vision and why I am going to the workshops, and that completely threw me. I lost a couple of night's sleep, too. But I'll get over it.

In February I hoped to meet up with as many people as possible in Oz. I'm seeing all but one, and I know I will cherish each and every one of them and be totally stimulated as all of them are makers. But I didn't include enough alone time in between, and I'm going to be exhausted if I don't pace myself.  It's the same old performance anxiety. But I'll get over it.

* * * * *

After Trinket Thursday came Foto Friday when I finally sorted out the rest of the material. I have too much at the moment, but even if I don't cull, at least I have everything I need; if I take the time to cull, and I still have time, (but Ben thinks it's too late to post,) all the better. 

So I will either weave all next week, or weed, or do a bit of both.

* * * * *

You know my woven paintings, and how I said I would never ever not-on-my-life do them again? I keep thinking of a bigger version, possibly in combination with my I-hate-getting-old theme. Just saying.

* * * * *

Three pics from our Arizona days, academic year 1963-64. Listen carefully and you'll hear my mom scream and laugh when she sees these! Ben scanned Dad's slides.
Probably Saguaro National Park
 
A young and carefree couple with one kid; I wonder if I took this.
Mom used to sew a lot and I had either a top and shorts or a dress from the same fabric as her dress.
Oh, the Rambler. We were a two-car family for a year. 
Funny, in my mind, this is a more stylish, sleeker car!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Three-Eighths Grumpy

I wove for an hour on Tuesday and it was lovely even though the progress was minimum. I wove willfully slowly, got off and on the loom deliberately, and paid more attention to my body than the cloth. But it was fun. Albeit su-looooooooooow.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I noticed I would be leaving for Australia in exactly two weeks, but the NZ$ was falling and falling. And because my hip was pop-popping again, I culled the different piles of collage material, then started wondering if two of my themes were too similar, causing me confusion. I sent Seth yet another email; I think I've used up my question quota but I started looking for an alternate theme for either, and I may have one.

Also yesterday I found out we may want to make/bring small swapsies; we were shown links to "short" videos which altogether would have taken over an hour to watch on how to make charms. I'm not a fan of goodie bags, and I'm not keen on exchanging trinkets, however wonderful they are, and I know some will be fabulous. Of course these are voluntary and one can bring as many or few or none to swap; we were even told one woman in the US gives out pencils with her website on; my kind of trinket.

I was looking for tranquility in these workshops, thinking about Dad and my family and what we lost last year, instead it sounds like it's going to be a jovial, convivial, noisy gathering and the thought was getting me down. Plus, for the last couple of years I've tried so hard to give away my mostly-Japanese trinkets and I didn't want to spend money to buy things people probably didn't need. Or want. And there are around 50 attending.

Gifts, to me, require thoughts and personal-ness. 

Well, this morning, I decided to give away the buttons I made for the exhibition two years ago. I dug up more button making kits, made buttons, got out business cards of all vintage, and made 47 of these. And ran out of time to weave or to select photos for class. Maybe I won't get to the towels.
I'm so good at dismissing people who bend to peer pressure, but voila, Exhibit A. But the organizer Sallianne and Seth have been great to me, so I'll live. And have a good time.

The buttons on the three back rows are from the exhibition, so they are lined; those on the two front rows I didn't line so the metal underneath shows through close up, but the small buttons in the front in particular were so tight I couldn't line. And some buttons got sections of the fabric with long floats so I strengthened the edges with glue. These are trinkets so I hope they'll be acceptable; I must remind everyone when I swap how fragile handwovens are.

But I made them. And you can't buy these anywhere. That's good.

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

Close-Up

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.