Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sales or Jinx?

We're back from a sneak preview on Kath's party, (so many cars we had to park down the road,) and then taking down my wee exhibition and unloading the stuff downstairs, before we head back to the party, and then on to Tim Wraight's 50th birthday.

Guess what? I hung six small scarves, four medium ones and three picture frames, but there were only four small ones today. I was overjoyed I sold two, (because, honestly, I wasn't expecting to,) when the volunteer-on-duty said there was no record of any sales so they must have been pinched! Immediately I thought these cottons are really jinxed, and the only reason why I didn't get any pinched at the Suter was because we secured them so firmly. Then she spoke to someone and there's a chance the sales were recorded in their regular sales notebook, rather than on the exhibition sheet.

So, watch this space, I guess. Good thing there is a photograph taken by Fibre Spectrum staff showing six!

Leaving Home in an Hour

The day has finally arrived. It was a long time coming. I enjoyed taking part in her process. And man, if I thought being in visual arts was hard, life in performing arts seems like a punishment, because the whole point is being there and doing it. Conditioning of emotional and physical health, for one thing, is beyond me, and most importantly for me, she can't work in her PJs! And unlike hanging an exhibition and then going home for a long nap, she needs to try to secure as many gigs as she can from now.

I'm also glad this cycle is over. Kath has been sick and tired of the preparation stage for a couple of weeks, and I was not doing a good job of keeping her excited about this prep part any more. It'll be nice for her to be able to move on and, among other things, write new songs.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Towels, Towels!!

Earlier this week I realized this is the Thanksgiving week in the US. So I set the final closing date is set at December 6, just in case there's someone who's almost there, but have to abandon plans. (Or for super slowpokes like moi.) For those of you who participated so far, thank you very much!! You'll be hearing from me between now and December 7 regarding your exchange partner.

Mine are coming along quickly, at least one with a very Pacifica look which I'm very happy about. After much to-ing and fo-ing about the structure, I've downloaded a bunch of lovely drafts from and have finally been able to enjoy stress-free weaving. But my towels are on the slightly huge/ginormous side - 16.5 inches wide and 75cm long before washing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mumble Mumble...

I'm finding the assignment of colors and proportions excruciatingly difficult. I want to go with red/yellow green and purple/orange-or-yellow in between black and white-and-black areas. I think. I don't know if it's the water color pencil or my living room lights or just me, but I can't come up with anything I like. The angel on my right shoulder says, "Go brilliant like Kaz", and the other angel on the left says, "Harmonize, tone down; you know how to," and I can't decide. And this is just the preliminary color-on-paper stage; I know it'll be a different story once again when it's the actual cotton and dyes.

Meanwhile, due to bad communication, I think I bought starter dyes from two places; well, they are small amounts so hopefully I'll get though them in no time. The first arrived and I took them out just to photograph and I was sneezing and itching already. This is going to be interesting.

Curious, though. Is this like indigo looking green before the yarn is exposed to air?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Things and No-things

Read it here; it feels so strange reading my thoughts in someone else's voice. But I agree wholeheartedly about utility of things I make, even though no-things can fetch higher prices. And alert me if you spot this blogger's name or nickname; I can't find anything.

Sometimes I Forget to Shut Up

Last weekend, I introduced myself to the UK on-line guild; I wrote:
Hello from Nelson, New Zealand. When Margaret's induction email included Intros, I promptly went to the File section and read some, then thought, "Oh, I can't add mine HERE," so I just plunged into Kaz's workshop. Which was ... rude...

I've followed Kaz's blog for two and a half years and always wanted to be her student. So when someone (Leigh?) blogged about this on-line workshops, I jumped in, in a characteristically slow manner.

I am from Japan, spent about 10 years in Minnesota and Arizona in my childhood, and have been living in New Zealand for 14 years. I am a weaver who is intimidated by colors, but since yarn options are limited here at the bottom of the world, I've been thinking I must learn to dye to make my weaving less boring. As well, I went to a week-long Randall Darwall workshop in NZ in 2006, and feel my experience will have been wasted if I don't at least try beyond analogous/monotone weaving. Likewise I like Kaz's brilliant, saturated colors, and I've got to at least give that a go.

My white cottons and dye sample kit should arrive towards the end of the coming week. (Things move kind of slow around here, and as regards yarns, as long as I'm ordering white, I had to, you know, add "nice to have" colors to make the package beautiful when I open it.)

Last night I started to play around with water color pencils, and I know working out the colors will be the hardest, terrible-est, trying-est part of the exercise, and I had to have lots of long breaks. Still, bring it on!

Sometimes I forget that not everything electronic is my own personal blog, so I went on a bit, which I didn't notice until I posted it and read others' intros. Mine's like four times as long as everybody else's...

I'm still to-ing and fro-ing with my cotton guy, (actually the Mrs), because I'm asking for some discontinued yarns I know they still have, but long story short, this order will be shipped at the start of next week, fingers crossed, so I can start winding my Ikat warp.

The extra colors I was looking at was meant to be a treat, because I can't remember buying any yarn this year, since the last lot of cottons, plus I've been thinking of Lloyd's awards. This week, however, I received their newsletter stating all yarn prices are going up substantially in December due to the rapid fall of the Kiwi (New Zealand $), so I've been toying with the idea of buying more of the 2/60 yarns in the next 8 days.

It goes against everything I've been working for in the last couple of years; to reduce stash so I can clean out and reorganize my stash room into a workable studio, buying yarns I need only for commissions. But my cottons are going up 20%, one type almost doubling, and I know I will use them in some of my projects next year. I'm collecting all the pennies from under the furniture and down the crevices in the car, and walking around with my sample card, half smirking and half horrified. I'll have to bite the bullet in the next 24 hours or so.

Bust Times


Back in 1994, I took a recreational lecture course in Tokyo on the history of Japanese floral arrangement. The lecturer was, I gathered, high up on the Ohara School, and he'd been in that circle perhaps longer than I had been on the planet, but he never mentioned his academic credentials that's supposed to impress Japanese audience; he was just the nicest, humblest, but a darned smart man; I still have all my notes but I should have had a tape recorder to capture all his insights.

Among other things, he directed our attention to the newer direction of Japanese history, knowing the Japanese imperial family has Korean descent seeing Japan as a dumping ground of the powerful and influential that fell out of favor every time China/Korea had a regime change. He referred often to historian Amino Yoshihiko who started this "movement" studying regular people's lives in Medieval Japan, so no official documents and high literature, but things we used and pictorial description of regular folks. The Amino/Folk history showed a very different picture of the Japanese poeple than what was normally accepted even by ourselves. And this, in the 80's and 90's, was still a rather bold view.

To say the Imperial family is from Korea is similar to saying Jesus was Jewish; it's factual, but some take offense. The course opened my eyes, thankfully, to how much our history was rewritten to deify the Imperial family, and that it took place not recently but most probably over the last millennium-plus. I also feel reassured to learn more links to China/Korea. (By the way, anthropologists still don't know where the "race" calling itself the Japanese came from - I think there are at least three theories; I wouldn't be surprised if all of them are correct. )

In 1994 we were well into the Big Recession that started around 1990, although the government needed a bit longer to get its giant head around it. We also had a rapid succession of major Imperial events: a funeral in '89, weddings in '90 and '93, after a 30 year absence of such pomp and silliness, (the last one was a wedding in "59), and gazillion tax yen went into these shows.

The lecturer calmly told us to look back on our history, that it was when things were dire for the masses that what see call art/culture flourish. I've been in New Zealand since the end of 1994 so I don't know about the latest recession culture in Japan. But if we're heading towards a world recession, you and I should capitalize on it.

Recession? What Recession?

Decaf Flat White made for me at Morrison Street Cafe on Hardy Street, on Wednesday. I had another go with my own decaf flat white yesterday, and I waited forever for the coffee to stop pouring, (didn't it shut off by itself last week?) and the milk was watery but not frothy. Geodyne, it IS an art, listening to the milk steamer in particular...

So, recession. My bank balance looks as "sucky" as it always has for the last decade, and as Ben works for a quasi-state-owned institution we were never part the supposed big boom of the last several years in New Zealand, so there is a good side to being a money-strapped artist: I haven't noticed the recession.

On the other hand, I can report that in these bust times, there exist folks who are really untouched by the bust, and a heck of a lot of them than I ever imagined. I see more more red dots on the larger paintings than the smaller ones, and another big art piece may go next week. And though these are hardly prices that would make even the local news, I'm happy for artists and the gallery, and it should be good news for art in general. But I am continually gob-smacked because I've never been in a position to know, for want of a better word, "rich" folks, (sorry for being so vulgar, but I this is how I see it,) and I feel like a downstairs kitchen help getting a glimpse of a upstairs evening gathering. Well, good on them for spending.

Mind you, we're told this recession hasn't hit New Zealand as early/badly as it has other places, yet, so maybe we're enjoying the last shopping spree before the Big Bust.

Anyway, here's hoping the Big Spending will come textile-way, too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I believe in KISS. Even though I'm long-winded. You shouldn't have to read between the lines of this blog, or while I blabber on in person. Even when I speak in Japanese, even though directness especially by women is frowned-upon; I had a nickname of "Miss Straight-to-Business" in IBM Japan and I thought it was a compliment!

Being lazy and impatient, my weaving practice consists of 1) buying nice colored yarns, 2) mixing and matching them in a pleasing but straight-forward way, 3) weaving, washing and pressing, and 4) delivering it to a show or a gallery, sometimes while the scarves are still moist. In other words, if you made a flow chart of how I work, it's a straight top-to-bottom line. About the only embellishment I've done has been a bit of beads either in the fringes or in the selvedge. And still I manage to be the slowest weavers I know.

I've followed Connie Rose's blog for a while; she has a contemplation rod; see the second last pic here. Since yesterday I have some inside (?) information on the process of one of Kaz Madigan's scarves; I haven't checked if she's documented how she arrived at this scarf, and she's been blogging a while so it may take me all summer to find out. Now I'm working on this color thing, and as a result I feel positively, mind-blowingly shallow.

I feel shallow and linear, (it has to do with efficiency,) and superficial and a bit of a cheat. Granted, before Saturday, I didn't see the attraction of layers, (though I've liked the look of these weavers' work,) and I was aiming for a different look. Suffice it to say it's the first time I connected the L-word with my own work, but can you imagine how much more personal the end product is, how much deeper the satisfaction must be when a piece is finished? And how unique each piece is?

So, layers: good for more than what goes into my suitcase. But a long way to go.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Work Today

Work at Red Art today. Jay was away, so it was Rosemarie and me.

Jay left me a list of three things to do. However, I couldn't finish any of them. 1) I couldn't remedy the printer problem by cleaning the head via the application. It's possible this is a problem with heat accumulating under the counter around the printer, and the teeny bits of ink clogging the heads. I'm not a hardware girl, but about a year ago when Ben thought our printer was shot, as a last ditch effort I asked Ben to take out the head, we soaked it in warm water overnight, and voila, we're still using the printer. But the printer there is newer and more sophisticated. 2) I was to upload three more artworks in the current exhibition collection, (yes, Lloyd Harwood!!), but though there were JPGs of the correct names, the photographs were all of the entrance of the gallery, and not of the paintings. And 3) she wanted me to have a look at installing a new modem, and I didn't touch it; I'm strictly apps! But in retrospect, perhaps I should have given it a go. I know how to read instructions, and I may have been able to do something, though, you know... hardware... probalby not.

However, (drum rolls, please...), I learned to make coffee with our serious coffee machine, and I now have renewed respect for all the baristas who ever served me, except the ones that left big bubbles in my frothy milk. They are serious machines. Theoretically I can make, with the help of a cheat sheet, short black, long black, flat white, latte and cappuccino, but only the real coffee; I know where chai, decaf and hot choc are stored, but I didn't learn the portions, and I know where hot water comes from, but not sure where tea is stored. So, if you happen to be at the Red on Monday afternoons and mysteriously Jay and Rosemarie disappears, and if you have plenty of time and patience, and are hard up for a cup of coffee, you may find me behind the steaming machine. But I'd save it for dire emergencies; I'm the last resort.

I can pour a mean glass of water.

Acting Like We Know What We're Doing

Kath Bee's Second CD release party takes place in 12 days. She's finished the recording, and though I haven't heard it yet, her family and music friends are happy with the variety of songs (and a bigger range of age groups that can enjoy her CD), and the far more professional sound compared to her first. Artwork is also finished and she loves it. And though she hopes to do a bit more publicity, she's been covered by the free local newspaper with a great big photo, she will be in the paid local newspaper, again with a big photo, and in a local monthly magazine shortly after her party. (That interview took place last week.) We have all distributed posters to shops, cafes, schools and wherever else we could think of. So if she does nothing in the next 12 days but practice and relax, she's set. She has an army of friends and family helping her on the day, and everybody knows his/her role. And she's been far less busy in November than in October, which was the plan.

So this morning, I was alarmed to get an email from her asking me to ring as soon as I got her email. And when I rang, I got her machine. It took another half an hour for us to connect, and she's in a place I know something about; she's unsure about her CD, she can hear things that aren't right, she's not sure if the CD will be delivered on time, she's worried about the number of people turning up to her launch party - either too few or far too many. In some ways, she's so tuned out it all seems like someone else's problem, while she also wants to metaphorically jump out of a window and leave it all behind. I had to tell Kath what my friend Kate told me as she witnessed me selling my work for the first time; "Smile beautifully, say 'Thank you', and shut up."

I am the worst when it comes to pointing out the minutest details of what is wrong in my work, be it individual pieces, the series or the exhibition, or the way I work. I can go on and on, and won't let others interject, as if I'm building a verbal wall so I don't have to face criticism or compliments. I don't fish for compliments, and I am honest and frank about what I do wrong, but it still makes me sound like a whining kid rather than a committed professional.

Whilst I'm happy to listen to Kath worry about her CD, because I understand as a fellow maker-of-things and she's hilarious anyway, I also thought a song-writer of her caliber should sit back and to some degree suffer in silence and not let it show publicly. Act more professional. So I told her both sides of these feelings. And I hope she understood, because she had to sit though many a morning listening to me point out the minutiae of my sins.

Tomorrow is Tuesday, a day I have saved for Kath for the last few months. We may go distribute more posters, or update the To do list, or we may just go to the Beach Cafe and chill out. Kath Time is for whatever she needs to do on the day. But we definitely have to talk each other out of overly enthusiastic self-criticism.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Awash with Wash

I had great trouble with wash in my drawing class. I tried sponge, brush, wet paper towel, fingers and balsa wood as tools and ink, water color and pastel as media/mediums. I couldn't get the proportion/shapes right, ended up, for example, with the round part of the buttocks outside the visible/invisible outline of the body. We did this for five weeks. Starting next week we move on to shapes.

Note to self: try doing it like Rachel. Thank you, Cally, for the link.

Lynne included a link to this blog, and I casually scrolled down and found this. Well, blow me away...

No Blues

Looking at the pages I made last night in the sketchbook and the pics in my Kaz Pics folder (not her pics, but pics of things I'm doing for her class), and cropping tiny areas from the pages similar to what you do with your two L-shaped cardboards, I'm amazed how long it's been since I've done a strictly blue weaving, and even longer for a navy blue weaving.

Of course I have the big question of what to do with about 1/3 of my substantial stash, in navy, but I'm pretty sure I'll revisit from time to time, so I won't be getting rid of them just yet.

But I'm emotionally patting myself on the back because that portion of the color wheel all the way from beyond blue-red, starting with yellow-red, oranges, yellow-greens to just before blue-green, plus teals and turquoises, used to be, for most of my life, my No-Gone Zone. Pretty limited, though inexpensive.

I feel a tiny bit grown up today.

Color Doodles and Lots of Lie-Downs

It turns out not only Kaz is there in the UK online guild, but so are Cally (well, of course!), Leigh and Peg, and Dot who provides computer help there is most probably the Dot of Fibre to Fabric. Nice, eh?

But the color scheme has been a struggle. At first I thought I'd use some of the paler yarns I already have to quasi-guarantee the outcome will be harmonious and just overdye, and save myself some money at the same time. However, it is Kaz's colors' brilliance I fell in love with when Dianne first lead me to Kaz's blog, so I might as well go all the way and start with a white yarn and dye brilliant colors. (Having said that, as you can well imagine, I've been going back and forth on this one, but today, I'm telling myself it's no-pain-no-gain.)

I mean, just look at Kaz's Gallery, Page 2. Number 18 has been one of my all time favorite pics of any handwoven cloths ever, Number 15 a close second, though it's Number 17 that really shows off the two separate techniques sitting harmoniously together. Interesting how I love other weavers' vibrant cloths, but prefer to weave more sedate, or sometimes just plain old dull, cloth, (though I prefer to call them... ummm... elegant.) I think Number 8 on Page 1, a more balanced weave, is where I'm heading eventually. But I am starting with the narrow 100+EPI example first.

To make it oh-so-easy-I'm-almost-horizontal for myself, I started playing not with paint but with water color pencils last night. Just doodling, or rather, making patches of different colors, wiping the page with a wet sponge, then overlaying other colors, then wiping or not wiping. (I was working on both sides of the page on a regular/cheap sketchbook.)

I used to love simple, clear colors, but for the first time last night I liked a bit of complexity and layers. And since our living room light is not brilliant, I kept on "putting layers upon layers". Gee, how I used to hate that expression; I used to think that was one of artists' overindulgence, and hated the layers-upon-layers brown/gray/muddy look. But either my perception or taste changed, and last night layers were fun. Some pages, I clearly overworked, and I can't see the parts I originally liked, but the experience wasn't as labored as were on previous occasions.

And as long as I was doing something uncomfortable, I thought I'd dive down the really deep end, and started with complementaries. Right now I'm particularly enamored by blue-reds/yellow-reds/oranges with yellow-green with perhaps a bit of brown for accent, OR many purples with yellow-greens/yellows/oranges with a bit of pale teal. I don't think I'll put all of this on the same piece, but if I go ahead with a 8m warp, I can do at least two color schemes, so I might try both of these a go. (I see Randy holding his head in his hands, rocking back and forth, crying, "Oh, why would you stop there???" Baby steps, Maestro.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Does Good Weaving Have To Hurt? Part 3: Summer 2007/08 Color Sketchbook

I promised I'd show you what I did last summer, so here goes.

When I started store-sitting Sue's gallery, the first two or three weeks were spent photographing everything and anything I liked. But I was determined to spend my time productively, so I decided to do something with colors. My first plan was to analyze her colors, and then reproduce them in paint. Then I changed it to coming up with just as attractive color schemes of my own, reproducing them in paint first, and then try dyeing and weaving in them. But that became too daunting, so I switched to doing whatever I felt like doing, and only those things, as long as they had something to do with colors. And I ended up with a sketchbook full of clippings from about 18 months worth of weekly New Zealand Listener.

At first, I tried to describe, in words and with clippings, Sue's colors and what I liked about them or what I'd change about them for my work.

Then I started pasting clippings of colors I liked, and naturally it started with the blues. Sometimes I had to cut out the faces of people because they can be dominant and distracting, (especially with celebrities or politicians.) Sometimes they stayed. Sometimes I only needed the background or the edge of a photo, not what the photographer was trying to show me.

In the third photo from the top, can you see a red boat passing under the bridge? At this stage, I became fascinated by the use/proportion/distribution of strong reds/oranges and yellows/golds in small amounts to make the pictures interesting without overwhelming them.

Even though I never got my paints out, I did get a tiny bit adventurous towards the end and added some of Sue's yarns to compare,

or to show what I would add to create an accent,

or even doodled with these spiffy new metallic pens.
There's still one blank page towards the front of this sketchbook; on it is a pink Post-It with the words,"Save for outcome". The only practical thing I did based on this sketchbook was to order two lots of cottons based on the pallet I liked, which included subtle blues and greens. Remember this? I was pleased, because they are not the vivid blues I usually prefer, and it's a more nuanced pallet than usual for me. I'd become more aware of these colors in the world, and how small amounts of reds and yellows can enhance them.

You could say the Lie-Down Scarf 4 was one of the results of this study, but since I don't have a good pic, better look at my thrum. (Is that a collective noun, or should it be "thrums"??)

* * * * *

I resumed Sue's Gallery duty this week, and it felt kind of strange and familiar to be back. It was supposed to be just for last summer, I thought; or not, I can't remember what I intended. But Sue's course goes on for one more week, so I'm happy to help her at least until the end of November. She's rebranding the gallery so I need to know what changes there will be to see if it would still suit me.

On Tuesday, I started another lot of color cut-and-pastes in another sketchbook. The beauty of this task is I have to keep clipping, collecting, and revisiting the pages to fill them up, instead of cut-paste-finish in one go. I like my pages; I've even used them as resources for my color/painting courses.

Stella Chrysostomou

Stella works at my favorite bookshop, Page and Blackmore. I knew she was an artist of some sort, but it's only recently that I started to talk to her artist-to-artist, and only earlier this week I asked about her web site.

It's not an easy one to navigate, but there are some interesting bits in there. My favorite is her floor talk script, "Jewelry in the Gallery"; then there's "The Implied Body"; and then there's "Where’s the Jewels, A Discussion of the Object - its absence and memory". Whilst looking at the pics of her work, (just point at icons and words and see if the little hand appears,) I realized I saw "A Month in May" at Gallery 203 not too long after my own exhibition early last year. At the time I was fascinated by the idea and wondered how I might be able to do something similar; those of you who were contemplating or actually engaged in Art Every Day Month might find the photos compelling. (Including the 14th when she had nothing.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Marketing - Two Sides of the Story

The new Nelson Art Guide came out in the last couple of weeks. It's spiffy, at a handy price of NZ$15 - a great buy and a beautiful memento for visitors to Nelson. But there's two sides to the story, and it goes back to where the new Nelson Bays Arts Marketing regime wants to go. And I'll try to be fair here.

The new (or the original) focus of the group is/was marketing. That's raising the profile of art and artists in Nelson in the hopes that visitors and locals will spend a lot of money on Nelson art. To that end, it was gutsy of AM to halve the price of last edition (NZ$29.99) and double the initial print volume (I don't know the industry lingo). And I think they said the new guide would be sent to all kinds of tourism and arts organizations around the country. Good on them.

But the artists had to fund this. So 1/4-page advert in this edition was double the 1/6-page of the last edition, and for small timers with no advertising budget, it was a heck of a lot of money. To be fair, I remember Tim saying the cost for a full-page and two-page ad was lower than the last. Suffice it to say, many of the long-established Nelson artists are in, all us newbies who were encouraged by Martin the last time are out. There are two textile artists in the new one; only one is a practicing felt artist, the other is Sue Bateup.

It's not that I don't see Arts Marketing's perspective; in fact, how they operate now probably fits their name more properly. But I came to know AM during Martin Rodger's time, and though his way might have been an anomaly in the scheme of things, I miss his supporting-the-new-and-small-artists philosophy. And I miss the occasions and the mood of camaraderie Martin promoted.

AM still does familiar activities. They canned Re:fine this year, but had a live studio inside Wellington Airport terminal building during WOW shows. (Can't remember how this was done, but I don't think it was raise-your-hand style.) Those who got in the Guide had the option to hold an open studio during the spring Arts Festival in October. And they will hold the Twilight Markets, (unfortunately not suitable for what I'm flogging,) and individual guidance/consultation is out. And those who wish to subscribe is now called "supporters", not "members" because the board felt "members" expected too much service for their subscription. This change, of all things, sums it up for me; even their emails sound like they are barking orders.

I miss Maria who still works there, but I don't dare go anywhere near the AM office; never mind bringing cookies and cakes for their tea break. I need to come to terms with the fact that AM is now there to help established artists get bigger. And that all signs indicate towards my seriously having to find, on my own, groups and artists to play with.

PS. In case it wasn't obvious, I'm not in the new book.

Happy Artists / Self-Fulfilling Prophecy vs Realism

Health professionals I've been in contact with regarding my depression, and some friends, refer to "you artistic types" or similar. I don't see myself as artistic, so that's a problem right there, but I wonder if "we who make things" have a propensity for depression, or is it self-doubt, or do we just notice/talk about it more? Is our work more conducive to introspection?

As a kid, I loved artists' (especially composers; I was far more into music than visual art in those days,) biographies and in the first term of third grade, I read all biographies in my school library except those of scientists. (Yeah, Dad was a chemistry professor. Anyone care to analyze?) And I learned from those books that artists were perpetually poor, and many didn't get much accolade until they were dead, but none of them said they had depression, or melancholy, or self-doubt and crisis of confidence. And at least the composers seemed to have spent a lot of long evenings in quaint cafes with constant friends. When they finally got paid. But I digress.

As I headed towards finishing my pieces for "Bye Bye, Blue Eyes", I thought about how other artist operate. I get so gung-ho towards finishing a project, especially exhibitions, I can fend off depression in most cases, but I do suffer a bit of after-due low. And I wondered how I can be a happy artists, hopping from one project to another, holding on to a light-hearted, forward-looking attitude. Then I wondered, are there artists who manage to consistently work like that? Do truly happy artists exist? Can I manage to be happy most of the time about what I do?

* * * * *

My parents raised me to plan ahead, prepare for all contingencies, consider, if not leave open, all options, and live with the results/consequences. In other words, we did our best, but if fate intervened and outcome didn't turn out the way we intended, it was most probably inadequate/insufficient planning, but occasionally something bigger than us working.

As I grew up, particularly in college and IBM, I became very focused on the planning and preparation process. In IBM we even had courses on time management, efficiency, and whatever else, and I was among the star pupils; sometimes I worked in jobs where I streamlined processes, planned and oversaw projects, or, do forgive me, improved others' efficiency. Albeit unintentionally, plans and process became the focus and the ends of my life. I was high-strung and could never leave work at home. As well, I started avoiding things which I suspected would not yield desired outcomes, even if I really wanted to try Like pottery, singing, and painting/drawing.

And then I changed my course and started this art thing, and you know, my expertise in planning and forecast and scheduling don't amount to a hill of beans if I don't get the warp on the loom and the scarf off it. Depending on how you count, it took me five to seven years to get used to this life of mine. Truthfully, it took my insane 18 months of due date after due date that forced me learn, (or as they say in Japan, for my body to learn,) my "ends" was to have a finished piece. Then sometime in the recent years, I also learned I had to abandon the idea that the process is gold, and let ideas gestate; that art takes a long time.

Somehow, and I realize there's a leap in the logic, I became what I thought at first was a realist, but also a pessimist. I don't know if it's depression, the constant "having to prove myself to myself", insisting that handweaving is fine art to an anti-women's-craft world, or even the financial worries; most probably it's the combination of all of the above and then some.

The thing that bothers me is since I have become a pessimist, I feel I have a lot of negative self-fulfilling prophecies. Some tell me I can't get rid of depression because I keep thinking about it. In the first instance, that's not true; I don't keep thinking about it. In the second instance, I've been reading about depression because I want to know my enemy. But in the third instance, I sense there have been times I forecasted low periods, because circumstances and symptoms pointed that way, because I became more aware of what to look out for. And I can't differentiate self-fulfilling prophecies and learned realism. I really feel powerless in controlling my life and it feels safer to assume the worst so I'm won't be disappointed. But you know, it's not a nice way to live, it's like once I've fallen into a bottomless pit, I've chosen to fire up my jet pack and falling faster and further.

The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or what little I've read of it, has proven to me to be a good tool. And yet I wished I didn't have to think about it, that I didn't have to live with it. It's a fine line, this one. Art was supposed to put me in a childlike euphoria, I thought.

My Pretty Thrum

It's been nearly two weeks since I installed my last/current exhibition, and I'm finally in a place where I can look forward. I picked up the last thrum I had on the coffee table for two weeks - not sure why I had it there in the first place - and thought it is the prettiest thrum I've had. I would like to make something out of it; something simple, like a short length of braid, or a tassel. Nancy went to see my exhibition twice, and told me the challenge of adding colors, to the point of needing a lie down, was well worth it. Jo from my figure drawing class was there one day, and since she knows the different things I'm trying out, she could see how I am challenging myself. This year may not have been as unproductive as I had been thinking after all.

I've been in and out of a bad place, which is not unusual after I hang an exhibition, but this time the scholarship thing really did my head in. I kept telling myself to move on, be cheerful, adopt the "Shit happens!" resilience, but I've felt defeated with continuing problems. Though that is not to say I was down all the time; on Saturday, a couple of hours after I wrote this post, I started writing a new post which started something like this:
The parcel was not my scholarship application being returned, but care package from my parents; they send us Ben's favorite rice crackers 2-6 times a year, even though I've told them we can buy a lesser brand from our regular supermarket now. I appreciate the thought, and if they get pleasure from sending us stuff they know we like, we'll gladly take it. Once in a blue moon, or twice between every leap day to be exact, they also send my favorite; it's a rice-cake-rice, steamed, dried, then pulverized to make flake/granule-like snow white dry ingredient. I reconstitute it by mixing in water and dunking it in boiling water to make dumpling-like goo; it's a (WARNING: POSSIBLY VERY OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE COMING UP) carbohydrate wet-dream, and that was in this package...
The start of this week was seriously low, but I went to work at the Red and the gym on Monday; gym, Sue's gallery, Arts Council and the Red to help out with their web sites on Tuesday; and I spent yesterday catching up with myself. At the time it's terribly difficult, but for my kind of light-hearted (??) depression, activity seems to be the best medicine. And a certain amount of denial that I am going through a bad patch. My wise doctor started thinking perhaps I should go on medication just to try it out, but I'm fighting that one; I've signed up for a counseling scheme to see if I can kick this "habit", because I really don't want to take mind-altering meds.

I started doodling ideas for Lloyd's Textile Awards. Because the ceiling of the venue is so high, I would have liked to have hung something from way up the top, but there is that limit of 1.5m * 2m limit, so I'm wondering how I can make something within that size and still look... huge. Or long. Not sure yet...

I also signed up for Kaz Madigan/Curious Weaver's on-line Ikat and Warp Paint course via the UK Guild. I found out about this only because one of you (sorry, can't remember who or when) blogged about it, so thanks a gazillion!! I've always wanted to be Kaz's student. It's also a good antidote to thinking, writing and planning how to study colors, and heck, I might as well start on my own, because the UK guild is charging only £29 for me to be a member for Nov/Dec. I can afford this now, thanks to my wee job at the Red.

I enjoyed yesterday finding my way around the UK Guild site, printing Kaz's instructions on fancy paper, and reading and planning. I've told Kaz I may not be able to come up with a finished item by the end of this month, but I'm hoping to be able to show her something before Kiwi kids go back to school, (Feb next year.) I'm not pressuring myself with this one, just trying to enjoy it; I have quite a few outstanding projects and commitments I'd like to finish before the end of year, I know. The towel warp, for one, was supposed to go up today.

After reading the instructions and narrowing down my options for the project, it was time for me to start playing with colors, and I took out my paint, but ended up looking at cotton color samples and ordering a few more cones for Lloyd's Awards project, and looked up Procion dye distributors in New Zealand.

It feels definitely more art than craft to be designing ikat and warp painting. I'm thrilled about that. But I'm such a chicken when it comes to colors. I love looking at them, but when it comes to proactively making/using them, it's a different story. We'll see how this goes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You've Got to Help Me Here; It's Driving Me Mad!!

The latest Halcyon Yarns catalogue... Does the angle of the right foot look, ummm, right to you? Or is that the left foot? The photo bothers me. I don't understand...

And then the color kits. I always thought I'd order one of these, except I could never decide which; this year I'm partial to Coastal Cottage, I think. Lunatic Fringe used to have similar kits; they still might, but I'm thinking back to the mid/late 90's.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Randall Darwall Alert

I can't remember when or how I did it, but Google alerts me when anyone updates or loads something with the string "Randall Darwall" in it. Though it can be awfully old stuff sometimes. This afternoon's alert was about this site. And I can say, (unless he's got many of the same) I have not only seen this vest, but have most probably touched it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Textile Awards for New Zealand Residents

Sorry, entry is restricted to NZ residents for this one. Nelson Arts Council has finally released the details for our new awards. (I've been hearing about this for nearly a year I thought it was an urban myth!) I'm checking about the "Saturday 11 January 2009" part, but I think it's safe to assume it's 9 January 2009, because we really don't work on Sundays in Nelson in the summer. You have to forgive Lloyd for getting the dates mixed up; he has his own painting exhibition opening at the Red tomorrow.

Lloyd's web site may be easier to read?

* * * * *

Arts Council Nelson presents Changing Threads - an exhibition of contemporary fibre and textile art at The Refinery Artspace, Nelson. 14 February - 7 March 2009

The aim of this exhibition is to showcase the use of fibre and textiles in a challenging and more conceptual way from their more general usage. Open to all artists currently living in New Zealand

AWARDS to the value of $6,500.00.
* Tasman District Council Award for ‘Excellence in contemporary interpretation of work featuring traditional techniques ". Cash prize of $1,500.00
* Nelson City Council Award for the work which best captures ~ ‘The Spirit of the Nelson Region'. Cash prize of $1,500.00.
* Bernina Award for the ‘most creative entry using a sewing machine'. Prize valued at $2000.00
* Creative Craft Supplies Award for ' the most innovative use of product combined with fibres / textiles '. Cash prize of $500.00 + $500.00 product voucher. Redeemable for goods from Creative Craft Supplies.
* Fibre Creations Award for the‘Best use of colour in a work’. Value: $500 voucher. Redeemable for goods from Fibre Creations.

CLOSING DATE FOR ENTRIES ~ FRIDAY 11TH JANUARY 2009 [I think he means 9 Jan]

ANNOUNCEMENT OF AWARDS ~ Awards will be announced and presented at the Gala Opening and Awards Presentation at The Refinery Artspace at 5pm on 14th February 2009. All entrants, their partners and Arts Council Nelson Members are invited to attend.

Arts Council Nelson express its’ gratitude to the Awards Sponsors, along with the support of the Tasman District & Nelson City Creative Communities Schemes in making this awards event possible.

1. This exhibition is open to anyone currently living in New Zealand
2. Artworks must predominantly feature fibres or textiles. These may be natural, synthetic or any combination of these.
3. Work will be selected for the exhibition on ORIGINALITY, the emphasis being on work which stretches the boundaries of fibre art to give a contemporary twist to the more traditional view of this medium. Work must be the artists own design and execution.
4. Work may use any technique or mix of techniques, and may be two or three dimensional. Maximum size is 1.5m high x2m wide. Work may be free -standing, wall mounted or suspended.
5. Artists may submit up to 3 pieces of work. The entry fee for each work submitted is $10.00. Cheques should be made payable to Arts Council Nelson. Please note that entry fees are non-refundable.
6. Initial selection of work will be by photo on C.D only. Please ensue that your name is clearly marked on the CD, and that file names correspond with the work(s) thereon. Accompanying your CD should be your entry fee(s), contact details, title of work(s), dimensions and a description of materials used. Please note that CD’s will not be returned unless requested and a stamped self-address envelope is enclosed.
CD entries should be mailed to Arts Council Nelson, PO Box 566 Nelson. 7040, and MUST arrive by Fri 11th January 2009.
7. Selected entrants will then be asked to submit actual works, which may be subject to further selection. All selected work is to arrive at the Refinery Artspace, 3, Halifax St, Nelson, by 5th Feb 2009. Suitability for space and the general look and feel of the exhibition may be considerations in order to best feature work. All successful artists will be notified on the outcome of the selection process prior to the exhibition opening night on Sat 14th Feb.
8. The Awards will be selected by two judges whose decision will be final.
No correspondence will be entered into regarding the selection outcomes.
9. Work must be sent ready for hanging, with instructions and inclusion of any unusual or extra requirements. All packaging and hanging materials must be clearly named
10. The artist’s name, title of work and sale price (or NFS) must be written clearly on the back of the artwork. 30% commission will be taken on all sales, although it is not compulsory that work be for sale.
11. All selected work must remain on exhibition for the duration of the exhibition.
12. Each artist must provide a recent photograph of themselves and a short statement about their work, which may be exhibited alongside their work.
13. Insurance is the responsibility of the artist, both in the gallery and in transit. Whilst all due care will be taken, the organizers can not be held responsible for any damage or loss incurred.
14. Artists may collect unsold work on 29th Feb between 11am -3pm from the Refinery Artspace. For artists outside Nelson, return courier tickets must be included with the artwork, in a clearly marked envelope.
15. Use of imagery. In entering the Awards, artists impart permission for short-listed entries to be exhibited at the Refinery Artspace, and for work to be reproduced for promotional purposes of this and future Changing Threads Fibre Art Awards. Nelson City Council reserve the right to reproduce and use the image of the winning entry of ‘The Spirit of the Nelson Region' Award, for use in regional promotional material at their discretion. Work title and artist acknowledgments will apply to any such use. Please advise in writing, at time of submission, should you not wish your entry to be considered for this particular award. Consent will be assumed unless notified otherwise.
16. In submitting works to this event, artists impart their understanding and consent of the above terms and conditions.

If you have any further enquiries please do not hesitate to contact Lloyd Harwood at Arts Council Nelson on 03 548 4640, 027 326 9166, or email:

* * * * *

So, no Christmas for us, Kiwis. Let's get cracking!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sometimes I Just Give Up...

Received this morning from the guild newsletter:

"The Mason Charitable Trust Scholarship in Design submissions are officially due in by the end of the month. Somehow this was not clearly advertized in the magazine, and we have decided to give our members an extra month to get their application in. Anyone who has applied before and was unsuccesful, can apply again. If you intend to make use of this extension or have any questions about the submission please contact me."

It was not only very clear when the deadline was, but it's the same day, 31 October, for every application round. I must have been the only one that applied, eh, and they need other recipients, provided they hadn't already decided this year. There's a parcel waiting for me at the post office today; we went to the PO too late yesterday. What are the chances that's my returned application pack, which I sent in late with their permission for a one week extension, making my due, yesterday? But I'm trying not to go there. I'm really not going there.

I've been feeling good about not having any more deadlines and looking forward to tackle my behind-due-date projects, after an unusually brief post-installation-down period. I was thinking the down came early with the scholarship fiasco, and by the time I got that sent and the scarves hung I was on the amend. But it appears they just can't stop adding insult to injury, and I think it's a sign, even for this thick head, the Universe is telling me to quit the guild system altogether.

I had some uplifting thoughts this week. I even went to the gym 3 times this week. It's time for me to move on.

Oh, and Dear Mabel keeps threatening me she's going to sell to someone else. Good grief.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bye Bye, Blue Eyes - The Blurb

When I was in high school and knew all the answers to life’s questions, I lived in South Minneapolis near Lake Harriet. I quickly became enamored by the beauty of the city, and took to walking (and cross country skiing) in the city’s many parks and around the lakes, with boys, my girlfriend Liz, and by myself.

In May of my sophomore (Year 10) year, I went on a stroll to Lake Harriet Rose Garden. It was an awkward time of the day; mothers and children had all left with dinners on their minds; and an awkward time of spring, a fair few weeks to go for the roses, so bushes were trimmed and rows tidied, but no blossom, not even one, to admire or smell or point at.

There was an old man walking, just as unsure of what to do as I, but still wanting to enjoy the moment, as I. We skirted around each other until it became awkward not to say hello.

I can’t remember which one of us said the first words, nor do I remember what was said. We might have agreed it was a pity it’s too early for the flowers. We might have pointed at the fattest bud. At one point, I commented he was a good looking gentleman, almost as handsome as Paul Newman in The Sting, only much, much older. The gentleman might haves smiled, or he might have said “Well, thank you, that’s a complement coming from a young lady.” I don’t remember. It might have been all of three minutes before we ran out of things to say.

That night the last item on the news reported The Most Beautiful Paul Newman was enjoying a short stay in town, before a racing weekend in Brainerd, a little further north. It was 1975, I was all of 17, Mr Newman would have been 50. All that mattered was I knew was I was living the best years of my life, and every moment was vivid and fresh.

I turned 50 this year, and I can’t remember much about my youth. I remember names and places, oh, sure, but moments don’t glitter and shine the same, and I sometimes have to calculate months and years to put important moments into “context”. And that’s just my youth; never mind that I can’t remember what I’ve done this year, who I met last week, why I rushed upstairs just now. And yet, 50 doesn’t feel that old. I’m still the same girl looking out from inside the same body, still aware that these are the good days.

* * * * *

I admit it was a bit disingenuous on my part. I wanted the last bit to be... "still waiting for the roses to bloom," but the blurb wouldn't have ended on a a high note, and I like happy endings. I wonder if that makes me a lier. Hum...

Swept Away, the Man Says...

This is like my wise friend Lachezar telling me to distance myself from all the voices in my head and go with the flow for a moment.

When Things Pile Up...

A friend emailed to remind me pressures make diamonds. In my case, the pressure cooker environment seems to turn everything into goo, but thought I'd share this as it appears applicable to many of you.

On Artists' Paperwork - Well, Not in This Post

So hanging the blues and yellows took place on Saturday morning.

First thing Friday, I had my scholarship application and portfolio bound at the copy shop, stuffed the sample pieces in the appropriate pockets, and sent them in a trackable post.

Then I went to Figure Drawing, where I had a particularly trying session; we used wet sponges to create multiple tones of washed areas before applying a few lines/squiggles of dry media, to create gesture drawings. As you may have picked up, I love nuances in textiles, but I am not a nuanced person, so there's no need to read between my lines, I mean what I say. Sadly, in a similar manner, whether I use sponges or brushes or dry media, my lines are fairly consistent in width, values and appearance. Which is exactly not what you should do with color washes. Whereas I had big fat lines in uniform width in two grays underneath dark charcoal lines, others had lovely shapes of layers in multiple shades underneath delicate, strong, wiggly or choppy, bold lines, making their drawings oh-so-lovely and nuanced and atmospheric. Ronette demonstrated how to make subtle shapes with sponges, but I didn't get it. I reminded Ronette I come to her class to unwind and relax and she wasn't helping, and she broke into a wonderfully happy laughter. What can I say...

Then I went to Andy Clover's office to show him a shawl and a knee rug for him to choose from for his mother's birthday, and he chose the shawl. Thanks, Andy! This meant I could post the knee rug to Blenheim for a small textile exhibition my guild is hosting during a big garden show called Garden Marlborough. So back I went to the Post Office, around 1PM, and was told it'd cost $4-something extra if I wanted Saturday delivery. Fair enough; I could have sent this last week. Ben offered to drive me to Blenheim Saturday afternoon, but heavy rain and wind was predicted so I opted for the $4-something. Of course on Saturday afternoon, the weather, at least on the Nelson side of the hill, was sunny and balmy!

Then we went to the Red for coffee, and by then I couldn't stop talking; I must have been relieved the only thing left was to install on Saturday morning, and to write up a blurb, contact the local paper, and send a bill to Andy. We came home, I had a lie down, then hemmed the scarves with frequent breaks, and washed and pressed, went to bed at 1AM.

But all of the above is not the point of this post. I was going to give you some possibly-valuable information. I noticed, while preparing the scholarship application that the headings for artists' and art administrators'/educators' resume/CVs were different from what's in a regular, office-job type CVs. I haven't studied them closely enough to see if it's the actual headings or interpretation of the headings that's different, but these CVs had distinctly different feels to what I'm used to. So I was going to list the headings in Errol's and Ronette's CVs with their permission, so they may give you something to reflect on in the event you needed to write an artist's CV.

Except I posted their CVs Friday morning, didn't I. I have Ronette's in soft copy, but Errol's, the only crinkly hardcopy I had is now on it's way to the North Island. So when I get the application back, I promise I'll revisit this subject. I might talk to the two about how they modify their CVs for different purposes, e.g. exhibition proposal, grant application, etc, if I have a chance. It's the least I can do for you.

Hung - Part 2: Debriefing

I've never made a secret of the fact I'm not a technically-strong weaver. At least I hope I didn't; remember all the times I said I'd never show you pics, but I had this-and-that problem? In fact the uneven picks, iffy selvedge and making a smooth, flat hems have caused me a lot of heartaches. All the more reason the recent Verdict annoyed me, because I would have liked to have had intelligent/constructive feedback from the unnamed "excellent, experienced" weaver, but that's by the by. This latest lot really exposes all my weaknesses. Fibre Spectrum Exhibitions coordinator Susie dropped, on her bike amidst horrible rain and wind, to say hello, and we discussed ways of showing scarves while hiding weaving evils, but in the end I went for exposing all my fabulous unglory. I'm not a read-me-between-the-lines type, and like everything else, these scarves are WYSIWYG; they're not expertly woven, and that's where I'm at now. (I now see how liberating it is to get older; we really stop the pretenses, don't we?)

I urgently need to come up with a better way to wash the woven cloth as well so as not to further damage the picks. A closer sett might be the first step. I need a method to make better hems, too. I've been compiling a list of issues I need to your help with since June, particularly pertaining to weaving with fine yarns, but this list is constantly being modified and is getting longer and longer. I may need to post it in three parts.

Ben and I talked about how I can work smarter to take away some of the emotional downs from my process, as this one was particularly difficult. Besides getting started earlier on projects, to allow room for extra opportunities that pop up which may distract me, as well as unexpected hindrances, I've gotten into a bad habit of trying out new things just before projects, for the projects, and that's not smart. It just so happened I had many opportunities to participate in exhibitions last year. Which was wonderful. And because I didn't want to show the same old, same old every time, I tried new things in quick succession. Which, last year, worked for the most part.

This year, I had created heaps of empty spaces on my calendar, but I can't remember what I did with most of that. And though I'm giving myself more lead time than before, and I'm trying new structures, yarns and colors, I'm doing these too close to the deadlines. I've always known it takes me a long time to take in new things and make them mine. (Remember, I wove plain weave for five years before multiple friends said it may be high time I wove undulating twills I'd been talking about for three years?) Well, the only reasonable conclusion is I must try new things in between and well before and not directly leading on to projects, so come project time, be they commission pieces or exhibitions, these formerly new skills have had time to become my tools and I can design and plan with less unpredictable factors built into my schedule.

Sounds so obvious. I knew this before my first solo in Jan 2007; I don't know when I forgot.

On our way home, we stopped by at the Refinery to see the sculpture show. Scroll down a little to see the installation 'Fil'et Kunzea' by David Carson. These skin-like pieces of wood/bark are hung from boards laid across the glorious Refinery rafters. (Is that the right description? He put six or eight boards on top of the beams up there.) Using the rafters and doing something big is what I wanted to do last October, and in a smaller scale, it's also I wanted to do this time. I like the answering-to-myself aspect of art making, but only I can let myself down when things turn out less than spectacular. And that's one big responsibility.

Hung - Part 1

It took all of 90 minutes to hang this one; my assistant is becoming efficient. The "main show" looks a little sad; perhaps not enough pieces, very little, almost a ghostly, transparent look, even though this is the kind of fabric I intended. Though you could say summery and light. I like that we offset the scarves from the wall by about 20cm. The spot on the wall on the right is where I'll post a blurb on Monday. (I've been thinking of how to connect the left and the right walls of this exhibition, and came up with a good metaphor this morning.) On the plinth I will have business cards and a notebook for people to write in.

I think the scarves were moist; the horrible crease in the scarf second from the left was not there when I unpacked. I hung the scarves first to decide the order, with Scarf 1 (thick weft) and 4 (the most colorful warp) in the center and Scarf 2 (thin weft, same color as one of the weft) in the darkest spot. As I switched them around, Scarf 4 stayed in one position for all of 2 or 3 minutes, and that's when it got the crease. I soon rearranged them so all the pieces showed roughly the same length of fabric, but, ugh, the crease stayed.

The "sideshow" worked better; the colors, number and the density of the cloth gave this side more impact, and that I like these scarves make this side look better as an exhibition. I'll put my yellow/gold frame on the wall under the spotlight on Monday, and will ask if I can hide the small plinth. We thought of off-setting this dowel, but decided against it because a) this is the sideshow, (two of these pieces were shown at the Suter in August, all but one just returned from Westport in October, so I feel embarrassed enough about having to fluff up the exhibition in the first place,) b) because I couldn't be bothered, but most relevantly, c) it's too close to the ramp.

I took the pic above from the top of the ramp. This gallery has four rooms in a straight row; the two front rooms on street level, and the third, this, and the forth room three or four steps lower, so a big part of the exhibition room's floor is taken up by two ramps with big handrails. On the left (blue) side there is ample space between the ramp and the wall, but on the right (yellow) side the space is narrower, so if we offset the yellow scarves and brought them forward, the colors and the volume would have overpowered the room a tad, and I couldn't be bothered fine-tuning that crucial distance so the sideshow wouldn't obscure the "main" show.