Breaking the Monotone Barrier

Next week, I'm going to a five-day weaving workshop by Randall Darwall, in Paraparaumu, just north of Wellington. It's going to be a highlight of my weaving life.

Randall Darwall is easily one of the most respected and sought-after weavers of our time, and since he doesn't write books, the quickest way to learn his style is to attend his workshops. So I signed up for this one way back in February. In May or June we received instructions on what to bring to the workshop, and I've been stuck ever since.

Randall Darwall's view on color is "more is better." His motto: "Why use five colors when fifty will do nicely." He wants us to prepare a warp using dynamic proportions of colors, where we select a base color, and then add smaller and smaller amounts of different colors. I have no problems with the way he does it; have a look at his site, his works shimmer and dance and laugh and seduce. But have you seen mine?

I love to weave textiles with subtle color or textual nuances, but on the whole, look monotone. I don't often mix hues too far apart on the color wheel. In fact, most of the yarns I own are on the blue half of the wheel: blue, navy, purple and red, plus black and white and natural.

Liking colorful textile is one thing, but trying to create colorful textile (that is, mix and match hues) is another, and I'm having to take a sledgehammer to an old mental barrier.

I've only three more days to prepare, and am still at a loss as to what I'm going to do, but at least I decided on a simple twill threading today, so I've two and a half days to think about the colors.



Appreciating Art

I've been a bit under the weather (nothing serious; you can find out about it here and here) and preoccupied with a renewed interest in photography (and blogging here and here), because photography is a hobby Ben and I enjoy together. But I haven't stopped thinking about weaving and art in general. And one thing I noticed is I've come to appreciate art in a different way.

In the last month or so, I've been photographing and sketching a series of works by local sculptor Tim Wraight. Originally, I needed a few nice shots of good-looking pillars to show as public art for the photo blog, but the more I see these pillars and try to do them justice, the deeper I've become involved with them. I still can't photograph them to show how truly beautiful they are, but I'll share some with you soon. Woodwork is in some ways easy for me to understand because I know some of the processes and tools, and looking at these pillars, I can imagine Tim chipping away patiently and deliberately bit by bit by bit. I can feel his quiet passion while he touched the pieces of wood and breathed life into them. And I have never experienced art in this way before.

I also went to see jeweler Ian Longley to order Ben's Christmas present, and had a chance to chat with him about rocks and stones, and he shared with me a little of his creative process. The lasting impression I took home, though, was the way caressed his raw material in the same way I hold my yarns. And I kept pondering about the metamorphosis of those rocks to his jewelry and these yarns to my shawls.

As I mature as a weaver, it has become easier for me to understand the processes and efforts of other artists, and knowing these makes their finished work more meaningful and precious. I've come to appreciate art with my entire body and soul, which is a far more genuine appreciation than mere liking, or reading about their work.

And then I went to see my friend Errol Shaw's modern painting exhibit. I love this man to bits, but I have difficulties with modern art. He tried to explain to me at great length how to 'look' at modern art, but I got nowhere. This story is for yet another time entirely.