Monday, May 25, 2009

Learning from Rita and Betsey

5-25_tapestry  I am a very lucky person to have two very talented teachers.  Last week our study group met at Rita’s home.  She has been in Florida for the last few months and it was good to have her back.  As soon as she saw my sample piece for City Life she pointed out a few areas that needed my attention. 

I took her suggestions and started incorporating them into my tapestry and surprise, surprise it improved it immensely.  She talked about having to work the diagonals and curves in regular steps to smooth out the transition.  That made sense; when I started paying more attention to this while working the cars in my big piece it was much better.  She also showed me a different way to sew the slits.  Although I had used the technique before I didn’t use the same color thread so I didn’t like it. This time I used the same color thread as the edge I was sewing into and it made all the difference in the world. To be fair, I had been using the technique that James Kohler showed me but I think my gaps were too large.  This caused the slit to show more and  look less professional.  I think I will use both depending on the color changes and locations.   It’s nice to have options.

I spent a lot of time working and reworking my pieces this week but I think the time was well spent.  As I see the images grow I see that learning how to create professional tapestries takes time and practice.  I suspect that it will take years to get to the point where I feel confident about my work. 

People ask me if I plan to show my work but I can’t see that happening for quite some time.  I know that I’ve learned a lot in the last two years but not enough to go up against real professionals.  Also since I am interested in larger canvases I know that I won’t have a body of work to draw on any time soon.  Oh well, I am not doing this to exhibit, just to learn and enjoy my new craft. 

What is nice is that now that summer is here I have more time to learn and enjoy.  Ah, I love academia.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The cars are finally starting to emerge

It’s been a while since I last posted.  I’ve been busy putting all my Spring classes to bed.  Now that I’ve finished them I can get serious about weaving. 

I started doing just that this week.  As you can see, I now have two cars and a third outlined.  I photograph it in two parts and then put them together.  It usually works out well but this time the photo's don’t exactly match.  No matter, you can still see the image.  The second car was much easier to do than the first one was.  I can now see how the shape needs to look as I weave it.  Makes it easier to know where to start and stop. 


I am so enjoying the process.  Building an image line by line is almost like magic.  I see a shape emerge out of where I stop and start the lines of wool, I make decisions on how to use the color and I see the way the colors react to each other.  For example, the light shining on the windshield of the second car was made using a highly polished DMC that almost vibrates.  It really gives the glass a reflective texture. 

Learning to really see the lines, colors and shading of an image is a hard process, it takes time and practice.  I see the work of friends like Susan of Susan Cohan Gardens, LLC and I wonder how differently her brain works than mine.  When we visit museums or gardens I am constantly amazed at how she sees things.  I learn from her every time we explore visual culture - natural or human-made. 

I am lucky to also have the creative vision of my mentor Betsey Snope.  I see her work grow from week to week as we meet in our study group and I am envious of her skills. Yes, I know, she has been doing it longer than I have but I still wish I had her practiced eye when it comes to color blending and shaping.  Hopefully time and repetition will give me the tools to make images that are close to hers. 

I took a tour of some blogs this morning.  Some are instructional and others are inspirational.  All give me the desire to get to my own work and try to develop my own voice. My feeling is that as I concentrate on my work through the summer I will start to see improvement in my technique and vision.  At least that is the plan.  We shall see if it works out that way.