Thursday, May 26, 2011

Eldorado Studio Tour

I was able to take a few hours and see part of the Eldorado Studio Tour the 15th of May.  This studio tour is impressive.  Their brochure was beautiful with good photos of some work so you could start forming some plan of attack.  There were 75 studios to visit, so seeing all of them was definitely not possible.  There was a preview gallery which was very helpful as I could tell right away what art I wanted to see more of and what I wanted to skip.

Eldorado Studio Tour preview gallery

This is Sheila Burke, tapestry artist.  She has just finished this beautiful studio (of which admittedly I was very jealous).

And a beautiful doubleweave shawl by Jennifer Moore.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NM Fiber Arts Trails in Texas!

This is what I saw in a rack card display at a Ramada Inn in Dallas, Texas last weekend.  I wasn't supposed to be in a Ramada Inn in Texas, but I was interested to see how far afield the NM Fiber Arts Trails brochures had made it.  Unfortunately it was 5am on the day I was already supposed to be in Gulfport, MS for a wedding.  Through a series of travel mishaps involving thunderstorms and perhaps bad luck, I got to spend a night in Dallas (and fortunately not on one of those piles of cots I saw in the airport the next morning!).  Could be worse I suppose--I did make it to the wedding in time.

I was a little afraid that my pilot would be raptured while we were in the air, but apparently he was enough of a sinner that he was able to land the plane safely.

After my 5:30am arrival at the airport for a 9am flight (I was hoping to get an earlier flight or perhaps just hedging against more bad luck as most people hadn't been lucky enough to get a confirmed seat on a flight to the coast) I decided to check out the art in terminal D.  There was a descriptive brochure to show me around...  This thing made music when you walked through it.

But mostly I just knitted.  This photo reminds me of the last time I flew--a similar photo in the Frankfurt airport sometime in the middle of the night...
Dallas Fort-Worth May 2011
Frankfurt, Germany September 2010
Eventually after reading a National Geographic article on climbing in Yosemite I moved on to the People magazine's issue about the Royal Wedding... at this point I felt my intelligence leaking into the sticky vinyl seats and had to talk sternly to myself to keep from moving on to the Enquirer.  I was afraid if I sunk that far the white-coated people would find me under the yogurt cart rocking and mumbling.

I wondered many times what the point of all that self-imposed torture was, but of course we want to get places quickly these days and can't stand it when we are delayed by hours or days.  Perhaps a little Buddhist perspective might get me through the next one... increase compassion, try to talk to fellow travelers (if absolutely necessary), and let the little wheelchair ladies go in front of you in line.  Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and get to sit by a guide dog.

I am looking down the mouth of another airplane trip (I'll be carbon off-setting these flights forever) and I really hope the next blog post doesn't include a photo with knitting and a sleeping guy in the Detroit or Chicago airports.

Guess what-- coming home I couldn't get out of Gulfport and finally got a flight from Memphis to ABQ (a day and 8 hours of driving later) which stopped in, you guessed it, Dallas. Joining the throngs of cranky air travel people in Dallas for another terminal tour and then I finally made it home.

But, despite the flying difficulties, I had a fantastic weekend... here are some highlights.

Osprey nest seen from Papa John's boat tour.  See the baby?
Alligator, also on the boat tour.  We didn't feed any of the kids to this old lady.

And because of the drive north to Memphis I got to see Clark play baseball.  He was awesome.

Walking on the beach in Gulfport.

And this is Jiggy.  He should be my mascot.  He was chewed up by a Rottweiler and put together by Emily's brother-in-law (who is actually a veterinarian fortunately).  He is one tough little dude.  Sometimes his eyeballs still pop out, but Dr. J just pops them back in.  Sometimes you've gotta be tough.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Young artists and occupational therapy

This is Megan.  I wrote another post about her here when she wove this watermelon tapestry last summer.  Megan is now 11 years old (and definitely smarter than me if you go by IQ scores) and I'm hoping she is going to come here again this summer to weave another tapestry.  (Oh wait, that last part might just be my goal not hers.)

I work in a rural New Mexico school system, and as I wrote on that post last summer about Megan, I was hoping to do some weaving with the kids this year.  I was not able to pull together a tapestry weaving project due to my heavy caseload, but I did pull out an inkle loom and interested a few kids in weaving inkle bands.  Some kids who tried this had a great deal of difficulty sequencing raising and lowering the warp, putting the shuttle through in the correct direction, and then beating before going the other way.  I found that it was a great exercise in so many ways: fine motor skills, visual-perception, cognition, attention, self-regulation...  a great task for an occupational therapy session.  I think my older kids could handle a small tapestry or something on the cardboard looms in Sarah Swett's book Kid's Weaving.  Hopefully next year.
This child did the best of any child who tried it, but she is also the one who doesn't qualify for OT!

This is another amazing young lady I had the privilege of meeting last weekend (see blog post here).  Railynn is a natural artist who jumped right into our art journaling retreat.  Quite frankly, some of her work looked much better than mine.  I think that is thanks to lack of inhibition and no fear of failure.  I think most adults should take a page from the kids book of life... especially artists.

This is an art piece I saw hanging in the elementary grade 3-5 hall last year sometime.  I was never able to find out who the artist was, but it is one of my favorite pieces of art ever.  I want to weave it just like this, but fear that plagiarizing a 10 year old is probably not going to increase my karma any.

Kids are amazing (and I don't have any of my own, so maybe that is partly why I feel that way).  They will often tell you their bottom line without any prompting--oh how I wish sometimes adults would do that.  When it comes to being an artist, children have no inhibitions (until we implant them) and they believe in what they can do.  My preschool, kindergarten, and first graders have great opinions of their abilities as artists.  It is when I start asking 4th and 5th graders that I hear how they are "bad at art" or "can't draw".  I think the world would be a better place if we never taught children things like that.  If every kid graduated from high school thinking they were creative or artistic in some way, we would have given them the greatest gift possible.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


What does it mean to have my own studio (besides that I feel great when I tell someone I'm "working in my studio")?  For me it is a space for work and reflection.  A quiet spot where (if I remember to turn off the phone and computer) I can get lost in the work of making art.  Sometimes time even slows down.

James' studio was a place he built himself.  It was a beautiful space full of tapestries, yarn, looms, and creative people.  It was a welcoming place where a lot of learning (and a lot of skut work) happened.  Not to mention the amazing tapestries he created there.  It is hard to think about everything being dispersed.  His studio sale was May 2nd and so now he will have to live on in our memories and through our work.
James Koehler Studio, Santa Fe, NM

First spring flowers in front of James' studio, March 2011.
We'll miss you James.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The much-awaited tapestry retreat

Arizona, specifically the Navajo Indian reservation, is a fantastically stunning place--quiet and slow-moving, full of mesas and sandstone formations, but also full of big trucks and rutted roads (perhaps the roads help explain the quiet).  It is a huge reservation and I have only been in a few parts of it... but the places I have had the privilege of visiting are undeniably beautiful.

Searing sunshine
Sand storms that will make you weep
Huge expanses of sky
Snakes, coyotes, elk, and of course sheep and horses (the last two are domestic)
Mud and the dryest clay
The reddest rocks
A wide array of plants and flowers
Juniper and sage scent released in the rain storm
Fantastic sandstone formations in all shades of tan, red, and green

I grew up in Gallup, NM where many who live in the southeast corner of the reservation go to visit what was, when I was young, the largest Walmart in the world.  I saw the huge lumps of mud left behind in the car washes, I attended a boarding school with mostly native children, and I took the yearly trips to Canyon de Chelly National Monument and Hubbells Trading Post with my family when I was growing up.  But I never really got a chance to feel the reservation any deeper until last weekend.

I was invited to a small tapestry retreat by a group of friends who have been supporting each other's art for years now.  I am still honored to have been invited.  Thank you Lyn Hart, Jane Hoffman, and DY Begay for your welcome, your wonderful gluten-free cooking, your advice, and your laughter.

The retreat took place at DY Begay's reservation home not far from Chinle, AZ.  We brought art supplies and got a whirlwind workshop from Lyn on art journaling.  This was so much fun for me.  This mixed media pursuit was something that made me let go of my notions of how things "should" be and allowed me to play.  I felt myself letting go of all my recent stress just hours after I arrived.

Here are some photos of our retreat.  I even got my Mirrix warped.

DY shows one of her latest weavings. (My abject apologies that I cannot remember what the title is.)  The color in her work is so rich and deep.  Photos don't begin to capture her use of natural dyes and color choices in the weaving.

Lyn Hart showed us her condor project.  She was an artist-in-residence at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon last summer and as a result of that she is weaving a full sized condor to hang in the visitor's center there.  In case it escapes you, a condor's wing span can be over 9 feet.  Lyn's tapestry is 6 feet wide and 10 feet high.  The sheer magnitude of weaving this boggles my mind, but Lyn seems to have the whole process well in hand.  I can't wait to visit it when it is installed.

Initial drawing for condor piece with condor photo on transparency
Lyn Hart
It was wonderful to get to know Jane Hoffman a little better.  Her gentle spirit and vast knowledge of all things fiber were inspiring.  Here she is with her art journaling portrait.  Jane is a natural dyer and weaves wonderful tapestries.  She has also done a lot of teaching and gave me some good tips.  She made this pipe loom adding many custom touches.  I'm not sure you could find a better portable loom than a Jane Hoffman!

Here are some examples of the art journaling process we were exploring.  This WEAVE page is unfinished in this photograph, but you can see how we created a ground color then added elements.  Eventually most of this was painted over!

This spread was done in an old journal I had.  The pages were too thin so I had to glue several together.  I attached a map of the reservation and added a pocket for a piece of DY's naturally dyed yarn.

Detail of the right page.  You can see how I used pages torn from a dictionary and then painted gesso and acrylic paint over top so that the original pictures were obscured.  My morning tea fortune also made it onto this page.

This creation was done on top of a painting that was in this old Heron Dance journal.  I liked how the aspen trees made a background for my sketch of the mountains.

We all dreaded and I think finally enjoyed the portrait exercise.  I know this looks nothing like me, but it was fun to do and I'll probably do it again.

DY's niece came to the studio Sunday afternoon and made art with us.  She is only 8 years old, but clearly has a very artistic spirit.  It turns out Lyn is a good teacher of both eccentric tapestry weavers and elementary-aged children.

The group with our portrait pages.

The beauty of the Arizona desert and the calm surroundings of DY's home (as well as her spirit) left me feeling rejuvenated.  In fact I may have stopped at the art store in Taos today to get a few more supplies!

I stopped along the north rim of Canyon de Chelly on my way back east.