I recently got back home from a trip to the Fiberart International 2019 exhibit opening and the accompanying 2019 Fiber Forum. It was a big trip for us, so I'm going to just post about the exhibit and associated activities here, and will post in a few days about the rest of the trip.
The Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, PA hosts the Fiberart International exhibit every three years. I was amazed and impressed by their organization for the event; the support for both artists and attendees was superb! I have been a part of many fiber and art organizations over the past 30 years, and am not easily impressed.... But I was very impressed! Months before the exhibit, participating artists were contacted about what we could expect, about housing options, and were even given a way to contact the other artists to arrange meals, travel, etc. I do not often travel to exhibit openings, as just getting my work there is often expensive enough. But all the contact and plans made me really want to be there; to not miss out!
I arrived Thursday evening, missing a party for the artists that evening while my husband and I waited (unsuccessfully) for our checked bag to arrive. The Opening Reception for the exhibit, which was held in two galleries, was Friday evening. I did not take any photos at the reception, as it was my first chance to see the exhibit. Awards were also given out, and I was thrilled to receive the award for Outstanding Weaving for my "Graffiti" tapestry!
Saturday was the Fiber Forum. Before participants arrived, I managed to take a few photos in the Contemporary Craft Gallery, where my work was hung, and where the Forum was to begin. Adrienne Sloane was adding marks for days to her knitted piece, "Marking Time" across from me in the gallery.
Each artist who was present had an assigned assistant, asking questions and taking notes as we talked, so gallery docents will later know a bit about our work.
Nicole Benner's life sized crochet performance piece, seen here in the middle, had an accompanying video to show it in motion.
And the large glass case to the right in the above photo also had supportive materials, showing several of the artist's inspirations or design methods.
You can see my "Graffiti" tapestry in the back of this photo. I had packed a small supporting tapestry, a sketchbook and a few other support materials in my checked bag. The bag finally arrived after I left the hotel for the Forum on Saturday, so my husband brought my 'stuff' to me. Forum participants were interested in everything, and they were also interesting! I met so may other tapestry weavers, of every skill and experience level. That is a rare gift for me, as I am a geographically isolated tapestry weaver.
After a delightful catered lunch, with one of the juror's, Jane Sauer, giving a Keynote Speech, we all went to the Brew House Gallery for the afternoon session of the Forum. You can see Michael Rohde's "Interrogative" tapestry on the back wall in this gallery shot.
The works chosen to be in the exhibit include quilted pieces, felted works, several punch needle and hooked pieces, knitting and crochet, sewing, stitching and embroidery, as well as weaving.
The exhibit is up in both galleries through August 24, 2019. If you happen to be in the Pittsburgh area, it is well worth seeing. In addition, there is a beautiful color catalog, which I am sure you can get through Fiberart International.
Opening tonight, I have a small tapestry in this exhibit in Arlington, MA.
In a few weeks, we will go to the Fiberart International opening weekend in Pittsburg, where my "Graffiti" tapestry will be on exhibit.
I just got a tapestry back from an exhibit in Rhode Island, which I didn't get to attend. And I also got notification that another small tapestry was accepted into the Amuse Yeux small piece exhibit, at the Foothills Art Center in Golden, Colorado. It opens June 6th, and runs through the first of September.
I have not had this many pieces coming and going to exhibits for several years. It is not because my work was not accepted; it is because I've not been getting to create much work to even enter for the past few years. 'Back in the day' when I was really a working artist, I had to keep a separate calendar for my exhibit schedule, with exhibits color coded, and tapestries going and coming carefully recorded and documented. That was a lot of busy work to keep up with, in addition to the designing and weaving of 3-5 large tapestries per year. I loved it. All of it. And I miss it, so this little dip back into the art world has made me pretty happy. I want... no, I intend to keep it up as long as I can.
I know that one of the things an artist must do, if she is to remain an artist, is to be challenged to do something she is not sure she can do, at least occasionally. I have had a rough winter; family and personal illness and pain, lots of company. etc. It was definitely the 'winter of our discontent' - one I'd just as soon not repeat. It left me feeling like not much of an artist at all, as the best I could do was an occasional sketch in my sketchbook, which is not a challenge, but a necessary survival thing.
So... a challenge was in order! I decided I would weave a tiny 'sketch tapestry,' (which I have done before) with limits set on myself. My limits were that I would weave it on my little Hokett-style loom, so it would be portable. The sett on that loom is 8warps per inch, or even a bit less. So weaving a detailed, very small face is a BIG challenge! I wanted to be able to color blend the background, so the sett was perfect for that. But when I got to the actual face, I found I wanted more warp. Actually, I needed a finer sett to get the facial detail I wanted. So I added an after-the-fact supplemental warp to double the sett in the face area. I have to tell you, I was loving not knowing how this would turn out! That, I believe, is an artist's delight: creating something that you really don't know that you can create - whether it is a success, or not. (Of course, it's best when it does succeed!)
Here is the woven face. still on the little loom. The woven area, not including the hems at top and bottom, is 5 3/4x 5 3/4 inches. You can see my supplemental warp. I was pretty happy with the result.
The tapestry, plus a pile of other tiny 'sketch tapestries,' sat for a bit in the studio. Then I decided to do something with them. So I blocked them all, and yesterday I mounted and framed three of them, hoping to find a place for them someday soon.
This is in a 6" frame, mounted on linen. The title for this is "Let It Be."
This is the silly little goose I did, also on a Hokett-style loom. (I have to say "Hokett-style," because I purchased a Hokett loom, but there were some things I wanted to be different on it, so I had my wood-worker husband make me a few more, for myself and grandkids, with adjustments made: mostly, more depth between the back 'handle' and the weaving area, so I can weave more detail and get my hands and fingers in there more easily.) This tapestry is about 6.5 x 5.25 inches in an 8x10 frame, again mounted on fabric.
This is another little sketch tapestry, called "Lost Tooth." It was also woven on the same loom, but at the original sett. It is about 4x4 inches, in a 6x6" frame.
I am ready for another challenge now. I wonder what it will be?
I have been having a few health issues, and a LOT of company. So I warped up a little loom and used spare minutes to weave this silly goose. It is based on a noisy, aggressive goose that chased me last week. Other than that, it was just for fun, and just to distract me from aches and grocery lists. So nice to have these little looms, little moments to weave, and now a little tapestry goose!
I have completed filling my Sketchbook Project sketchbook. The theme I chose was "This One Thing" and the 'one thing' is Color. In spite of the less than artist-friendly paper, I have enjoyed filling this sketchbook! I am going to print myself a 'copy' of it, to sit on my studio shelf with all my other filled sketchbooks. In the meantime, here is a video that gives you a bit of an idea of how it has been filled.
I am still working to fill the #SketchbookProject sketchbook. I am generally resorting to colored pencils now, as the paper is not wet-media friendly. The theme of the book is Color, so it is taking some doing to get the bright colors I want with colored pencils. I am discovering a lot about this medium, though, as I didn't use it much in the past for complete sketches.
Many of my sketches are inspired by colorful people and situations, shared in photos on the #Sktchy app. This one, though, is my cat, Gus. Also, I did it in ink (brush pen) and colored pencil on a separate piece of toned paper, and glued it in. I just needed to do something a bit easier and quicker on that day.
This was also done on separate paper, so I could have a loose watercolor background.
I still have four 'Color' sketches yet to do, then I will do some collage work and text on the facing pages. I have a couple more weeks before it needs to be completed, so, barring life interferences, I should get it done and sent in on time!
"The Duet" tapestry is off the loom, and just needs the lining put on to be ready to exhibit. I have been getting several tapestries ready and entered into exhibits, and I will keep you notified where to see them, when the time comes!
I know I just posted 15 of 25 sketches here that I did based on my advent calendar. All 25 of them can be seen on my Instagram site. But it's a new year, and I have other things going forward. For one thing, "The Duet" tapestry is off the loom! I will post an image of it here, when I know where it is going. I do still have some off-loom finishing to do on it, as well.
My son gave me the Sketchbook Project for Christmas. It is something I had looked into, followed to some extent, and thought I would do 'someday.' I guess someday is Now! The book is due either mid-February or the end of March (I have conflicting information, so I need to clear that up.)
When you get the blank sketchbook to fill, you also get a list of 'themes' to choose from. They are intentionally vague, and the one I chose is "This one thing..." I am concentrating on the one thing that inspires my work the most right now, and actually has inspired me all my life: color. I will probably title the sketchbook "It's a Colorful World." When completed, the sketchbook will be sent to the Brooklyn Art Library in New York, where it can then be viewed both there 'in person,' and online.
This is the first sketch in the sketchbook. I did it in gouache, because the paper is not great for watercolor or markers, and they specify not to use acrylic (pages stick together.) It took a long time to do this page, as gouache seemed very slow, filling the 5x7" page with intense color. The sketch is inspired by a photo from the Sktchy app, where people provide their photos for artists to sketch and paint.
For the second sketch, I also used a Sktchy muse. But I switched to colored pencil. Much faster!
Another Sktchy muse for the third sketch, again in colored pencil. I am just sketching on one side of the page, and the facing pages I am filling with paint chips, color bits from magazines, colorful ephemera, etc. Small scale, abstract collage, in other words.
The next spread includes the story that goes with the image. It came from our local paper, and is about a local couple. I loved the story and the image, and have always loved the shop that they own.
The fifth sketch is from a photo I took in Wiscasset, Maine. We lucked into the last open day of the season at Red's Eats, a local lobster shack along the river, famous (and rightly so!) for their lobster rolls. I told this lady how much I admired her hat, and asked if I could take a photo, explaining that I was an artist and would love to have her in my travel sketchbook. She not only let me take her photo, but graced it with a lovely smile! She said she is a local, and she never misses either the opening day or the closing day of Red's Eats, and I don't blame her a bit!
The Sketchbook project has pages for 16 sketches, plus the facing pages. So I am just now about a third of the way completed. I am enjoying these sketches, as I love color! In fact, on that note, just wait until you see my newly completed tapestry! You may need to get your shades out!
(I remember reading somewhere that in 'dark times' historically, art got brighter and more colorful. I guess that is true - at least for this art maker!)
I am still doing a daily 'advent sketch,' based on what is in the little window of the beautiful advent calendar my daughter-in-law gave me.
Day 9, running horses
On the 10th day, there is a man with a tree in the calendar window. My sons' families had just gotten their trees, so the little red car is my daughter-in-law's car (not the calendar giver, but my other wonderful daughter-in-law; I am lucky to have two!) We had also just put our tree up, much to Gus's fascination and delight. He is determined to climb it to the top this year, but we have stopped his pursuit of the peak, so far anyway.
The little wren was in the 11th day window. This little girl (a photo inspiration from #Sktchy) felt like a perfect friend for him. And one of my favorite carols is by Christine Rossetti, "In the Bleak Mid-Winter," though nobody will do the song with me. They think it is too bleak.
The owl in flight inspired this on Day 12
There was a cute bunny on the calendar on Day 13. It was such a busy day for me though, that I just had time for little sketches to represent my day.
A star to represent Day 14 brought to mind this carol. Carols and holiday songs have been floating through my head all week, as my music partner and I went to several assisted living places this, and last, week to share holiday songs with the wonderful folks who live there. This is something we are blessed to do every month, and January will begin our fourth year to do this. Wow! Time really does fly when you're having fun!
Today's little window opened to reveal the little hedgehog (on the right.) I had just run across the quote by Beatrix Potter earlier in the week, so I put it and the lovely Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle in my sketch this morning. I have her baking, because this is the day I will make fruit cakes for my father-in-law.
My life is so busy right now, with holiday and parent needs. And I should be weaving! But I have to admit that doing these little 'advent sketches' have made me enjoy the holiday much more than I usually do! I love seeing what is in the calendar window each morning, then thinking how I will incorporate it into a sketch while I eat breakfast and sip my coffee. The sketches themselves are all pretty simple and quick - a half-hour passes quickly as I sketch and sip a second cup of coffee. These are mostly done in ink first, then a little watercolor, and gouache (for snow) or colored pens or pencils if a bit more detail is needed. Fun, indeed! And more windows yet to open.......
As the holidays approached, my daughter-in-law sent me a beautiful advent calendar! I decorated my sitting room mantle around it, so I could look at it when I sit in there with my morning coffee.
As I opened the little window for the first day of December and saw the adorable little snowman, I thought how fun it would be to sketch him in my sketch journal, then add things inspired by what was revealed each day to fill out the page.
On day 2, a dachshund was in the window, and a fox, on day 3.
Words from Dave Carter's song "Go Tell theFox"
A little mouse appeared on Day 4 (the one in the lower corner,) and Gus joined the calendar cat on day 5.
A mole was in the corner of the calendar on day 6, so I put him in the corner of my advent sketch page. And today, day 7, there is an owl, flying through the night sky.
I don't know that I set out committing myself to do daily advent sketches, but I am finding that I look forward each morning to seeing what is behind the little window on my Advent Calendar, and filling a sketch journal page with things that it inspires. I don't spend a great deal of time on these pages, usually about a half hour, though sometimes time gets lost and my coffee gets cold!
I have been posting the sketches daily on Instagram, and will post them each week through the advent season here on the blog. In the meantime, I hope the holiday season is finding you with creative inspiration and joy, as well!