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retreat ahead


Spring is in full bloom & I am in the midst of preparations to once again journey to Janie Hoffman’s place on the Blue River in the White Mountains of AZ. Janie & I have organized a tapestry weaving retreat… there will be 7 of us attending, hanging out together in the mountain spring weather, weaving, soaking in the sights & sounds of nature, & talking about all things under the sun that could possibly interest any fiber artist!

I finally completed canyon night. It was difficult to finish, it felt as if all motivation I had to weave suddenly dried up and blew away. The lack of fanfare with its completion is a direct reflection of the ambivalence & dissatisfaction I have been feeling about my design process. I did submit it & painted hills for IWC’s Fiber Celebrated, but I am not sure they will be accepted, especially with my poor batting average as of late. Yet another rejection notice today, received from the Tucson Museum of Art for their Biennial exhibit.

I am not upset in the least by these rejections, they are just confirming what I’ve been feeling… my artistic soul is experiencing a period of fallowness. With the exception of IWC & the upcoming Tohono Chul fiber art postcard exhibit, I have decided to stop trying to exhibit right now. Sometimes we need that thwack on the head to wake up & say, “Yeah, I knew that.”

Time to renew, regroup, reinvent, rethink. I have begun that process, it is in the rumination stages. I am researching new design methods, I hope to greatly improve upon my weaving skills by taking Kathe Todd-Hooker’s tapestry workshop at IWC this summer, & I have registered for a couple of other non-tapestry workshops that I hope will allow for deeper design & creativity explorations. I plan to make major changes to my blog & website. I am ready to dig deep to find my true artistic vision… it’s in there & just needs encouragement to rise to the surface.

I am viewing this upcoming retreat as a door opening to a new & exciting place. While I am there I will be reading about design methods used by collage & journal artists, & I have a new camera, a Nikon P80, that I have started experimenting with & I will take it with me… some of the first images I have taken with it are below. I am preparing a cartoon so I can work on a very small piece while I am there, it will be a postcard for the Tohono Chul exhibit, & it is a depiction of one of our bobcat kittens from a previous year. This particular bobcat mama would leave her kitten in our courtyard lemon tree while she went about her business for the day. We discovered this when one day, as Dennis went out to water, he looked up & was startled by this tiny bit of fluff staring at him with amber eyes through the bright green leaves. Below is my design sketch, just started, using watercolor crayons & pencils. I am working from a cropped version of the photo Dennis managed to take & also getting inspiration for stylized versions of lemon leaves from a Frida Kahlo painting I admire.




Now I am off to continue preparing for the retreat… I will keep a diary of my time there & will look forward to posting about it all upon my return!


happy equinox!

Vernal equinox, Spring’s beginning, equal day & equal night; surprisingly the beginning of our driest season as the days grow longer still. In years of plentiful winter rains, we experience an abundance of wildflowers. This past winter was another of non-abundant moisture, yet it is always amazing that life pushes its way up through the baked, crusty desert earth in bits & pieces here & there, thriving in spite of those seemingly insurmountable difficulties. Seems humans would do well to stop to notice what’s underfoot, as Georgia O’Keeffe once said.

Desert marigolds & globe mallows visually punctuate the dun desert with their vibrant colors, penstemons wave their flowered spires at the sky, blue belly flowers & purple lupines hug the ground. Not in profusion, but just enough to make us notice the desert coming to life. The air is tinged with the sweetness of citrus & acacia trees flowering. Scented geraniums bring beauty to our back door, & the star jasmine’s creamy blooms have filled our bedroom with an exquisitely heavy fragrance that graces our pillows as we fall asleep each night. My insomnia is greeted by the nightly owl hootenanny, coyote choruses, & the unearthly yowl of our resident bobcats. Soon to follow in the spring parade will be a cascading & quick procession of strawberry hedgehog, prickly pear, palo verde, pincushion, ironwood, & saguaro blooms. Life must move quickly here before the intense summer heat arrives to wither & desiccate—the desert does not coddle late bloomers.

Earth, our planet, our only “ride”. Such beauty this planet provides for us to abide in. Yet, we take & take, giving so little good back in return. How long will she continue to love us if we continue to treat her like this? Here’s a wonderful way to tell her thank you, the only cost is an hour of your time…



same tapestry, different deadline

canyon night in progress

So, what I had planned to write in this post was that I had come to my senses after the weaving frenzy over the weekend, realizing that it wouldn’t be humanly possible to meet IWC’s March 15 deadline for the Fiber Celebrated exhibit, not for this human, anyway. I had decided instead to shoot for a different deadline & submit canyon night for the 2009 Arizona Biennial exhibit at the Tucson Museum of Art. Not a shabby proposition by any means, but I was disappointed because I thought painted hills & canyon night would complement each other so well if they were accepted & exhibited together at IWC.

But, suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, or an answered prayer to one of the many saints of weaving (my favorite out of the many I recently discovered searching on Wikipedia is St. Maurice, who besides being the patron saint of weavers & dyers is also the go-to guy for soldiers, swordsmiths, armies, & preventing menstrual cramps), I received a wonderful email from Rebecca Mezoff informing me she had discovered that IWC has extended the deadline to April 25th!!!!

You rock, Rebecca, for recognizing & understanding the angst of a sister tapestry weaver & coming to the rescue with the only thing that could possibly assuage the torture at this point--- a deadline extension! Wooo Hoooo!

canyon night detail


sonoran spring evening

warm day wanes

cool air flows over skin

smell of warm sand

tart kiss of red wine

sunset blushes the Catalinas

dove coos his evening song

gila woodpecker tucks into the saguaro high rise

dogs investigate bursage for errant lizards


early spring

I had a thought the other day when we started getting these warm temps that spring isn't green in the desert, it's yellow. Our desert is green all year... not that Kelly green crayon box green, but chartreuse, sage, silver, avocado, & army greens. Spring in the desert, I thought to myself, is really yellow. Yellow prickly pear blooms, yellow palo verde blooms, yellow creosote blooms, yellow cassia blooms, yellow fiddleneck blooms, yellow desert marigold blooms, yellow brittlebush blooms, & even more plants with yellow blooms that I cannot think of just now, none of which are really blooming just yet, but which will soon if the warm weather continues.

It is early spring.

It feels like early summer with the 80 degree temps we've been having. This is the desert, but even that is unseasonably warm for this time of year. I am not complaining in the least, it feels fabulous compared to the highs in the 30s we experienced while visiting my parents in Illinois during the family reunion to celebrate their 50th anniversary. It is quite cruel to force desert dwellers to visit locations with those kinds of conditions!

Here's a photo of all of us gathered together after a wonderful anniversary meal at one of my parents' favorite restaurants, Zapatas. I am usually skeptical of Mexican food outside of the Southwest (it tends to be what I think of as Amerxican). Not bad for Illinois, not bad at all. There are 6 of us offspring (I am the oldest, there is a 12 year span between myself & my youngest brother) & we all attended along with most of our respective spouses/children. Two old & dear friends of my parents, whom they met when they were stationed in Cheyenne, WY together, were also able to join us. This is the only family photo from that experience I will subject you to & I'm not even going to say who's who in it. If you are dying to see more, which unfortunately includes the strange gringo habit of drinking margaritas & donning sombreros, visit this set on Flickr.

Today, however, as I meandered about outside enjoying the sun, I started really noticing things, like waking up from a fog. And I noticed more than yellow, although yellow was first-- the photo at the beginning of this post is of the eensy-tineensy electric chartreuse flowers on a zig-zag cactus.

Here are others...

A diaphanous purple vinca bloom

Pink tinged newly unfurled pomegranate leaves, sunlit & glowing against a blue blue sky

Chinese star jasmine buds; slender, rosy, & soon to burst into little twinkles of white that will fill the air with their divinely sweet, heavy scent

My hot orange kalanchoe kettle

The always sudden & astonishing beauty of fuchsia pincushion buds... one day it's just a little cactus, the next, a tiny jewel box

Plump indigo purple velvety Texas Laurel blooms that smell exactly like sweet sweet grape Koolaid & make me think of hot sticky summer days of childhood

And Roger & Mo on lizard watch & wondering why I am crawling around on the ground with that little metal square box pointing it at things.

canyon night is still underway, you can actually start seeing the forest for the trees. If my cartoon looks odd, in case you missed an earlier post-- I decided to create & use what I've dubbed an "X-ray cartoon", a black & white color inverted version of the original that allows me to see the detail in the trees much easier than tracing them onto vellum would ever have done. The IWC Fiber Celebrated deadline is a little over two weeks away... will I make it? Weave, weave, weave...


rejected, but not dejected &... accepted!

Yes, I also received my "Dear Artist," letter on Tuesday from ATA. Thanks to Kathy Spoering's subliminal post, I was prepared. It is only my second rejection since I've been exhibiting, so I feel fortunate. I also knew that it is notoriously difficult to be accepted into ATA's juried exhibits, whether you are a master or novice weaver. At least this letter was tempered by Kathy's wonderful handwritten message... thank you, Kathy, I know that must be taking quite a bit of effort!

My first rejection was several months ago after I submitted several works to a gallery in Tempe for a Contemporary Craft exhibit. Guess I was either not contemporary enough or crafty enough, but I wan't dejected about that rejection either. However, I did become quite irritated when the same gallery quickly started inundating me with requests to support them (as one of their artists!) with monetary donations. Let's just say I communicated to said gallery my desire to stop receiving those solicitations in as an adult way as possible.
Yesterday I received another letter from another exhibit I had submittted work to. Uh oh, the envelope felt awfully thin, so I steeled myself for another Dear Artist letter. But, instead it told me they had accepted one of the three tapestries I had submitted, my monochrome macro: agave, one of my first tapestries. The exhibit is "Of The Earth" & is being held at the Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles, Missouri which happens to be very close to where my parents are living in Illinois & where I am headed next week to attend a family reunion that I put together to celebrate my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, the exhibit won't be up until March, so I won't get to visit it in person, but I am very happy that they selected this tapestry to be included since it is one of my favorites.

I am fresh from a weekend in Bisbee which I spent with Shirley & Lynn, two of my first students who are now special friends, helping them to stay on track with their tapestry weaving. Lynn was getting back into weaving her impressionistic wetlands & Shirley was learning to use her new Mirrix & starting a tapestry of a sunset on a special "friendship beach" near where she lives in Alaska most of the year. What could possibly be better than a weekend of weaving, friends, & wine? I was so involved with helping them that I forgot to take photos with my own camera, but luckily Shirley shared hers with me...

Work continues on canyon night, although the trees are still looking a bit ambiguous at this point. I am planning to submit it to IWC's Fiber Celebrated exhibit & it will now have a companion, as I think Kathy's suggestion to consider submitting my recently rejected painted hills to the same exhibit is most excellent! Great idea, Kathy, & if they are both accepted I will get to see them in person since Janie Hoffman & I will be attending together & taking Kathe Todd-Hooker's "Color & Tapestry" workshop she's teaching there. Anyone I know planning to attend?


shine on, new year; rock on, mr. president

Although the new year is well underway, the shine hasn’t dulled yet. It is full of possibilities, promise, & plans, especially with our new president at the helm who will be turning the ship around & charting a more rational course. Watching the inauguration was inspiring, amazing, & emotional. Obama is going to do great things. I sense an innate goodness, fairness, & extreme intelligence emanating from him whenever I see him. That feeling is also present with Michelle Obama… she is going to turn “First Ladyship” upside down. They will bring us into the 21st century, even if some people have to be dragged kicking & screaming.

On January 20, 2009, the world became a bit more beautiful.

I always like to stop and reflect back on the year that has just passed. It’s a time to remember the events that have brought me to where I am right now at this moment in time, poised & ready to start another journey around the sun…

It is so astounding to realize that a whole year has passed since our little Roux died. During that time, a new dog era has begun with Mo & Roger, shaking up our world a bit with the changes their two personalities have brought into our lives. Dennis & I cannot imagine our home without the studio, which will mark its 2nd year this May; I spend most of my day in here, soaking up good energy, weaving, writing, exploring. I taught my first tapestry workshop, giving new weavers a start & making wonderful new friends as well. I was able to get to know Janie & DY better during the many times we were able to spend together. The place where I learned to weave tapestry, Desert Weaving Workshop, where I also met DY & many other wonderful people & took several wonderful workshops, closed its doors. I continued my journey in tapestry & my work was included in several local exhibits. Dennis experienced his first participation in an exhibit. I wrote several articles for ATA’s Tapestry Topics & continued my volunteer role editing the online digest. I became a National Park Service volunteer, thanks to Barbara S., a member or our local guild who created the opportunity for those who were interested to become involved in a textile storage project at the Western Archeological Conservation Center here in Tucson (check out the slide show at the end of this post). I feel my weaving has improved & that it is starting to take direction. And, I must confess, I started cheating on my looms with another thing with strings… I’ve started to learn to play the cello, recently buying my very own.

The new year is already ramped up & charged with activities…

I’m presently coordinating the theme for this year’s first issue of ATA’s Tapestry Topics, which has involved defining the theme, choosing & inviting artists to write, reviewing the articles, & submitting them all to Linda Rees, the editor. The theme title is Sustaining Creativity, the articles are fabulous, & that’s all I’m going to divulge. If you’re a member you’ll see it when it hits your mailbox, & if you aren’t, why in the world not? I’m headed to Bisbee at the end of this month to give Shirley & Lynn a tapestry workshop. I have three submissions in place for three upcoming exhibits (ATA's Connections; The 9th International Triennial of Mini Textiles in France; The Foundry Art Center's Of The Earth). I wove the 9cm x 12cm after the monsoon for the Triennial. My parents’ 50th wedding anniversary is in February & I’ve organized a family reunion to celebrate it with my 5 younger siblings & their families. Janie Hoffman & I have planned another tapestry retreat for early May at her place on the Blue River— there will be 9 of us this year, including Pam Hutley who is coming all the way from Australia to join us!!! Janie & I have also sent in our registration for the Intermountain Weavers Conference which will be held in July in Durango, CO. We’re planning to take Kathe Todd-Hooker’s workshop, Color & Tapestry; I haven’t taken a tapestry workshop since early last year, so I am very excited!
I have a new tapestry, canyon night, in progress on my Shannock loom now & I’m planning to submit it for IWC’s Fiber Celebrated; it would be wonderful to have it accepted & see it there in person. Inspired by Tommye Scanlin, I will soon be submitting an application for an Artist in Residence position, but I don’t want to reveal where just yet. The Mountain Spinners & Weavers Guild of Prescott, AZ has asked me to give a presentation on tapestry weaving, which will be in November. My cello teacher, a member of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, tells me if I continue doing as well as I have been that she will invite me to join the adult ensemble she directs this summer, although I’m not as convinced as she that others will want to listen to what is coming from my cello. Whew, can I have a bigger plate, please?

Here’s a little more about my current tapestry, canyon night. My cartoon is a photo I took at dusk during one of our trips to our NM mountain property. Instead of trying to trace the intricate & not so clear branches of the fir & cedar trees onto vellum as I usually do, I decided to invert the colors in the photo & tile print it onto cardstock. Reminds me of an x-ray image. So I must weave what appears dark as light & light as dark, using the actual photo as a guide for the sky’s color gradations. Not hard if I don’t think about it too much! I will post with more photos as it progresses.

Lastly, here is a slide show of images from my volunteer activities at the Western Archeological Conservation Center. Click on any photo as it appears to see a description. For a brief explanation of what we are actually doing, visit the WACC photo set in my Flickr photo album.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.