Travel Sketchbooks

March 24th, 2019

Artist, Susan Abbott, is teaching a “Traveling with your Sketchbook” workshop in DC and posted about it. I took a workshop with Susan in VT this past summer and I can attest that one gets their money’s worth from her. She covers so much and caters it to each person’s level. Susan’s blog post asked for comments/thoughts on personal experiences and I wrote the folllowing”

“For years I took new sketchbooks on trips and returned with them as new as when I left. All the things you mention in the post. Then one year friends gave us some tulips at the airport on a trip to France and the French let me take them with me… So I sketched them in our room once each morning until they dropped and then I kept sketching on that day. I realized I had given myself permission to sketch. After that I started making one quick sketch from my window each am on trips – sometimes an incredible view, some times a parking lot… but once I did that I would continue to sketch for the rest of the trip. Now I can’t imagine travel with out sketching. Perhaps the favorite thing to do in my life.”

It got me thinking about how important sketching is to me and I thought I’d share my thoughts here. I dug out that old sketchbook and below are some of my sketches from that trip”

Image of first quick sketch of tulips
First quick sketch of tulips – I was tired but wanted a record for our friends

After this I warmed to the task.

Image of drawing from hotel window Image of Niki de Saint-Phalle Image of schloss in Baden Baden, GR
from left: hotel window, Saint Malo, FR; Stravinsky Fountain, Paris, FR; Schloss, Baden Baden, GR

…and finally, I just sat down and drew. This sketch book became a wonderful journal of out trip – drawings, ephemera, notes.

Image of first quick sketch of tulips

Unfortunately, I used a pen with ink that bled through the page to the image on the other side. Didn’t do that again!

As I said in my comment, once I make that first sketch on a trip it is as though I have given myself permission to continue. Don’t know if this works for everyone but it sure works for me. Sketching when traveling has become one of my favorite experiences. It allows me to slow down and see things that I would have missed and gives me wonderful sources of memories – how I felt when I saw these things and as I sketched.

Learning to spin a fine yarn!

February 12th, 2019

WOW—haven’t posted since mid Dec. The holidays came and went. Cards were made and sent. Friends and family came and returned home. Gifts were given and received. Decorations went up and down. and then it was Jan and now it’s Feb.
A lasting allergy/cold/general malaise hung around for a long time, get better and then here it came again, BUT… now it seems to be under control—I hope—and I’m getting back to work. Have worked on the paintings of Ireland but they are still a work in progress, so I turned to fibers. My painting and my fiber work help each other.

Late summer/early fall I bought some carded/dyed fleece from Flying Fibers in Landisville, PA and have been trying to spin a finer yarn. I bought small amounts so I could see how things went. Previously I mainly spun for the joy of it and was happy to get a bulky, lumpy yard with which I could knit/weave bulky, lumpy fabric. I could get a rough control if need be but it was still anything but fine. and I wanted to spin a fine tight yarn to use as weft for small tapestries.

Image of Original roving with pre drafted fiber ready to spin
Original roving with pre drafted fiber ready to spin.

At first I tried just spinning from the roving as purchased but that didn’t work. Next I tried hand carding which defeated the use of the ready made rovings. Sooo, I did some research, lots of tests, and ended up pre drafting by hand—slow but I mainly want small amounts for small tapestries—and I find it very calming to sit and pull the fibers by hand.

Once my fibers were predrafted, I began spinning. I have an original Louet Wheel and was trying to gain some control of the twist. Before I would just spin away and my mood determined how tight the twist was. Now I’m trying to be conscious of the revolutions in each release of fiber. I’ve gotten better but have a long way to go!

Image of Samples of testing
Samples of my testing. Got better with practice. Some are finer than others.
Still working on it.

Image of handspun used in my test. Image of my finished test,.

After spinning, I washed the results, blocked them as they dried and wound them into little balls. You can see my earlier (thicker) yarns and the newer (finer) ones.

My spinning was getting better but I still wasn’t sure how this would weave. I warped my 6 dent Hokett loom at 12 epi and worked up a simple test design that could show a number of yarns. I’m pleased—some worked, some need work! I still want to get more control before doing a series of small weavings. Guess I’ll be heading back to Flying Fibers for more!!!

In addition to my fiber work I’ve been sketching, making marks with charcoal from my fireplace, and drawing my hands. All posts for another day. In the mean time my painting is calling!

Tidewater

December 17th, 2018

Been a while. I did get back to painting. Fall has been busy and I’ve been working on landscapes. I’ve been trying to capture a sense of timelessness in my work. It’s a continuation of some of the work I did this summer with my blue images. This was the first of this session but the rest so far have been studies of images I took years ago in Ireland.

Image of Tidewater trees in VA
Tidewater Trees and Marshland.

I’ll post the Ireland images soon but they also contain marshland. That area between the land and the sea—so threatened right now— is magic to me.

Fiber Keeps me Sane

October 28th, 2018

This week the world has gone to the dark side or so it seems. So much hate and violence, fanned by those who should unify and comfort and put a stop to this. I can’t paint at a time like this with angry/sad thoughts racing through my mind. But the slowness of stitching, its zen like calming, focus on the task at hand—that’s where I burrow in and find some sanity.

This project has been in the works for a long time—first as the long green warp woven with Theo Moorman’s Technique. Much of it involved squares. Now it’s cut apart and I’m embellishing the squares to bring out their personalities—woven portraits of time and space.

It doesn’t fix the world but it allows me to gather the strength to live in it.

Image of Embelished Squares
Here’s a selection waiting to be finished and framed.
Some might still be worked on – they let me know.

Campobello and Quoddy

September 25th, 2018

After a day of regrouping and lazing about (I did do my little tapestry as well as some nature prints to record our time – can’t slow down in one day… after that we headed out early to Canada and Campobello Island—nice lunch and then walks on the beach, photographing rocks and seaweed.

Image of Campobello shoreline Image of Seaweed Image of rocks
Campobello Island.

The next day we headed to Maine’s Quoddy State Park. We’ve done the light House and really wanted to hike in the forest along the coast again. Much is high above the water, some closer and some through the forest it’s self.

Image of clif view Image of ocean view Image of rocks
Quoddy State Park.

Was glad to have our hiking siticks as there was lots of elevation changes as well as some muddy spots. But every where you looked there was something to enjoy and want to bring home to work with on long winter evenings…

Image of orange rocks Image of mushroom Image of the forest floor
Quoddy State Park.

All good things end and the next day found us 12 hours on the road heading south… not the plan but how it ended up – by the time you hit NJ you want your own bed…

Machiasport ME

September 21st, 2018

After the intense art retreat in VT, I really needed some down time before heading home. We headed for a place we have stayed before in Machiasport, ME—all the way at the end of the peninsula—the road ends in the driveway—high enough to see over the trees to the ocean but with a magical path down to it’s own beach. We stopped in Machias at the Hannaford to buy groceries and made it in time for wine on the deck as the sun set. Let the unwinding begin!

Image of Maine trees and water Image of deck chairs
View from the deck.

The next day was misty and over cast – perfect to laze about in, but we did take a short run back up the road to Jasper Beach.

Image of Jasper Beach in the mist
Jasper Beach.

I always think the ocean gives you gifts, you just have to look and this day was no exception. Bits of seaweed, sticks and feathers, lichen and of course those Jasper Beach stones!

Image of found seaweed and stones on Jasper Beach Image of found seaweed and stones
Jasper Beach closeup and my new treasures.

Back at the house I used the small bit of wood as a tiny loom and wove a tiny tapestry to commemorate our visit.

Image of a tiny tapestry
Jasper Beach Tapestry.

The next few days were sunny and we headed to Campobello in Canada (Important rule – always travel with your passport!) and to Maine’s Quoddy State Park for days of hiking, photographing, and just being! That’s another post…