Last week I finished the tapestry I have been working on during the long gloomy winter. The scene is of a hayfield in summer, green alfalfa and lighter green hills behind it, with cumulus clouds overhead. I found it comforting to focus on that image when it was bitter cold, icy , muddy or some combination of the two. We always have cold and snow in the winter, but there was less sun and respite from bad weather this year. I use a mood light every day for 15 minutes to make up for the lack of sunlight. It seems to help; I'm not willing to find out what the result would be if I stopped using it. It is ironic that I was born on the shortest day of the year, since I dread the short days. Tapestry weaving is a good escape. It takes intense focus; I experience it as a form of travel through the space of the landscape. Today I am working on a real landscape as I clean up my flower beds. I think winter has shifted to spring, though there will be a few more storms .
You would think that after 40+ years doing this, it would be easy to get started. I actually think it's harder than ever. Partly, it is daunting to weave a colored border before the scene is even begun. Then, the first few inches seem disconnected and hard to envision. A painter can rough in the composition over the canvas, perhaps blocking in some colors or values. A tapestry starts at the bottom or side and is woven a line at a time from there to the top or far side. There is an element of surprise when the piece is complete. It almost never looks like what I saw in my mind's eye. I hang a new piece up for a week or two in order to determine if I like it or not. Here is a picture of my latest sketch and the first half inch on the loom:
I love it when I get a letter from a happy customer! Here's one below.
What a wonderful surprise to hear from you! I easily found our weaving on your website. You have such high quality images--super clear and good color intensity. A bonus was finding the working image of Fish Creek next to your loom on your blog page "why I live here." Bruce asked, "I wonder what happened to it?" Is the Fish Creek West tapestry image the same drainage, further back? Loved seeing the photo of you in your work space. The Fish Creek tapestry hangs in our dining room so I think of you every day and now I have a face to go with my thoughts. We are so grateful for your extraordinary talent of using wool to paint a landscape of beloved Montana."
Since putting my new website on the Internet, I have had lots of feedback, all positive. It is great to hear from friends and strangers both, since very few people actually appear in our home during the winter. I guess that is an advantage of cyberspace, it's not limited by distance, road conditions, etc. I am aware of how much a specific comment, like "easy navigation", tells me about why someone likes a website. I pay more attention to photo quality than anything else ,since I know what the tapestries look like! Anyway, this is a call for more specific feedback, whether it's pro or con.
Isolation & Inspiration
I'm thinking about the connection between those two things....living as I do, surrounded by the scenes that inspire me. Weaving is a solitary pursuit, requiring intense concentration. I work best when the house is empty. I listen to loud music, which seems to fit the beat of the loom. There is a trance-like feeling when the focus takes over. I sometimes feel like I am traveling through the scene I'm involved in. Of course, I do stop for a coffee break every once in awhile!