Millie’s Blankets

A couple of years ago, a sweet older woman in my community died. Her name was Millie Thompson.  She left behind a house utterly full of yarn. Millie was a devoted knitter, a fiber lover, and, I guess, a hoarder. 

Her taste was for luxurious knitting yarns of many fibers, all with a degree of fuzz and puff. All implied a deep rooted longing for comfort, which spoke to me. When her son learned I am a weaver, he begged me to come to her home and take away as much as I could carry. I did so.

I chose as carefully as I could on that morning of frenetic house clearing, and came back to the studio with bins and bins of beautiful yarns. I was determined to somehow make something that might honor Millie’s love of yarn, fiber, making, and treasure.

I decided that I would make comforting throw blankets. This fall, having run the full length of the series of tapestries I had been making for 18 months, I decided it would provide a delicious creative break to dive into all of this fiber, chosen by someone with other visions and different taste, and make a pile of loving and comforting tribute to Millie. I knew her just well enough to bet she would love this project.

As I don’t need so many throws for myself, a number are listed on my Etsy page, https://www.etsy.com/shop/lfntextiles?ref=hdr_user_menu-shop&section_id=21479994.

 

Figuratively Speaking

I have woven expressive faces for 9 months now, and have received baffled, amused, indifferent, and engaged responses to them.

It is always difficult to bring a new body of work into the world that has no apparent genetic connection to all the other work one has made in the past. It causes all sorts of uproar, breaks gallery relationships, and even upsets friends.

Every time I indulge in making figurative work in textiles, I reap trouble. When I was an undergrad in Fibers at Kansas City Art Institute, circa 1974, I wove a large tapestry of a reclining, yellow nude, part of a number of figurative pieces I had produced that semester. It hung in the school cafeteria for a week with some other fiber work. I got so much derision from painting students I was mortified (“why don’t you just paint, then?”), and abandoned the human form for many years.

I wove beautiful, engaging, thoughtful series of garden and architectural themes for many years to happy acclaim and good sales. (https://lfntextiles.com/gardens-and-architecture/)

When my marriage fell apart in 2010, I embarked on a series of figurative works to try to express the personal, spiritual transformation I had to undergo to find peace. It resulted in my being asked to leave the gallery which long represented me in Santa Fe, as it simply didn’t sell like my other work.

And now, I am weaving and drawing and printing images of faces expressing bewilderment, surprise, dread, anger, pain, and all the multitude of emotions that I am going through in this tumultuous cultural and political climate in my country now.

Many people have responded with comments that these are even “fun”. Some have suggest d they would make great pillows (well, why not?). Some gallerists have indicated that this is not their “favorite” work from me. And two members of my family have demanded why I am making such painful images.

I wonder, is it me? Am I just supposed to make pleasing things?  More soon…

Working, after a pause

Have you ever found that, when removed from an investigative process by any kind of other demand, that you return refocused, and maybe differently focused?  Often, this happens to me.  I used to be able to control my creative life by daily rigor and insistence, but the older I get, the more life intrudes to change the focus.

this might be fun! I am not yet sure. But it is a fact of my artistic, as well as of my mundane, life.

I worked insistently though four months, making faces that I felt reflected my responses to daily events.  Satisfying!  But when I take a pause, my thoughts move along.  Tomorrow, after a hiatus of effectively 4 weeks, i re-enter my studio to re-assess what i have talked about. And yet, I am technically unable, at this moment, to continue to write about it…

here is a mini rant: I hate WordPress!  So I can’t continue to write what I am thinking about now.  So all I can say is, watch this little page to see what the captive can squeeze out. If I can.

hand-woven textile, 2018. 16” x 12

thoughts on weaving and drawing

I have been weaving faces for several months. I began with small works, about 8” square each. Simple sketches, gestural and to the point. The idea is to give quick studies of the kinds of feelings which occur in a time like ours. 

Dismay, Handwoven, 8” square, wool and cotton, 2018

My artmaking, when I was young, was mostly about drawing faces, and i longed to get back to the direct expressivity and engagement of personality and opinion.

Working like this now, in weaving, is about the precision of line necessary to make subtle changes in expression. It gives me a new way to interact intimately with my process and examine each thread to see what it will do.

I have envisioned a roomful of large faces like this, suspended, not necessarily nailed to walls, 36”x 30”, or so.  I am working on these now, along with a set about 12” x 18”, which, annoyingly, are proving more expressive.  What’s size got to do with it? Most likely, it is easier to control the image at that scale.

Ooooh, Handwoven, 16”x12”, wool and cotton, 2018

Ferocity, 2018. 16” x 12”, 2018

Howl, 2018. 35” x 30”, wool with cotton.

I am amazed by the difference in working between these scales.  What works as a small gesture seems, well, sometimes silly, translated to a larger scale.  How do I draw at that scale to keep it real? What is astonishing is the technical dexterity that I need for this translation.

Worry, 2018. 27” x 24”. Handwoven, acrylic and nylon.

Everything becomes exaggerated.  Lips, when small, nearly inconsequential, a mere mark , but then 6 times as large? Silly?

The small pieces seem gender neutral. The big ones seem more female. And perhaps cartoonish?  It seems I always come back to the face I know best, my own.

This is all good information to ponder, as I make. I often find that I do not know what I am actually making until after I make it. This is new territory for me.   Feedback is so helpful. Please comment, if you are so moved.