Fall is here, the time when, finally, the desert sun feels soothing, not scalding. Everything growing, crawling, prowling, or standing upright breathes a sigh of relief. El niño is supposed to bring lots of rain this winter… but promising rain to the desert is risky. We’ll see.

I am breaking out of a chrysalis that has held me for several years, inside of which I have experienced both growth & stagnation. Experiencing three National Park artist residencies within four years gave me many wonderful experiences, but also pinned me down while I fulfilled the obligation of creating & donating tapestries. Tapestry weaving being the slow medium it is, & my nature to overachieve somewhat (ok, maybe a lot), kept me quite focused on those projects to the exclusion of most everything else in the artistic realm. Which was one of the reasons I needed to take a hiatus from my old blog. Once the log jam was cleared, I found myself missing it. So here I am, once again

The last of my of my National Park artist residency tapestries has been completed & is at its new home in Zion National Park. The tapestry, canyon tide, took longer to weave than planned, but there was foot surgery involved. On both feet at the same time, which, as those of you who use a loom with treadles know, would make it really painful to weave until some healing occurred. It was a very challenging piece to weave & at times I hated it, but I’m very happy with how it turned out. I am not sure when & where it will be installed, but I’ve asked the curator to let me know & also to send me an image of it. Hopefully, she will do so. As for the condor tapestry, it is still in my possession, not at the Grand Canyon. When there is more to say about that, I’ll share it.

canyon tide
canyon tide 34” x 37.75”

canyon tide progress5 canyon tide detail5 canyon tide detail3 canyon tide detail1

Now that I am free again, I have started exhibiting again… most recently some older works in the last three exhibits at Tohono Chul Park. Currently, I have two new small pieces for sale in their invitational exhibit, Small Works, which will be up until mid-February.

As I was finishing the Zion tapestry, an inexplicable burning urge came over me to get an art degree. It was quickly extinguished when I realized I would have to work for grades, take tests, & draw bowls of fruit & naked people while paying huge sums of money. Plus, the local community college would not accept any of my credits I earned for my A.A. degree, only those for my A.S. degree, which is in nursing & so not very helpful for art. Meh! Then I remembered that here in Tucson we have a museum, of which I am a member, that is ranked as one of the top ten in the country… the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum… & which just happens to offer a certificate in Nature Art focused on the flora & fauna of the desert. Bing! I realized I want to take classes because I have the desire for more formal training using mediums I’ve been using for a long time without any instruction, like watercolors, not because I want more letters after my name. At the ASDM’s Art Institute I’ve completed my first watercolor class taught by a professional scientific illustrator. I will be taking two more one-day classes with her, plus a three day sketchbook/journaling class taught by renowned local artist Catherine Nash before 2015 ends. Although there is a required “curriculum” listed for the certificate, I learned in a meeting with the Institute’s director that those requirements are for people with absolutely no art background… after a review of my portfolio, I’ve been given permission to tailor the classes I take towards what I feel I need most for myself as long as I meet the “hours required”. Wow.

destined for a tapestry
red hawk skull

As the year winds down, I am also reflecting on those that finished their journeys here on Earth this year. My mentor & friend, Silvia Heyden, along with three of my mother’s sisters are gone. Although I was no longer close to any of the aunts, they were influences in my childhood when we lived in New York & so I have been reminiscing a lot about that time in my life (I especially wonder what the person who buys one aunt’s house will think about my & her son’s names chiseled into the mirror smooth concrete cellar floor, something we had both thought was a great idea until the last hammer blow on the chisel when we realized we might possibly be skinned alive for what we had done).

As for Silvia, I feel so absolutely fortunate to have had her influence in my life & art. I think of her every time I sit at my loom & have had lots of memories renewed after a recent presentation I gave to the local weaving guild’s tapestry study group about my experiences with her. And a very welcome addition to my studio stash is now being squeezed into my yarn cabinets… a wonderful collection of Silvia’s yarns.

silvia's yarns
table of joy