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I’m back! Here’s what I’ve been up to

I haven’t posted in quite a while because life took a bad turn about six months ago. My husband’s health began to decline in November; he was hospitalized for a week in February. He has several health issues which won’t be resolved but he is stable and doing as well as can be expected. 

Meanwhile, my studio practice and writing ground to a halt this winter.  The past month or so, I have begun to bring things back up.  I started by working on a tapestry I had started on my Louet Jane 8 shaft loom.  It measures 22 1/8 inch across and will be 36-38 inches in length in the loom.  I haven’t worked this large in a while but it’s going well.

This is a twill tapestry, something I started experimenting with about 10 years ago.  It is woven like tapestry—the weft completely covering the warp—but with a twill rather than a plain weave structure.  This one is an advancing, undulating 3/2 twill.

Here is the draft for those interested. The brown in this draft is the pattern area which is visible in one pick and the gray is the ‘subtext’–the name I’ve given to this part of the weaving–which is visible as the other pick. Both together complete each row of tapestry.

3/2 undulating twill draft

I’ve completed about 1/4 of the piece. Here are some images of the work so far. 

In this image, you can see the collection of yarns I am using.  I blend 3 to 5 shades of each color into the yarn bundle.  There are 5 color areas in the design with a brown background.

Here are some bobbins wound with yarns. The variegated one is a blend of the 5 different colors within the design. I’m using this for the ‘subtext’ part of the weaving.

After a plain weave hem, I began to work the twill pattern. The sword is lifting one pick of the twill pattern.

I was originally thinking I would mount this piece on gallery-wrap stretcher bars. These are thicker than regular stretcher bars, designed to mount a painting without a frame.  I was leaving an area of the tapestry at the beginning to wrap around the bars and the pink thread going across the beginning of the weaving indicates where the fold would be.   Haven’t decided if I’m going to do that after all, but I’ll make that decision when the tapestry is off the loom.

Here is a detail showing the pattern/subtext relationship and the weave structure. At this point, I have woven 6 inches above the fold.  The pink stitching along the side marks every two inches of weaving.

Here is the weaving at 6 inches At this point, I have begun to hang the bobbins on a cord stretched above the weaving to help keep the threads straight and keep the bobbins off the weaving.

Here is the tapestry after about 8 inches of weaving.

This is the tapestry cartoon folded to show the remaining design.

I am also back to writing my book—or I should say, books. I’m working on two right now.  One is the big book I started working on about 7 years ago about my coiled basketry techniques which keeps growing and expanding. Lots of samples to make and images to take for that one.   

I’m also working on a book about the Color Journaling techniques I have developed over the past 10 years. This one will be faster to finish so it will probably come out first.  And I expect I will eventually write a book about twill tapestry … but not for a while!

Hopefully, I will be able to post more often but life has its own ideas about what’s going to happen. 

I hope you are all well and that fiber and/or color is a part of your life.

Time to branch out

I have been contemplating ways to share my work with a larger audience for a while now. Since my pieces are labor and time intensive, I don’t have a huge inventory and one piece can only go to one person. Several friends have encouraged me to think about prints and merchandising.

So I did a little research and now I’m taking the plunge.

I now sell prints, tote bags, mugs, phone cases and much more through Fine Art America. You can visit my personal page there at LinBentley-Keeling.Pixels.com.

And (hint, hint) just in time for holiday shopping!

Drop by and have a look. I’m sure you’ll like what you see!

It doesn’t matter how slowly you go….

I once did a piece called The Long and Winding Road which, once finished, I figured out symbolized the long road back from a difficult personal experience.  I did the piece in 2016, but that journey continues.  There are times when I am doing well and other times when I’m not.  That’s true of everyone, I know, but sometimes I get pretty down on myself, expecting to be able to do more than I am able.  Those periods of ‘down’ time seem to come more often and last longer and my physical challenges don’t help. But, as Confucius said, ‘it doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.’ 

The Long and Winding Road, 2016

So, I continue to move forward as best I can.  Progress on my first book continues.  I finished a meditation piece called appropriately, Meditation 5.  It is 5 inches in diameter. 

Meditation 5, 2021

I did another one in the spring during my tapestry class, Meditation 4, 2.75 inches square.

Meditation 4, 2021

I also taught a class called, The Joy of Color Journaling a few weeks ago.  This was a one-hour class based on a lesson I teach in my tapestry class. This is a technique I developed a few years ago based on an idea of Julia Cameron’s from her book, The Artist’s Way. She writes about doing Morning Pages and the Internal Editor.  I needed a way to play with color without having a specific goal in mind and as a way to spark inspiration for new design ideas. Here is a sample from one of my journals. 

Color journal page

Coming up with new designs can be hard. Sometimes they come to you fully formed and other times they stay off at the edges just out of reach. Color journaling and doing small meditation pieces—in which I weave or coil a small piece without any definite plan; color journaling in fiber—help me stay calm and not jump into a major piece before the design is ready.  This saves time, heartache and materials and makes life a lot happier!

I’ve been going through a design drought for a while now.  I think a lot of people have been struggling more than usual lately.  Rebecca Mezoff wrote about this last week.  We all hit slumps. The point is to keep going, somehow.  Color journaling and meditation pieces help me do that.

I’m finally working on a new design—the first in more than 4 years.  I’m cautiously excited about it and I’m still working out the design but here are some images of what I’m working on. I did one design and then wasn’t sure about it, so I did another. As I work on the base, I’ll decide which one to use–or maybe come up with a hybrid of the two.

Yarns for new piece
Sampling for new piece

I’ll share more as the piece progresses. Whatever you’re working on, or thinking of working on, keep going. Experiencing creativity in any form brings joy and fulfillment.

It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, just don’t stop.

It’s been a while

I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted and a lot has happened in that time. This one will be short just to let you know I’m still around!

First, WordPress has done an update and I need to revise my site so things may disappear for a bit. If that happens, bear with me.

Second, last time I wrote, I was still working on my online course. Well…that morphed into three and then I realized I needed to write a lot of material as well as doing videos, so I started working on revisions to workshop booklets that morphed into a book, then 3 books. I thought I could take images from videos for the books, but that didn’t work, so now I’m deep into work on the first book, Vibrant Vessels Creative Coiled Basketry: The Coiling Basics Workbook, writing, revising, coiling samples, taking images–I never realized there was so much work to writing a book! Once it is done–and it keeps taking longer and longer as I add, revise, reshoot images etc–I will go back to making videos for the first online course based on this book.

One of the reasons I decided I needed a book to base the course on is that I am left-handed. For those of you who aren’t left-handed, let me say it can be a challenge to try to figure out how to do something as a left-hander from right-handed directions and images. So, one of my challenges has been to create images and directions for both left-and right-handers. Photoshop to the rescue!!! For each image I take, I flip it to create a right-handed version. Here’s an example:

Left-handed orientation of the beginning of a coiled basket.
Right-handed orientation

This will work for a lot of the introductory chapters, but I need to do separate samples of the two vessels in the book because their construction will differ for left- and right-handers. This is a slow process and I’m taking my time because I want it to be right, clear and complete.

On the studio front, I have begun work on several pieces for an exhibition I was invited to participate in late next year. Between the book, online course and these pieces, I’ve been pretty busy.

I hope all is well with you and that you have found ways to stay positive and connected to your creative life this past year. I will keep you all posted and share image of the new pieces I’m working on, as well as the book and course–which I really do hope to have out this year.

Take care and thanks for your patience!

My tech holiday

It’s been six months since I left my job at the Bookmark. A lot has happened. I’ve been trying to find new, more sustainable rhythms in my life, but like everyone else, life happened while I was making other plans.

Last fall, I started teaching a tapestry weaving class at the OLLI program here.  It’s been very successful and a lot of fun.  We shifted to an online format in March because of the pandemic and I spent my time shifting handouts and tutorials to Thinkific and holding weekly sessions on Zoom as I also continued to work on Vibrant Vessels, which is evolving nicely, if slowly.

I came down with bronchitis around this time, the second bout in less than 12 months, so by late April, I was getting very tired and as much as I love teaching and developing courses, I knew that by the end of the semester I would need a break, so for the first two weeks of June, my computer stayed off, I stayed pretty much offline and did my best not to think about anything but my own studio work.

I say ‘pretty much’ because it was difficult not to at least keep up with the news headlines about Covid and then the protests, but I limited myself to 30 minutes of news a day, didn’t check my email for two weeks and stayed off social media—which I don’t use that much, but it all adds up. After a day or two of adjusting, I didn’t miss it at all.  And, my mind began to unclench and relax. Time began to expand. It’s not just that I had more of it because I wasn’t online and on the computer, but my organic sense of time reawakened.  And, I began dreading the 15th when I’d be getting online again.

I have been back online for two weeks now.  I don’t start up my computer until the afternoon, which leaves my mornings free for weaving and other studio work and I stay unplugged all weekend. This has reduced my anxiety a lot because I’m not checking on ‘things’ many times throughout the day. I’m still anxious of course but it feels more manageable now. I have stuck to my 30-minute limit on news each day fairly well, with a couple of relapses.  I have cleared my email inbox by unsubscribing to most of the website lists I was on and now get about 35 emails a day instead of the 150 a day I was getting.  Best of all, I have actually completed a weaving just for me!

Here it is:

desert Solitude 1a

I call it Desert Solitude.  It’s small (about 4″ x 6″) and based on a painting I did years ago (a blurry photo of a photo along with some of the yarns I used, but you get the idea)

inspiration

I think it turned out fairly well.  This was a color study for a larger, more complex weaving I have in the back of my mind.  But, that’s for another day.

What am I doing now?  I am back to Vibrant Vessels with fresh eyes and renewed enthusiasm.  I have another weaving on my 8 shaft Jane loom—a set of towels I started a year and a half ago to learn 8 shaft weaving.  Once they are off the loom, I will transfer a twill tapestry from my 4 shaft floor loom to the Jane.  (The floor loom became too difficult for me to use with my joint issues and my wonderful husband gave me the Jane for my 60th birthday.)  I also have a new coil piece bubbling about in my brain—so many good things ahead!

My fervent prayers and good wishes to you and your families.  Take care.

 

 

 

January 2020

It’s been a long three months since I last wrote here.  My health has been faltering for more than a year now…more like two if I’m honest.  I have asthma and arthritis–both manageable on their own, but in tandem, they make life challenging sometimes.  At 61, I’m not as resilient as I once was; it takes me a lot longer to bounce back when I get overdone and that’s been happening a lot.  I finally decided I had to quit my job at the bookstore, which I loved, but I just couldn’t keep up with it physically.  I started at 4 days a week, went down to 3 in 2018 and last May went down to 2 and I still couldn’t keep up.  Too tired, too weak, too much pain.  I should have stopped last spring, but I’m stubborn and I always think that “tomorrow will be better”.  Which is generally true if you aren’t pushing yourself to the brink daily.  The brink has been getting closer and closer lately and I was in danger of falling over, so I finally accepted something had to go.  I really miss it, but that’s the way it goes….

I have been home now for 5 weeks. I have started exercising again almost every day and I’m getting a lot more sleep.  I’m up to almost a mile a day on my exercise bike, which isn’t much, but it’s a lot for me right now.  I am constantly balancing pushing myself and staying just within the bounds so I don’t get sick.  The winter weather is always a challenge–cold, dry, windy–but I am making slow, incremental progress toward better health.

I have been doing some writing and I am working on my online classes, but the progress there is also slow.  I realized that I need to do a lot more work before the classes will be ready.  I went back to the drawing board and reworked the  concept completely a couple of weeks ago because I realized I was leaving a lot of things out–things that I have covered in person that need to be written out and imaged.  There will now be an introductory basics course with one basket for those that have never done coiled basketry and either aren’t sure they will like it or for “craft dabblers” who just want to do one basket.  For those who are interested in more fully experiencing coiled basketry, there will be two more comprehensive courses in Shaped Baskets and Open Bowls.  These will both incorporate the basics in the intro course, but will have a wider scope and will include patterns for several baskets as well as a section on design.   I am also looking into different materials for  both cordage and yarns. I have a set of go-to materials I like, but I will be doing samples of different materials so students can choose what most appeals to them.  When I have more of those samples done, I will share them here.

As for my own creative work, I am planning to get back to the lionfish and finish it.  I have a warp on my loom I want to finish–a set of towels I started in the fall of 2018 to play with a new loom my husband gave me for my 60th birthday.  I have two coiled pieces bouncing around in my head that I want to do and a tapestry that’s bouncing in there too.  In addition to working on my health, I am trying to set aside at least one day a week for my studio work, but that hasn’t happened yet.  Maybe this week…

So, that’s where things stand right now.  I hope to get the first class up soon and I apologize for the wait.  I am always working on things in my head, but my body can only do so much.  

I hope all of you have a wonderful year and I will keep you posted here on what I’m doing.

 

New pages, New Projects

I am still working on my Lionfish–got hung up on the fins, but I think I finally have that solved.  The inaugural exhibit of Save the Reef was this month in Wyoming and we are still looking for our next venue.  If you have any ideas, please let me know! I’ll get back to work on the lionfish soon.

September and October were busy with classes.  I taught a tapestry weaving class for the OLLI program at UTEP and a mini-workshop in Reading and Writing Weaving Drafts for my weaving guild in Las Cruces.  Great fun! And, there are twelve new weavers in the world!!

Today, I added a Shop page on the site so that I can sell my work from here.  I have been using ArtizanMade for several years, but it developed some difficulties and the woman running the site has turned her attention to a brick-and-mortar store in Paducah, KY.  She has several of my pieces there and I’ve also listed them here.  

Now, I’m turning my attention to an exciting new project, an online course in my coiled basketry techniques! I’ve been thinking about this for a while and started working on it this summer. I have taught workshops in the past and have been working on a book off and on for a number of years. I have taught anthropology courses online, too. And, though I wasn’t sure about it at first, I found online teaching is a great way to work one-on-one with students. So, I decided I’d like to try teaching coiled basketry online.  I will be launching my new course, Vibrant Vessels Creative Coiled Basketry, soon.

Print

I think this will be a great format for teaching coiled basketry.  It’s difficult to teach as much as you want in the limited time you have in a workshop setting and  this will allow students to work at their own pace while having one-on-one feedback from me.  

I will be adding a page on this website with more details and a link to the teaching platform I’ll be using.  I’m still in the learning curve when it comes to creating videos and I’m working on samples but hope to have it together before too much longer.  So much to learn! 

If you’d like to be added to an email notification list about this course, drop me a line at LBKFiberArts@gmail.com or use the Contact page here.

Hope your holidays are merry and bright this year!

A new direction; a new focus

For quite a while, my art practice was drifting. I didn’t quite know what the next phase was going to be about and I felt like I was just repeating myself–doing the same piece over and over without moving forward.

Last year, I worked on a piece that was inspired by some photos a friend sent us of the hibiscus she grew on her patio when she was living in California.  It started as just another piece and I set it aside because, again, I felt like it was just another piece in different colors. But, I picked it up again and began playing with the shaping. And, it became this…

111718112611171811271117181127b The piece originally made me think of the happy glow I would feel thinking about the Pacific Coast, but I had to put it aside a second time during the terrible wildfires there because it was too painful to think about the destruction and devastation.  When I finished it, I realized that it had become a symbol for me of the two sides of nature–the peace and beauty side and the destructive power side.  I have named it Coastal Glow.  We can love the beauty of nature but we must never lose sight of her power.

When I returned to work on the piece, I began to see a new avenue for my work.  I have always focused my process and designs on positive energies, beauty and grace which are still very important to me in my work.  Now, I have added a new element, a new focus to the work:  I realized that it is necessary to not only balance the many negative energies in the world with art that focuses on positive energies, I need to add my voice to the work necessary to advocate for change.

About this time, I happened upon a message from Doris Florig about a five year traveling fiber art exhibition to create global awareness about the degradation and destruction of coral reefs and other ocean ecosystems.  I joined the Save the Reef  team and I am creating a lionfish for the project.20190407_11565020190416_07484120190627_15185720190627_151904

This has been the most challenging piece I have ever worked on.  The raw cordage you see sticking out along the edges will become the ribs of the fins of the lionfish.  There are still several technical issues to overcome and I am not sure how I will solve them, but I will.

I am really excited about this new direction in my work.  I know I have been radio silent for quite a while, mostly because I was in this internal struggle about the lack of direction I was feeling and I have had continued health challenges that interfere with my productivity.  I keep moving forward little by little, knowing I will eventually get there.

Many years ago, I came up with a phrase: Patience plus persistence equals perseverance.  The patience is hard to come by some days but I am persistent.  And, the work, though slow, keeps me sane and brings me joy.

I hope that your work and life bring you some joy today!

 

Summer days

It’s amazing to me how fast time moves. I don’t know if it’s me or the world, but it moves too fast most of the time.   Years ago, when I was experimenting with writing poetry–since abandoned–I wrote one short poem with a line that has stayed with me since then: Even on the longest day, nightfall comes too soon.

The main thing that keeps me grounded in this whirlwind is my studio time.  Time slows down here and my thoughts can take their natural, slow winding course, even if only for a few minutes or an hour.

I don’t usually write about things I’m reading etc, but I wanted to share a blog I’ve been following for a while.  Steven Pressfield writes about the process of creating art and he’s been sharing a series of posts the past few months about his new book, The Artist’s Journey.  If you haven’t read him, check it out.  I wanted to share today’s post particularly because he shares an important point about creativity and the journey all of us can take, if we choose.

Best wishes for a more creative life.

A belated Happy New Year!

So, as usual, I am about 2 weeks behind on emails etc and I’m just getting around to doing some New Year’s greetings.

This past year has been transformational with a new job that has allowed me to restructure my thinking and my energies. I am in the studio more–though I still need to do a better job of documenting the work in progress–and I have some exciting new ideas for the work going forward this year.  

Last year, I spent a lot of time on a major writing project that I will share later when it’s a little further along. 

And, I completed a new piece:

Staccato Flow 1 72 px
Staccato Flow 2017

Here’s a piece I completed in 2016:

Long Winding Road 2 72 pix
The Long and Winding Road 2016

Long Winding Road 4 72 pix
The Long and Winding Road 2016

Also, a  nice piece of exposure on the web on HAND/EYE!

I hope this new year will bring you and all those you love good health and happiness!