I picked up Derek Jarman's book again.
It is a meditation about color, really, almost a stream of consciousness of his experiences, of what he has read, of an amazing about of experiential knowledge about color. I dip into it at night, before falling asleep, so the experience of reading it is dream-like. Last night I read about gray, and Jarman ranges from Augustine to Ostwald, who invented the gray scale. In my last New Mexico weaving workshop, we created grayscales in yarn, and -- color-junkie though I may be -- I have been imagining designs in gray.
My upcoming workshop in New Mexico is on weaving curves. The best way I have found to visualize the traditional structure of tapestry is to see a page of graph paper. All those lines intersecting at right angles. The challenge I aspire to is to work on that grid making it play ungrid-like tricks. How do you weave curves on a grid? It is really a form of trompe-l'oeil.
The pre-workshop challenge for me is to come up with designs with curves. Seems simple enough, but the imagery I have been accumulating is based on citiscapes and the geometric. Hmmm. Curves. Nature of course is a source of curves. So here is south Texas, I have come up with photographic images of agave plants. For example:
I particularly like the next one. Hmm, a sort of gray, isn't it?
Those are all from gardening catalogs. I don't like working from other people's images, so it is time to take my camera around with me. My discomfort with using other people's images has less to do with copyright and ownership -- though that is there -- but really it is the feeling that my images should be mine. At my last workshop folks were working from all sorts of pictures and were happy enough about it. One woman in the workshops I take here at the Southwest School of Art is fascinated by Klee, and makes tapestry after tapestry of his faces. The instructor was gently urging her to create some of her own images, and the the concept honestly simply did not register for her.
So I am taking pictures, not very good ones, that I will play with. I have some prickly pear next to the house, and I will work with some images of that. On my way to work on Friday I ran around the side of the house with my cell phone to see what I have there. So here is the first of the idea shots.
I have put my camera in my bag, and will keep my eyes open, and will take lots of photographs of things with curves. I may try to get to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens next weekend with my camera. And if I head up to Austin, my friend there has a passion for cacti, and has a few of these in her garden:
In addition to those urban right angles, though, I also fixate on letter shapes. I like letters. My favorite Dr. Seuss book has always been On Beyond Zebra, and, language-junkie in addition to a color junkie, languages that use other alphabets are always the most interesting. My problem with designing with letters though is that I don't want them to say anything. I want the shape, not the word. Very few words can sustain an image, in my opinion. I love erasures, palimpsests, designs that look like texts but when you try to read them they fade away. So I haven't had much luck with designs with letters. I do keep coming back to illuminated letters. I may need to work on an illuminated Dr. Seussian sort of letter. Or letters so big they no longer look like letters. Or letters falling off of pages. Erased letters.
And finally, knits. Not finally in daily life, since I have taken knitting breaks from my current indexing project, both a challenge and a pleasure, since I am working in Spanish and Portuguese. I finally... finally... get entrelac knitting, but only after taking Gwen Bortner's very excellent Craftsy class. The best Craftsy class I have taken, and by lesson two I had taken off, using a pattern and yarn I bought in 2004 when the book first came out. Three-dimensional thinking is not my strong suit, and I could not visualize entrelac. This is the pattern, the very famous Lady Eleanor. And now that I get entrelac, I can't even remember what the problem was. This is what I have so far. The yarn, of course, is Noro, with long color repeats that take entrelac to new heights. A poor picture, taken as usual on my desk with my phone. But you get the idea.
And even though I have my hands full, I fell in love with some Malabrigo Arroyo during my knitting get-together at a local yarn store. How could I resist this almost medieval combination of red with hints of gold:
Reader, I couldn't. Five skeins came home with me, and the plan is that they will become Joji Locatelli's cardigan Even Flow.