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Welcome to Musings – The Loom Room Blog

23 December, 2009

The Art of Seeing Colour

Filed under: Art,Education,Life,Psychology,Teaching,Weaving — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 2:33 pm

Just recently, I woke up and looked out of the bedroom window onto a beautiful morning – low winter sun shining on the willow tree forming a tracery of orange against the clear blue sky…. Orange?!  Look again – yes!  Orange!  Bright, vivid, ineffably orange.

Orange isn’t a colour you normally associate much with winter.  Of course there are carrots, peppers, satsumas, mandarins and oranges, and pumpkins.  But I’m talking big amounts of colour you see round you everyday – like blue and green.  This is one of the incredible gifts of winter, often unseen, that we don’t normally get to see. 

We see sun shining on familiar objects such as trees, bushes, hedges.  But we don’t actually see beyond what they symbolize.  A tree is generally just a tree to us.  We see the outside silhouette, and register the impression of a tree. But if you look past the shape and presence of the tree and notice the branches, twigs, moss, bark, and so on, another world appears.  A microcosm of life – a mini-universe in the environment of the tree.  But you still might not see the truth of the tree at that moment.  For instance, the willow.

The realisation this particular morning that the sun shining on the tree at this time of winter makes the tree orange.  I thought to myself – “I’ve become Monet” – able to see through what I was seeing to the underlying colour and reflection of light, and I instantly understood what it is about his work that so appeals to so many of us.  His colours look fantastic – in the sense of almost bizarre or imaginary – and yet he is truly seeing what is there, even if very fleetingly.

There are a myriad of colours we see but which don’t even make it to our conscious level because they fall under the general impression of shadow or sunlight.  Think of all the purples and blues in shadows on snow!  No wonder sunny days lift us up so much – our sunny world is a world chocker-block full of colours which we don’t notice except by their absence, much in the same way that we don’t notice all the harmonics that go into music we listen to – we’d only notice them if they weren’t there.  Think of how you feel on an overcast, or rainy, or foggy day.  Drained – all colour gone.

So here’s a challenge – see how many unexpected colours you can find today – truly ‘see’ the colours of the light reflecting off familiar objects by thinking about what you’re looking at and what you are actually seeing.  I’ll bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 

14 December, 2009

Eva – the simple life

Filed under: Life — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 12:37 pm

This week my thoughts turned to a wonderful lady I knew as a child.  Until I was 10, we lived in a small, quiet, backwater village in Kent, in the middle of the hop-gardens and apple orchards of The Garden of England.  One of the village characters, although one of the quietest people you could ever chance to meet, was Eva.  She was a spinster lady in her sixties, I should think, and she lived alone in a very small terraced cottage with a long garden in which she grew her own veg and fruit.  She kept herself through playing the organ in church, and accompanying the village dancing lessons, and accompanying anyone who was taking music exams or dance exams or performing in the village shows. 

Eva was very special to me.  I had quite a lot to do with her as I was a musical child and did lots of competitions on the recorder, and danced (or tried to – as well as one can with flat feet!!) as well as singing in the church choir and taking part in the shows.  She was a constant presence in my life and such a gentle influence.  She had very little money – in fact she lived on so little that she would never eat with me whenever I went round to her for tea, which was inevitably a boiled egg with a slice of bread and a piece of home-made fruit cake.  She would always say that she had already eaten, or wasn’t hungry yet, and I never once thought deeper about it.  It was only years later that I found out that that was all she had, and when I turned up for tea, she went without.  She never once said anything, and was always so glad to see me. 

The reason Eva invariably comes into my thoughts at this time of year is because of her wonderful love of Christmas.  She would always so look forward to taking out her treasured box of Christmas decorations and tinsel.  The tinsel would nestle around her nativity scene which just fitted on top of her mantelpiece, and the piano candle sconces would be decorated with tiny bits of coloured tinsel.  Her cards would be ranged along the top of the piano. 

Her living room was tiny – in fact her cottage was too – two up and two down with an outside privy up the garden.  She would wash in her bedroom in a basin and ewer.  She had only a little crockery and cutlery, and one of her plates had been mended so many times that you couldn’t see the pattern for the glued cracks.  But she never complained.  In fact, she was the epitomy of thankfulness and gratitude.  She never saw the bad in anyone, not even her neighbour who acted like an absolute witch to her!  She was always so happy with her life, wondering how she was so lucky to be paid to do the thing she loved the most in her life – playing the piano, and she always thanked her God that she could feed herself through her garden.

When we moved away when I was ten, we were all heart-broken, and we continued to visit Eva on a regular basis whenever I went to a nearby town for my singing lessons as a teenager.  Only this time, we always brought the tea with us!  She came to visit us on holiday – we had moved to Hastings, a town on the south coast with a very historic past – and she came to see the sea.  She was so in awe at everything she saw.  She would stop in the middle of a busy road, totally oblivious to the fast-moving traffic, and gaze up at the seagulls, with her hands in the air and total wonder on her face.  She would always ask to visit the sea so she could paddle as the first thing she did, and she would remove her shoes and stockings and raise her skirt to her knees, and just paddle up and down the edge of the water until she could no longer feel her toes! This child-like innocence never left her and still brings tears to my eyes when I remember her. 

She wasn’t simple – far from it!  She had very little education, but loved to read.  She had a strong religious faith but never spoke of it.  She just loved life and people and nature.  When she was visiting us once, we took her to a local pottery, and she bought a mug with her savings and treasured that mug, drinking her one cup of coffee a day out of it, and sitting remembering her visits to us and the sea every time.  When she died, the little that she had was given with love to her friends, and she had saved her special mug for me.  It is my soup mug, so in the winter, I always sit and remember those wonderful days of my childhood with her, her wonderful innocence, and her calm acceptance of her life’s lot. 

I was so fortunate to have known Eva.  I hope there are still Eva’s around for our youngsters to know today.

5 December, 2009

Amended December Blues

Filed under: Jacquard weaving,Life,Philosophy,Psychology,Travel,Weaving — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 6:12 pm

Sorry to republish this, but I was asked by Dusan from Arahne to make it clear that Arahne did not charge for my phone calls, but that I was referring to my telecoms provider.  I am more than happy to clarify that, with my apologies if anyone read it that way.  I also forgot to put in the links for my weaving friends, so I’m pleased to have got the opportunity to update those. 

I missed last week’s blog as I was working away on a TC-1, a computer jacquard handloom.  What was even nicer was that I was visiting fellow Complex Weaver, Belinda Rose.  Belinda has a TC-1 set up at the moment for 60 epi and 14″ wide, with 4 modules deep.  She has a black/white warp so that was ideal for utilising double cloth structures.  I was exploring a number of images to create dimensional effects.  I don’t yet know the total outcome as I have still to repair the various ends that need mending and then to photograph the work before shoving it in the washing machine!! 

I’ve been using ArahPaint4 and ArahWeave, and after overcoming some teething problems with the Operating Software, and several expensive (but well worth it) phone calls to Dusan and Anton at Arahne, and a helpful email from fellow weaver and friend Sheila O’Hara, I was able to do what I wanted to do….  The weaving community is a wonderfully warm and helpful one! 

Since I’ve been back in my studio, I’ve mostly been tidying up and getting everything in order so as to de-clutter my mind before I fling myself back into the sample weaving on the AVL dobby loom.  I’ve been thinking how to translate some of my jacquard thinking into dobby weaving, and am looking forward to trying a few things out. 

I find December to be quite a strange month.  There’s the frenetic activity in schools and shops, compared with the quieter times in the studio with less teaching and fewer workshops and lectures.  I actually like this down time.  It’s a time for reflection, a time for planning, a time for re-evaluating priorities.  This economic downturn we’re all in has repercussions for most of us, and I am no exception.  It’s really easy to feel low when the money dries up and times are tough, but we have a choice in how we react to these circumstances.  Today I made my decision –  I’m going to relish the challenge of overcoming the difficulties.  So this winter, I am using my existing stash and not buying any more yarn.  I am selling off yarn I no longer require (such as a 6ply cotton rug warp!!) and some books that I have duplicated.  I am tidying up so that I know what I have, and I am using my book resources combined with my own weaving experience to develop my work.  Technology is wonderful, but I sometimes forget how resourceful we humans can be, and when pushed to it, it’s good to rediscover that side of us. 

One of the many sayings that sounds good to me is “Want what you have, not have what you want”.  Right now, that’s a good place to be!!