by Jan Austin
Click here for a printable .pdf of this article.“The intent of this project is to allow people to gain insight into the thinking and working methods of a creative individual.”
I love Mary Lane’s description of this project, because it is exactly what fascinates me about tapestry blogs, and is the purpose of my own blog: “Tangled Web: Tapestry and Other Stuff.” The title tells you that my focus is not limited to tapestry, but includes other aspects of a creative life.
Being a visual artist is not a 9 to 5 job, it’s my life. I am an artist when I’m working at the library, weeding the flower gardens, or driving. I get lots of inspiration while driving, because I have to keep my eyes open, and there’s not much else to do. My education in the visual arts has trained me to be observant, so I see hundreds of potential landscape paintings whizzing by at 65 mph.On the TV sitcom “Big Bang Theory,” the geeky guy tells his girlfriend what he was doing all day. He says, “Well, I’m a physicist, so I thought a lot.” She asks, “Is that all?” He replies, “Well, I wrote down some of it.” That sounds like my life.
In 2008 I made a New Year’s resolution to create a website, but after reading tapestry blogs by Lyn Hart, Kathy Spoering and Tommye Scanlin, I decided a blog would be more fun. I always have ideas for articles on random topics and I soon discovered that designing a blog post felt like creating art in a new medium. The nice thing about a blog is that I can write what I feel like writing whenever I feel like it! At first I was afraid I would run out of topics to write about, so I made a list. I make an effort to post about twice a month and to keep at least half of it related to tapestry.When I started my blog, I emailed other bloggers for advice and then I spent a few hours on Google’s Blogger website, figuring out how it all works. Blogger is pretty simple, although getting the initial design just the way I wanted it was a little challenging. I know that if I was familiar with HTML I could do a lot of spiffy stuff. Still, I was soon creating new posts at 10 pm while watching the evening news on TV.
Although the word blog comes from “weblog,” mine is not like a journal or diary, but more like a magazine, where each entry is an article. My goal is to make each entry interesting and visually appealing, but not too demanding. I enjoy blogs that are about half photos and half text, so that’s what I aim for in my own posts. Most of my entries are fairly short, about 250-400 words accompanied by 4-6 photos. It’s fun to include links, but lately I have done less of that, as I wonder how often people actually use them.I enjoy sharing old family photos and images of nature, because that is what inspires me. Sometimes, when I write about old work or subjects like my yarn winder, it’s because I am not making progress in the studio. I feel that those topics are still relevant because they are part of the creative process behind my tapestry weaving.
Writing a blog forces me to recognize, and helps me to deal with, my tendency towards procrastination. I want to have something to show and write about on my blog and that provides me with motivation to weave. Once I share a new tapestry project on my blog, it motivates me to finish, or at least make progress, on the piece because I imagine that people are wondering, “Whatever became of that tapestry Jan started last year?”Although I like to share my tapestry once it is off to a good start, I have not felt comfortable sharing my design process while I’m working on it. It feels like a very private matter. It may be because I prefer to design intuitively, or because many of my designs end up as dead ends. (Ooh, now I’m thinking that would be an interesting topic: “Tapestry Designs That Never Got Woven.”) As I write this, I realize that I could also provide insight into my creative process through my blog. I am uncomfortable sharing photos of tapestries that have been submitted to juried shows. If they get accepted, I’d prefer people to see them for the first time in the exhibit, not on my blog.
Tapestry weavers tend to work in isolation, so I think the best reason to blog is that it allows me to share my art whenever I want.