Category Archives: Creativity

About that retreat

Drawing on Meg’s envelope

Wow! It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted here. BUT I have been busy with studio stuff. First, I want to go back to the retreat idea. I have spent a bit of time on that. My first day was spent in the library, not the one closest to me, but in one a bit farther away. Why? Because it has individual study tables that are conducive to not being disturbed. I did a bit of studying, sketching, and researching. I found a design book by Miró that was interesting, and some books on prehistoric art. 

Because the weather has been so bad, my outside hikes with sketching have not happened. Soon I hope. The few good days we had were spent outside preparing beds for planting later, something that is good for my soul.

One of the things I wanted to explore was the idea of variations on a line. I’ve played with this before, but the post by Meg Nakagawa revived this interest. When I commented on Meg’s post about the book creations on this page, she sent me an actual book! The back of the envelope is depicted above. Lines! 

Contents-the book is in the center left

Book kind of unfolded

I have a whole folder of line ideas, so it’s time to focus. As I consider that, I have been weaving on a Baby Wolf loom in a strictly experimental way. One of the things I wanted to do was use wire or sticks as part of the weft. That experiment was a failure, but one I haven’t given up on. The others have been experimenting with hatching and color, just doing what ever with yarns on hand, and using a bunch of what I consider neutral, boring colors. More on that next week when I take that warp off the loom. By the way, a black warp is difficult.

One of the results from a few years past, experimenting with variations on a line :

©Sherri Coffey-Headin' Home

Headin’ Home, 43 x 30 inches Private collection ©Sherri Coffey




You may have guessed that I have been traveling. One of the things I did before leaving was to make a list of what I wanted to do when I got home. When I travel, even if it’s just for a long weekend, I have a hard time getting back into a routine. Frankly, I’ve been a little restless about staying home and working, so this list was extra helpful.

On my list is getting some dyeing done. So far that hasn’t worked out so well. I’ve had appointments, and well, a social life. Lunch out two times in one week? Unheard of. There’s also a coffee date already set up. What’s with this social life thing? Oh well, it’ll be over with next week.

My body clock is not back to normal, though, so I am getting some weaving done. Progress is slow. The goal for the above piece is to reach 30 inches (only 20 inches to go!). I’m hoping to get it finished soon, because another list I made is of the pieces I want to weave in the next few months.

Traveling always brings inspiration in one form or another. Mine seems to be spirals and pattern, as usual. Below are examples from the British Museum in London. I already posted a picture of spirals at the Underground station.


Egyptian spirals in British Museum

Handweavers Studio

One should always find the local weaving shop, right? I was told by a friend that this is one of the best she’s visited anywhere, so a visit was definitely in order. My friend was right–it’s a great shop! Handweavers Studio and Gallery

A bit about the trip

My daughter, son, grandsons, and I traveled to London. One reason we did this is because my daughter said that when we took them back when they were in high school, it was a life-changing event for her.

We decided to rent an apartment in the Bloomsbury area, which turned out to be an excellent decision. We were only a couple of blocks from the Russell Square tube station, so getting around was easy. When I first started looking for a place, I was looking at how many beds there were. Then I realized that I should also look at bathrooms. Five people, one bathroom? Not an ideal situation. 

We really loved being to stay in one place and visit when we made our way back after a long day of sightseeing and walking miles. 

Back to the schedule

After over 17 hours of trains, planes, airports, and auto, I got home after 9 pm, had a bit of dinner, and headed to bed. When I woke up in the middle of the night to make my way to the bathroom, I was disoriented in my own bedroom. Weird. But all is well now, and I’m back to work. It was a great trip, and we all had a good time. The list I made ahead of time has served me well.


Frustration, new starts, plus clouds

Section 3-again

Big roadblock

The piece on the loom was moving along at a pretty good clip–until I hit a speed bump! Section 3 of the ikat yarn was next, but it just wouldn’t work, no matter how I tried to manipulate it.


So, I got the cartoon out and compared the yarn to the cartoon, and guess what? The positive and negative spaces were totally reversed. Black was white, white was black. Believe me, I tried everything before reaching the conclusion that it would just have to be done again. No getting around it. I checked sections 4 and 5. Yes, they are correct. So, I started measuring the yarns.

While waiting …

The measuring and tying is done, so dyeing is next, maybe today. (I actually had a social event on Tuesday). But while not weaving on the big loom, the small loom inspiration is coming together in my head. I have several ideas to work on, including a few that go with a series I’m planning.

And then there are the clouds

Last week I was driving home after visiting my mother, when I looked up and noticed these really wonderful clouds. They were like waves across the sky, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I took the next exit and stayed on the service road so I could take pictures. Having not mastered the panorama setting on my phone, I just took individual shots and pieced them together in Photoshop, very obviously.

Wavy clouds

Then I took one bitty section and made it black and white.

Black and white clouds

And played around with ridiculous colors. 

Color, anyone?

Can this be turned into a weaving? What do you think?

Ikat experiments and more

Grocery shopping

Grocery shopping

No, this picture has nothing to do with ikat, I just like it. This is the painting on the refrigerated box for a drink that I don’t remember the name of. Judging from the picture, it must’ve been a fruit drink, right?

Left: cartoon, Right: weaving

Left: cartoon, Right: weaving

So, ikat experiments–You can see it all in the above picture. I’ve recorded the info on the  cartoon; the cartoon is 6 inches, the woven is 2.5 inches. The yarn was measured in 1/4 inch increments for this experiment, so it makes since that this ratio is more than double the ratio for 1/2 inch measuring. The other cartoon with all its angles is not turning out very well. Maybe those need to be measured in 1/8 inch increments, something that I will have to think long and hard about.

spinning and roving

spinning and roving

…and then there’s the spinning. About a pound of Romney roving rests on the floor beside the spinning wheel.

Circular-warped Mirrix

Circular-warped Mirrix

… and the newly warped Mirrix, warped in a circular way without the use of the warp bars. Another experiment.

small pieces

small pieces

… and the small pieces I wove, oh, maybe a year ago. I trimmed them and dumped them in water. Next I’ll hem and stitch them to a canvas. Another experiment….




Yes, I did it

You may remember that I REALLY wanted to see Matisse: The Cut-Outs at MOMA. So, I did it! Yes, I traveled to NYC in February and lived to tell about it. I was there between storms of the snow variety.

JFK sculpture

JFK sculpture

New York is not my favorite place to go; it’s just too darn busy. Crowded. Rush rush. First off,, right out of the box, the gate where we landed was at the farthest end of the terminal. I didn’t know that when I set off to wall to baggage claim. I was offered a ride in one of those golf cart vehicles, but no, I was fine. Geez! After miles and miles and miles, I got my luggage and worked my way to ground transportation and the shuttle.

It was important to me to stay within walking distance to the museum. Driving from the airport, dropping off the other passengers, seeing all the familiar things we associate with NYC, well, there’s just something kind of exciting about that. Driving past the famous theaters, seeing the marquees, kind of makes the pulse beat a little faster. My hotel was on 8th Avenue and 53rd. After dumping my stuff in my room, I went out on a reconnaissance mission and a bite to eat.


The next day I worked my way toward the museum for early hours for members. The sidewalks were slushy and slipper in spots, so I very carefully walked across streets. I could just see myself getting flattened after a fall in the middle of the street.

The exhibition was wonderful. I took notes of the pieces that grabbed me the most and why. Nearly always it was the color, but shapes came in a close second. MOMA-bag

Unfortunately, my knee didn’t cooperate to the extent that I would have preferred. I got a shot in it just before leaving, realizing that this would be kind of a test for it. I want to go to Peru, which will require a lot of walking. Well, the knee is not ready for Peru. Plan B.

Artist profile

Carolyn Edlund of Artsy Shark and Arts Business Institute interviewed me for an ABI artist profile. She is a lovely person and made this a completely comfortable process. After our conversation, she sent me a list of questions, and I wrote my answers. Our conversation made me think of a few things, so I’m glad I took notes. Since I am not the best writer in the world, I did ask friends to read my answers and make sure they made sense and/or make suggestions. I LOVE that she included such large images with the article.

If only… I would go to NYC

From Amazon

©Sherri Coffey-Journey

This was designed in the “Matisse way.” Everything was cut out of paper and arranged to make the design.







February is probably not the best time to travel to NYC, but I seriously considered a quick, two-day trip to see the exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at MOMA.  Matisse has been a favorite artist of mine for a good long time. I have written, or at least mentioned him often. When I analyze the reason for this admiration, I think it boils down to color. He definitely has a way with color! So, since I am seriously considering a long trip to Peru in the fall, I passed up on going to New York, even though flights and rooms were reasonably priced. I just went to a film about the exhibition instead.

The film was held on one night only, in one local theater only, but it was well worth it to get out in the cold, blustery wind. At night, no less! The film includes additions that would not be available at the actual exhibition (maybe?), such as a segment of ballet, including how it was filmed, a segment on a chapel which Matisse designed, and film of how the exhibition groupings were decided by the curator. I have to admit that I never knew he designed a chapel, and it’s wonderful! Here is an image of my favorite of the many stained glass windows he designed.

One could say that I’ve been consumed by this exhibition. I admit it. I bought the exhibition catalog, but there is no way that it could compare to the film. The pictures on a page of a book in no way allow one to see the scope of the cut-outs. The cut-outs are huge, and are much more impressive when seen on a wall, in context with the rest of cut-outs. But in defense of the book, which I have not examined thoroughly, there is more detailed information about the materials Matisse used. Of course, in the film, there were actual clips of Matisse cutting, of his assistants placing the cut-outs on the wall, and rearranging them at the direction of Matisse.

I am inspired once again, eager to do some designing. I came home all revved up after the viewing. I know I am not alone in this. Other artists have commented to feeling the same. By the way, I have always heard that Matisse started making the cutouts because he couldn’t see well. That was debunked in the film.


In the fiber world

It seems that lately I’ve seen some interesting and beautiful objects of fiber. One is a woven shelter by Abeer Seikaly. On his website there are many pictures of the shelter from the outside and inside, in the desert and in the snow. There are also diagrams showing the structure. The diagrams remind me of those honeycomb tissue paper decorations of snowballs. I want one in my yard!

The wonderful fiber insects by Yumi Okita are beautiful! The one pictured on the left has the materials in the caption–hand painted fabric. Look how those colors blend into the next. The link above takes you to an Etsy store that’s on vacation, but that’s the only link I could find for her. Perhaps it’s closed because everything has been sold Here’s her sold page. By the way, love the logo for her store! I want one of these too! Other places to see her creations are here, and here.

Erin Riley‘s tapestry process and time required for one piece of art are featured in this interview.  Her landscapes not the usual tapestry subjects, but feature vehicles, highways and accidents. The piece Three Strikes is compelling for me, but I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the anonymity of the characters, or perhaps it’s just the unusual subject matter. What do you think?

All of these works can be seen larger by going to the artists’ links. Take a look. You’ll be glad you did.


Treating myself


Artistic endeavor???

This week has been really big week for me so far. Not only am I having lunch out with friends twice–yes, two times!–my first workshop in the new studio space at the Kimbell was on Wednesday. What fun! As usual, the docents took us in small groups to view selected pieces, pointing out special details that they wanted us to notice and giving us information that we might not know about the artist or the work. All of the work that we viewed were in the exhibit Picasso and Matisse, and all related to collage. The works were not actual collages, but looked like a collage, probably having been constructed as an actual collage and then painted. Then we returned to the studio, which is absolutely marvelous. There are three studios, each with built in cabinets designed by the education director to include amenities that have been needed. Before, there was not even one room for studio creating. All was done at tables in the lobby as patrons walked by.

There were painted canvasses of various colors, but of course, I chose red. There were many interesting papers to choose from, stencils, and paints. What I found most interesting was that I started out with an idea that morphed into another idea entirely. I’m pretty happy with my work of “art.” And it was fun.

What does that tell me? Probably that I need to get out more, but also that playing around with new forms of art is good for the soul, that I need to do more experimenting with art at home, and let myself play without that critical voice saying a darn thing! Try something new!

Piano Pavilion

Piano On a cold, rainy day last week, I went to a members’ tour of the new Piano Pavilion at the Kimbell Art Museum. I usually talk myself out of these ventures when the actual time arrives, but not this time. The tour was wonderful and so interesting! And the building is beautiful! This visit was good for the soul.

As I was seeing all of the attributes of the  building, I was thinking about how much planning and foresight has to go into a design. It’s not just a beautiful building, but it has many innovations. The ceiling inside much of the lobby is glass. Well, when I see glass, I immediately think of all our hail storms. This glass is of a very heavy-duty type, and it also has levers on top that can close if needed. The levers are normally in position to bring in as much northern light as possible. This is also a green building, with columns to harvest the rainwater. In the front galleries, the floor is wood, just as in the Kahn building, but they are placed so there is a bit of space between each board, which allows heat to radiate up from below. Other “green” features are thermal wells and using half the electricity of the Kahn building.

I’ve never paid much attention to the walls in a museum before, but after listening to an interview with Renzo Piano, and another interview with an art critic, the concrete walls were one of my must-sees. The color is a soft, blue/gray, and they are as smooth as silk, which is in fact, what they call this type of concrete. The art critic was talking about how the art pops against these walls, mentioning specially a terracotta bust. Mr. Piano told about how he had seen this concrete in Venice, found out how to make it, and brought it not only the “recipe,” but also the workers from Venice to Texas to make this wondrous stuff.

View from the Asian section to the Will Rogers Memorial.

View from the Asian section to the Will Rogers Memorial.

One of the statues in the Asian wing. Love the shadows behind the statue!

One of the statues in the Asian wing. Love the shadows behind the statue!

Another feature is the Asian section–It’s all underground! Many of the scrolls can’t handle the bright lights so it’s all kind of dim, with strategic lighting. The atmosphere is mysterious and inviting.

The hill above the Asian wing, looking toward the Will Rogers Memorial.

The hill above the Asian wing, looking toward the Will Rogers Memorial.






Kimbell-acoustics2 There is also a new auditorium. An acoustics expert advised to have a balcony, so there is one. These panels are on both sides to also aid in acoustics.

No picture of this, but there are also great studios to have classes, with running water and everything.

Here are some links to pictures that are better than mine:

In the real world here in ikat land


Here’s my latest configuration for the ikat board. So far, so good. Ikat-configuration-Dec-2013 This is part B of the section done previously. I didn’t think this would work because of how the right top board sticks out from the edge of the table, but since it’s holding so far, this could also be the answer for the varying widths of designs.

Last thoughts

I’m still thinking about all the planning and the thinking ahead that an architect has to do in order to build a new building. Yes, we all have to think through a project, and often we learn the hard way that we didn’t think enough, but our projects are not nearly so grand. I am having to remind myself, yet again, to document, document, document. That will help having to learn all over again.

What’s your planning process like? Or do you go forth by the seat of your pants?