Monday, April 30, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Michelle Pfeiffer

A couple of years ago I was having a conversation with a co-worker about the awesomeness that is Rutger Hauer and I said, "Can he play a non-villain?" She exclaimed, "Ladyhawke!"

This incredible film opened my eyes. Check out the trailer here.

And check out Michelle Pfeiffer as Isabeau below:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Ulysses S. Grant

Yesterday marked the birthdate of President Grant exactly 190 years ago and I was happy to draw him.

This is actually the second portrait of Ulysses S. Grant that I have ever made. The first I completed as a sophomore in High School, painting him with acrylics on a rather large canvas and giving it to Mr. Graham, the American History teacher. Due to this, Mr. Graham gave me an exemption from the final exam - and an automatic A.

Sometimes it pays to have artistic skills.

Classic Grant:

Stitched Portraits: John James Audubon

'Put a bird on it.'
Exercising control over my impulses, I refused to put John James Audubon in a shirt with this phrase on it. Although someone should if they haven't already.

A documenter, a painter, a discoverer of new bird species.
All this time with them and you'll start to look like one.

John James Audubon (looking particularly beaky):

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Talia Shire

Sister To Francis Ford Coppola, mother to Jason Schwartzman, Talia Shire was an important women to the influential men around her. Sylvester Stallone even hand picked her to be his girlfriend in Rocky.

Yesterday, being faced with the tough choice of drawing either Edward R. Murrow or Ms. Shire, I picked the former because I kept going back to this young picture of her and just couldn't get it out of my head. Plus - she shares the same name as my wife...

In her fresh-faced youth, Talia Shire:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stitched Portraits: William Castle

One of the kings of Schlock Horror, William Castle directed a couple of the best Vincent Price feature films of all time - The House on Haunted Hill and The Tingler. Both of these B-Movies have chilling openings - as was the case with Castle's work. He went to the trouble of rigging the theaters with vibrating seats. He handed out life insurance policies were you to die from fright. He even flew an inflatable glow in the dark skeleton over the heads of the audience.

Check him out here in the opening sequence of The Tingler.

William Castle (with cigar and fright):

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Jónsi

This man's music makes my soul weep - in a good way.

Seeing his show live in 2010 was an experience. After a late day trek to Boston to procure tickets from the box office a few days in advance, we were just seconds late for the ticket window's closure. We would now have to purchase the tickets via website and suck up the cost of added credit card fees (oh well). On the drive home we encountered a double rainbow, making it a totally worthwhile voyage.

On the night of the show my wife was 6 months pregnant  and it was our daughter's first concert experience. Catch a glimpse of the awesomeness of the performance here.

Jónsi (in feathers):

Monday, April 23, 2012

Stitched Portraits: John Waters

Such a pleasant assortment of celebrities born yesterday. But John Waters stood out above the rest. As I was thinking about how excited I was to stitch that pencil thin moustache, I received a text message from a best friend that read, "John Waters today, right?"

Enough said. This man is genius:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Stitched Portraits: George Takei

A hero of the internet, George Takei makes us laugh. But most importantly - brings us all together to do it. He is well known for his role as Mr. Sulu on the original Star Trek and has come to be a champion for nerds in all spaces.

On a day when powerful men were born, I hand the baton to George.

Takei (as Sulu):

Stitched Portraits: Paloma Picasso

Yesterday's portrait was a hard choice. Hayden Christensen, Kate Hudson, and James Franco were all born on April 19 and my interest for drawing any of them was very low... But I remember a picture of Paloma that hung above the TV in a friend's house from my childhood. It was always so striking to me.

One of Pablo's most beautiful creations, Paloma Picasso:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Leopold Stokowski

The first known conductor to drop the baton and use his hands, he horrified purists with his liberal changes to classical works. During his lifetime he performed many new compositions and even shook Mickey Mouse's hand in the film, Fantasia. Although he would describe it as Mickey Mouse shaking his hand.

Stokowski (and hands):

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Senõr Wences

Introduced to me by my Father-in-Law only last year, Senõr Wences is a treasure. A Spanish ventriloquist, he gained fame from appearances on Ed Sullivan as well as The Muppet Show.

Catch an excerpt from the latter here.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Merce Cunningham

A pioneer in dance as movement, movement as dance. Lifelong partner to John Cage, together they made groundbreaking and original works of art. He was a hero of mine and I was lucky enough to see his final piece, Nearly Ninety, performed just months prior to his death.

Although his legacy plan included the end of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, his influence will continue to live on through his extensive body of work.

Plus, with dance moves like these, how could anyone forget such a free soul?

Unmarred by expectation, Merce Cunningham:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Tomas Tranströmer

Swedish winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature, a poet, a psychologist.

As I've been living this daily project of illustrating someone famous that was born on each respective day, I occasionally come across dates where none of the most obvious choices interest me. This has forced me to look at individuals who I knew little to nothing about prior to their birthday. Tranströmer is one such individual and upon reading his poetry, I was smitten. 

"her ear-drops dangle like swords of Damocles"
  -Tomas Tranströmer:

excerpt from “National Insecurity,” part of New and Collected Poems by Tomas Transtromer, translated by Robin Fulton. Published in 1997 by Bloodaxe Books.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Tiny Tim

One of very few famous ukelele players, an outsider, and a true original.

On this bright morning, come and tiptoe through the tulips...

With Tiny Tim:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Kasturba Gandhi

Unsung heroine, wife to a man of peace, a woman of peace herself who taught Mahatma the ways of non-violent protest. She gave up a life of wealth for poverty and died while interred in a prison.

For her sacrifice and solace, she was the necessary choice for yesterday's birthday portrait.
She would have been 143.

Kasturba Gandhi:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stitched Portraits: William Booth

Founder of the Salvation Army, Booth was a Methodist Preacher who created the Army in order to abolish vice and poverty. If he could take away some of the misery that pervaded people's lives then they would have room to accept salvation through God. That was the idea.

At the time it was founded (1878) , The Church of England was against The Salvation Army because Booth appointed women to leadership roles within his Army.

But I guess that ideas such as those are difficult for some... even today.

A contented man, William Booth:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Emma Caulfield

My wife and I watched the entire 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' TV series for the first time over the past few months. Every night we'd hopefully get in 2-3 episodes before one of us would crash into sleep, but we loved every minute of it.

Emma Caulfield was on the show and she played Anya, a reformed vengeance demon. She was deathly afraid of bunnies so it only stood to reason that she dressed as one on Halloween. They were the scariest thing she could think of. That moment was captured in this toy, which I gave to my wife as a gift for Easter.

Ironically, it happened to be Emma Caulfield's birthday yesterday too. So here she is as Anya, dressed in the bunny suit:

Stitched Portraits: John Oates

I don't believe this man needs any introduction.

His guitar playing raises my feel-good-dance-o-meter up to 11.

John Oates (and his Moustache):

Friday, April 6, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Robert Bloch

One of my favorite things about doing this one-a-day project is when I get to find out about a new famous person that just makes me happy. Robert Bloch was most known for writing the book, "Psycho," which went on to be made into a very influential film by Alfred Hitchcock.

Bloch wrote many other short stories, novels, and screenplays and was mentored early in his writing career by H.P. Lovecraft. They were close friends - Lovecraft even gave Bloch express written permission to kill him anytime he wanted to in his stories.

A love for the punny, Bloch shared his black humor often - famously quipping, "Despite my ghoulish reputation, I really have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk."

 Robert Bloch, looking sinister and sweet at the same time:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Hans Christian Andersen

A genius fairyteller. Is that a term? If not, it is now.

The author of such classics as The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling, and The Princess and the Pea, this Danish man knew about the heart of a child. I thank him for that with all of my heart.

Hans Christian Andersen, happy:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Christopher Walken

I've been thinking about him since I heard this... (even though it's not really him reading.)

But I've loved him since this...

And I will never forget the happiness that is this.

A favorite portrait in this series,
Christopher Walken: