Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Mel Blanc

Looney Tunes. Entire cast. Need I say more?
When I saw his name on the list of birthdays, I was done looking.

Mel Blanc (with Tweety Bird Twinkle):

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Danny Elfman

With an Elfman score, any film is transformed into a playful and frightening place.
Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands would have been very different without their memorable sounds and orchestrations.

Although I feel so strongly about his role in Burton's films, I fought myself about doing this portrait. His music is lush and beautiful, but he really isn't... The thing that excited me was his role as Bonejangles in Corpse Bride. I kept that character in mind when making this picture and I knew it was right as soon as I sewed the teeth...

Danny Elfman (and creepy smile):

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Patch Adams

Health is defined by happiness. Patch Adams defied logic by illegally caring for the sick and did so with this idea in mind. Many interesting people born yesterday, but his cause is like mine, only his is better.

Plus, this is something we share in common. Well, I at least share it with his fictional self.

Hunter Patch (in colors):

Monday, May 28, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Vincent Price

When people ask me who my favorite actor of all time is, I say Vincent Price. I could listen to him say anything. I've even sat through some of his worst films just to see what he will do. Of course it's not just due to the fact that he has an unmistakable presence on the screen - He was also an extensive collector of art, a hilarious person (as evidenced here), and willfully sharing of the spotlight with Muppets.

Vincent Price (classy to the end):

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Margaret Wise Brown

Such an influential figure in the world of children's literature, 'Brownie' literally wrote over one hundred books. She was also crazy awesome. Upon receiving her first book royalty check she went to the nearest flower cart, bought all of the flowers, set them up in her home, and threw a party for all of her friends to enjoy.

She is, of course, known for writing Goodnight Moon, but I like to remember her as an editor at William R. Scott, attempting to get Hemingway and Steinbeck (unsuccessfully) and Gertrude Stein (successfully:see The World is Round) to write children's books. And I love this one of hers' the most...

Brownie (all wild eyed and staring into the distance):

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fabric Dolls: Sendak the King

Maurice Sendak was one of my greatest heroes. His stories and drawings will forever inspire me to keep doing what I love. Upon his passing 2 weeks ago I quickly got to work on this project in order to memorialize a man who has earned a rest from this life.

I'll eat him up.

Here he is with crown and wolf tail, Maurice the King:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Morrissey

You're the one for me...

After spending my High School years brooding and listening to the Cure, it wasn't until I got older that the Smiths took first place in my life. Now that I am a husband and a father, Morrissey's solo work has become the voice of reason on any given day.

Just think about those silly dances. Search his video catalog and enjoy them all for their absurdity and wistfulness.

Morrissey (the elder):

Stitched Portraits: Fats Waller

On a day of birthdays that include:

Albrecht Dürer
Alexander Pope
Henri Rousseau
Manly Wade Wellman
Robert Creeley
Al Franken
Mr. T
Marc Ribot
Judge Reinhold
Kevin Shields
Blake Schwarzenbach
The Notorious B.I.G.

Fairuza Balk

I was glad that a guy like Fats Waller exists, all full of charm and ebullience...

"I really hate you, 'cause your feet's too big"

Fats Waller (classic):

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Jimmy Stewart

"That's a good face. I like that face..."
A true human voice on the screen, Stewart was always charming but never afraid to go to the darkest of places. His roles in Harvey, It's a Wonderful Life, and Rear Window have been an inspiration to me.

As for the man himself? He was just as wonderful. A poet, a father, and a devoted husband, Jimmy Stewart was a man for us all to aspire.

Jimmy Stewart (in black and white):

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Grace Jones

With a choice of birthdays that included Malcolm X, Joey Ramone, and Andre the Giant - I couldn't ignore the striking quality of Grace Jones. Plus, her role in Pee Wee's Christmas Special is CLASSIC.

Grace Jones (sneakily):

Stitched Portraits: Tina Fey

So many wonderful people were born yesterday, but Tina Fey felt like the modern embodiment of them all.

How could you not go to there?

Tina Fey (cute and smiling):

Friday, May 18, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Erik Satie

Furniture Music: The best description of a Satie composition.

As a composer in France he was often ridiculed for his pieces because they lacked flourish and he was seen as lacking in skill. However, it is his simplicity that he has made his work so ubiquitous over the past century.

A hero to mine, Erik Satie (eyeball-less):

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Robert Fripp

Every Wednesday I play experimental guitar in a band called Wind & Ghosts.

So it only seemed fitting to choose Fripp yesterday. His guitar playing in King Crimson was inspirational and his soundscapes are stunning.

Robert Fripp (owlishly serious):

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Jasper Johns

Johns painted recognizable things so people couldn't comment on what they thought they saw but rather, the painting itself. His work was revered by John Cage and the two were good friends and collaborators for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Cage's writing about Johns' work is so perfect and so understanding that it is the closest the written word has ever been able to describe the visual and conceptual meaning to any art ever. Read about it here.

Jasper Johns (with thread painted flag):

Monday, May 14, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Comedian's Weekend

On Saturday I wrestled all day with the question - draw Burt Bacharach or George Carlin?

The deciding factor came down to the fact that George Carlin, despite his crass and biting humor, was a very sweet man. Burt Bacharach just wrote sweet songs. Not to downplay them, they're actually some of the sweetest songs ever written, but he had 4 wives and I just preferred to draw someone a little bit more committed to his women. (Carlin was married twice in his lifetime. The first left him a widower. The second, he widowed.) I know this might be seen as a bad reason, but sometimes I need any reason in order to make it easier.

On Sunday, the choice was simple and also led to a full weekend of Comedian portraits. Colbert is a hero who has done more to cripple the bombastic talking heads of politics than any other. Through his brilliant mock persona, he has brought silliness to a place where it was only ever unintended. Plus, he played Chuck Noblet in Strangers with Candy.

George Carlin & Stephen Colbert (a conversation):

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Kermit the Frog

With the most recent Muppets film now thoroughly embedded into our current culture, Kermit the Frog has seemed to be even more real than ever. I mean, how can you watch this scene and not feel it?

So, although his birthday is probably a little bit of a mystery - Many have concured that May 9 is an acceptable day to celebrate.

Kermit even wore a tux for the event:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Michel Gondry

Gondry is the tops. From Bjork's video for Human Behavior to his brilliant films: Science of Sleep and Be Kind Rewind, he carefully moves the weird world of handmade things.

His obsession with hands features prominently in a series of short clips he directed. One of which inspired yesterday's portraits. (...must watch for clarity)

Check out to see his portraits.
And check out his stitched portrait below:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Władysław Reymont

As a slightly Polish man with a seriously Polish last name, I tend to have an affinity for Polish artists. Reymont was an accomplished writer and upon looking at his picture yesterday, I felt an instant connection. A recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1924, he also wrote a book called Bunt which told of animals that revolted and took over their farm. This was written in the twenties - two decades prior to Animal Farm.

Twisty moustached and chain-link spectacled, Władysław Reymont:

Monday, May 7, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Karl Marx & Sigmund Freud

May 5th and May 6th saw the birthdays of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, respectively. This had me checking to see if Nietzsche was born today... (he isn't - that would be way too convenient). This, of course, led to a suspicious weekend and 2 portraits that came together too easily - probably thanks to my new studio companion (more on him in another blog).

Here they are, like 2 mountains - Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud:

Friday, May 4, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Pete Seeger

After tearing up the town with wild and spirited friends, and politically charged motivation, I came home and drew this man. It was almost too easy.

Truly a troubadour, Seeger was born yesterday, 93 years ago.

Pete Seeger (Wailing):

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Pinky Lee

It was another one of those days where I got to find out about someone new. Pinky Lee - special to me... but I didn't even know it. Gifted with boundless energy, he hosted his own children's television show in the 1950s. He later went on to be a school teacher.
Yes and Yes...

Known for wearing all plaid, Pre-cursor to Pee-Wee, Vaudevillian, Slapstick specialist... Check him out.

Pinky Lee (ebullient):

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Wes Anderson

I remember being a young teenager and stumbling upon Rushmore with my brother while looking for something special in the video store. The cover of the film is a thing to behold and for a couple of sheltered little boys it was fresh. Luckily we loved Bill Murray, so we rented it.

That film opened my eyes to what a film could be, and Wes Anderson has remained an influential presence and a strong voice for bright light in a dreary world.

Check out his acceptance speech for NBR here.

Fantastic Mr. Fox really was, and Wes made choices that were hard for some to understand. Most notably he decided to shoot the stop-motion at 12 frames per second in order to give it that 'Rankin/Bass' feel. Also, using real goat hair and toy fur for the animal skins made the movement appear magical. It reminded me of the way Svankmajer films make objects dance.

Anderson's films have really proven his proclivity to children's themes and his latest is making me giddy just thinking about it. Moonrise Kingdom should be a masterpiece.

An inspiration, Wes Anderson (with Mr. Fox):

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Kirsten Dunst

Lux Lisbon is the pure feeling of fluttery love. The Virgin Suicides is a perfect film. As I watched it again last night while making this portrait, I was reminded of those 2 facts.

And how could you not have a little crush on Kirsten?

Kirsten Dunst (as Lux):