Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Kate Bush

It was my daughter's b-day yesterday and Kate Bush seemed a fitting rock star to share it.

She's only toured once in the late seventies, had her first demo funded by David Gilmour at age 16, took a long block of time away from music to raise her son, and still manages to create wildly original albums - most recently with 50 Words For Snow.

Kate Bush (coy smile):


Stitched Portraits: Geddy Lee

I saw the Rush documentary at a little movie theater in Massachusetts and a Rush tribute band opened up for the film. In between, while waiting in line to get a soda, someone mentioned Geddy Lee. Everyone probably mentioned Geddy Lee in this line, but one such utterance was overheard by a superfan, to which he exclaimed,


(With bass):

Friday, July 27, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Stanley Kubrick

A detailed perfectionist, believer in fidelity, and director of some of the most classic films of all time (Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange...), Stanley Kubrick has inspired many other film directors and influenced the thinking of his entire audience.

When I mentioned to a close friend that I had to decide who the birthday portrait would be yesterday he said, "If it's Kubrick's birthday I don't think there are any other choices."

Stanley Kubrick (in a stare):

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Ruth Krauss

Krauss wrote children's book classics like A Hole is to Dig and I Can Fly,
She was married to Crockett Johnson (of Harold and the Purple Crayon),
Was responsible for giving Maurice Sendak his first book illustration job,
Who described her as a "Giant"

Ruth Krauss (with smile):

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Kristin Chenoweth

As Olive Snook I fell in love with Kristin Chenoweth.
Now, I would watch anything with her in it.

It was her birthday yesterday,
so here's a crazy picture of her...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Woody and Charles Harrelson

Woody Harrelson plays characters in film and on television with gusto. In real life, he is an advocate for peace.

Charles Harrelson was his father, who abandoned the family when Woody was young and committed multiple murders as a hitman.

The strange thing is that they share the same birthday - July 23.

In 1982 Woody was arrested for dancing in the street. Below he is pictured in the mug shot for that arrest, his father's mug shot dangling around his neck:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Brian Chippendale

On a day where noteworthy individuals were abound, I was happy to choose a local Providence icon to celebrate with a birthday portrait. An inspiring force of energy and a nice guy (I'll personally vouch for that - he was very gracious when I met him on the street and gushed about my love of LB), Chippendale is one half of thee noise rock band of the century. Lightning Bolt can always take a crowd and whip them into a froth. I'm happy to be part of that froth on occasion.

Also an illustrator, he combines collage, pattern, and cartoon with the same ethos as his drumming style - to fill as much of the space as possible.

Brian Chippendale (masked):

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Today is a Birthday: Stitched Portraits at the Craftland Gallery

The showing at the Craftland Gallery is in its final week and I wanted to share some of the images from it with the folks who could not be in Rhode Island. Also, as a reminder, there will be a live portrait stitching event this Thursday, July 26th. I'll be transporting my basement studio to Craftland and making three custom portraits in three hours. Nervous and excited...

Although the show features only a selction of the work, for the opening I also included one blank wall in the gallery that featured a series of framed calendar dates only. In the week that followed I returned to the gallery every day to hang the portraits as they were completed.

Below I've included some process shots:

In all, the experience of having my first solo show has been a positive and rich amount of work. I am thankful to the friends and family that have supported me in making it happen. And thank you to Jen and Deb from Craftland too!  

Now, I'll complete the rest of this year's portraits and any other projects and adventures that present themselves as this thing progresses. It's been kind of amazing to me already. Thanks for reading and looking at all these stitches...

Stitched Portraits: Cat Stevens

During my freshman year at RISD, in 2002, I studied under Chunghie Lee, who encouraged me to use the sewing machine as a drawing tool. One of the first things I drew was a portrait of Cat Stevens. Essentially, he was the first stitched portrait I ever made.

Known for songs such as "Peace Train", "Wild World", and "Moonshadow", Cat Stevens is also responsible for the soundtrack to one of the greatest films of the seventies (Harold and Maude). He devoted his life to Islam after a near drowning in 1977 and has since gone by the name Yusuf Islam. He devotes his life now to bringing education, peace, and charity to the Muslim community.

Cat Stevens (by RK c. 2012 & c. 2002):

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Natalie Wood

I thought about not choosing Natalie Wood yesterday. I even told my friends that I would draw Nam June Paik. However, after I looked at images and read her bio - I realized that Natalie was the best choice for a birthday portrait. She was gracious, elegant, and undeniable. When the Harvard Lampoon gave her the Worst Actress award, she was first to actually show up to receive it. She was also nominated for Best Actress, twice, by the Academy.

And her beauty aged so perfectly - seemed to just get better through her years.

She died unexpectedly at a young age. Her death was thought to be an accident but the case was reopened just this year and re-classified as "undetermined".

Natalie Wood (natural beauty):

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Nelson Mandela

A true pioneer who brought hope to South Africa as its President in the mid-nineties through progressive policy to help the growth and health of the people. His given name was Rolihlahla which means "troublemaker"...

Nelson Mandela (joyful, suited):

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Peter Schickele

Thanks go out to a friendly co-worker who mentioned P.D.Q. Bach on the 16th. She thought I might like him. Turns out I love him. And it turns out that his birthday just happened to fall on July 17th.

Schickele is a classical composer who wrote the score for the animated film versions of In the Night Kitchen and Where the Wild Things Are. He also has two musical children - Matt and Karla Schickele, who formed the band Beekeeper. Karla also plays in the band Ida.

But Peter is most well known for his alter-persona, P.D.Q. Bach. Claiming to be the youngest of the Bach sons, P.D.Q. aims to make classical music as silly as possible which include: a sportscast-like telling of the movements during Beethoven's Fifth and parodies like "Einstein on the Fritz". He is also an accomplished Bassoonist and a musical genius.

Peter Schickele (as P.D.Q. Bach, Flute through his head):

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Orville Redenbacher

This man wants to talk to you about popcorn. He was obsessed with it.

Although there were spirited conversations yesterday about a person to choose (Ginger Rogers, Stewart Copeland, Tony Kushner, Corey Feldman), I believe Orville will be the only popcorn man in the collection. And I am nothing if not corny.

Check him out on Letterman in 1991 here.

Orville Redenbacher (Classic in a bow-tie):

Monday, July 16, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Ian Curtis

I've lost control of the sewing machine again.

Ian Curtis (a single man):

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Spud Webb

Spud Webb is 5'7". I am 5'7". Spud Webb can dunk a basketball. I can't even touch the net. And back in his day Webb didn't just dunk a basketball - he won a slam dunk competition (c. 1986). That means he could also do tricks while jumping 10 feet in the air. Basically, he could jump over himself. I hope he had a good b-day yesterday. He has since retired from play, but continues to be involved with the game. Short basketball players don't happen every day. Celebrate it.

Spud Webb (in flight):

Friday, July 13, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Richard Simmons

Happy Birthday to Richard Simmons! Yesterday he turned 64, but he's still Sweatin' to the Oldies.

When I was just a little 6 year old boy, I met him at a local mall that had just opened. I remember it being so magical to me. I mean, I had seen him on TV and there he was in the mall, jumping up and down on a stage and talking about getting fit! I even got a signed picture - "To Rickie with lots of love, Richard Simmons." I felt special. Without question, Simmons will always remain a positive person and an inspiration to never stop being your own, weird self.

Richard Simmons (in head shot pose, c.1989):

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Andrew Bird

Happy Bird day to Andrew Bird (b. July 11, 1973).
A performer and songwriter who trades tradition for a new and unique sound. A classically trained violinist who describes the act of playing live music as, "squid ink pouring over head." His advice for other performers? "Do something you've never done before every time you play."

I've had the good fortune of seeing Bird's live performance a handful of times. His system of endless loops, whistles, claps, violin, and guitar can be whipped into an orchestra of sound, alone. These days he rounds this out with a full band to deliver a thickened sonic wall.

Watch him do it alone here.
And with the band here.

Andrew Bird (lost in violin):

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Nikola Tesla

I have alternating current power for my amp, and looper/delay/chorus pedals because of Nikola Tesla. So I say thank you. I also don't need a cord when I talk on the phone. Thanks Tesla. But his work stretches far beyond these modern conveniences. He once powered 200 lightbulbs from a distance of 26 miles. He spoke eight languages. He scoffed at Einstein and Edison. In short, he was a mad genius.

Let's all sing his glory by turning on something electric and blasting it.

Nikola Tesla:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Isaac Brock

Happy Birthday yesterday to the lead singer of Modest Mouse!
Actually, July 9th was a day for musicians. Bon Scott, Mitch Mitchell, John Tesh, Courtney Love, and Jack White were also born this day. And the more I make these portraits, the more I see these themes...

I met Isaac in San Francisco at the Treasure Island music festival, although he did not meet me. I work for a performance group called Big Nazo, and we were at the festival interacting with the crowds, doing what we do, as creatures. While backstage I remained in my troll suit and caught Isaac's attention. He responded by running away in fright, so I chased him around in circles.

This is the best way to meet someone that you like.

Isaac Brock (screaming, bruised eye):

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Käthe Kollwitz

German painter, printmaker, sculptor.
Censored by Nazis, they removed her work from museums, forced her to resign from her teaching position, and threatened her with deportation to a concentration camp. Being a well-known individual throughout the world, no further action was ever taken.

She is most famous for The Weavers, a series of images depicting the oppression of workers from Silesia who revolted and failed. Here is one of the etchings.

Käthe Kollwitz (stitched over swastikas):

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Satchel Paige

I hadn't included an athlete in this project until yesterday and it was mostly because I felt drawn to him. Upon reading about Paige, I was hooked. From his ingenuity to his hardball, he was an original and a solid piece of American history - the first baseball player from the negro leagues inducted into the baseball hall of fame.

Satchel Paige (fastball pitcher, looking on):

Friday, July 6, 2012

Stitched Portraits: P.T. Barnum

Yesterday I was stuck between two people that held a pretty similar amount of importance in my life. I was sure that I would be stitching Chuck Close due to the fact that he is a portrait artist. However, I could not pass up the chance to commemorate one of the greatest showmen of all time: self-described and true... And as much as I'd like to share all of his exploits and endeavors, I would just suggest that you to read his Wikipedia page for a concise history.

P. T. Barnum (ringleader, scheming...):

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Bill Withers

I guess it was important to choose someone yesterday who is a true American voice, being America's Independence day and all... And although it was the birthday of both Stephen Foster and Rube Goldberg, for me, Bill Withers is supreme. 'Use Me' is one of the most killer songs of all time and 'Ain't no Sunshine' continues to bring tears to hard hearts everywhere. Bill is also a good man, still alive and smiling - and he has such a happy man face.

Bill Withers (singin' it):

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Two Polish Poets

Czeslaw Milosz and Wislawa Szymborska are contemporary Polish poets who also happen to be two of the most revered. (They are also mine and my wife's favorite, respectively.)

Milosz was born on June 30 and Szymborska on July 2.
Their birthdays being so close it felt right to include them both in this collection and share them here together.

For Milosz, read: Bells in Winter

For Szymborska, read: Here

Monday, July 2, 2012

Stitched Portraits: Debbie Harry

Although she is well known for her role as the lead singer of Blondie, I like Harry for some of the roles she plays on film. As the Fairy Godmother in Downtown 81 (starring Jean-Michel Basquiat) and Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray, she is hilarious, and graceful.

An exceptional beauty with an attitude,

Debbie Harry (as Von Tussle):