Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stitched Portraits: Mike Patton

(b. Jan. 27, 1968) Many know him as the lead singer of the band Faith No More, but in the music video for their massive hit song, Epic, Patton wears a Mr. Bungle t-shirt. At that time, 1990, Patton was using the buzz for Faith No More to promote his band - Mr. Bungle. They were a bit difficult for a straight audience to swallow, especially with songs like My Ass is On Fire. Warner Bros. gave them a record contract anyway. Luckily for us all, there are three completely different and wholly original Bungle albums. Unfortunately, they were also the inspiration for much of the rap-rock movement of the late nineties. Wah wah. They were even invited by Incubus to play the Sno-Core tour in 2000. They dubbed it the "Sno-Queer" tour, dressed as the Village People, and played Burt Bacharach tunes to a chorus of audience boos. I smiled and cheered. And Patton's magnetic stage presence stayed with me.

Following the dismantling of Faith No More and then Mr. Bungle, Patton went on to create many other bands, form and run a record label, and foster a sound that is completely his own. He also does voice work for movie productions and video games, and writes film scores. He has performed with artists from John Zorn to Rahzel and even Norah Jones. He is a workaholic and his music and ethos remain an inspiration to me.

Mike Patton (restless eyes):

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sundance Film Festival A-Z: Letter B

The Sundance Film Festival for 2013 began one week ago in Park City, Utah and this year the festival organizers teamed up with Todd Oldham. He created a product line to help raise funds for the Sundance Institute, which is a non-profit that pledges to give artists a forum to explore their projects. One of the items is a book which celebrates the people and films that have embodied the spirit of Sundance. 27 Illustrators were selected to create images - one for each letter and one special one for the cover (The press release says that we are World-Class). I chose letter B so I could do a drawing that featured Steve Buscemi, Blood Simple, Boys Don't Cry, and Big Night. The Timpano in the center signifies the latter film and there is a joke in there for those who know the climax of the Coen Brothers' first film...

I am very pleased to be a part of this beautiful board book. Thanks to all involved - especially you, Mr. Kozatek.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stitched Portraits: Daniel Johnston

(b. Jan. 22, 1961)

You know that feeling you get when you hear a really great pop song? I feel that way when I hear one of Daniel's. "True Love Will Find You in the End" and "Worried Shoes" stand out as poignant songs about love, heartbreak, and loneliness. With an open mind, his songs speak to so many, so easily, so accessibly - and of course, numerous artists have covered them.

Daniel, the man, has struggled with mental illness all of his life but luckily, Daniel has a caring family that have sought to keep him safe and able to write his lovely songs and draw his strange but captivating pictures. I wish to have an original drawing of my own some day. For now, I am happy to listen to his albums from 1983 that were recorded on a lo-fi tape player (Hi, How Are You and Yip Jump Music) while looking at the liner notes and sketches. I implore you all to as well. There is also a really great documentary about his life called The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Later this year there will be a photography exhibition and book that will premiere at SXSW in Austin.

Daniel Johnston (healthy and smiling):

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Stitched Portraits: Jason Segel

(b. Jan. 18, 1980) Even though my wife is kind of in love with him, and my best friend laments the fact that he is dating Michelle Williams, Jason Segel is a pretty cool guy. I would like to thank him for bringing the Muppets back to me and most importantly, for his brilliant role in Freaks and Geeks.

That being said, I still kinda wanted to stitch his mouth closed. Which, as a stitcher, I have the power to do. But, I refrained, and did my best to do a nice portrait to give to my wife. This one is for her.

Jason Segel (rosy cheeked, as Gary):

Stitched Portraits: Andy Kaufman

(b. Jan. 17, 1949) Blurred the line between genius and asshole he wore a mask so well that people didn't know what was real. In my own life I've been a disciple of these practices - when I make people wait in line longer on purpose, or claw at my guitar while wearing a crow costume, or by telling people that I will name my son "Burton Ernie."

...Kaufman's spirit is alive and well...

Andy (with crazy face):

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Stitched Portraits: Dave Grohl

(b. Jan. 14, 1969) Forever proving that he is more than the drummer from Nirvana, Dave Grohl formed Foo Fighters in the mid-nighties and enlivened my High School Years. There was the time I went with my best friend to see the Foos perform in the back of a Newbury Comics. We got there early as we imagined there would be a large crowd. Arriving at 9:30am for a 2:00pm show is no big deal when your wait occurs in a record store, right? As it turned out, we actually had to wait in a line outside of the store. We took turns throughout the day, going into the store, fetching food, and luckily, we were amongst the roughly 50 people who actually got in to see the show. The other hundreds of people were left without entrance, but Grohl took the band outside first to perform a small set on buckets (and such) for the masses. Afterwards I had the band sign a book about mullets and my friend, Chuck, talked with them about the Pixies. This experience was a cornerstone of The Dream.

As for this portrait - I have been thinking that this project would have been better if everyone had a different birthday hat in each one, but maybe that would have just been too effing cute. However,  I do like the image of a man with a beard and long greasy hair wearing a festive, pointy hat.

Dave Grohl (in a festive, pointy hat):

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stitched Portraits: Lynda Barry

(b. Jan. 2, 1956) Although I am breaking one of my self-inflicted rules and going out of order with this blog, I now no longer care. I stitched Lynda Barry on her birthday back on the 2nd of the month and last night I saw her speak and now I really can't stop thinking about how great it was and how wonderful she is. If you have not read one of her books I highly recommend that you do. My grood friend, Charles Crowley, recommended to me (by gifting one) and he was super right. Picture This is about drawing and why people stop. In it, Lynda speaks of getting somewhere when she put the brush to the paper. I feel the same with a sewing machine. It takes over sometimes and I don't get to have control. If I let it happen, I am surprised by the outcome. In this case, it was Lynda's smiling face.

For more musings, check her Near-Sighted Monkey blog.

Lynda Barry (trademark sunshine):

Monday, January 14, 2013

Stitched Portraits: Mary J. Blige

(b. Jan. 11, 1971) She is one of the most positive creative forces in the world of Hip-Hop, R&B, and Soul - standing in a class of her own. Mary J. Blige is a powerhouse, who manages to transcend taste, sell a lot of albums, and remain true.

Mary J. Blige (Queen of Hip-Hop Soul):

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Stitched Portraits: Nicolas Cage

(b. Jan. 7, 1964) No matter what you think of Nicolas Cage - whether you are a Cage enthusiast who watches National Treasure regularly, a Cage apologist who tells me about how good he was in Raising Arizona, or a Cage hater who laments his explosive acting with an explosive passion - the importance of Nicolas Cage cannot be dismissed.

1. Nicolas Coppola threw away that pesky, highly recognizable last name (...something about films that feature Mafia things...) in favor of an obscure Marvel superhero named Luke Cage. While he wondered if it was the right choice he remembered that he was listening to a lot of John Cage too - so clearly, the name was perfect. Totally a smart idea.
2. This actually was a smart idea.
3. He has been in over 60 films and one of them is called Gone in 60 Seconds.
4. He buys a whole bunch of big houses and castles, even.
5. Peter Loew in Vampire's Kiss. In this movie that should be placed on the National Film Register, Cage plays an arrogant literary agent who descends into madness when he is bitten by a woman who he believes has turned him into a vampire. Lucky for all of us viewers, he does not become a vampire, just a psychopath with plastic vampire teeth. (depicted below)

Nicolas Cage (as Peter Loew):

Stitched Portraits: Michael Stipe

(b. Jan. 4, 1960) As the frontman for R.E.M., Stipe was gripping. As a producer of films, he chooses wisely. For me, he is the balanced scale for our generation. He exists somewhere between the sea of intellectuals, rock stars, artists - and he is just so watchable. His is a voice that cuts through.

Michael Stipe (blue glow):

Stitched Portraits: J.R.R. Tolkien

(b. Jan. 3, 1892) Thank you, John Ronald Reuel. Although you were but a Hobbit yourself, you sought to find even the grimiest and disparate places in the World, not shying away from sadness and the humanity needed to rise above it. You reveled in a simpler way of life and, with your stories of Middle Earth, warned us of an ever-growing industrialization. You get the nod and my unending respect.

J.R.R Tolkien (Having fun with it):

Stitched Portraits: Dave McKean

(b. Dec. 29, 1963) Dave McKean is one of the greatest illustrator storytellers. I could spend hours looking at and then gushing over his drawings. I remember reading Coraline for the first time and as much as I liked the story, the drawings were even better. I often think of his line work when making a picture.

Dave McKean (drawn and sculpted):

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Stitched Portraits: Liu Xiaobo

(b. Dec. 28, 1955) Currently imprisoned in China, Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his non-violent attempts to change the single party communist rule. He co-wrote and signed Charter 08 which called for more freedom of expression, human rights, more democratic elections, for privatizing state enterprises and land, and for economic liberalism.

Liu Xiaobo (joyful smile, and hope):

Stitched Portraits: Clara Barton

(b. Dec. 25, 1821) There was no one more fitting to stitch on Christmas Day than Clara Barton. This was agreed by all. She was a Teacher, Nurse, Patent Clerk, Humanitarian, and Founder of the American Red Cross. In case you need further proof of her specialness, read all about her life here. It is truly fascinating.

And to all who regularly check this blog, my apologies for a three week lapse in posts. I must blame the craziness of my favorite holiday. Every year, without fail, I am both Elf and Santa, spending hours in my workshop studio, making gifts for friends and family. As we are now nearing the end of the season, I am back on track to finish this project by end of February 2013. Thanks to all who have encouraged its progress throughout 2012. At this point I have made over 300 portraits. whew. crazy, to. think about...

So, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to all!

Clara Barton (strength and passion):