Monday, January 18, 2010

My Grandmother & Needlepoint &...

When I was a little girl, my Grandmother taught me many things. She didn't live with us, but she did visit quite a bit.

She was born in Hungary. When she was a child, she lived on a farm. When she was an adult, she lived in the city - but never forgot.

She was an extremely proud person and very religious. She prayed every morning and every evening.

She taught me how to cook - by intuition, by feel. No cookbooks, no thermometers, no measuring cups or spoons. Everything was delicious. I still cook the same way - and hardly ever use a recipe. I guess when you learn to cook the way I did, you learn to rely on your own senses- sight, smell, taste, you can just tell. You feel your way.

She also taught us to garden. Each of us kids had a garden patch in the backyard. We had to grow our own vegetables. I grew the easy stuff - potatoes, carrots, marigolds to keep the rabbits away from the carrots, pole beans, radishes. We also had baby chickens, but that didn't really work out.

And, she taught me how to make jewelry - how to bead, to glue, to design. No patterns, just by feel. Yes, I can re-string your pearls.

And, she taught me how to sew. Wait - not with a machine - everything by hand. How to hem, how to darn socks, how to embroider, do crewel work, crochet, knit, cross stitch and needlepoint. Yes, I can sew a button on that will never fall off.

Didn't know how to do something? Figure it out. Feel your way.

I created a needlepoint "sampler" when my niece was born. I drew on needlepoint canvas and stitched. Once again, just used my senses.

People stopped me everywhere I went [I worked on it on the bus, at the laundromat, on breaks] and wanted to know if I would make one for them!

I went to a needlepoint store in Beverly Hills [I lived in West Hollywood at the time]. I asked them how to "design" needlepoint - and how to paint canvas. They taught me... in a couple of minutes - on my part by glancing around and the canvas and yarn - and telling me how to "stitch paint." Okay - here it is. Needlepoint is a grid. You design something, you put it behind the grid [canvas], draw on it with a sharpie. Paint with acrylics. Each intersection is a stitch, so you must paint with the grid. People pay a lot for stitch-painted needlepoint! It is also really hard on your eyes... depending on the size of the stitches.

Anyway - I started painting - and selling my designs. I couldn't keep up with my orders, I couldn't hire people to help... so I stopped. These days, when I see those gorgeous stitch-painted canvases in needlepoint shops I get nostalgic... but I digress.

This morning, when my google alerts for "mosaic portraits" led me to a beaded portrait of Heath Ledger as the Joker - I realized many of these projects I see are the same as needlepoint, just using beads or push pins, or sticky notes or gum balls. Or, a mosaic portrait of Jay-Z using swarovski crystals, or all the photo mosaics all a grid - and tile companies use computer programs to create a amazing patterns in glass tiles are on a grid... when I created my bathroom floor, I hand fit and hand cut thousands of tiles - no grid.

Obviously, all of this made me think - my art now is no longer on a grid and there is no computer. It is different - it's organic.

It is by feel. I use my senses. I respond to different images, I feel my way around a variety of colors to create a piece that will express my feelings at the moment. I touch every single piece of paper many times - to choose it, to cut it, cut it again, fit it, glue it. The entire process is a sensory explosion. The sound of the paper cutter when I am chopping up my raw materials, listening to music or the radio, smelling paint or glue...

Because I make art based on my senses, what I feel - I don't like suggestions...Hey, you should do dogs [!] hey, you should do a portrait Johnny Mathis or Johnny Depp or Johnny Appleseed [!]... I really want to do what I want to do, that's the work that turns out best.

I have to thank my Grandmother for teaching me how to use my senses - to feel my way. I use my hands as a response to inspiration of one kind or another - to create something entirely new.

That said, I'm going to embark on a experimental week - no faces this week - stay tuned to view new stuff -

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