Saturday, March 22, 2014

My Pal Kipp, A Portrait

When I was asked to donate a work of art to be auctioned off as part of a group show to raise money to help send a friend and local Indianapolis artist/celebrity, Kipp Normand, on a vacation to Paris, a chainstitch embroidered portrait seemed the perfect thing. I initially considered working the portrait in color but decided on shades of grey. I found a color photo of Kipp that had dramatic shadows and hand separated the light and dark values.

I work my embroideries dark to light. In this photo you can see the black and darkest grey. I used Madeira Burmilana, a wool/acrylic blend thread that has a soft matte finish.

I was striving to make this portrait look as realistic as possible, though not necessarily photo-realistic. One of my favorite painters is Chuck Close, a photo-realist painter who creates monumental portraits that from a distance look like photos but upon closer inspection often devolve into a beautiful field of color and texture. Obviously I am working on a much smaller scale but am always conscious of the textures that I can create with the machine. The flow and rhythm of the thread is to the chainstitch embroiderer what the brushstroke is to the painter with each embroiderer having their own "hand" or style.

My Pal Kipp, 2013, embroidered on the Singer 114w103

I was quite satisfied with the finished piece and felt that it was an honest likeness of Kipp. I was a bit sad to see it go but was delighted to have contributed to a well deserved vacation.