I was born in Brooklyn, New York, in an area called Flatbush.
What your name and whats your Instagram Handle?
I am anonymous. My Instagram handle is @crudecanvases
When did you start making art?
My love for painting and drawing started at a young age and luckily was supported by my family and teachers. I also had a deep desire for medicine and had hopes of being a surgeon, but my grades were not the best. Fortunately, these two loves would coincide for me in the future. I dabbled in graphic design, which has been a tremendous asset for creating my needlepoint designs today.
Why did you pick needlepoint as your medium?
In my late teens, I worked in a needlepoint retail shop for several years, where I custom painted needlepoint canvases, before developing a wholesale line. I believe I fell in love with needlepoint, above painting on regular canvas, because it is so intricate and challenging. It is like solving a puzzle with every design. There is a place for every color to go, therefore, a place for every stitch. Your design is made up of hundreds, if not thousands of pixels. After the design has been “stitch-painted” the consumer purchases their threads and fibers and stitches directly on top of what has been painted. Some people don’t even stitch the canvas. They feel these canvases are works of art on their own and that’s completely fine too.
How difficult was it to learn needlepoint?
Needlepoint is a puzzle. You’re basically working on a grid made of cotton and in order to fully grasp the idea of it, you have to have some math skills and it helps to have a general sense of color. The basic stitches can confuse some people, because you have to learn how to “compensate” around your design, and that can get tricky. The best way around that is to just look at your overall piece as one continuous design. Needlepoint is also very visual and social. There are shops that always offer classes and one-on-one teaching for beginners and those that need refresher courses. It is a long, lost art that has been around for centuries and has seen so many changes, from design and color, to thread and shape.
How do you come up with your ideas for each new work?
Being in the needlepoint industry for the last twenty years, I have seen little to no change, as far as design, diversity, or inclusion. If this has happened, I have not been aware of it. Starting this line of CRUDE CANVASES in the fall of 2017, I felt there was a need to have a voice of truth. Someone needed to be out there to let others know that there was a line of original, hand-painted needlepoint canvases, that are of the finest quality, that have messages that hold true and will always be that way. My ideas stem from what is going on in our society, the environment, street art, entertainment, feminine/masculine issues, etc. I have tried to do this in a way with humor, because sometime’s laughing at the truth is a little less painful.
Is there a deeper meaning behind your work? An overarching message you are trying to convey?
I try to make most of my canvases fairly obvious. I have several that have deeper meanings. They may be obvious to a lot of people and completely blind to some. My sunglasses case “Shady Bastard” is one that is timely right now with the unrest of our country and divide of the people and the police departments.
Do you ever run out of ideas and how do you get over those creative blocks?
I keep a list on my “notes” app on my phone. Every time I think of a phrase or see something that strikes me funny or odd, I add it to my list. I do run into creative blocks at times. One thing I am certain of is that I don’t have nearly the blocks that I did when I was painting for the line of traditional fair. Now that I am finally being able to create on my own and paint what I have always truly felt was needed and wanted to put on needlepoint, it is so much more rewarding and I hope to never run out of ideas.
Did you go to school for art?
No. I graduated high school early and started college when I was 16. I took many lessons in watercolor during these years.
What inspires you the most, film, music, other art?
Tough choice. I would have to pick other art first. Then music and film.
Are there any other artists that you look up to?
Leonardo da Vinci would be my first obsession. I studied him at a very young age and was fascinated with the incredible wisdom he had in science and invention. I have been very fortunate to see many of Da Vinci’s original drawings on display and they are so inpiring. Vincent Van Gogh is another one of my all time favorite artists. His style has never been duplicated and has remained masterful throughout the ages. So many of his pieces resonate with me. I also have a great fondness for Andrew Wyeth, Horrace Pippen, Tamara de Lempicka and also Jasper Johns. There are so many more.
What are some of your other hobbies?
I love to visit museums, read, watch films, listen to music, and needlepoint. Since the beginning of this pandemic, my routine has not altered that much. I am somewhat of an introvert to begin with. I do, however, miss going to the museums. Not being able to see the beauty of a painting in person, is just not the same.
Have you had any other jobs outside of art?
What are some of your goals with art?
I would love to have my hand-painted needlepoint canvases featured in an art gallery(ies).
What’s your typical daily routine like?
I usually wake up around 5am and start checking all of my emails, Etsy orders, and social media. I always put aside a couple hours of business-related work and send out at least 5-6 social media stories throughout the day. I do try to introduce my audience to interesting and “out of the ordinary” artists of all kinds, that they normally would not see. Again, showing them things to open up their minds and make them think. Around 1pm, I start my painting schedule and/or designing. It will depend on how many orders will need to be placed and filled. I am a huge coffee drinker and have a cup in my hand at all times, so that keeps me going. I eat once around 6-7pm and might have a snack in the afternoon, but normally it’s just coffee and maybe gum. I don’t smoke or drink alcohol, but used to do both religiously. I usually don’t finish up my day until the late night, around 10-12am, depending on what all was involved in the day’s schedule.
If you could give any advice to younger artists what would it be?
When I first started out years ago, I thought I knew everything about the needlepoint industry. I thought I was so edgy and new, and maybe I was to some. But, I was creating designs for everyone else and not myself. The thing is, times have definitely changed. Young artists should know what’s going on around them. They should know that classic design is not a trend. It is something that comes from your heart and mind and takes time to create. Don’t make something just for the all-mighty dollar, or for fast fame and Instagram followers. You do it because you want to get a message out that others can resonate with and understand. The only advice I can offer is to be true and honest with yourself and it will come through in your compositions. That’s all an artist can offer.
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