So I have been dabbling in drawing from a model, and also in pictorial needle arts, which got me thinking about something I made quite a while ago. When I was in graduate school (in the 80’s) I was painting the nude male in situations we have traditionally seen nude females: reclining on the sofa, stepping out of the bath, frolicking in nature… As you might guess, the images read completely differently when a male is the subject. Beside painting male nudes, I did one image in cloth. It was about 12″ x 18″, done with a satiny flesh colored cloth stretched on canvas stretcher bars, and it was stitched with thread of the same color. It was like a bas relief created with cotton batting and quilting stitching techniques. The image was the torso of a reclining, frontal male nude. I remember the pubic hair was done with french knots. When I showed this to my professors in the MFA program I was in, he was dismissive of it. He said, no, not this, no good. I was cowed and embarrassed.
Now I wish I had not thrown the piece away.
So what was I doing? A fiber art generally employed by female artists, but with a nontraditional subject, the male nude. Why not? Why was the professor even unwilling to discuss this direction I seemed to be taking? I’d like to go back to this idea, and use what I have learned in the meanwhile about fiber techniques.
I have been experimenting with fiber techniques to make full color images, needle-felting, and lately needlepoint. Needle-felting has a fragile quality to it, although I now spray them with an acrylic fixative when finished. I thought needlepoint would give me some some clarity of detail I desired, but at first I thought the technique too restrictive. Well, once I learned more about needlepoint, I realized that does not have to be so.Here’s a needlepoint of the lakefront on the south side of Chicago which I thought of as a practice piece. I learned a lot doing this one. The tree tops are done with a rug hooking technique.