This year. Ooooo boy. There have been some incredible highs and
lows. I have become fascinated with what it means to be strong. I don’t think I’m alone in that fascination, because I’ve noticed that my biggest sellers are often images of strength. The phoenix rising from the ashes, square-jawed mermaids with hair flowing in the water or withstanding a furious wind, tough women, wolves, bears, tigers and especially lions. Lots of lions. Most of these pieces have lasted a day or two in the shop before they sold. Some were sold while I was still working on them. Why is that? Why do these strong images resonate with all kinds of people? Is it because we are strong? Or because we want to be strong? Or both? Maybe we are strong already but need to be reminded. Maybe we need to surround ourselves with these images so that on those days when we feel weak and wonder how we’re going to pay for car repairs or help our child with a learning disability or fight that ongoing battle with weight loss or rejection or abandonment, we can feel inspired. Strengthened. Emboldened. These images send us out into the world in the morning and are there for us when we return at night seeking refuge from the day, battered by life’s challenges, ready again to look at that reminder that we ourselves picked out and placed in our own home. We secretly believe in ourselves enough to feel the connection with the tiger or the phoenix or the lion, but we also know ourselves well enough to understand that we still need their inspiration in these moments. We understand, but also welcome the reminder that “The weak fall, but the strong will remain and never go under!” — Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
Okay, it really is a bear, people. But, apparently it’s many things to many people because those are all the animals people in the studio thought this piece portrayed. I was only slightly offended at the octopus, though the person saw it upside down as I was trying to show it to them and I guess the fur looked like tentacles. The sloth–somewhat understandable I suppose. I was intrigued by the idea of a shapeshifter and that may be a subject for a future piece! That said, this piece has garnered tons and tons of attention. Perhaps it’s because it’s different than a lot of the pieces I make in that it’s more realistic in it’s woodland color palette and style, or maybe it’s the more details stitching in the face or maybe it just stands out in the studio against all the ocean colors. Whatever it might be, I always love when a piece gets lots of attention. And I do love this bear. I never could decide if he was a brown bear or a full on grizzly…I’ll leave that up to the new owner. I used six colors of thread to create his powerful face and am very happy with how it all came together. I used a cream color thread to stitch all the fur and the hint of redwoods behind him, and then focused the attention on his face to bring out his bold, strong shapeshifter-at-heart personality. He needs a name. Maybe I’ll ask his new owner what that will be.
The first seven images are the different layers of thread as I worked up to the finished face. The others are finished details. Enjoy!