I make hand embroideries. I started about two years ago. I had been making photo collages for some time. The thread was at first just a way to join sections of different collages together, then it became the sole medium. I did some research on the internet, looked at some contemporary embroidery art, learned what embroidery hoops were, etc. and haven't looked back since. The funny thing is I never in a million years thought I'd ever be doing embroidery. But I quickly found that embroidery works well with me for many reasons - first, its the most inexpensive medium I have ever used, which makes a big difference for me. Secondly, I used to work a lot with wet media (ink, paint, glue, etc.), and I never wanted to wait for any of it to dry if I wanted to add more. Well, you never have to wait for anything when you embroider! You make a stitch and boom, it's there! and you can continue immediately. Also, I have just always liked the look of stitches. So I guess it makes sense that as I make a stitch I get inspired to do another one, and another one after that, and so on, and so on, and so on....
As far as subject matter, I like comic art, mythological and religious images, anatomy, folk art, illustrations from very old books, things like that, and I mix them up in a surreal, expressionistic fashion. I have about 2 bookshelves worth of magazines and books that I have collected over the years for reference material. I don't have to look far to get image ideas. But sometimes the books aren't enough. I need to get inspiration from other sources.
Fortunately lots of things inspire me. Music inspires me. For example, in my current embroidery work I had planned to use black threads for a specific section. When the time came to do the actual stitching I just happened to begin listening to a particular piece of music that I had just acquired. The music was adventurous and compelling. While I listened and stitched I put away the black thread and pulled out a colorful variety of threads instead. The work became as adventurous as what I was listening to. It was a direct influence. I'm very happy the way it came out, and I never would have done it that way without hearing that particular music.
Photographs inspire me a lot. I like the 'photos to inspire' posts that you do here on your blog. Flickr has an abundance of fantastic photos as well. I could stay on that site all day....until, that is, I become so influenced that I want to put down my needle and thread and pick up a camera. At that point I force myself to log out (that's usually within 10 minutes or so).
There are other little things here and there that happen to inspire my work. On a recent embroidery I was using metallic thread. The stitches were very small, almost like little dots. I wasn't quite sure where I was going with it though, but as I kept looking at the shiny dots my mind flashed back to when I was a child. I used to spend a lot of time in my grandmother's basement. She had a collection of rocks and gems that she had found and dug up herself. Some of the rocks had these fantastic crystal formations on them - thousands of little crystals, they glittered like stars. I used to stare at them and my imagination went wild. Suddenly I had a direction. I continued with the little metallic 'dot' stitches, adding different metallic colors, and made them resemble the glittering, crystal surfaces of those wonderful rocks. I had a definite direction after that. The memory helped me finish.
I recently did a major 'reinvention' of my living/working space. I organized, cleaned, consolidated and threw-out. I made sure everything was conducive to sewing and being creative. All the day-to-day mundane tasks are more efficient now. The result has been miraculous. I feel like I've started a new life. It's pumped up my energy level.
Life is so full of beauty and inspiration - anything from somebody's hat, the sunlight glittering on a puddle, a wall of beautiful old bricks. If it sets off endorphins its good! I try to filter out negative influences, which unfortunately can be anything and everything in life. Like the news. I hate the news. The news makes me feel hopeless. But I feel I must read about it so I can be up to date and informed. I can't totally isolate myself from the bad things, even though my day job is enough I should think!
See all of Tod's work in his Etsy shop, follow his work in progress on his blog, and become a fan of his on Facebook.