Friday, November 30, 2012

Folk Art and Needlepoint

Needlepoint and Folk Art lend themselves well to each other. I think this is because needlepoint has been an art form that is rooted in the home. Women (and men) have needlepointed for thousands of years, starting as a way to stitch up their canvas tents* and evolving into a domestic craft that illustrated the times and people's cultures worldwide.

Folk Art has been characterized by its ability to reveal the lives of common people. It is/was not primarily created by trained artists but mostly by untrained artists who wanted to create images of their daily lives. Folk art is an excellent way to study different cultures and the values they treasure.

Grandma Moses is a very familiar American Folk Artist.
Her paintings illustrate rural towns and the people who live in them. Many of her paintings were inspired by different holidays and seasons, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Fourth of July, and etc. It's important to note while looking at her paintings that community was important to her. Everyone is interacting and seems to be enjoying themselves.
Even if the painting depicts people performing manual labor, they are not unhappy. They are working together to enhance their community.

The canvas on the left, "Summer Homes on Pond" by Maggie & Co. reminds me of Grandma Moses' type of paintings because there is a celebration of rural life and Americana. The landscape is lush and beautiful, and it looks like a pleasing place to be! Maggie & Co's canvases are all fun, and many have a similar Folk Art appeal.
This canvas, called "The Pecking Order" is a great example of another of their adorable pieces!

Another artist who embraced his people and culture is Diego Rivera. He was a Mexican painter who is celebrated for his mural paintings from the 1920s through the 1950s. He is also well known for his
tumultuous marriage to Frida Kahlo. His paintings are narrative. They tell the stories* of his fellow people and depict the changes Mexico was going through at that time.

One of our favorite designers is Sundance Designs. We recently had the pleasure of hosting their trunk show at the ANG Seminar here in Philadelphia. Their line is full of beautiful designs that depict Native American and Mexican designs,
culture, people, and aesthetics. The fun canvas to the right, called "Day of the Dead Fancy Hat" is a great little piece that acknowledges the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead. There are a few other pieces in this series, which you can see in our Southwestern section on our website.

Another of their beautiful canvases is this piece called "Adobe Dreams." I love their use of pattern and color in this piece. It draws
on important parts of that culture and allows you to use your creativity with different stitches and threads to really embellish the piece and make it yours.

Nautical paintings are familiar among Folk Art collections. This lovely drawing by William Golding is in the American Folk Art Museum's collection in NYC. It brings me back in time to when ships were common sights at the harbor. This artist obviously appreciated all different types of ships.
There are many different needlepoint canvases that also celebrate nautical scenes, whether it's the beach, boats/ships, fisherman and fish, or the landscape itself. When I think of Folk Art inspired needlepoint I can't help but think of Birds of a Feather. They are really masters of the style. The piece to the bottom left is called Night Sail, and it reminds me of
the drawing above, except perhaps a tad more stylized. I love the use of color and motion. The piece below and to the right is another of my favorites of theirs. It is called Fisherman. Like "Night Sail" it really emphasizes color.

Birds of a Feather have such a distinguished style. Their pieces are a lot of fun. We are looking forward to having their trunk show this coming May and seeing all their canvases together!

I hope you've enjoyed seeing some of the different types of Folk Art inspired canvases that we carry and have access to. If you would like to see more, check out the Folk Art section on our website. Also make sure to check out the American Folk Art Museum's website (or if you're in or near to New York, take a trip to the Museum and see their inspiring collection of Folk Art in person!)

Happy Stitching!


  1. Please take time to check my website. I needlepoint graffiti. Last year we showed at the second fiber biennale in Amsterdam. We are very interested in outsider art and seek out places around the world where outsider artists are expressing themselves. The canvases are all freehand, worked from photographs we bring home from business travels around the world.
    Thanks for taking time to view some of the images on our site.

    1. Hi Jackie,

      Thanks for suggesting your website to us. I will definitely check it out! :)

      Happy stitching!