Fiber artist Connie Pickering Stover’s work is about preserving the ancient art of needlepoint and making it relevant to today’s collectors of contemporary abstract fiber art. See more of her vibrant portfolio by visiting her website.
I can’t remember a time that I didn’t love to have a needle in my hands. Although I’ve played in many textile mediums I found that the challenges of overcoming the predictable structure of the needlepoint canvas allowed me to tell my stories best. I love to explore the “outer edges” of canvas and keep experimenting and pushing my ideas outside the canvas’ structure.
When I look up from my work I discover that my stitches did not confine themselves to the grid – they had found their freedom!
As a graphic designer for the last 40+ years, I understood how objects affect space, how colors communicate, and how graphics can be used to affect emotions without ever using words. About 1998 I transitioned to web design and my graphics background put me miles ahead of the websites of the time, which were mostly “designed” by programming techies. So for a while my creative side was satisfied.
About 10 years ago I decided it was time to come back to my love of needlepoint. I found joy in the “unexpected” and serendipitous results of mixing colored threads into new combinations, painting and dying and spattering to create new textures, and allowing my stitches to wander off in their own direction – as if they had a mind of their own.
With an arsenal of unlimited glorious “paints” that could be mixed on a whim I began my new journey with a needlepoint piece called “No Boundaries”, which was fitting because I truly felt my artistic freedom come to life. With no road map, but with a clear direction, I set out to discover what adventure each new piece would bring me.
And now, with great excitement, I am moving my art forward through constant experimentation; adding layers of fabrics, paints, handmade papers and other textural elements that add dimension and textures to express my love of movement.
One of the joys of working with threads is that they most definitely have a mind of their own. I enjoy letting them fly, dangle, knot and catch on other fibers, free to go wherever they want. Flying threads are just fun and I let them “be.”
I am constantly learning new lessons. Parts of each of those lessons can always be found in my next piece. So each new work of art is an evolution – an exploration – of techniques which take me on to the next project. And while I always enjoy the piece I am working on, I am also planning and anticipating the next one.
My studio was built to catch the Phoenix light from every direction and allowed me to paint with abandon for many years. Recently I needed to move everything to another part of the house and downsize as my studio became much-needed real estate. So thread, fibers and canvas were a perfect medium for me to tuck neatly away only to pull out at a moment’s notice – which translates to every time I sit down!
My next step in the evolution of my work is about freedom and commitment (which sounds almost contradictory). When I doubt my ability to make that next leap in my work it’s usually because I haven’t fully committed myself to it. And when I do commit, I get almost giddy. And when I feel that the commitment was a success, I dance a gleeful victory dance. This feeling is totally addictive and gives me the spark to start my next project.
I am mesmerized by the contrast between wild movement and quiet geometric shapes. I feel that is important to introduce the calming element of a grid to “tame” the chaos of my designs. I try to introduce quiet places to gives my brain time to catch up with my eyes. The tension that these diametrically opposed design concepts give is what interests me most. As my eyes move around the canvas I appreciate the feeling of freedom the movement gives me and I’m pleased by it.
Each project reflects a journey; whether to the cosmos as in “Starborn” or deep under the Earth as in “Antelope Canyon.” They all take me somewhere I want to be again and represent adventures I have yet to explore.
There’s plenty of room for you in these adventures – so I hope you will join me.