How did I live fifty years without knowing Gustav Klimt's
THE TRANSFORMATION PROCESS
When I first saw a print of THE KISS, I stared at it in awe. The
profusion of circles, swirls, rectangles, flowers, and entwined bodies
-- everything two-dimensional, yet the faces and hands painted with
shading and depth! It left me speechless. A few years later, I visited
the original painting of THE KISS in Vienna. Klimt's use of gold leaf
for the clothing was spectacular, his brush strokes were bold and free.
The painting was shown under a protective acrylic cover, emphasizing
The impulse to stitch THE KISS came to me one morning when I realized
the blank wall opposite my bed needed a sensuous painting. Not someone
else's, but my own.
I'll stitch THE KISS!
I suddenly knew I wanted to create Klimt's magnificent painting, to
re-create it in my own medium, to stitch it in silks, velour, velvet,
chenille, beads. I'd create their luxurious garments on my canvas, adorn
their hair and plant the field of flowers where they, the lovers, knelt.
At first, I traced a print of THE KISS onto 18 mesh needlepoint canvas.
Then, as luck would have it, I happened to find a painted needlepoint
canvas of THE KISS -- but altered from the original. It was missing the
field of flowers, her foot, and background space on the right side.
But it was an excellent jumping off point, I could enlarge it and
include the missing details.
I found a book about Klimt and photocopied THE KISS, enlarging it in
several sections until each section was close in size to my painted
canvas. In these "detail" copies, I could clearly see the subtle mix of
colour. TO stitch the skin tones, I threaded colours together on the
needle, creating an optic mix of colour.
I redrew the faces, the hands and many garment details by tracing from the
photocopy onto tissue paper, then basting through the tracing on to my
canvas with red thread and stitching within the red lines. Last, I removed
the red threads when each area was complete. In the field of flowers, I
used the detail copy of the field of flowers as a guide to pencil-draw
floral groups, then used acrylics to sketch these groups on the canvas.
Most of the detail was done in the stitching rather than in the drawing
or painting. All raised textural stitching was stitched first and
filled in later with basket weave, allowing the detail to come forward.
I attached new canvas in two places: one horizontal piece across the
bottom from just above her leg which included the field of flowers,
another vertical piece at the right side to the original canvas and
horizontally to the new canvas at the bottom. I attached the pieces as one
would make a seam on a garment, sewing a running stitch with a heavy
thread, then opening the seam, and trimming it to avoid extra bulk. Then I
needlepointed through both canvas layers.
For two years I lived with Klimt as we created "our" piece. We
consulted on techniques and interpretations as well as each of the fibers,
stitches and colours to be used.
The piece now hangs in my bedroom and it continues to bring me as much
joy living with it as it did in the process of planning, stitching and
Visit Rosalyn Cherry-Soleil's
It shows the wide ranging scope of her art and hosts a guest
section that contains one of the best international displays of
needlepoint work available on the NET.