Stephen Beal’s Color Memoirs
The Summer 2007 issue of Fiberarts includes a short
story, Needlepoint, and needlepoint artworks by Stephen Beal. We really
enjoyed working on this feature because both the story and the canvases reflect
Beal’s love of narrative and humor.
Beal’s needlepoint works have been exhibited nationally
and internationally since 1976. He has published two volumes of poetry—The
Very Stuff (Interweave, 1995) and Suddenly Speaking Babylonian (Hanging
Loose Press, 2004)—and his poems have appeared in numerous journals.
One of the canvases shown in the magazine is The Periodic
Table of the Artist’s Colors, a memoir piece in which Beal associates
memories and scenes with various colors of embroidery floss. We thought readers
would enjoy the opportunity to zoom in on the different “elements”
of this piece. The piece, which is in a private collection, is 30" x 36".
Photo: Joe Coca
Zoom into the photo (PDF format) by clicking on the image.
Beal writes about the work: “In August 2004, I took a favorite day-long
drive from my home in Loveland, Colorado: north to Laramie, Wyoming, west through
the mountains to Walden in North Park, then south down the Poudre River canyon
back to Loveland. In Laramie I stopped at a bakery for coffee and a roll, and
in the restroom I found a poster on the wall titled “Periodic Table of
Desserts.” Hey, I said to myself, I could do a periodic table of my colors.
Thus was born the overall subject for this canvas, also the technique. This canvas
represents the first time I have used needlepoint canvas as tapestry, weighting
it down at the bottom with a metal dowel (that does not quite remove the natural
bias of the worked canvas). In subsequent “tapestry” canvases I add
beads at the bottom for weight and decoration.
“The annotations on the Periodic Table canvas recall the poems
in my first collection, The Very Stuff, each of which is inspired by a
shade of embroidery floss that I employ in my work.” (This book is out
of print, but copies are available [$25 including shipping and handling] from
the artist at firstname.lastname@example.org.)