Thursday, July 2, 2009

St. Louis Artists' Guild- Michael Aaron McAllister

EXHIBITING GALLERY: St. Louis Artists' Guild
TITLE OF SHOW: Presidents, Poets and Playwrights 
OPENING DATE AND CLOSING DATE: September 20th, 2009- November 7th, 2009
ARTIST: Michael Aaron McAllister
“If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time, insight into and understanding of many things.”-Vincent Van Gogh
Amassed in this group are men and women who are joined by the connective tissue of “vision.”
Whether behind a desk in the oval office, poised over parchment with a quill, or preparing situations for the stage, each of these visionaries depicted here through strong character and indomitable will achieved feats as luminous as the sun.
Some served their country, carving out a better life for future generations. Others wrote sonnets or dramas that would endure and enlighten for centuries. It is my mission to ensure all will live in the pantheon of our consciousness.
Here presented to you are Emily Dickinson, FDR, Jackie Kennedy, Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett, et al. Each portrait is completed in tens-of-thousands of hand-embroidered stitches, beads and silk ribbon.
Michael Aaron McAllister is a professional quilter and artist. He has won awards for his portraits and exhibits nationally in both the fine arts field and quilting shows. See more of his work at

St. Louis Artists' Guild
Two Oak Knoll Park
St. Louis, Missouri 63105
Submitted by: Michael Aaron McAllister

Tell us a bit more about yourself: your location, professional 

affiliations, personal stuff…

I live and keep a small cramped studio over looking the Gateway Arch in Downtown St. Louis. By day I am a librarian for the Upper School of a prep school here in Saint Louis…in Ladue. I have been happily married to my husband Bill for almost 13 years. We share two pugs and a black lab. We also like to see cities of the world by ocean liner. Cruising for me is very romantic…very 1932…very David Niven.

What first inspired you to become an artist?

I have always considered myself an artist. My first works were in Sesame Street coloring books. From those beginnings, embroidery was born.

What possession do you most cherish?

My most cherished possession is the needle which I began my embroidery career with.  I have stitched over 70 portraits with it. I have lost it dozens of times, have bent and re-straightened it, and have worn the chrome of its surface. When I give talks and demonstrations I take a “stunt needle”. THE needle never leaves my studio. I had a special velvet lined case created to house the needle, fitting some ancient holy relic.

What is a typical day for you?

My day begins at 3:30AM. I think it very important to give the best hours of the day to my portraiture than to someone else. I generally have three hours in the morning to work and two in the evening. I retire with the dogs around 7PM. The weekends afford me around 20-22 additional hours of uninterrupted, blissful work.

What music do you listen to?

I generally research other subjects while working in my studio. I devour audiobooks. Most of the books I read are history or biography. If not researching I will have a group of 3-5 movies that I watch over and over and over to foster a background white noise. 

When do you feel you hit your stride as an artist?

Either when a portrait is finished and I know it’s a “special” one or 

at the opening of an exhibition when a visitor speaks with me and conveys how one of my pieces recalls an event in their life.

What helps create a suitable environment for making art? 

Absolute order. My studio must be in place and tidy. I also have to have the dogs. Edith Wharton wrote her novels with “her dog’s heartbeat at her feet” and I completely agree with that. Being in my clean studio is a calming act…having my pugs there only furthers that.

What are your favorite materials to work with?

I can’t and will not work without DMC 6-Strand Embroidery floss. Call me a “Brandist”…but I will not work without it. DMC floss and unlimited and varied fabric supply is very important.

Where do you find materials to create with? Names of shops or 

internet sites…

The greatest place for me to buy fabric is I make a bi-yearly exodus to Paducah to replenish. I get my DMC floss at either Hobby Lobby or Michaels or in lots from eBay.

Name your top five: musicians, books, movies, websites, artists… 

(provide a link to websites or artists websites if at all possible)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Music)

Ella Fitzgerld (Music)

Gone with the Wind-Margaret Mitchell (Book)

A Moveable Feast-Ernest Hemingway (Book)

Now, Voyager (Movie)

Out of Africa (Movie)

John Singer Sargent (Artist)

Ingres (Artist)

Andy Warhol (Artist)

Walt Disney (Artist)

What are materials that illicit the most response from you in viewing work?

Materials I don’t respond to as much as work having a “time-intensive quality”. That is something I ALWAYS respond to. 

What is your next project?

I am currently finishing up work to mount a show at the Embroidery Guilds of America Museum in Louisville, KY. After that I plan to revisit the lives of British, French and Russian Royalty recreating their lives in millions of stitches and thousands of beads. 

Studio Shots: 



  1. This is a test to see if the post a comment function works. Other than that I'm really enjoying learning about the IT8 artists and their work.

  2. I would personally like to encourage all artists and gallery venues involved in IT8 to sign on as followers of the IT8 BLOG. It only takes a minute to set up a google account and then you're in. Once you do that you'll be able to comment and to be part of a creative discussion about your chosen vocation...making art. Thanks and I look forward to hearning all your voices.

  3. I love this artist's studio shots! His space looks so comforting, organized and like it easily invokes creativity!

  4. experiments in reality fashion not about fashion ///about cloths // about PAYROLL// weaving newness into oldness
    academia anemia
    DALIESQUE DIVERSIONS braggalistic verbiage
    -----in a street side senario
    fabric ////////////
    huge piles of yarns
    bolts of fabric
    ups truck pickup ]
    sound of power knitting machines
    marie working two machines
    ' produce produce
    people //peoples lives /relationships /
    life deth
    everyday wearable relevance
    in linen
    paint on the linen
    washing the brown shirt until its so thin its falling apart
    attic memories of gran's family quilt collection
    raided in 60s by antique seller
    discounted ignored art in cloth needlepoint
    oh the beautiful smells sewing baskets ivory darning needles
    the clanky singer foot powered treadle
    how i sat as a small one and cranked it round
    fibers /spider reminders in dewy wet grass walking
    skif it is so much not about art
    yet then back from some shopping mall
    how small it really is
    how much distance between mass production
    and grans fingers asking
    the bead added to low waist
    patched w neckties embroidery thread
    then threndy
    mass produced in china
    losing somehow
    the original soirit
    flowers blooming
    pears on the tree
    from the sticks
    far away from large buildings with janitorial staff
    close to the everyday struggle
    for sheets of heavy cotton drawing paper
    hoping fr portrait commissions
    myriads of dream projects
    it is time to imagine them all done
    in a new world
    hum -----arts and craft ?????????
    look at the doors on the church
    intimidated by
    masters degrees //doctors degrees long resumees
    cannot compete with state funded supported efforts
    this art comes from the blood
    afraid on incompetence inability to write in accepted formats
    doors slamming judgements
    small minds in small places or big places
    out of place out of context out of my league
    a different clique
    and knowing the new artists the weird the wired the warp[ed
    some surviving the growing up process enuf to keep
    making their various arts
    the gulf between huge drywall built houses with thoma kinkaid
    crap and barrelfulls
    and the loft livers
    stu=dio sharers
    dont know what to do
    seeing the dreamweavers lifelong efforts
    tiny spider hope
    ps was asked to blog this site
    by fashionistas for peace
    hhookers on elizabeth st /////nola
    joe degregario hill association tours
    facebook freaks look up
    donald j kennedy
    preface to upcoming show at guild