Beloved Memphis artist Frankd Robison posts pictures of himself on social media as well as his friends and his healing process as he works to deal with serious health problems. It’s lucky for me because I can practice sketching various facial expressions from his pictures. He posts his paintings and his philosophy of hope, and the belief that love never fails, without ignoring the sorrow and brutality of the world.
Earlier this year he posted this photograph:
I look at it frequently — something about the light and his expression and his clothes strike me as sacred. The sacred struggle of life as we try to survive diseases in addition to all the chaos and pain life throws our way. There is pain, but there is light, there is grace.
I didn’t know if I had the skill to paint this light, but it kept nagging at me. I wanted to commune with the image in a way that I can only do with paint. So I plunged forward and painted it the best I could.
My goal wasn’t to exactly reproduce the photograph, but to do an homage, like I did with my last painting of Frankd.
And here are a few of Frankd Robinson’s remarkable works:
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I finished my new fabric art piece today — a sort of combination doll, quilt and wallhanging. I often see a figure in the pattern of a fabric — in this case a kind of blurred birch bark print — I don’t really know why. I also often “see” patterns of color when I look at people. When I was younger, I had epilepsy and used to think I had second sight and could see people’s auras. Now I just think I have a visual blip that’s kind of cool. You should see the characters in my dreams.
I’ve made a series of pieces where figures emerge out of the fabric. They are very hard to photograph, but I hope you can see this one well enough. This one is called “Not Out of the Woods Yet.”
We’re often in situations where we’ve struggled to recreate or recover some aspect of ourselves. We struggle with our health. We struggle with our relationships. This piece speaks to that urge to move forward, even when we are still intimately tied to our situations. When I first envisioned this piece, I thought I would embellish it with lots of floral embroidery and beading — vines, leaves, and lots of representation of the forest. Instead, as I created it, I settled for more subtle stitches with perle cotton embroidery thread. I used painted fabric for the few leaves, embellished with gold gel ink.
I love the way the fabric flutes around the figure. I originally mounted it on a piece of foam board but it looked too flat for me. I think leaving it to hang “naturally” makes it more inviting to the touch, too. What do you think?
This unique work is for sale in Etsy shop for $200. Click here for a link: