incent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” — with its colorful swirls — is as iconic a work of art as any in the world.
His use of blues, yellows, oranges, greens and other hues creates an active, whirring vitality in something as simple as the night sky.
Van Gogh created his masterpiece using oil paints mixed and brushed into the interesting pattern. Now, a Greenwood artist has re-created that effect using thread and carefully placed stitches.
Elizabeth Garvey-Edwards has used cross-stitch, a form of needlework embroidery popular in folk art, to make intricate works based on the paintings of van Gogh, Francois Boucher and other masters.
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She creates the pieces for her six children, 10 grandchildren and now 10 great-grandchildren and would never consider selling them. The artwork has become a family tradition that is cherished and passed down.
“I couldn’t begin to put a price on something like that when you put that kind of time into it,” she said. “I just want them to have these.”
Garvey-Edwards’ first project was in the mid-1990s. One of her daughters was flipping through a needlecraft magazine and spotted a pattern for a witch named Luna. She called it the “Haute Couture Witch” and purchased the pattern to make it on a whim.
“When you look at it now, you realize I must have been out of my head. My brain must have been somewhere else, but I just went from there,” she said.
“I never stopped — hours and hours and hours of cross-stitching.”
That first creation started a wave of projects, as Garvey-Edwards cross-stitched something for each child.
Cross-stitch is a type of stitch used in the fabric arts. Adherents start with a simple X-shaped stitch, then repeat it hundreds or thousands of times to make a design or picture.
Considered one of the basics of embroidery, it can be used on everything from folk art to household decorations to more complicated creations.
“And you have to have patience. But after raising six kids and helping to raise 10 grandchildren, I’ve got plenty of that,” she said.
Each piece has a story behind it. Garvey-Edwards took on “Starry Night” after visiting her granddaughter’s apartment and spotting the Van Gogh painting as a poster on her wall.
A work titled “Lilies and Delphiniums” was created because they were the favorite flowers of another granddaughter.
“Day Surrendering to Night” features two angels, representing the two halves of the day, intertwined. It was done for another granddaughter who loved angels.
“It’s delightful to hand them over to my children or grandchildren, just to see their reaction in putting them together,” Garvey-Edwards said.
Her patterns come from hobby stores, the Internet and needlepoint forums. Projects can take a year or more to create.
She and her family lived on a 30-acred farm south of Greenwood. The responsibilities of farm life kept her from spending too much time at once working on cross-stitching. But she devoted an hour at a time to slowly create her works of art.
“It’s not the kind of thing you want to do all at once because it’s just sitting still in one position the whole time,” she said.
Now a resident of Greenwood Village South, word of her skill spread through the living facility. She was asked to be the featured artist for the month and contributed eight works, starting with that initial witch and showcasing her other creations.
The pieces came back to her from Florida, California and Arizona. Many family members were wary of shipping the artwork, for fear that it would be damaged and they’d never get it back.
Garvey-Edwards never considered that her work would be featured in an art show. That’s not the reason she creates her art. But she’s happy to share it with her friends and neighbors for a little bit.
“It’s probably the only show I’ll do. It made my children and grandchildren happy,” she said. “If I didn’t have them to give them to, I probably wouldn’t do it at all.”
Who: Elizabeth Garvey-Edwards