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Profile: Patrick Ahern, Crochet Artist

Monday, July 29, 2013
As I said in my book, The Fine Art of Crochet, at the conclusion of the introduction: "Fortunately today there are many, many artists who choose to express themselves through the medium of crochet. Although space constraints prohibit me from featuring them all, my hope and my dream is that this book will be a springboard to the understanding, not only for crocheters but for the public at large, that crochet is a valid and vibrant medium in the field of art!"

My plan is to continue to educate about crochet as art here on my blog and today I am featuring fiber artist, Patrick Ahern from Los Angels. He is a kind soul and it was a pleasure getting to know him by phone.
Patrick Ahern, of Los Angeles, was a musician before he was a crocheter. He likens both skills to each other because he says, “The chords in music are patterns and crochet patterns have rhythm to them as well.” Patrick further explains that he gets a sense in his head, but he doesn’t have to follow a rigid framework to create his artistic and complicated tapestries.

As a child growing up in California, he attended an all-boys Catholic high school where football was stressed. In art class, Pat learned drawing, but careers in the arts were never encouraged. “There was so much negative emphasis in my school,” he recalls. “They told us we would be poor if we didn’t get into an Ivy League college. I ended up going to community college because I believed I was not ever going to make it as an artist; and I stayed there for ten years!” Pat explains that he took classes in color analysis, fashion and drawing. “I use everything I ever learned;” he says; “and I don’t want to go back to college.  I just want to crochet.”

Now, at age 32, Patrick’s goal for 2013 is to market himself and his work. “My life goal,” he says “is to be comfortable and to have the time and inertia to move my art along. That’s the hard part; it is all up to me.

Inspired by tapestries in the many museums he has visited, Patrick found that the majority are woven. He loves to use tapestry yarn because it is 3-ply and strands can be added to or it can be made thinner as needed. “I also use chunky yarn as filler where needed. Stitches are the foundation of my crochet tapestries, just like the woven ones I studied.”

Creating his portrait tapestries since 2005, Patrick creates stitch by stitch looking at a photograph. “I am painting a ‘picture’,” he explains. “Paint has its own texture. Crochet is kind of like sculpting, but my works are flat. When one takes a close look, there is texture like brush strokes. Crochet is the original 3-D printer – from cozies to the hyperbolic plane, anything can be made with the right stitches. Counting is an important aspect of my crochet design, especially when it comes to gauge. I always use one size hook and two or three stitches. By counting, I get the proportions right.”

Inspired by his love of Norman Rockwell, the clean lines of Hollywood portraits and Impressionism, Patrick often questions himself and his method. “Am I just re-creating a photograph?” he ponders. “My challenge is always this - Can I create this picture in crochet and not have it be an exact replica?” He explains that his method is free form yet, he puts a lot of structure into the piece and has to know how the stitches work in order to do so. “Incredible creativity comes from rules,” he believes. “Yet one needs to know the rules in order to break them.”

Patrick sees so much potential with crochet; he is still amazed after all this years with what he can create that he says he will never leave it behind. “I can crochet better than I can draw and when I give myself problems to solve during the creative process, it is better than complete freedom!”

To see more of Pat's work, so to www.patahernart.com. His work has been compared to that of Jo Hamilton, who is highlighted in a chapter of my book. See for yourself  in this profile of Patrick at: http://www.crochetconcupiscence.com/2012/10/portrait-crochet-art-from-pat-ahern/    

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