Art With a Twist: Meet Chenille Stem Artist Greg Domres
Calluses, scratches, and scars. These are the physical discomforts that Greg Domres puts up with while twisting and molding chenille stems — aka pipe cleaners — into still life and landscape images. While we’re sorry his art comes with pain, we’re also delighted by the winsome results.
Color, Texture, Depth
Greg refers to his art as “stemming,” and compares it to the early 20th-century Fauvism movement, known for its bold colors, textured brushwork, and non-naturalistic depictions. Although chenille stems come in limited colors, Greg leverages the texture and dimensionality to render depth. For his 15”x12” artwork titled “Ready,” featured above, Greg portrays a duffel bag, surfboard, open door, and window to deliver the message that a beautiful day awaits outside.
A Softer Gaze
“I believe everyone could benefit from a softer gaze,” Greg says, adding that his work often appears pixelated from afar. We can especially see this quality in “More Vivid in Memory,” shown below. Inspired by a strong memory of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, he crafted a piece that’s muted and quasi-abstract. A tinsel pipe cleaner creates the lighthouse glow to reflect the setting sun.
Greg is fond of our Wood Frame Profile 506B. “I’m so grateful to have found Frame Destination,” says the artist, who lives in the New York City area. “Framing really makes a difference in presenting work. But so many people don't want to pay for framing and this is a great way for me to self-frame to present beautifully.”
See More of Greg’s Work
Visit Greg’s website to enjoy a range of galleries, from “Blue Iconic,” Greg’s take on hand-painted Dutch tiles, to “Night Trees,” reversed-out trees against a dark sky. To find out his most indispensable tool and what he always says “yes” to, scroll down to my Q&A with Greg.
Now for Artie’s Eight Q&A with Greg Domres…
- What is your background; how did you get started?
I am almost entirely self taught. Over 20 years ago, while working at a marketing agency, I was given a bundle of chenille stems (aka pipe cleaners). One day I began working with them, wondering what I could use them for. I made a cornucopia, which lead to a large ear of corn and more sculptural work. Eventually I decided I wanted to explore still life and landscapes — leading me to refine my craft and go down the creative path I am on today.
- What role do you think the artist plays in society?
I believe the artist plays a number of roles depending on approach. One could be a documentarian when exploring current issues or popular trends, or a societal therapist providing a mental break. Creativity is critical for change and artists provide a source for that.
- What has been a formative experience or the best advice you’ve received within your career?
Many years ago, when I was probably still dabbling but knew I was creating something special, I asked a friend (who was a very successful artist) what he thought about my work. He enjoyed what I was creating and said I could easily continue the path I was on, selling to a specialty store as a product. Or I could take it further, presenting as an artist, happy simply to show the work, even if it was at a gas station and I sold nothing. I chose the latter, and I am so much happier with what I’m creating and what I've sold. I would still be thrilled to show in a gas station if asked. I say yes to showing.
- In what ways does your work reflect your personality?
Chenille stems are very limited in color — most often simply primary, rarely a hue. I love bold color and am so thrilled to reflect that. I also like it when my work inspires both delight and a softer gaze in the viewer. I believe everyone could benefit from a softer gaze.
- Creative blocks, do you get them? If so, how do you overcome them?
If stuck or unsure, I just try something. I can always adjust or undo it but it usually works itself out in the process.
- What is your most indispensable tool? (Not counting the obvious, like paints, brushes, canvas, camera, etc.)
Needle-tipped pliers, not that I don't use my fingers and they aren't seriously callused.
- Do you have a new project you are working on, or a new passionate idea?
I am currently working on the largest piece I've ever attempted. So far I'm 1,122 chenille stems in and it's approximately 32"x40”, which is very difficult to get my arms around but I persevere since I'm excited to see it come to fruition.
- What is your favorite color to incorporate into your art?
I don't paint, but I love Poppy Red.
All artwork and/or photographs used in this post are subject to copyright held by the featured artist.
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Last Updated August 21, 2023