The St. Mary’s County Arts Council is pleased to announce that by popular vote our First Place Winner of the Art Walk 2021 Contest is Philip Brill for “Scarlet Macaw”, featured at the North End Gallery!

This stunningly intricate counted cross stich piece was part of a recent month-long show where 30 pieces of locally created art were featured at various businesses around town. Visitors were able to view the entries both in person and online and vote for their three favorite entries.

This fun event is held every September in conjunction with the celebration of the Town of Leonardtown’s anniversary as an officially designated Arts & Entertainment District of the State of Maryland.

Philip’s art piece was created through 1,000+ hours of meticulously detailed work and has been completed over the span of a year and a half. Due to the highly labor-intensive nature of the cross-stitch process for his larger pieces, Brill carefully chose his subject matter and spent many hours in the design and concept phase before beginning the stitching phase.

For those unfamiliar with counted cross stitch, Brill describes it as “being similar to embroidery or needle point except that the fabric is blank. It typically takes two threads known as floss and you make an ‘x’ pattern over each square. Changing the colors of each square makes the picture. It is like the pixels that make up a television screen.”

Growing up in Florida, Philip has fond memories of visiting Parrot Jungleas a child and interacting with the resident macaws. Somewhere there is an old photo of him balancing a colorful bird or two on each arm; the picture may have been lost during the years, but his memories of that moment are still very much alive!

One of those perching birds was a scarlet macaw of particularly striking hues of orange and red, vividly recalled as a favorite due to its stunning feathers and ornate features. This very same bird served as the inspiration for Brill’s current award-winning piece.

Philip states that he has always loved wildlife subjects, in specific wolves, tigers, and birds of prey, all of which have encompassed most of his projects completed to date. Other inspirations have come from the paintings and prints throughout his house, mainly of Arctic and Timber wolves.

Brill relates that he has not had any formal classes or training in his art form but traces his interests back to a chance visit at a local craft store. Back in 1997 he walked through a Michael’s shop and saw a cross stitch kit which featured portraits of a trio of Black, Yellow, and Chocolate Labrador Retrievers. His interest was sparked as at the time he owned three of the very same dogs pictured on the packaging. After purchasing the kit, reading the directions, and through much trial-and-error, Philip taught himself how to complete this project and learned fundamental skills to carry forward to future endeavors.

The next year of 2022 will mark 25 years since Brill’s first cross stitch project was created. He states that cross stitch has been a great activity with amazing, finished results, and the only thing that “helps me unwind”. Philip has also enjoyed the framing selection process once his artwork has been completed.

Due to the extensive time required to complete each piece, Brill’s artwork has not been available for sale, but will be featured on display at future community art shows, exhibitions, and contests.

Congratulations also to 2ndPlace Winner Michael O’Shields for “Mando and Child”, hosted at Fenwick St. Used Books & Music, and 3rdPlace Winner Aicy Karbstein for “Mariners View of the Lighthouse” hosted at The Old Jail Museum & Leonardtown Visitor Center.

St. Mary’s County Arts Council would like to extend a big thank you to all of the participating artists, host businesses, Town of Leonardtown, and the many who came to vote and submitted ballots.

Artists interested in participating in next year’s event may sign up for our monthly e-newsletter at www.stmarysartscouncil.com where announcements will be made re: the submission period for 2022.


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