Monthly Archives: July 2010

A Circle is a Circle is a Circle…

a circle is a circleFor years I have had this notion that art has to be complex – like every pencil movement, shutter click, and brush stroke has to have deep meaning and perfectly honed skill behind it because if it doesn’t then the end result isn’t real art. I’ve struggled with the feeling that most of what I create has an air of phoniness to it that everyone can sense because maybe it was an accident that just happened to turn out beautifully without a lot of thought or feeling or deep meaning. I have actually thrown away, disassembled, and deleted so much of my work over the years because it didn’t seem to fit that mold of complexity.

And then I had my son.

Lately, we have established a daily ritual where he grabs his Magnadoodle and comes running over to me shoving the pen out in front of him. He crawls up on the couch next to me demanding (in his non-verbal way) that I draw something for him…and so I do. We are working on shapes right now. The first shape that he actually recognized by name was a heart, followed by a triangle, and now the circle. I doodle a heart, a triangle, a circle, a square, a rectangle, a star. We point to each one and I say its name. Then he snatches the pen from me and attempts to color inside the shapes and connect them together with squiggly lines. When his work is complete, he drags the knob on the bottom of the screen and swishes them away, shoving the pen back into my hand to draw the shapes again but in a different order.

Every time I draw those imperfect shapes, his eyes get big and he can hardly wait to snatch the pen from me and start ‘perfecting’ them in his own style, while learning what all of their names are. In his world of constant discovery and learning, this is art and it is perfect. A circle is a circle. A square is a square. A triangle is a triangle. You can color them in or leave them empty, it doesn’t matter. It still makes him happy.

His excitement about learning shapes has inspired me to work on a series of paintings involving simple shapes so that we can hang them up in his bedroom. He loves to run over and point at all of the art in his room while we tell him what is in the pictures. As I sat down to do some preliminary sketches I found myself caught in that complexity trap again. I couldn’t come up with any ideas of how to make a circle interesting. And then I looked at it the way that my son does and realized…it’s interesting because it’s a circle.

photo : practice circles by yours truly

More cool stuff:

The Fine Art of Scanning a little spottyLast night I finished the first piece in my current watercolor series. I am working on the second piece now. The pieces in this series are small (approximately 4.5″ square). They are also a little rough as the watercolor pencils and I are still establishing our working relationship. Heh. This is definitely a test of my perfectionist tendencies, but so far I seem to be handling it well. This first piece (partial photo at right) is a little spotty, in more ways than one.

I figured that since I managed to finish this piece, which I probably won’t sell, I would try my hand at scanning it for printing purposes. I did a little research and discovered that professional scanning services can be pretty pricey – definitely more than I’m willing to spend on a ‘practice’ series such as this. So, I contacted one of my web design clients who is a professional artist to see if she could offer any advice. Surprisingly, she told me she does all of her own scanning in her studio with her own scanner. Interesting.

I have a pretty good scanner. I’m pretty well-versed in tech junk. And I have (reasonably) mad Photoshop skillz. I can do this, right?


Friends, believe me when I tell you, scanning is not so easy…not for a lifelong perfectionist (in recovery) like yours truly. Now, I can hear you all saying, ‘C’mon, Ruth, how hard can it be? You just throw the piece in there, make sure it’s straight, click the scan button, and voila!’ And to you I say, I shared your cockiness for about 35 seconds until I saw the life sucked out of my piece right before my eyes. It was like a pretty girl after a run-in with a vampire, one minute it was all bright and vibrant and the next – totally pasty and unappealing (Ya like that analogy, Twihards? Heh.).

The first scan was so bad that no amount of tweaking in Photoshop could bring it back from the dead. Several setting changes later, I managed to create something that I could work with. The next part of the process went something like this: run upstairs, open file, adjust, look back and forth between screen and original piece half a dozen times, tweak, send to printer, run downstairs, grab test print, sigh with disappointment, run back upstairs, start process all over again. After a few times through, I managed to come with something fairly reasonable, but it is obvious that for awhile it is going to take me almost as long to scan these pieces as it does to paint them. Eh, at least I’ll get some much-needed exercise.

More cool stuff:

All Aboard the Narcissist Train!

the little heartI’m feeling a little conflicted (read: so nervous I could probably vomit) right now. I’ve been working on this little project for quite awhile  – registered the domain for this site back in February, have been working on the site/blog for a couple of weeks – but, until yesterday, no one knew about it. Hello Seven was just a little idea rattling around with all of the other random trinkets inside my brain, safely guarded from the judgment and criticism of the outside world.

Alas, an idea isn’t worth much it it never sees the outside world.

Now that my little secret has made its way into the outside world, it’s time to head down the road of self-promotion (a concept that resides so far outside of my comfort zone that I need a compass and a map to find it…and even then it’s still a little iffy). How does one manage to self-promote without crossing the line into the realm of narcissism?

Do I blog, and tweet, and update Facebook until the Internet tubes are glutted with every detail of the goings-on in my studio? I’ve seen people do it, but I am skeptical of their purported rate of success.

Do I swagger into galleries with a counterfeit air of self-importance and demand that my work be shown? Anyone who knows me well should be laughing uncontrollably at that vision. Any show I have ever gotten has been something I fell bass-ackwards into. Wonder if my luck is better or worse than it was 5 years ago?

There must be a balance to be struck somewhere out there. I hope that I can find it and help my little idea master its big potential. Or I could just keep painting and see what happens…

More cool stuff:

water + color = love

water + color

I’ve had a slight obsession with watercolors from the moment I received my first paint with water book as a kid. Do they still make those? They would be perfect for *Sir.

Sadly, my painting skills never progressed very far beyond the paint with water books. For as much as  I have tried, paintbrushes have just never made sense in my hands. I find myself feeling very clumsy and fumbling around whenever I try to do anything more detailed than say, painting a wall. Heh.

I used to play around with watercolor paints years ago because I love the way they work, the way they look, everything about them. I could never get over being paintbrush-deficient though. So, I tossed them aside.

I just started work on a mixed media collage and the only way I can do it properly is with watercolors. So, I set out to buy a new set since my old ones dried up and disappeared long ago. And that’s when I discovered them…watercolor pencils!

Honestly, I have no idea why I never thought to try watercolor pencils before. They make perfect sense – the same effect with very little brush work.

I found some time to play around with them today and they are great! In addition to the collage, I hope to begin work on a series of small watercolor pieces this week – time permitting.

* my budding artist toddler son

More cool stuff:

Giddy up!

sevenThis blog is Prong 1 of my two five seventeen many pronged approach to getting my sh*t together and not squandering my talent.

After a too-long hiatus, it’s time for me to get back up on my creative horse, so to speak. I don’t know where this journey will take me, but I can guarantee that it will be a bumpy (if not, mildly entertaining) ride.

As of this writing, my plan is to combine my fairly extensive background in graphic/web design with my somewhat limited experience in mixed media art and my mad photography skillz to create several distinct series that will appeal to both adults and children. What can I say? I’m a mom, I’ve gotta stick with what I know!

My current focus is on fleshing out and creating the web site that will partner with this blog and be home to my portfolio and possibly function as a vehicle for me to sell my art (It’s so much easier to just sell out and post junk on esty, right?). Being that I have decided to hang up my freelance web designer hat indefinitely (well, sort of – hey, it pays better than my current position as a part-time artist with unrealized potential…looks better on a resume too), I am not entirely looking forward to this task. In fact, I’ve spent the better part of a week just trying to find the motivation to put up the lame coming soon page. Please don’t judge me. Heh.

So, that’s what this is all about. You know, the ‘journey of a thousand miles’ and all that…so, let’s get to steppin’!

More cool stuff: