Blog / 2014 / Connect the Dots

August 10, 2014

One of the more recognizable aspects of my style are the dots and circles that I use along with all the crosshatching. I thought they came from the fact that I cut my thumb open in 2008 and started watering down my paint and dripping it onto the canvas, but it turns out the circles have been in me from the beginning.

oil pastel portrait of a purple teenager girl with orange hair
Gwenn Seemel
Ashley
1997
oil pastel on paper
12 x 13 inches

That’s something which I realized only when I rediscovered this drawing that I made as a sixteen year old. I turned my friend’s freckles into very expressive marks. (I love the signature in the lower right. My teenage self clearly saw this as a masterpiece.)

colorful painted portrait of David Vanadia’s profile
Gwenn Seemel
DavidDavidDavid (Clown-angel)
2005
acrylic on bird’s eye piqué
17 x 16 inches

Of course, now that I know to look, I see the circles everywhere. In this painting from eight years later, I suggest the magical magnetism of my partner’s gaze with two dots in front of his eyes.

painted portrait of Curt Enderle
Gwenn Seemel
Curt (A Beautiful Balance of Opposites)
2007
acrylic on canvas
20 x 20 inches

And speaking of my Monkey Man, if there are lots of dots in this painting, it’s because of him. He was gessoing a panel in my studio and flicked some of the primer onto Curt’s portrait accidentally. I didn’t discover it until it was dried, and it’s a good thing too. I tinted the white specks that David had added, and then took to dotting up the rest of the painting.

little white girl, painted portrait
Gwenn Seemel
Lily
2008
acrylic on canvas
25 x 20 inches

This painting is from after the thumbless summer. The watered down paint clearly impacted the look of my paintings in a more general sense, but it also really brought out the dotter in me.

painting of an emperor penguin
Gwenn Seemel
Papa’s Milk (Emperor Penguin)
2012
acrylic on panel
10 x 10 inches

And that’s something that I truly own today, in that way that only a born dotter can.

painted portrait of an old man with his cat
Gwenn Seemel
The Daisy Dance
2013
acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches

I don’t lay out a painting all smooth and tame before adding the marks on top. The marks are my way of making a painting, and they have been since before I knew how to paint.

painted portrait of two friends
Gwenn Seemel
Bunny Kisses
2014
acrylic on canvas
25 x 37 inches

And now I know that. I sort of wish now that I had kept more of my art from high school and college. It would be interesting to see what artistic habits, besides the dotting and the crosshatching, formed early on in my development!

INBOX IT!

Receive an email every six weeks with announcements about books, talks, and events.

SOMETIMES

Receive an email whenever I publish a new artwork or article.

ALL THE TIME

SUPPORT MY ART!

Microdonations are the fuel powering this art machine. You can give once through Ko-fi.

ONE TIME

Or you can give on an ongoing basis automatically through Patreon.

MONTHLY