Blog / 2015 / Being My Own Art Historian

January 22, 2015

As I said a couple weeks ago, over the holidays I spent some quality time at my parents’ house.

Gwenn Seemel’s adolescent art
acrylic on television cabinet doors from 1999

While there, I enjoyed their wood burning stove quite a bit, and it happens to be in the same room as these bits of my artistic development. The letters stand for Gwenn, Annie, Kristan, and Richard—my family—and I painted them just as I graduated from high school in June 1999.

Gwenn Seemel’s adolescent art
detail images, portrait of Breizh from 2001 and Roo from 2012

The two portraits of beloved bubbies were added later. (When I made this vlog and the painting it features—a composition that’s very similar to the 2012 portrait above—I had completely forgotten that I’d painted Roo running on the cabinet door.)

Gwenn Seemel’s adolescent art

But I only know these dates after some digging. I wasn’t that organized about my art at seventeen or eighteen. Originally, I thought I did the letters in high school, but guessed they might be from as late as 2001 based on the brushwork.

Gwenn Seemel’s adolescent art
sketchbook drawing

When I went through old sketchbooks though, I found designs that were dated 1999.

Gwenn Seemel’s adolescent art
sketchbook drawing

My favorite discovery of this mini research project is the paint on the back of the G drawing, as shown below.

Gwenn Seemel’s adolescent art
sketchbook drawing

It appears I was worried I wouldn’t place the composition properly without transferring some key points this way, a concern that seems pretty foreign to me now and something I would never have remembered without this evidence.

I recognize these details of my teenage art process aren’t particularly important or interesting. And while I know some artists save every scrap of their creative output for when they get famous, I’m not into that. After college, I purged a bunch of high school art without documenting it, and I regularly recycle painting surfaces when a piece just isn’t working out, like here for example.

All that said, I have to acknowledge that this little look at who I was as a teenage artist does me good in a more general sense. It gives me confidence in the skills I have today by showing me how far I’ve come. I can’t wait to look back at this moment in my studio after another sixteen years of art-making!


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