Blog / 2016 / An Ontmoeting between MC Escher and Me

April 28, 2016

You know when someone points out something about you that you hadn’t realized, and a bunch of pieces suddenly fall into place for you? Susan Putnam-Jensen did that for me a few weeks back. We’re friends on Facebook...

Gwenn Seemel swirly green design
Gwenn Seemel
Green Swirls
2016
acrylic on unmounted canvas, digitally manipulated

...and after I posted this image...

Gwenn Seemel swirly green design
Gwenn Seemel
Green Swirls
2016
acrylic on unmounted canvas
5 x 6 inches

...which is a mirroring and repeating of this piece, Susan commented: “Escher-ish?” And my mind was blown.

MC Escher’s Liberation 1955
MC Escher’s Liberation 1955

As a kid, I loved MC Escher’s art. I don’t remember how exactly I found it, though I’m fairly certain my parents had something to do with it. I quickly became obsessed with Escher’s visual tricks, his world-warping physics, and his beautiful design. And when I say “obsessed” I mean that I named stuffed animals after his works, relishing these snippets of Dutch like I had a secret language just for me and MC.

Gwenn Seemel

Then, when I was 13 or 14, I started doing a swirly kind of doodle. Above is a photo from earlier this year with a mirror frame I painted as a teenager, and this video shows a bunch of high school notebooks, some of which feature the doodle. In all the time that this design—whose name is Bob thanks to my chemistry lab partner—has been a part of my life, I never once connected the swirls to Escher. Not until Susan suggested it.

And that’s huge for two reasons:

  • I really like knowing where my art comes from and acknowledging the artists who inspire me. It’s so important to me that I wrote a whole book about it. So Susan helped me do something that I love.
  • I’ve said now and again on my blog and elsewhere that I understand how artists might not even realize when they’re inspired by another artist and, for the most part, I believe it. Still, a little part of me is always disappointed with artists who aren’t able to cite their sources. They seem a little unaware, a tad lazy, and maybe even a bit pretentious for denying their inspirations. All of which is to say that Susan’s comment gave me some perspective, and hopefully it will help me to stop being so judgmental.

If you like the swirly design, it’s available as all kinds of fun things in my print shop here.

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