Blog / 2021 / An Artistic Kinship

April 20, 2021

Back before 2008—before I joined Facebook and eventually Instagram—I was always on the lookout for artists whose work felt like family. I remember it as a kind of obsessive need to figure out how my work fit in, even if I only rarely felt like I did. But with social media jamming so much visual art into my eyeballs every day for thirteen years, I gradually lost the will to actively search.

I’m pleased to report that, since deleting the Zuckerverse, it’s baaaaack! And Ruth Miller’s art certainly fits the bill.

Ruth Miller’s Ain’t Nobody’s Business
Ruth Miller’s Ain’t Nobody’s Business

Miller imbues her embroideries with a kind of movement that feels a lot like the dynamism of Van Gogh’s brushstrokes, which I adore. Plus, she’s an enthusiastic maker of beauty, which she describes as having “the power to uplift, stabilize, and repair,” a sentiment that I can definitely get behind seeing as I’m still recovering from making an ugly artwork that brought heaps of ugliness into my life.

Rubynell, portrait by Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
Rubynell
2019
acrylic on panel
14 x 11 inches

The distinct brushstrokes in my own art mean that it has more in common with embroidery or even lego, cupcake, and crayon collage art than most painting. And when Miller explains the evolution of one artwork in particular towards the bottom of this page, I can’t help but nod along. Like Miller, when I start a piece I have an idea of what it will look like, but, because each image takes months to create, I am also constantly reevaluating the work and finding new directions I can take it in.

Faith Humphrey Hill’s black cat art, Dartily
Faith Humphrey Hill’s art

Faith Humphrey Hill is another fiber artist whose work I can relate to. Hill knits the first layer of her images, blocking in the basic colors of her compositions with interlocking loops of yarn, and then overlays the finer lines and crosshatching digitally. (She explains her process in detail here.)

As soon as I saw her work, it made me think of all the times people have asked me why I make a “regular” painting and then add “artistic doodads” on top. I don’t of course—it’s crosshatching all the way down—but the layering in both my art and Hill’s is still similar.

Dartily Faith Humphrey Hill’s artistic animation done with knit yarn and digital drawing
Faith Humphrey Hill’s art animation

What’s more, like me, Hill has recently started making animated artworks! Her process is different from mine in that she appears to make separate pieces for each frame of the animation, knitting new backgrounds and doing new digital drawings.

cat rolling his eyes and sticking his tongue out art GIF
Gwenn Seemel
Whatever Cat GIF
2021
digital animation
(Download the phone-friendly version of this GIF here.)

I, on the other hand, start with one physical artwork and then digitally manipulate the piece to create the different frames. If you compare Whatever Cat GIF with the marker drawing it’s based on, you’ll see that I did a lot of work with my photo editing software around the eyes and that I even digitally manufactured a tongue for the kitty!

Gwenn Seemel dog painting process
painting process

This is the first ever artwork I made specifically because I wanted to turn it into an artistic animation. I had the idea that I’d be able to make the dog smile in that silly way some do when they’ve been caught chewing on your slipper, but I never managed to turn the contrite face into a guilty smile using my photo editing software.

German shepherd dog GIF art by Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
Winky GIF
2021
digital animation
(Download the phone-friendly version of this GIF here.)

I ended up settling for this jaunty wink instead, which I’m totally okay with but which also makes me see why Hill makes an original artwork for each frame of her animation!

German shepherd dog art by pet portraitist Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
Contrite
2021
acrylic, colored pencil, and marker on paper
9 x 7 inches

You can buy the original German shepherd painting for $120 plus shipping—see all currently available artworks. If you want prints or other pretty items with this image, check out my Redbubble shop!


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