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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
Does this post make you think of something you want to share with me? Do you have a question about my art or my career? Do you want to say hello?
To receive an email every time I publish a new article or video, sign up for my special mailing list.
If you enjoyed this post, Ko-fi allows you to donate. Every dollar you give is worth a bajillion to me!