When I was a kid, I was always drawing or writing. I even begged my mom to take me to school extra early once a week so that I could take an extracurricular art class around 3rd grade or so. I always chose writing and art as my electives later on, and I always found reasons to take art classes once I went back and forth with college. As a teen, I had fantasies of going to Kutztown for photography (at the time, they were well known for their excellent photography program), but school & I did not get along, so I didn’t exactly have the grades to apply to such a place. Nor did I have any sort of portfolio.
I did go to a C-rate art school briefly, where I majored in graphic design before graphic design was even really a thing (we’re talking mid 90s when the internet was brand-spanking new and… well have you seen the 90s internet? Let’s just say people loved the “bevel” effect in Photoshop. Bevels for days.) I also dabbled in photography again for a bit.
I kept taking art classes off and on for ages, but I felt really aimless in what to do with it. My boyfriend-at-the-time, who had himself been an art major, was not exactly encouraging of anything I tried, and because he had a bona fide art degree, I thought he knew better than I did. (But in hindsight… having an art degree does not make one a great artist nor a great judge of art. I was never very impressed with his clay hand sculptures or his metal sculptures that never really evolved past the 90s. But I digress.)
I have always wanted to get back to “art,” but I had this notion that I needed to do something with it. And, as a kid, I was always told that I had a ton of potential—art teachers were always oohing and aahing over me—so I’ve felt a strange sort of… shame? at later attempts, because I felt that I should still be “good” at, practice be damned.
This pandemic, clusterfuck that it is, has still brought about a few good things, such as taking up art again. My outlet has always been traveling and languages (would it surprise you to know I’ve taken up Swedish now?), but I haven’t felt safe enough to do that the last couple years. I reached a breaking point where I really needed to find an outlet, so I forced myself to let go of the need to be “good” or “do something” with my creative endeavors and signed up for Watercolor I and 2D Digital Design. The watercolor class is a beast! I enjoy it, but it is an incredible challenge… and I plan on signing up for Watercolor II, which apparently means doing nothing but filling a watercolor pad with 60 paintings over the course of 10 weeks.
The design class, though.. YES. A thousand times yes. I have always been enthralled with digital design, and I’ve dabbled in my own stuff. I had so many ideas in my head that I just didn’t know what to do with, nor was I sure how to go about it. Getting what’s in my head to paper/screen has been a struggle for as long as I can remember, but in the last couple years, something has just clicked. It started with house renovations, where I would just “see” an entire room and how I wanted it, and magically, for the first time ever, I’ve been able to translate in my head to the actual room. And that seems to be happening with the design, as well. More to the point, I’ve finally begun to master Illustrator and finally have the skillset to create some things that I really like.
The first three weeks, we worked strictly in black and white then grayscale/values. This week we’re finally working with color (and I really, really, really love color—you should see my house… and my clothing folded and stacked by color). The first two images are from the grayscale assignment, which I styled as odes to two cities that I’m missing something fierce right now: Amsterdam and Berlin. The third image, green, isn’t done yet. We’re working on color theory and doing pieces using only analogous, complementary, etc. colors. I’m fascinated with green, lately, and hearing repeatedly how difficult it is to work with; so of course, I chose green for my monochromatic piece.