Saturday, February 20, 2010

Evolution of a Doodle

I have been an incessant doodler all my life. This is me at ~age 3 working on some paintings, and a marker doodle from around the same time period:

Many years ago when I was clearing some of my junk out my parents’ attic, I was sorting through a box of high school notebooks. I tore out and saved all the pages with doodles I liked, and still have them all stored in a bulging folder (which is also covered with doodles). Here are some of my favorite high school doodles:

Some teacher portraits:

Just recently, I was clearing out some notebooks from college, and went through a similar exercise of ripping out pages with doodles I liked. What struck me was that my doodling had evolved – not so much in style as in purpose. Likely I didn’t have the luxury of allowing my doodles to be whatever I liked and was more focused on the actual subject material at hand in the classroom. I think sometimes teachers or coworkers perceive that a person who is doodling during class or a meeting is not paying attention. However, for me, doodling actually helps me stay focused on what I am listening to. Here are some of my favorite college doodles. They aren’t so much doodles – more of an extension of my notes:

I still try to doodle several times a week on my lunch break. Here is a doodle I did recently during a meeting at work:

It evolved into this in my sketchbook later that day:

Perhaps one day it will evolve into something else.

If you like to doodle, you will love this website:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Science-Art Venn Diagram

I bet somewhere in your educational process you have been exposed to a Venn diagram. They consist of overlapping circles whose intersection has a special meaning. For example:

Well, the other night as I was falling asleep, I was imagining a Science-Art Venn diagram. It looked like this:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Logos I Have Designed

I’ve designed a few different logos in my time that are actually getting used! The one I love the most is for the University of Vermont Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory. I worked in the lab as an undergrad and post grad when the lab was brand new and volunteered to design a logo for a t-shirt. Little did I know that they would actually use the logo for other things, and I admit I’m kind of proud of that (if only I had been compensated with more than a t-shirt!). It depicts a diatom inside a stonefly larvae inside a lake trout - the focus of some of the research going on while I worked in the lab.

See it on their website here:

Another logo I designed is for my sister and brother in-law’s farm, Jericho Settlers’ Farm. They wanted an old timey feel to match the name of the farm (named after the fact that the farm is situated on land once owned by two of Jericho’s earliest European decent settlers.

See it on their website here:

I played a part in designing a logo for my current place of work at the State's Rivers Program to be embroidered on clothing. I’ll only take a small credit as the concept for the design was hatched by my supervisor, but I helped clean it up and get it in a format that a hired graphic artist could convert and manipulate for embroidery purposes. Here’s a shot of the finished product embroidered on a jacket. Notice how the "V" and the "T" of the two words pop out to stand for "Vermont". In my design they were originally royal blue so they would stand out more from the other text, but that choice got over ridden.

While not a logo perse, some of my artwork also graces the cover of some stream geomorphic assessment protocols used to assess the physical condition of streams in Vermont. My sister was working for the VT Agency of Natural Resources at the time and I was living in Michigan attending grad school studying stream ecology. She asked me to work something up for the cover of the protocols she was helping develop. I whipped up a painting as a draft concept on the back of some scrap paper ans sent it to her. I was expecting to refine it more later but she ended up using it as-is! It shows a river in cross section at three different visual scales - the landscape the river flows through, the river itself, and the bed of the river. Now I work with the protocols on a daily basis in my work, so it's fun to have my own artwork on the cover.

See it on the web here:

And well, yes, I did design the millstone logo for Millstone Artworks. A pretty simple design. I’m not always in the mood for graphic design – just feels so tight – but sometimes it strikes my fancy. I think this one may evolve a bit over time.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Millstone Artworks has a shop on Etsy!

I opened a shop on Etsy to showcase my (and Brian’s) “for sale” art work. For those of you unfamiliar with Etsy, it’s an on-line shopping forum dedicated to handmade items. It’s a great way to connect artist to customers all over the world. Check it out!

If you’re looking for a local venue, I do sell fish prints (on rice paper and t-shirts) as well as some cards at the Emile A. Gruppe Gallery. The gallery is owned by my mother and showcases the work of my grandfather, Emile Gruppe, as well as other local artists. You might want to check that out too!

And while you’re checking out websites, you might also enjoy learning about my sister's and brother in-law's farm and reading their blog (by the way – I designed their logo):

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What’s in a Name?

Well, hello there, world.

I recently decided to kick my artistic pursuits up a notch, and as part of this effort am wading into the internet arena with a blog about my art. My goal is to use this space to share my artistic process, sources of inspiration, works in progress, and any other idea that strikes my fancy. In short, I hope it will be a window into the way I perceive the world through my art. So, welcome!

In thinking about ways to formalize my artistic pursuits, I decided to name it. I named it Millstone Artworks. There were a few reasons I didn’t want to name it after myself, as many artists do. One reason, the most important reason, was that I wanted it to be inclusive of all my artistic interests and various media both present and future, and I wanted it to capture my collaborations with other artists, such as my current collaboration with my husband Brian making Gyotaku fish prints. Sort of an umbrella to capture all that I am interested in now and all that I may pursue in the future. I also wanted a name that would imply some meaning, both to me personally and to the outside world. So what does the name Millstone Artworks mean to me?

The “Millstone” part of the name is a direct reference to an amazing millstone lodged in a waterfall that flows behind our house. It presumably functioned in one of the mills that historically were situated at the falls. To me, the millstone represents several important ideas. The first is a connection to this place. To date, I have lived in this town for most of my life, and so “place” is an important part of who I am, and not surprisingly, a large influence on my work. In some cases, this place is my art – in that the natural materials I gather and manipulate (wool from my sister’s sheep and fiber from other local farms, fish caught in local streams and ponds) are my media.

Another idea the millstone conveys to me is a connection to the river. My professional life as a scientist, thus far, has revolved around rivers. River ecosystems speak to my soul, and I am drawn to artistic themes that convey an intersection between science and art, especially when it involves water. When I doodle, most often I am drawing fish, aquatic creatures, stones and rivers in cross section… rivers are where I always start, but not always where I end up.

Millstones are circular, and circles have important meaning. To me, circles imply cycles, patterns, and processes, and when I attempt to bridge my scientific background with my art, it is often through this avenue. I also like to explore various scales of life in my work, from the microscopic up through the macroscopic, and patterns that repeat at these different scales. The millstone is an example of this: the radiating rays from the hole in the center of the stone serve a utilitarian purpose for grinding, but are also remarkably similar to the arrangement seeds in the center of a sunflower or pinecone, patterns of clouds in a hurricane, and the arms of a galaxy spiraling through the universe.

Lastly, I like the word “artworks” because to me it has a connotation of a process. For example, a “wool works” is where fiber is processed; a “waterworks” is a system for cleaning and delivering water. “Works” has a utilitarian aspect to it, and although not all of my creations serve a purpose other than creative expression, I am drawn to art that has a functional purpose (like felted rugs, garments, etc.). My “artworks” is the pathway between my mind, hands, and media. Because for me, the satisfaction I derive from my art is as much about the creative process as it is the outcome. I take great pride in my ability to start with an unrefined natural material, manipulate it, often through many time consuming and labor intensive steps, and result in a product that contains personal expression, purpose, and visual interest.

So, what’s in a name? Yes, my art by any other name would still be my art, but now you have an idea of what’s in it for me.