by Aneleise Ruggles | March 13, 2019
Where are you from?
Hyde Park, MA
What is your primary artistic medium?
Oil Based Paint Markers
Please talk a little bit about your artistic practice. What does your creative process look like? Where do you create your artwork? How long does one piece take to create from start to finish?
For the last five years or so, I have been creating a series of large scale animal portraits. For this, I search for an image or a photograph that resonates with me and then I choose a canvas that would accommodate the proportions of the image. I use the image as my inspiration, create a scale for proportion and go at it. For my abstract works, I create what's in my brain, my heart, my soul. I don't always have a specific idea of where the piece will go, but I figure it out fairly quickly. All of my canvasses are treated with a layer of galkyd, as to create a texture like glass, so that my paint markers are not absorbed. Due to the fact that I am a teacher and the job is so demanding on my energy, it is difficult for me to say how long a piece actually takes to complete. I would roughly estimate that one piece could take between 10 to 100 hours to complete. But, those hours could happen in a period of three to six months. Over the Summer, when I have long stretches of free time and can work 10-12 hours a day on art, without interruption and plenty of rest, I can make up to ten pieces in three months. I do create art during the school year but much less frequently and it takes much longer to complete a piece, especially if it is realistic. Realism requires more of my focus and attention, while doing abstract work is no less serious, but less mathematical.
How do you approach creating a self-portrait?
Most of the self portraits I have completed have been created from my imagination. Rarely do I look in the mirror or work from a photograph, but I have done this. I find my imagination to be richer than reality, even if my skills don't always live up to my imagination. I usually represent myself as very colorful, otherworldly and possessing powers or attributes a human would not possess. Often, I feel trapped by humanity and creating self portrait with a fantastical element makes me feel as if a part of myself exists in a supernatural realm.
Why do you choose to create self-portraits? Why do you think it is important for artists to create self-portraits?
I create self portraits because I want to portray my strength. When I capture myself in a painting, I believe that I have caught a piece of myself that appears as it should, not as it does. If you saw me on the street, I'm not that remarkable, but in my painting, you can see my ferocity, my complexity, my wisdom and my need to feel free. I think that it is important to see artists how they see themselves. A self portrait calls upon the viewer to do their own self examination, something that all people should do in order to better understand what it means to be alive. A life without self examination is a life in chaos.
What role does social media play in your artistic practice?
I utilize Facebook to promote my work. I announce exhibitions for which I am participating. I also announce when I have sold work. I photograph myself at the receptions of the exhibitions for which I have been accepted and this helps portray my success and an artist and fuels more customer interest and sales. I also utilize the photo sharing website Flickr in which anyone can view a large selection of my work. Flickr makes it very easy to get certain kinds of gigs like coffee shop shows. The immediacy of an online portfolio has really helped to give me inexpensive and/or free exposure.
How do you think a stranger may "perceive" you based on the work that you create?
This is an excellent question. I have found that people who have met me, people who know me, still have misconceptions of who I am, so I am really unsure as to how people would perceive me based on looking at my artistic work. I know that I am told that I am talented and that my work is powerful, so I suppose that is what I hope people would come to understand about me. But, to be honest, I really am unsure as to how a stranger may perceive my work. Recently, an acquaintance of an acquaintance drove all the way from Washington DC to purchase one of my paintings. I didn't know this person, but clearly my work had an effect on him and he thought it was a perfect gift for his spouse. That's probably the most I could ask for, a stranger to drive 16 hours, round trip, to purchase my work.
How do you think a stranger may "perceive" you based on your social media profile(s)?
Well, most recently, I have been sharing less and less on Facebook. Most of my posts have been related to my artistic achievements and not relating to my personal life or to my professional career. I have a separate Artist page from my personal page and on my personal page, hardly any of my posts are public. Even posts that I share with 'Friends" are edited so that at least 70 of my friends cannot see them. As a teacher at a Catholic school, I need privacy and anonymity. Often, I do my best to separate my "Job Life" from my "Art Life". I am a Gemini and that means duality. For example, I have been in a long distance relationship for the past five years in which I travel across the state every week. I have literally divided my life into separate compartments. So, I would say that whatever a stranger may perceive about me based on my social media profile, it would only be a partial assessment of what is actually going on and that is how I would prefer it to be.