By Rhea Mathur
Ruby Silvious describes her art as “momentary impressions“, revealing the emotions and individuality of the artist. Capturing real life on a chosen canvas often brings forward the nuances of life that affect the artist. It brings forward a different perspective. Looking for the ideal canvas, choosing from various types of paints: watercolours, acrylic, oil paints, a plethora of decisions waiting to be made. Hence, the choice of a tea-bags as a canvas is an expansion of creative boundaries that Silvious uses to present her perspective.
Ruby Silvious is a graphic designer, a visual artist and the author of 363 Days of Tea. Her venture into Instagram has created a massive following for her work on social media. She was the recipient of the People’s Choice Awards 2015 for a regional art competition and has presented her work in solo exhibitions in France, New York and Japan to name a few. Her creative ideas often celebrate her sense of humour which adds to the allure and captivity of her art.
Choosing her canvas
Even before she selected her canvas, Silvious had started to experiment on recycled and found materials. As a ‘recycle artist’, she used products that would be considered as ‘waste’ and turned them into breath-taking pieces of art. Along with her, Aurora Robson, Michelle Stitzlein and Nick Gentry are also reputed artists that share a passion for art and the environment. Their environment-friendly canvas’ are presented as a plea from the environment while also helping their creative expression.
As an artist, Silvious is constantly thinking of new ideas and considered it only a “matter of time” before she discovered tea bags as a canvas. To explain her idea further, the artist stated: “There’s something poetic about the stains that the tea leaves naturally create on the tea bags once they’re dried”. She had also decided to create a routine for herself by painting regularly. She decided that it was imperative to do so to help “structure” her day and reach her “maximum capacity”. For this reason, she found the size of a tea bag “manageable” and “very realistic“. The task of painting that didn’t seem so “daunting“. Hence, her determination to “push” her “creative discipline” also acted as an impetus to “start painting on tea bags” and “creating something every day”. It motivated her into believing that the task was “doable” and hence, could be accomplished. “Without discipline“, she explained it would have been difficult to “expand” her creative “horizons and experiment more with form and style“.
This constant determination and discipline also helped Silvious when she faced adversity. When questioned about facing a creative block, the artist responded: “There were days when I had little motivation and I didn’t know what to paint”. Yet, the reason she never stopped or gave in was that she had already prepared herself to understand that “failure was not an option”. Silvious stated that because she had started with a realistic-sized canvas and developed an image of what she wanted to do next, she knew that she could not give up. Later, she also stated that “I’m glad I didn’t give up too quickly” as the artist’s focus and persistence helped her reach her current stage of creative success.
Did the canvas bring its own set of challenges?
For an artist, choosing the right canvas is an important step and after that comes understanding the canvas. Silvious discovered that “different brands of tea bags use a different fibre” or material for their product. Some would be “thinner“, some “more transparent than others“, making it “more difficult to control your medium“. Even while choosing the right paint, a similar conflict occurs since, “Watercolor, for instance, cannot be used the same way you would if you were painting on watercolour paper because the tea bag paper is so porous.” Hence, she dealt with these complexities in a process of “trial and error” in order to attain the perfect visual effect.
When asked about dealing with negativity, Silvious stated that “people still scratch their heads with a questioning look on their faces when I tell them what I do“. Not only from others but, she stated that she herself “was uncertain how the whole 363 series would materialize”. Yet, Silvious simply put these difficulties as “part of the challenge“. The artist’s continuous efforts often brought days of self-doubt or days where people’s reactions disturbed her mental peace but, at no point did these feelings overpower her love to paint. Her inner turmoil was always outweighed by her passion for art and her belief in her work.
While starting her series, Silvious had decided to upload her art onto social media. She stated that she “had no idea how” her “art would be accepted“. Silvious also stated that she was “ecstatic” after getting her first “10 followers after a few weeks of posting”. Now with more than thirteen thousand followers, it is evident that this is due to her perseverance, passion and hard work.
The artist’s muse and compiling 363 days of art
When asked about her muse, Silvious revealed, “Oh, I definitely had favourite subjects to paint. While most of them were momentary, there were subjects that I looked forward to painting, even if I had done them before. Flowers and birds are always fun to paint, and I did several of them then and continue to do so“. Silvious further emphasized that she finds inspiration in “random” subjects. “From Chinese food takeout boxes to sweaters on clearance, to a portrait of my husband drinking coffee (without him knowing, of course). You name it.”
Silvious had first started with the idea to create a series or a collection of her art. Once the series was complete, she began pondering upon the idea of a book. Hence, when the marketing agency where she worked as a designer closed down, she decided to start her “first design project” and was completely motivated to “work freelance from home” on her book.
In the end, Silvious presented a few pointers for artists inspired by her work yet fearful of failure. She suggested that an artist should “choose a realistic media and find a realistic size to work with“. She also stated that patience and acceptance were both a part of the process. “Don’t be too hard on yourself. There will be days when inspiration is elusive, so learn to be patient with yourself and just produce what you can”. Silvious’s current success is an example of how dedication, self-belief and perseverance can help fight any obstacles and are the key to artistic victory.
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