Artwork Spotlight

Artwork Spotlight: Dee Rovetta’s you paint like a child

In the Artwork Spotlight series of blog posts, the Layered Onion highlights a specific work by an artist in the community. These works could range from short stories to visual art to music and more!

Today, Dee Rovetta (she/her/hers) will be sharing her piece you paint like a child. Dee was kind enough to share some thoughts about the piece, but before we jump into the Q+A segment, let’s learn a little more about Dee.

Dee Rovetta is an artist currently residing in Raleigh, NC with her boyfriend and two cats. She finds comfort and relief in experimentation with several mediums and bright, loud colors. Her journey as an artist began in February 2020 on a whim, starting with watercolor and quickly moving to acrylic; now her favorite medium. She believes in making with intention, being introspective, jumping right into new territories without a second thought, and not expecting too much of yourself in the process except peace.

Topics like existing with stress, anxiety, and internal pressure to feel happy are discussed regularly through her use of organic drips of paint, haphazard but intentional lines, fingerpainted bursts of color, and unruly marks with markers. A longtime advocate for self-mental health, holding a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and currently pursuing her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Walden University, Dee hopes she can inspire those who feel the same way she does through her honest artistic journey.

Now, let’s jump into the Q+A portion. This is what Dee has to say as an introduction to you paint like a child:

It was genuinely a lot of fun to make. I usually don’t like cleaning up messes I make while painting but the whole thing — seeing how the paint mixed together when I washed my hands — it was a full circle moment, like I had finally closed the chapter on a particularly miserable part of my life and turned it into something to grow from. Bye preschool teacher me, hello budding artist and counselor me type stuff.

Dee Rovetta, you paint like a child. acrylic, paint pen and gold metallic marker on 36×48 canvas. August 2021.

I saw that this piece is just one of several works that make up your Inner Child series (link to check out more of the series here). You describe the series as a way of “processing your childhood,” using techniques like finger-painting thoughtfully to underscore and explore the boldness and curiosity of your younger self. Where did you find inspiration to begin work on this particular series?

The inspiration for the Inner Child series came from my time as an assistant preschool teacher. I taught all ages from infants to pre-K for about 2 years up until June 2020. I was in charge of lesson planning for a week while the head teacher was on vacation, so I remember being super excited to finally do my own thing with the class. I’ve never been a fan of those cutesy “art projects” for kids that end up being the teacher telling each kid where to glue something or only use this color here, etc. it’s very restrictive and I could tell all the kids were bored out of their minds — I would be too if I had to do art every day but only how someone older than me said to do it!

Long story short, I read my two year old class a book called Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lioni: plainly speaking, it was about two colors, both different in their own ways, who became friends and, in turn, became a completely different color to the shock of the people around them. 

I let them finger paint with blue and yellow for art that day and, I kid you not, every single child had a distinct way of working with the paint. Some didn’t mix the colors at all and wanted to wipe their hands after smudging each other, some covered the entire paper in color, and some decided to paint themselves instead of the paper. This was around the time where I was first starting to paint myself. The series is an ongoing project, mainly because I see our inner child as needing nurturing throughout our lives, not just at certain points.

you paint like a child was the first time I decided to paint with my hands. I felt comforted and weirded out by how good it felt to just spread paint where I wanted it to be, wipe my hands, and continue with the next color. I like using paints that have a “ketchup bottle” type packaging (like LUKAS acrylic studio paints!) so I can just squirt out blobs of color on the canvas and then figure out where it wants to be.

You mention the importance of intentional making in your work, but also the critical element of being able to jump right in. To me, your phrase of “haphazard but intentional lines” really captures this. For me, I often find these concepts at odds in my own work. I’ll often be introspective to the point where I become afraid of beginning and being able to represent my ideas—which is something I’m really looking to work on. How do you balance these two elements in your creative process? How does that translate into your artmaking in the moment?

My definition of intention isn’t just limited to knowing what marks you’re going to make or where the color is going to be placed, it’s about listening to yourself too. A lot of the time, I genuinely have no idea how a piece is going to come out because the process involves me not knowing and being ok with that, in a way. That’s where the haphazard comes in. Sometimes I’ll look at something I did and be so critical of it, and then once I’ve done a few more layers or added details, it makes sense and I’m more welcoming of it than before. Right now I’m at a point where I don’t know what I want to make next. It’s an exploratory period, so the haphazard-ness of it all has taken over the intention. I intend to explore, that’s it!

What a great way to think about intention—a definition that allows you not to have all the answers (who does, anyhow?). I want to switch gears and touch on another medium you work in…

You also have a collection of beautiful handmade earrings. Can you describe a little bit about how your process differs from your work on the canvas to this collection?

Thank you so much for your questions and compliments, I really appreciate it! My earring making process is a little different than my work on canvas — I tend to work with polymer clay when I’m frustrated and need to bang on things/chop things up but painting is my respite, my place to calm down. 

Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses. If you would like to see more of Dee’s work (and I can strongly recommend that you do!), please check out her Instagram @rovettadesignco and website here.