Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Using Digital Tools for Artful Purpose

This picture is an example of a photo that was improved dramatically, made artful even, with careful cropping, big color changes, and Photoshop filters. This daylily from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens summer 2011 held its blooms at about 6 feet high. The blooms were yellow, making little contrast against a hazy blue sky. Why even look for a shot? Because I liked the slender simplicity of the plant and the distant foliage  had interesting texture, though the eye homogenized it all into summer green. When I found a bronzy green that made the foliage interesting, it led to the idea of pushing the yellow of the daylily into a contrasting orange red. The flashed out highlights on the petals suddenly became graphically important, knitting together sky and subject and lending fitting emphasis to the flowers. The fresco filter pushed the darkest color even darker, further highlighting the subject and granulating the color values  in the tree canopy.

What is the story here? Exuberance. Fearless simplicity, Openness....a daring and refreshing attitude in an overly complicated world.

Consider the Story in the Composition

Trumpet Vine (Campsis) with Canna.
One of the things that digital art is teaching me is how to think about story while I'm composing and deciding on artistic treatment. Stories don't have to be complex, as long as they transmit a concept.

One is accustomed to thinking of the flowers as the star of the show, especially red ones, so the eye finds the flowers first, but in this case, it's not about the flower, which is uncomfortably washed out. Notice how quickly your eye drops to the beautiful bark that glows beneath the flower and flows along the trunk. Then it slides up the colorful stained glass canna stems where the cool elegance of  emerald foliage stops you, makes you linger in the canna shapes. Finally you realize that under consideration is a trumpet vine flower,  hot, glaring, and leaning against a pole with a magazine-model's studied coolness basking in a lavish setting.

The subject is not the flower, but the attitude. I keep hearing that song..."I'm too sexy for my shirt..."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Spirea Series

For a while now I've been trying to think of a nice presentation package for my digital art work. Because it's not traditional imagery and treatment, I am hoping that providing a sense of 'presence' will help viewers consider the imagery as interpretation, not journalism. Here's an idea that has stuck with me.

In these images I have used Illustrator to help me work out a plan in which I print the image with footer signature, title and print number. I intend to print on Polar Matte paper for the most part. It's a luxurious velvety finish. Then mount this as a float, and print the colored 'background mat' so I have control of available colors. The complete package is assembled of rag mat or foam core with background mounted, float with image on top of that, and a mat spacer at the perimeter made from the  foam core I used for the float. Topping this off is a hinge-mounted top mat. The assembled package is sized for a 16x20 frame (image on the print is about 8x12), and will be slipped into a cello bag for sales. While I will strive for white mats, I am finding that images that feature significant darks are overwhelmed by a white mat, but seem to pop in a colored mat of proper value. Here are Illustrator samples from the Spirea work of December 2010.