Friday, March 28, 2014

A Contemporary Digital Collage of BBC Sherlock

Clues flying at the speed of light - Sherlock brains his way unraveling mysteries!  The excellent cast and production of the BBC Sherlock series have caused me to want to create a collage that has a contemporary feel and looks somewhat like a traditional collage made with paper scraps with some of the images looking cut out.

It is more involved than many of my collages with more images on different layers (see below).

This is a new look for me and a style that I have dreamed about doing, kind of contemporary without a lot of fussy detail which I seem to do without trying! 

Although some would argue this design is not exactly simplistic, I like that I did not have to be exact in cutting some things out (time consuming), with some images having a rough cut look and not much shading except to use the photo editor curves to lighten or darken some images.  One of my first attempts at painting are in this image.  I painted Sherlock's scarf, as small a thing as that can still not look right if you are not careful.  It wasn't as hard to find the right color and paint it as I thought, so little by little I think I will be doing more painting.

The way this image turned out has given me confidence to want to do some shading with the paint brush and maybe color some areas to emphasis an object in another project.  I did have to do some resizing of images which is normal and makes designing in a digital editor a joy.  Objects can be reduced and not enlarged because pixels can become stretched.  Sometimes I do enlarge as long as it is not stretched too much and put a texture over it.

I got the idea to add to this image the Union Jack for some extra punch although I still like the above image for it's simple design.  I kept these images somewhat dark for a mysterious look somewhat like the BBC

dark blue toned ad image with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman looking as though they are on a case in the dark of night.

I am currently working on another project, a Downton Abbey image.  It is always a challenge to try to find images that will have the right look and get the overall style I have in my mind.  A lot of the time I get ideas as I am working on a project.  I am trying for somewhat of a period look, it will be interesting to see how it turns out.  I thought I would share it in the unfinished stage so you can see some of my process.

The image has a large white border around it, I'm not sure what I am going to do with the border, I may make an invitation out of the whole image as if inviting the viewer to a garden party or skeet shoot.  I'm still working out the coloration and not finding the colors of the textures easy to erase so I may get rid of the textures and try painting the different colors.

I see myself gradually getting more and more into painting which is a very good thing.   Painting can be less cumbersome than trying to add textures (I often add two and three to get the right color and effect) and sometimes taking some of it off.  Textures have their place though.

Right out of the program editor (see below)!  I used a color photo of the real Downton Abbey, Highclere

Castle (see above), which I desaturated (made into a black and white image) and then used threshold to turn it into a black and white line image.  There is also an old photo of a real servant standing beside a color photo of a yellow and black Rolls Royce. Believe it or not when you view the servant at 50% he turns out to be a handsome young man with white powdered hair!

My gallery website:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Former Tax Lawyer, Speech Pathologist Finds Fullfilment In Art

This post is about Carla Parris, who won first place in a collage art contest at Fine Art America using a more traditional method of the collage technique.  I am continuing to write about the art of collage, my last post was on a digitally made (usually involving a layers program editor) collage of Sherlock Holmes, his umbrella, violin, violin bow and overcoat, each on a separate layer in an editing program.

Carla has had one busy life with her career as a former Speech Pathologist and Tax Attorney.   Now apparently retired from her previous jobs, has time to create and find fulfillment in her art.

This is the interesting part, her collage 'Ascending Praise' (as seen above) contains old art as well as new.  She explains it this way, "The original piece I never completed and didn't really particularly like in its initial state; it found new life in this collage, and made me glad I heeded an art teacher's advice to hold onto our "dogs," since you never know what you might eventually be able to do with them.  I still have others yet waiting transformation!"  I say it's always nice to have some backup art, I can relate!

She goes on to explain her "...collage incorporates torn pieces of a watercolor painting, snippets of sheet music, gauze, and gold webbing. The words on the music at the bottom say, 'To the God of glory.'  They, along with the composition which seems to have a floating and ascending movement, inspired the title, 'Ascending Praise'."

"It's heavily textured depth comes from its multiple layers incorporating rich water colors of teal, magenta, and gold with white and cream tones.  It reflects Carla's background in conventional scrap booking, working with textures and layers using the same process, only now using torn strips from the old water color painting.  A piece of sheet music added at the bottom was an afterthought which she says completed it and added yet another layer and additional depth."

The message here seems to be don't throw away your art no matter what it looks like!  I know from experience that has been true about my photography, often I can use an out of focus shot, sharpen it and put layers of textures on it, reviving it.   You can sometimes turn that ugly duckling into a swan.  I'm not the kind of artist that is always trying for the perfect shot, there are endless possibilities in the editing program, thank you!

Here are several before and after examples of some of my snow photos that weren't very sharp or not good coloration but look artful when textures are applied.

Now I don't want you to think textures are an automatic fix.  It can take hours to transform or edit photography to get the right look not including the time to capture the shot.  Some photos don't work at all, depending on the light and composition.  Non traditional art methods can take as much time as traditional methods.

Carla Parris gallery website:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Changes To A Sherlock Holmes Design In A Photo Editor Program

I hope you like the BBC television Sherlock Holmes series.  No? Somewhat tepid on the subject?  You may find the editing of a Sherlock Holmes design in a Photoshop layers editor type of program more to your liking.

This is not a "how to" instruction on the layers program, there are lots of step by step instructions on and the internet, it will though give an idea of the flexibility of the layers program should you want to try it and some thoughts on this particular design.

Here is the original design of one of my Sherlock Holmes images:

Technical stuff:

One can choose from different script in the editor program and the lettering type and size can be changed as the overall design develops.  Additional script can be loaded into a Photoshop type of editor.  As long as the layers of the design are saved (it is a separate file like any other image or photo with it's own extension) the design can always be changed using the file.  The Union Jack flag, umbrella, violin, script and textures (the shading and texture) are all separate objects with each on it's own layer.

Design stuff:

I really like the graphic bold lines and color of the British flag.  It is a fairly simple design with no curving lines, the red and white stripes repeating throughout.  I can understand why it is seen everywhere and on everything British or not, it looks good.

My only regret is the British flag should not be on chair seats or used in any way that treats it as a common object.  Most would agree Sherlock Holmes works for the good of British citizens and others, I believe in Sherlock Homes!  This image will most likely hang on a wall or set on a table or desk.

As I finished this design I thought I could add more detail which in this case may make it more interesting especially if it is something of a personal nature.   By adding a violin bow, I thought it wouldn't be overly hard to find an image and execute.  As mentioned in an earlier post I found one and contacted the company for permission to use it since it was not a public domain image.  Here is the image with the added violin bow which is on it's own layer so it can be moved anywhere, angled to any degree, duplicated as many times as desired even a mirror image can be made with all of the aforementioned:

I feel this is a nice image and would like to keep it, then I got another idea and thought it would be nice to have Sherlock's overcoat in the image too.  The idea for the coat was for it to be on a hanger or hung on a wall peg looking as though he had just left the room and would be coming back later.

I have tried to stay away from using any identifying images or drawings of celebrity faces because if used for commercial purposes it is against the law unless there is a signed release, it doesn't matter if you took the picture yourself or someone else did unless it is for editorial use only, it is not lawful.  To avoid this potentially messy problem one has to be creative.  The coat was a little more difficult to find since it couldn't be on a body and not Benedict Cumberbatch's!

I found a coat and here is the image:

What do you think?  I wanted it to look like Sherlock had just whipped into the room, like he does, hot on a case spouting out nonsensical words, seemingly on the surface, but in reality clues to the case!  On closer examination one can tell it is not a wood trench coat and more like a jacket.  It's poetic license, I'll explain that later.  My sister thought the coat looked like a shroud!  In order for it not too look like this is about an undertaker, should I slim it down slightly so there is less black?  I don't want it to be too narrow, lose it's shape and folds so it is hard to tell what it is or be too small and compromise the look of the design.  The rule of thumb is to have varied sizes and mass of objects for interest.

Although he usually doesn't take his violin with him I used poetic license.  This is what I told my sister when I made Cumberbatche's overcoat a dark tweed in one of my images amidst her cries that I couldn't do it since Cumberbatch's coat is a solid dark fabric.  Does Cumberbatch now rule out all other Sherlocks?!! "Pleeeze" I told her, "I need some T E X T U R E!"  It was a compromise.  Earlier movie images show Sherlock in country tweeds. Let's never forget history, that's what makes us who we are today!

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Queen's Guard Sherlocked!

What can I say except that something happens to everyone who watches the BBC Sherlock Holmes series with Benedict Cumberbatch.  He's exceptional (actor that is).  Martin Freeman who plays Dr. Watson is also exceptional along with the rest of the exceptional cast!

Cumberbatch doesn't fool around when it comes to good scripts and working with good people.  He did graduate from Harrow so that has to put you on some kind of higher plane I would think and knowing what is the right path to take with your life.  I saw him some years ago in To The Ends Of The Earth and watched it about twenty times since, all the while raving to my family and friends about how great he and the movie is.  It took my sister a while to come around but she has definitely come full circle and has bought all the Sherlock episodes to date!

All this goodness has everyone intrigued; for one the show doesn't take it for granted our intellect is the size of a pea and two, seems to trust the fact that it's viewers can pretty much figure things out even with the fast talking Sherlock who often sounds like he is speaking in code.

As you can see even the Queen's own Guard has become affected and that pretty much says it all.  It has permeated even her security!

I warned everyone my art was taking a turn, a new direction if you will, almost an about-face, from rustic images of fruit and rusty dinnerware to Pop Culture!  I know it sounds like a bit of a stretch but things happen for a reason and I have been enjoying myself immensely.  This new found direction doesn't mean I will be staying completely away from the other kinds of art, this is just another venue that I can spend as much time or as little as I like and go back and forth between styles.

I am pretty consumed and have been working non stop on projects related to this series and another BBC series.  I never thought I would say this but I am getting visions of  t-shirts dancing in my head and feel the need to respond with the appropriate designs!  With all this "Sherlocking" I too feel a change, an excitement, an infusion-like shot in the arm and  look forward with anticipation to the next project.

To show how into this genre I am, I contacted KanaMusic a distributor of violin bows to ask if I could please use one of their nice images.  They graciously and promptly returned my e-mail with a YES!  You can view the image above without the bow.  I will be posting the image with the bow and another version.

I love digital images, objects can be popped in or taken out with little worry as to how it will affect the whole with no need to start over.  Every separate object in these images are put on a separate layer and can be moved around, even the textures are each on a separate layer. The sky is the limit as to what you can do with a good Photoshop type of editor.

I am just learning and mainly use textures in the layers program with the modes.  I am looking forward to my new paint program, pen and Nik software that specializes in photography color enhancement.  Before I add these darling programs I need to change my Windows7 with a fresh copy.

Not to forget you the viewer, please feel free to comment on your experiences if you have been "Sherlocked!"

I'm not bashful should you like to take a look at my gallery just click here:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Taking A New Direction With My Photography

I started a love affair with photography almost two years ago after starting a blog and needing good images.  I have found if I give something a really good try it can become a passion and if I am not careful an obsession!  It has been a learning experience of taking advantage of what is around me nature, flowers, trees the dog down the street.  Looking back now I see my subjects and techniques are gradually changing.
View blog
There are a zillion images out there of flowers, trees, birds and bees, to stand out one needs to not only be good and have all the social marketing in place which I  have been adding gradually although not to the extent that is needed for the type of exposure I should be getting.

Blogging is highly suggested for SEO, so here I am better late than never!  It is really not just about SEO, I love to express my excitement and interest in art and that side of me needs to be expressed or I'm not  going to be completely happy.

I have been doing some reading and researching over the gap of my first post, finding my way of how to go about blogging with more enthusiasm, finding what it is I am interested in writing about.  I have decided it is OK to write about my own art since that is what excites me (or why would I be doing it?!) and know something about, also from time to time other artists and their work.  I hope the excitement about my art discoveries overflows to the reader and not only me.

As I go along I am more interested in enhancing and editing my photography (in addition to other images) creatively than trying for the stunning shot.  I enjoy the challenge of working on the "stunning" in editing/PhotoShop where there is no limit on creativity.  I am not a purist and like making images look more "atmospheric" or even fantastic.  Even shots that are "ugly ducklings" I use and enjoy turning into beautiful swans, but that is for another post.

I recently became interested in the rustic food photography style (I owe Pinterest for this and the tremendous amount of beautiful images there) and recently started taking photos of food that is in my kitchen.  Here is a before and after shot of a store bought cake, the second image showing the textures I added for more drama.

 Here is another before and after of grapes in an old colander.  Old kitchen accessories have "patina" a term I lovingly use often, important for the rustic look.  The more cooked in, the better, metal pans that have darkened with many "bakings" are prized.  The very items I turned my nose up, shook my head at in the thrift store I now prize.  I have a new appreciation for the old serving spoons, tin cookie cutters, used metal baking pans and cookie sheets that are in the kitchen.

I got the idea earlier in the week to also try a popular media subject which I will write about and the different look and some techniques used.  Should you want to look at some of my other art click here for my gallery