I am overwhelmed with the possibilities.
It begins in the garden, any good garden where I may be blessed to work. Here, Sherry Merciari’s complex Hortisexual garden. (Hortisexuals being the band of horticulturally obsessed who use their garden as a way to contain their plant lust.) But any good garden offers a photographer many possibilities.
In gardens I go looking for art, wandering the living art that surrounds me, often overwhelmed. Yet always my renderings must be in 2 dimensions, in a small image, in a way that communicates what I feel and what I see. Recently this rendering into two dimensions has become a new adventure, a new art with overwhelming possibilities itself.
When I started the Mental Seeds blog it was a response to my detached retina in November 2010. I became acutely aware of photography’s limitations of 2 dimensions. Even though I had always been working in 2 dimensions, I had been seeing, like most folks, in 3 dimensions with 2 good eyes. Now that I was seeing in 2 dimensions with one good eye only, I became much more aware of limitations – and possibilities.
Since then, I have been exploring new ways of expressing what I actually see. As I learn PhotoShop techniques I am also learning to express what I really see, what I see as an artist, what shapes, shimmerings, and delicious compositions a garden provides.
I have come to consider myself an artist. What I actually see, what I really see as an artist, is not at all what I see as a journalist. As a journalist I see details, I see reality.
As an artist I see broad blocks of color, tapestries of textures, movement and life flowing through garden spaces filled with another artist’s, a garden artist’s, creations.
The possibilities to communicate the gardener’s gifts are overwhelming – and exhilarating. I am barely scratching the surface but thrilled with the explorations. I am truly beginning to understand the “state” of a fine art print, the states the artist takes it through to completion. Completion being that imperfect state when it is time to move to a new image, to try something different.
I have been trying a LOT of different techniques recently. I have a lot to get out, so that I can move on. It is a joy to have a lot of images to play with, to explore, to dig deep into and to bring out a beauty that is not about details, a beauty that is best in 2 dimensions.
A lot of images have just come as gifts from Sherry’s garden that I photographed last summer. When I see them I remember the shapes, the lines, the textures, and tapestries, not the details.
To illustrate what I see, I am trying different techniques, different states of expression. Four of the many states of “The Gift of Red” that created the montage to open this story are following.
The beginnings, from under an eave behind a large magenta Impatiens overlooking a garden pond:
The photo as an artistic expression became “The Gift of Red”. The statue is “The Gift” (by Vicki Jo Sowell) and she is hoisting up a platter of fresh red flowers. An offering Sherry put in the garden just for me I am sure. A gift of red to draw attention, to create a focal point, a warm touch in a tapestry of green.
I then used PhotoShop’s Oil Paint filter on a smaller, derivative file. The filter’s effect is much more pronounced in the smaller file.
I like it, but wanted to get more into the blocks of color that underlie the composition and blend them, so I then used Topaz Simplify filter. As I worked with the filter’s various settings and abstracted the image, the single spot of red became less important and spots of warm colors began to arrange themselves in the composition.
The blocks seemed too much a “paint by number” obvious manipulation, (especially because I was also playing with the Adjustments > Replace Color tool to warm up the magenta impatiens), and I lost some of the swirling motion of the composition, so I re-oiled the file:
Then to soften and blur the crude strokes, I found a new filter for me, the Median filter designed to reduce noise, found in the PhotoShop toolset as Noise > Median. *(Jump to bottom to see Adobe’s description of the Median filter)
This state of the print is still a work in progress. I want to emphasize here, this is meant to be a print – a large print, not a small rectangle viewed at close range on a computer screen. Step away, imagine it from across a large room.
More gifts from Sherry’s Garden.
This montage of the Spider Agave that Sherry put into a cement bird bath looks great simply as a row of images.
Here is the before:
and after, the third state:
More abstractions to follow in the next Mental Seeds. Meanwhile follow them on my Facebook Fan Page
*This is what Adobe says about the Median filter:
“The Median filter reduces noise in a layer by blending the brightness of pixels within a selection. The filter searches for pixels of similar brightness, discarding pixels that differ too much from adjacent pixels, and replaces the center pixel with the median brightness value of the searched pixels. This filter is useful for eliminating or reducing the appearance of motion in an image, or undesirable patterns that may appear in a scanned image.”