Exquisite finds for digital enhancement can be found at low tide on the right beach! I took so many photos that it will be impossible to process them all, but this barnacle encrusted salt water washed remnant of an old corduroy road or railroad bed, now on tidal lands, is too good to resist. The iron stains and barnacles make my digital enhancement tools dance!
And sometimes I see animals and people in driftwood, as well as in clouds. So the beach today produced an illusory whale vertebrae and a rabbit sitting up at attention.
Nest Eggs is complete on the flip side of Table Dancer now. “Nest Eggs” is the interim title for the second painting on the center section of my flip-top art table. I hope to come up with a better title for this new painting though!
I used a digitally transformed and enhanced photo of a real bird nest (with stone “eggs”) as my inspiration. The nest with eggs is recognizable enough with the title as the hint. Clearly some eggs escaped the nest however, and the shapes and shadows have little basis in any reality we know.
I am finally making some further progress on my art table with table dancer and nest! This is my project to transform a damaged flip-top game table into a flip-top arttable. The top of this table features a large inset square that you can lift out and flip over. My finished table will feature a choice of two different artworks. I suppose I will have to restrict myself to 2-dimensional work here; although there is actually space for some modest relief carefully placed. However we might find that to be pretty annoying when actually using the table!
So far I completed the painting on one side of the reversible square section that is set into the table top. Side I features the “Table Dancer” in deep blues and greens. I just painted the surrounding fixed border section that frames the inset images, using a subtle variation of muted light greens. There is a just a tiny hint of iridescence and metallic gold. The goal is for this border to look “right” with both paintings. The greens work with the Table Dancer side, but are very light and muted, to work with my plan for the second painting.
And now I have a running start on the painting for the other side. I expect the nest painting will be more abstract, and will feature lighter tones. The concept is loosely based on an a digitally transformed photo of a real bird nest with stone eggs. I am not ready to show any realistic photos of this side yet.
Here is a digitally transformed and enhanced version of a photo of my early draft, which is not much more than a background so far. I enjoy the digital fun, and this is quite lush and rather gorgeous. It is much too colorful for my table, and I would struggle to put that much saturated color on any painting! It is a bit reminiscent of Chinese Brush Painting perhaps?
Anyway I have made further progress on my art table with Table Dancer and Nest!
Lately I have been foiled in my attempts to display my Fat Baby Bird in a couple of locations, so I turned to digitally foiling my fat baby birds here. And as you can see, I have gone into a little “mass production”. I make and sell a limited number of cement casts of my limestone carving. The stone original is the unpainted bird shown above, which I display on a cement “honeycomb” base I designed. The painted birds are two of my limited edition casts. So far I have made my original carving plus eight cast cement birds, each painted differently. I plan to limit the edition to 25 or less.
Numbering the Edition
I want to keep track of the order of these casts, and where these baby birds go, but I may be confused already. I failed to note the order and the location of their new homes as I worked. The numbered list below is my best reconstruction of the sequence of my cast birds.
I hand chiseled my fat baby bird from a small block of limestone. You can see it in the first photo above. I cast the original, making a silicone mold with a plaster mother mold, and it is my very first stone carving. I plan to keep the original carved bird for myself!
The “Numbered Edition”:
Fat Baby Bird #1 sits on an inverted flower pot, since I had not yet come up with a good default base. I donated #1 to the local animal shelter to adorn their dog walking trail.
Fat Baby Bird #2 has my chosen base, for use when a bird does not find a unique home perch. It visited the Pettygrove ROW for a while, then moved to a home with a friend & neighbor.
Baby Glitter Bird is out on the town: for now she nestles on a stump along the Spruce St. public trail near the Ft. Worden back gate.
Dark Bird will stay home with me for now, as I am fond of the darker colors and his golden tears.
Quiet Fat Baby Bird moved a few blocks away, to a sheltered garden on Olympic Ave, to be at home with someone who needs her.
Iridescent Baby Bird perches a bit aslant on a rock, very much at home in the lovely garden of friends who live nearby.
And Buff-breasted Baby Bird, the most quizzical of the lot somehow, is trying out perches in the garden of another friendly home almost next to me on 33rd St. B4 may settle on a spot soon, or maybe not!
Just painted: Baby Bird with Bill, pun intended, will move to the home of another immediate neighbor! BBwB has a stacked log perch already and waiting…
Not yet finished, Yellow-Breasted Baby Bird expects to have a new home soon, across the street in a rockery.
In these three manipulated images I soften the summer shadows. Perhaps I hope to also soften the harsh reality of a pandemic and our dysfunctional government! Sometimes we all need to soften things a bit; we just need to take the edge off. Blunt truth is not always the best way to stay sane, or to communicate. I am all for facing reality, but perhaps just not at every moment of the day, or especially in every conversation. Of course, I do not always remember this truth!
And yes, art making is a conversation of a sort, although that may not be evident. I think artists are always in a slow long conversation with each other, in the present day or backwards in time. And sometimes the conversation is with the audience, with culture, and with politicians; that can happen if the art making goes well.
I am not sure what all my various shadow self-portraits have to say. Certainly one message is a simple one; the message is that I am here! I exist! I make art! Let’s hope some of these say more than that, however. My hope is that there many of my images and artworks will resonate with you somehow. I want my art to convey something particular and special to the viewer.
Back to the topic of shadows: the bright summer sun can be a bit harsh, even here at Pacific Northwest latitudes. So in these images I soften the summer shadows in order to soften a too harsh reality, and play with the colors to create new summery images. The original photos were taken on a trail by Port Townsend Bay, and although there is no water in the pictures, I wanted to evoke the bay and the light on the water. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Maybe it is due to the lovely summer weather, or the madness of the current politics, or the isolation and oddness of the pandemic, but there is a shadow on my art; I struggle to create new durable art. After all it just piles up in my studio and yard. So I fill my time with walking, taking photographs, and reaching out to neighbors for “safe” outdoor socializing. My art time recently is mostly manipulating, and I hope enhancing, my photographs. Often I photograph my shadow, as my preferred form of self-portraiture. I love the digital effects I can apply to my shadow in my art.
In my indoor and outdoor studio spaces, I struggle with mess, and sometimes I just pick up parts & pieces I will save for future projects, then put them back down. I have no good filing system for my mixed media “treasures”, but I have to make room to work. The mess is building up in my outside work spaces also: being a mixed media artist is a mixed blessing! So I turn to my computer, and to digital art. And to shadows!
The mess in my studio is a shadow on my art, but I love shadows in my digital art. Shadows are a premium material when I have my camera in hand. Self portraits are a time honored tradition, and very convenient: but I never want straight up realism. So my shadow is much more appealing than a direct photograph.
My shadow in my art can represent any and every woman. Of course my shadow is with me everywhere, as long as there is sufficient light. Digital enhancement of shadow portraits can be so beautiful; the trick is find a way to add meaning, a bit of soul, to create a more enduring artwork.