Not So Accidental

In a previous post I offered some thoughts and images in a series called The Accidental Artist.  What I found myself doing was simply opening up my camera to objects, twigs, trash etc around me that had gathered randomly into a pile of art.  It’s purely a photographic journey for me that will continue.  But what it’s done is also wake up some images that are in more familiar territory:  Digital manipulation.

I seldom know where the piece is going to end, but I’ve gotten better and better at following the story as it unfolds.

For the past few years I’ve been artistically intrigued by describing the world in heavily layered images.  Some of the layers are very simple and totally relate to one another, some are parts of the same picture but many are simply emotional responses I may have to the developing piece.  That emotional element is explained by a color or a shape or even my attempt at a picture of an idea.


Dobbins Point is a piece that I finished recently and is made up of a landscape shot of downtown Phoenix, another photo of trees and scrub surrounding a stone building, NASA galaxy images and a fractal that I generated.

Each of my digital collages has, of course, a beginning point.  So I thought it might be interesting to see a before and after of a few pieces I’m working on right now.  With The Accidental Artist post I introduced some photography that got me going back into manipulation, so here’s some of the images from there — followed by some early layering I’ve done to each.

SEEING RED — Original photo               Artists: Canvas Strap Maker, Carpenter, Painter
SEEING RED — Manipulated

On this piece I’m actually only doing color and contrast manipulation.  I really just want to emphasize the lines, texture and color then abstract it to a much simpler level.  Oh yeah, and I flipped it 90 degrees clockwise.

I like the original photo enough that I’m not sure about the digital work I’ve done.  We’ll see.

Here’s a very simple layering effect that I do like.

SIDEWALK ANDROMEDA                     Artists: Cement Layer, Ten Thousand Shoes

This is pretty obvious but it does seem to fit for me.  I simply took the name of the original piece (Sidewalk Andromeda) and made it literal. Another beautiful NASA image overlaid on the cement sidewalk. This is all about color and texture to me and I’ll keep it pretty simple I think.

LARIAT                                                                             Artists: Rebar Maker, Mason, Rain
LARIAT — Manipulated

This photo was all about the movement of the rebar as lines through space so I just continued that idea.  I tried to emphasize the lines of the metal and in the process the rusted rebar popped out in color and texture … so I went with it.

I first took out the background and replaced it with layers of rusted metal, old wall paper and general grunge.  I then manipulated color more to try to tie it all together and added hard shadows from the rebar to emphasize the lines even more.  It kind of makes me think of an old beat-up iron bed in a crumbling tenement bedroom.  Or that may just be me.  I smoked a lot of weed in college.

GOLIATH                                         Artists: Steel Mill Workers, Mechanic, Bolt Maker
GOLIATH — Manipulated

OK I’ve taken a lot of liberties with this one.  The photo was so very macho that I wondered if I could soften it up and pull out some lightness.  So, what I’m trying to do is manipulate the image with strong distortion and color change to find a sort of ethereal overlay.  This is what’s occurring so far, and I think there’s a bit of a sprite that’s coming out of the bolt when I overlay it onto the original photo.  Yes?  I think the colors that developed also add to a less muscle-bound-ness. (Is that a word?)

SYDNEY OPERA                             Artists: Corrugated Steel Fitter, Mother Nature
SYDNEY OPERA — Manipulated

Here’s just a very simple graphic that’s coming out of the Sydney Opera photo. Small overlay but mainly it’s about abstracting the iconic lines and bringing it down to basic black … and white.

RAZOR RABBIT         Artists: Bag Maker, Razor Wire Maker, Mason, Wind, Blazing Sun
RAZOR RABBIT — Manipulated

The original photo is all about curves and movement to me so I’m trying to emphasize that again and again.  I trashed the background, leaving me with the simplicity of the metal curves, the danger of the razors (that I highlighted) and the wispy fragility of the plastic bag remnants.  Because of the barbed wire and razor wire I added a very light cage-like overlay in the background along with deeply colored curves and circles to give it some heat and immediacy.

I liked the photo so much that I never imagined where it would take me on my computer … but I do like the road I’m on.  Not better, just different.

I’ve got a lot more work to do on these and a bunch of other Accidental Art to work with — so back to it.  I’d love to hear from you with any reactions whatsoever you may have of this and other posts.  Till then.

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3 Replies to “Not So Accidental”

  1. So is this anything like Barkerography? I have been remiss in commenting on your works-they are terrific! I remember back in the good old days, sitting in the box office showing how I was using PS to make scroll saw portraits for the families of the of our fallen soldiers. I think that we were just PS neophytes at that time. I would love to get together with you sometime when you’re back in CR working on your theatre projects. I would definitely like to know more about fractals.

    1. LOL! I haven’t thought about Barkerography in a long time. Yep, we had many many “good old days”…or at least that’s how I recall. I remember very well looking at your Photoshop work and being amazed and having no idea how you did it. Magic! Now I’m addicted and having the time of my life.

      I got going on fractals when I came across a PS brush that made lines that sort of looked like fractals. Then I was looking at various artists and somehow came across one who was generating images that looked like that brush. That’s really where I first heard the word fractal used in an “art” way.

      From there I couldn’t get enough of them and then ended up buying a piece of software (Ultra Fractal) that would generate them from endless permutations of mathematical equations.

      From there I started messing with my own variations on the equations and brought the fractal into PS where I messed even further. I’m still fascinated and use them as stand alone pieces as well as layered into other work.

      Thanks so much for looking and responding, Rick! Hope all is well with you and Julie and we’ll have to get together for coffee and fractals in September.

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