Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Landscape Task--Digital Approach

Our last Studio task for the term has resulted in--and benefitted from--some progress in my digital work. The topic is Australian Contemporary Landscape. At first I felt overwhelmed by complexity. Tracy took us through a powerpoint presentation on the topic and we had a pile of book resources to access as well. The book, "Williams Creek and Beyond: Australian Artists Explore the Outback" is now on my wish list.

One of the approaches which I hadn't previously considered is to design a painting with Photoshop techniques. I'm not sure whether Tracy meant that was what these artists actually did, or whether the approach is merely reminiscent of Photoshop blending techniques. Nevertheless I decided to attack the task from there.

Coincidently, there's an exhibition including Australian Landscapes currently at Bundoora Homestead. And we need to visit some galleries for our Studio subject, so I made that my Sunday afternoon outing. I took some photos in the gardens and got myself started. Here's the result:

There was a huge ghost gum in the grounds. I've been taking shots of trees silhouetted against the sky for a while now. I had several I was considering for this task, but this ghost gum had the twisted shapes and the grandeur that is iconic of the Australian landscape.

  • I wanted to retain the proportions of the mobile phone image as a clear acknowledgement of the place of those images in my experience of the world. It's rare for me to come back from a walk or an outing without extra images snapped on my phone. 
  • I opened the image in Photoshop CS5. My phone pics come in huge, with 72 dpi resolution, so my first task was to take it to 300 dpi and set height as 60 cm--compatible with and A3 print out. 
  • I boosted the levels to increase the drama of shadows and highlights
  • Next I posterised the image in a new layer. I played around with how many colours to keep and settled on four. The idea is to simplify in my mind the task of blending colours for the sky, even though I expect the painted image to by less blocky than the photoshop version. 
  • I blended the posterised layer with a copy of the original image using "hard light". 
  • Next step was in Illustrator. I placed the saved image from Photoshop into an A3 Artboard. By now I was getting fond enough of the image that I imagined printing it out as a digital art piece in its own right. 
  • I'm planning to use an A4 canvas sheet for my first attempt at the painting, and I was impressed with an approach of using separate panels within a painting, which I'd seen in the Williams Creek book. 
  • So I placed the Photoshop image off centre and added two panels to fill out the image to the A4/A3 proportions--using the rectangle tool and sampling colours from the sky using the eyedropper too. 
  • Adding black lines between the blocks of colour completed the image. 
  • Now it's printed out and ready to use in my Studio class this afternoon. 

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