Hello and happy Thursday! It’s been a busy week for me. Lots of little loose ends to tie up, much of it has seemed to center around prep for exhibitions and framing. Someday, when I get framing all figured out to my liking, I’ll share what I’ve learned. I’ve got creating and printing under my belt now, but framing! Ugh!
For this week’s Paint Party Friday post I wanted to share one of my favorite recent paintings, Reaching Toward the Sun, and the little lesson I learned from it. This one is a lesson in simplicity.
It all started on a crisp and sunny Saturday afternoon. Walking back from a relaxing visit to the local coffee shop with my son, I noticed these wonderful dead plants along the path. They were so lacy and delicate, standing tall in the sun even after they had lived their life, I had to play. I spent a while trying to capture their beauty, sending my son on home ahead of me because he was getting bored waiting. It’s nice to have an older kid now. 🙂
Composition was challenging with a fence and convenience store right behind the plants, but isn’t that always the way of photography? Sometimes you have to work for that perfect shot. Of the bunch, I loved the gently curving lines of the stalks and the way the sun highlighted the details in this one:
OK, so now it’s time to play. I’ll walk you through some of the different options I tried:
The blue sky in the original was pretty but a little too blue. I wanted to soften up the color but still keep that glowing sun. I played around with several options in Snapseed (top row). When I come across an effect I think I like as I play, I always save the image to the camera roll. I have no idea if I will use it later, but I want to remember as I’m playing what came before. You never know what you might want later!
Next it was time to play with effects. The first two in the second row were from the original photo processed through decim8, a really cool app that creates interesting modern/digital effects, but it was not what I was going for with this piece. I needed soft!
So then it was into the painting apps. All of those shown are from Autopainter HD or Autopainter II. I tried painting with both the original photograph and the edited blue-green photograph. I liked the blue-green ones the best. (There are more painting experiments in my camera roll, I could only fit a few here.)
Now that I had some good options and ideas for direction, I pulled the blue-green image into Image Blender and started to play.
It quickly became obvious that the seed head at the bottom of the frame, which hadn’t bothered me in the original photo, was just going to be a distraction in the final painting. So I pulled the blue-green image into TouchRetouch and quickly edited out. This is a super simple app that works great for quick corrections like this. Doesn’t that look better?
Now that I had a new photo, I needed to go back through and recreate the painted layers. Since I had already narrowed down my direction through earlier experimentation, I only recreated a few of the layers that I thought I might want to use, and started blending.
The first blend I did was the blue-green image with this watercolor layer:
And guess what? That first blend became my final image:
After playing some more I realized that first blend captured exactly what I wanted, the soft colors, the sun on the stalks, with the gentle, painterly feel. It was a lesson in simplicity. After spending the last few weeks blending many, many layers to finish a piece, I realized sometimes you don’t need that. Something simple will do. Just like every photograph doesn’t need to become a digital painting, every digital painting doesn’t need to be complex. The experimentation was all good though, it helped me refine my artistic vision and really be clear about what I want to communicate in the final piece so I could make choices accordingly.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s lesson in simplicity! It’s also this week’s “mobile tutorial.” I’ve created a page on the blog sidebar under the Resources heading called “Mobile Apps, Tutorials and Resources” and you can find a link to all of these little tutorials there, along with some web resources and (eventually) a list of apps I recommend. I’ve gotten a lot of questions from readers as I’ve explored this new medium and I want to make it easy for you to find the information I’m sharing as I learn. Let me know if you have any questions. Maybe the answers will pop up in one of these posts!