Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Coloring Outside the Lines

I am one of those people that has a great deal of difficulty coloring outside the lines. Things are very specific to me and lines are boundaries to be respected. The problem is that I greatly admire those that can and do color outside the lines.

I know some people do not need to color outside the lines and that is fine. I just need something more than the box that life put me into and this is my way of finding that something.

Many years ago I owned a book on modern art that explained that modern art was the result of destroying and reconstructing. I found that concept very interesting. Actual to a degree I found it liberating because it gave me an acceptable justification for expressing my deep desires to color outside the lines which I greatly needed.

It took a very long time and even now I have difficulties. However, I have discovered digital software that will assist me and I have taken advantage of that software for some sixteen years.

The first program was Photo Draw 2000 which I believe was published by Microsoft. I started with pretty simple abstract images, what I would now call color field work.  It became a matter not of controlling but possibly guiding the process. I had lots of successes and even more failures. Then I tried my hand at including the human image and life got even better. I put together two portfolios that I really liked; Friends, Romans and Fellow Countrymen and Into That Locus of the Last Lost Souls. Both portfolios included abstracted images of people combined with words.

At the time I was using Photo Draw 2000 I wasn’t sharing my work with but one person other than Janet, Robbie Britt, a creative writing instructor at Tarrant Community College in Fort Worth. Robbie was very encouraging but I thought the work was too personal to share with others. They both came from a very difficult time in my life. Finally this past year I shared eight of the images from Lost Souls with the curator of the Katy Contemporary Art Museum. Anna blew me away with her comments. We both agreed that the images were not salable because I had started with photographs that were not mine but she was very encouraging to begin again with my own photographs. 

I doubt that I will do that because I hope never to return to that dark place that had inspired the images.

I have continued to upgrade the software to programs like Nik and Topaz and tried several others that I have dropped along the way. Each new upgrade has given me new approaches. The farther I go the more I enjoy coloring outside the lines.

I still do straight photography, but more and more I am seeing photographs as simply starting points and trying to discover new direction for my images. I do not make records of the steps; I simply keep working and being inspired by the possibility of the next step. I still lead the process and often I abort and start over or even abandon an image as not going where I need it to go. I may do several images of a photograph before I feel that it is what I want. And even then I may come back to it days or weeks later because I feel there is more that could be done.

I have recently posted to Facebook some of my images of fireworks. The manipulated images have much more excitement than the straight photographs from which they were made. I just ordered 25 16x20 prints of mostly manipulated images to hang in the studio for the next open house.

The attached photo was taken of a life sized crucifix in a Catholic Cemetery in Galveston. I have photographed the crucifix on a number of occasions and have done dozens of manipulated images from the photographs. This one was mostly done in Topaz Studio using a new technique of layering and using masking to more accurately control the image. Not really a new technique, just one that I had not been using with my manipulations. Every step gives me a completely different image, a different feel to the image. The goal of all is to depict the suffering of Christ. They just all do it differently. 

Life is simply very, very good when I can color outside the lines.


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