Stranger in paradise

paradise1sig
Take my hand, I’m a stranger in paradise
Digital painting 16 inches w by 7 inches h
Enlargement

Published by

Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

2 thoughts on “Stranger in paradise”

  1. Digital painting is painting on the computer.

    The sort of long form of an explanation.

    To some people it’s the sorry cousin of art, rather like photography used to not be considered an art form. But I’ve been painting since I was a tot and I love painting digitally, it’s simply different. Combination of imagination and technique. I work in Photoshop. Used to live in a house where I could work on larg canvases (wood usually 4 by 6 feet or something like 6 by 8) and I do work much differently on wood and with acrylic. Heavy textures. But I don’t have a studio here, I’ve got 800 square feet of apartment that’s filled with child’s toys, and acrylics are too expensive for me to work liberally anyway. So for a number of reasons I like digital for certain things and work in digital now. I’ve spent 8 years teaching myself it and feel I still have a lot I can do with it.

    The above. First I took some photos. Came home and hoped I got something I could start with. I use the photo for reference. Some people believe it’s cheating if you use a photo for reference or as a base but I don’t talk to those people–though it is true that some people just take a photo and apply a filter to make it look “painted” but those are hacks and that’s not what I do. For something like the above I take a photo, I saw that in the background there were a few tables that captured my imagination and got something of what I was looking for. I cropped it way down to those few tables and then blew it up multiple multiple times and work at 300 dpi so the file sizes get quite large. I leave the photo as a reference at the base and layer over it. Yes! I’m not going to bitch about tracing over the initial photo. I do that. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Then I paint over the whole area making it into whatever I want it to be. “Oh, bad artist, bad artist, she used the photo as a reference at the base!” Yep, I do. And I’m painstaking about it. And sometimes I even incorporate here and there some of the original pixels if I’m looking for a desired lighting effect, but not with the one above. To get the depth I want I work in layers upon layers upon layers. Building up to to say 12 layers and then consolidating them down and then building up more layers on that and consolidating them down, each layer having different textures and lights that shine through and give a depth and sense of rich texture that I’m going for, which digital demands as otherwise it tends to be very flat. This could be printed actually on a 5 foot scale and is still going to be what I wanted it to be and many times more so because it’s on the large scale you get a sense of peculiar combinings of color and texture. The above one took around 12 hours of solid work. Sometimes it’s just several hours of solid work. Sometimes it’s several weeks of work and decisions. I’ve got a number sitting on the computer that are just waiting because I keep returning to them and thinking I’ve not come up yet with the right textures and colors. Have one of some pillars and a bench, for instance, where I’ve been working on the bench for days and I still don’t have “the” bench. Have painted and repainted it and the problem is the bench isn’t transparent enough, I need to make it less a “bench” for what I want. A ghost of a bench. So I’ve been repainting it with that in mind, muddying it up with underlying textures, and it’s on its way.

    The one of Mike for example, I took the photo that’s I’d hand-tinted and then applied pastel on and scanned it in and that I certainly used as a base. I wanted to incorporate those textures. But in the case of that work the final digital work is unrecognizable from what I’d scanned in even though I was using the base textures. Photoshop’s brushes are good with dry media so I can simulate a pastel but it’s horrible with simulating other brushes, but in the case of Mike’s portrait you can’t tell the pastel underbase from all the pastels I layered over digitally. I don’t have a wacom tablet and have to fight to get a sketchy effect if I want it or just simple good lines. Have to do all my straight line work on separate multiple layers to simulate different strokes of pencil/brush graduating weights etc.

    The one of Mike was 235 megabites so on the computer screen you’re seeing very little of the texture involved.

    With the other similar Strangers in Paradise digital painting, much the same way. The photo was all warped and outside there were cars passing by and lots of street lights etc. so again I began with the photo as a base reference but redid the entire thing and made something different of it.

    And that’s one of my forms of digital art. I use it in alot of different ways. Different people do it differently. I don’t care how they do it if I like what they do. 🙂

    Anyway, what is funny is I do these archival images and if I do a portrait most people take the 72 dpi image from the computer screen that only is a few kb and print it out and are happy with that. And that’s fine. It’s expensive to have good quality printing work done. And I know what it’s supposed to look like optimally if printed as it should be.

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