Digital beginnings 2006


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Solo Art Exhibition
August 14 September to 1 October 2006 at the Belconnen Gallery, Canberra, ACT


For catalogue of Art Works being exhibited, click here. (pdf 1.43MB)

Opening Night Talk

More photos

Artist's Statement

If only the technology was cheaply available to display my art digitally - a room full of monitors hanging like paintings, each monitor with one digital image being displayed on it, or a few rotating ... then I could animate some of them as well and make touch screen interactive art works ... but for this exhibition, let me return to a beginning!

I was asked to paint an image for an Easter display in 2004. So, as my husband had given me Photoshop for Christmas, I decided to see what my painting would look like by using the mouse to sketch it up on the computer first. I was so please with the result that I thought I would have it printed onto canvas and then maybe paint over it. It looked so good as a print that I decided to leave it. The work was so admired that I made another the following Easter (2005). This work was so well received that I began making more.this exhibition shows the beginning of this new direction I am journeying.

To begin with I took photos and manipulated them using the computer software tools and mouse like an artist's brush to add highlights, shadows, shapes, colour and distortions. Now I no longer need the photo but can use the mouse to draw the images as I have done for my two latest works "Blood Red from Pure White" and "Arise Arise!".

Some of my art looks like a photo but I have created it using software that allows settings for shapes and colours to be manipulated and photos and images to be added as overlays to Terrains that I create. I use Photoshop, 3ds Max, Terra Painter, and Terragen to create 2d and 3d environments.

For me making an art work is a like a journey. Sometimes I begin with a completed image in my mind and have all the required skills to execute it. Sometimes I start with a small kernel of an idea or a desire to draw a particular object, which requires the gathering of information / research and the learning of new skills such as finding out how the light affects the color / shape of the object. Sometimes my art develops from doodling with the tools such as pencil or paint.

The journey of making "Arise Arise!"

This image took me 3 months to create. I created it as for a competition called "The Journey begins" in the online CGS Community. In the beginning I was strongly influenced by the type of images the CGS community members were making. I started with two background images I had made in Terragen. I had drawn the pyramid map in Terra Painter and imported it into Terragen to use as the Terrain. I used photos I had taken of concrete for the surface texture.

An allegorical story leapt into my mind and I visioned an image filled with symbolism-a C.S. Lewis, Pilgrims Progress kind of image -coming down the mountain and heading to "Babylon." My pyramid image fitted the idea of the "get rich quick" journey that is so pervasive in some internet advertising.

My art does not normally include characters so for "Arise Arise!" I had to gather information about body parts and clothes and learn how to represent them using Photoshop. I took photos to use as models for the main character. I filled the outline with gradients of colour and used the pen tool on top. This was not that satisfactory as I could not blend them very well. I tried using more layers to add the tone and changed the opacity of the tools and layers. This improved the blending. Through experimentation I found the dodge and burn tool easier and more effective in showing shape and light. I used this technique in the clothing of the "adversary" I drew for the scene, thinking that every epic journey had at least one of these. I created a custom brush to make his strands of hair and used a few layers of the groups of these, rotating and changing the colour.

The story was growing in my mind and I started the second character. Drawing her was so much easier with the skills I had gained doing the first two. I used 58 layers for her hair and an overlay instead of a normal blending mode for the top layer.

I began to think more about the composition. I wanted to make it more dramatic and interesting so I played with the warp tool changing the rocks. I did some research about hieroglyphics and used these for the text "Find the ancient path" on the first shiny object I think I have ever coloured.

I began thinking about ancient paths and did some research about Roman roads. This led me to thinking about a path I had been wanting to explore visually involving my present preoccupation with curlings and peelings. I had begun a mural with a mildly distorted piano and had regretted that I had not drawn it with more curves. I decided to try out a scene that seemed to fit the journey idea better using the piano keys. This new direction was prompted by some comments that the pyramid image was fairly predictable.

I began thinking about the concept of journey and what it meant to be epic with an "elevated narrative style." I placed the girl from my first image in this new environment. It was suggested that the girl should be looking over her shoulder.

So I created a new face and placed my character sitting down on the edge of the keyboard. The beginning of a journey is sometimes approached from the perspective of doing something different and new. New ways of doing things, new beginnings can produce fear and anxiety in some people. It can make them feel very insecure, like being on the edge of a cliff or on a swing bridge over a deep gorge,taking the first step is difficult.

Anxiety and fear distort the countenance so I distorted her face. Music can lure, coax and grab your soul lifting "elevating" you. So I added hands to the music score, which I had created in Band in a Box and Noteworthy Composer, called "Come and sing a song with me." However learning an instrument is not always so easy. Sometimes it can seem out of reach, even dangerous, requiring leaving the comfort of the known or acceptable ways (modes of expression). I drew a metromome without the timing piece or numbers and distorted it because in the beginning learning the timing is a major sometimes dominating experience.

The concept of journey is an ancient path even if it looks new like piano keys. At first I represented the beginning of the keyboard only, repeating the 1 2 3 pattern of the first black keys to symbolize the beginning of a journey. After finishing the image I was influenced by comments to change the girls face to make it "more normal."

The background made no significant contribution to the journey idea so I drew some notes in Photoshop and used them as a surface map in Terragen. A landscape filled with notes like seeds and rocks (currant buns and musical streams - currents) - food for thought but not so easy to dig up -strands (currents) of music appealing from a distance but not so easy to put together in the music making journey! I redid the front keys adding more highlights and the normal 2, 3 pattern of the black keys, leaving the different pattern in the distance.

I changed the face again hiding the ear which is often missing from a beginning musician and changed the piece of music that the girl was looking at to one I had created in Corel Draw called "Arise! Arise!" But what constitutes an epic journey, a poetic image reflecting heroic events in an elevated style? I thought it must be more than just a long journey. I though hands were a good symbol for "heroics." I made the keyboard go up into the sky, into an elevated position towards the sun. I used the dodge tool to accentuate the sun rays, the viewing of which tends to elevate the soul. Epic journeys are like streams flowing from the sun ... so my stream flows towards the front of the image. I still didn't like the background so I changed it warping the music I had written and using the mouse and burn tool in Photoshop to add highlights and shadows.

Even in epic journeys the end, initiation of or reasons for a journey are not always understood in the beginning but the journey is contemplated for varying lengths of time depending on the situation. Contemplation is a characteristic of the beginning of this epic journey. My character is being lured by the music to travel a path that has the potential for great events and the music urges her to begin. Arise Arise!

... and for me this exhibition shows some of the artistic outcomes of my journey exploring a new way of making and displaying art that has digital beginnings.


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