Monday, December 29, 2008

Early New Year's hangover

Happy New Year 1

HB Poster1969

I suppose things are always in some kind of turmoil. Above is a New Year's poster that I did forty years ago when we were also in a real mess.


Here's a close up of me wondering how we ever were going to get out of that mess in 1968. Well, we managed, and in time we'll manage this one as well.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Another digital collage

In my December 13th post, CREATING A DIGITAL COLLAGE ON THE COMPUTER, I diagramed how the layer system works in Photoshop. Here is another digital collage done using several elements. I did this as a demonstration for for Sue Wilczak who was the curator for the Krasl Art Center at the time. She was proposing an exhibition of my computer art and was interested to see how I create some of my images. I invited Sue over and took her through the various stages of creating a digital collage.

CB 1

First I did the sketch of the nude figure using a Pentel pen on layout paper. Then I gathered up a few related items from books and my own photo files. Flowers, old engravings of birds, fish and even a stamp from a letter my cousin sent me from Tahiti were all scanned into the computer. The palm trees were from an illustration for a travel brochure done years ago. The elements were resized on the computer as the composition developed. After positioning everything to my satisfaction I added the colors and did some minor alterations.

CB 2

Here is the finished piece. All these elements were composed and colored in layers on the computer. The whole process took about three hours. Check my December 13th post to remind you exactly how Photoshop layers work.

CB 3

I have been working on my Comic Book Cover Parodies and adapted this art for the series by adding the ship, word balloons, captions and the logo.

Krasl posters

These are some of the posters that I designed for the exhibition. A variety of my digital work was exhibited and the audience showed a great deal of interest in this new medium, asking a lot of questions about the process.

Krasl poster 2

The poster above shows one of my digital abstractions which is actually a collage made up of pieces of other images that I have done, an interesting technique.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Digital fun with Lady Godiva

LG 4

One of my early experiments with digital art. I couldn't resist Lady Godiva as a subject because she offers so many possibilities for creative images. This sketch was rendered with a mouse using the Photoshop 5.0 program. In the near future I am going to try some sketches and paintings using the Wacom tablet and pen which is probably a better way to create an image like this.

LG 3

The above image and the two below are part of a series of twelve early computer experiments that I did. The top two are a combination of an old engraving of a horse skeleton and a couple of photos. I had fun creating the abstract designs in these pieces.

LG 2
LG 1

This image was done by drawing the image with the Photoshop Pencil Tool. Just one of the many ways to create interesting images with the computer medium.

LG All

Here are all twelve of the Godiva studies. Experimenting like this with several versions of an idea can be a great way to hone your design and compositional skills. To do the same thing using traditional painting mediums would be a very tedious process.

Fig 9

A different concept of the same theme, this time Lady Godiva falls off her horse. I added the high heels for fun. This version inspired the acrylic painting below. Often my computer experiments spark ideas for my paintings.

Lady Godiva

This painting of Lady Godiva was done for my EROTO exhibition of figure studies at the Craig Smith Gallery last June. Below is the invitation for the exhibition.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Digital figure studies

Fig 17

Here is an abstract figure created on the computer. I love to do this type of experimental study as often it inspires ideas for paintings in traditional mediums. These studies are relatively easy to accomplish on the computer. This one is actually a collage, for the white areas I actually used parts of photos of a piece of sculpture that I had done. All of these studies were done when I first began experimenting with digital art using Photoshop 5.0

Fig 18

A further, more realistic development of the above study. I used more photos of my sculpture for the black background shapes.

Fig 16

This is a negative of the above piece which was easily accomplished by pressing the Control and i keys. I changed the eyes and mouth to create more of a realistic image.

Fig 20

Another figure study, again using parts of photos of my sculpture in the background. When doing studies like these don't be afraid to work loosely, the sketchy lines in this study actually add interest and life to this painting.

Fig 19

A study in design that works quite well using a loose, sketchy rendering style on the figures and contrasting that with the harsh black shapes.

Fig 21

Another loosely rendered figure study contrasted with color design shapes. The crow is based on a photo that I took as it sat in my backyard. It must have hit a tree branch or something because it seemed to have a damaged wing, eventually it was able to fly off.

Fig 21a

Here is the negative version of the above painting. The reason I keep stressing that the computer is a great learning tool should be apparent from these and the other studies I've shown you. In a relatively short time an artist can create several versions of an image for evaluation purposes. Also with this medium an artist can try any wild, crazy color combinations and if they don't work they can easily be changed.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The computer is a perfect medium for creating photomontages

photMont 14

Photomontages are fun to create and fairly easy to do on the computer. This example was put together using only two photos. The background was a photo taken in New Mexico and the flowers were photographed in my home.

PhotoMont 9

This one was composed of five different photos, The backgrounds were shot in Mexico and the statue and tent were taken in Lucca, Italy. It helps to have a good backlog of interesting material to choose from.

PhotMont 15

Another New Mexican background combined with two photos taken out of an airplane window.

PhotMont 16

The background was shot in a furniture store in Milan, Italy. The birds were photographed outside my home. The foreground bird had hit my studio window and I quickly photographed it before it revived and flew off. These images are all printed on 13 X 19" archival paper using pigmented inks.

PhotoMont 8

I've shown my photomontages in galleries, art centers and museums, these are a couple of posters that I designed for these exhibitions. The above background photo was taken in a Paris hotel room. I believe that the shot below was taken in Lucca, Italy. The background sky and water was photographed at a beach near my home.

PhotMont 18

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Meet vivacious Gloria Bursey !

The computer played an important role in how Gloria and I got together in this amazing age of technology.
When my wife Jeanne died in 2003 and my son Kurt had passed away several months before I became very depressed. I sought solace by burying myself in my work, artists are lucky in that respect, the intense concentration of creating art can temporarily ease the pain and keep one's mind occupied.
Seeing that I was quite lonely, my friends encouraged me to put my profile on Yahoo Personals. I thought was a crazy idea, especially for an old guy like me. Eventually I decided to give it a try in the hopes of possibly meeting a neat lady friend. That's exactly what happened. In my profile I stated that was looking for a Muse, I did better, I found Gloria.
Gloria Bursey, a writer, wasn't looking to find anyone, but was doing research on internet dating when she came across my profile, she was attracted to my picture because I was holding my cat, Laura. Gloria is a ardent cat lover and thinking that I might be one too she decided to send me an e-mail message. Unfortunately my computer had crashed and it took me a week to get it going. I felt that she may have given up on any response from me. After I finally contacted her we decided to meet and have lunch at a halfway point between Grand Rapids, where she lives, and Sawyer where I live, 100 miles away. We agreed to meet in Saugatuck at the Water Street Gallery. The gallery was representing me at the time. After browsing the gallery and viewing some of my work, we left and had a nice leisurely lunch. We got to know each other and found that we have a lot in common, we've been dating ever since.

Gloria 4
Here's Gloria taking photographs on the beach near my house. The Scarlet Macaw Art Center in Sawyer, MI recently had a exhibit of her "Portals of Mexico" photographs.

Gloria was a widow for over twenty years and dated regularly, but never found anyone that interested her that much. She proved to be a very interesting lady, being a writer and photographer most of her life. She also had traveled extensively throughout the world and even lived in Saudi Arabia for a spell. Gloria has also worked in advertising and was the editor and publisher of "CHOICES for the rest of your life", a magazine exploring the changing life styles of people 50 and over, it had a circulation of 40,000.
In 1998 she began researching love and romance by interviewing couples that had found happiness in new relationships. Her interest in how to find new relationships and what makes them pleasurable began years before. In the 1970's she and another writer researched the predictors of happiness in marriage for a series of articles. They collected data with a scientifically designed study from almost 500 men and women of all ages as well as conducting in-depth interviews with others. Since then she has continuesly explored what makes happy relationships. She has offered some of these findings in the second half of her book and confirmed them with mini surveys of her couples along with additional information. For more info on her book, "50 Ways to Find Romance After 50", check out her blogs on my LINKS.
Along with her writing, Gloria has earned a reputation for her photography. Her photo-history exhibit of 12 outstanding West Michigan women originally opened at the Gerald R. Ford Museum and is now hanging at the Women's Resource Center in Grand Rapids.


Gloria and I have taken many trips together and in 2006 visited old Detroit buddies Tom Clarke and Jerry Campbell in Las Vegas. We stayed at the Luxor, an unusual hotel in the shape of a pyramid.

Gloria 3

Gloria and I have gone down to Puerto Vallarta a few times, staying at the Fiesta Americana. For several years my wife Jeanne and I had vacationed there, staying at the same hotel. During that time Gloria was also frequently in PV doing promotion work for Las Tules, the resort next door to the Fiesta Americana.
Gloria also has a good friend down there, Pamela Aguirre, who owns Rancho El Charro which offers tourists horseback ride vacation packages. Pam and Gloria go off riding in the hills together while I walk around taking photos in the local village.


I found an old photo of Gloria when she was a hot blond and did this poster for her. For fun I design a commemorative poster every time we visit Puerto Vallarta.

Gloria 1

Two drawings I did for Gloria to use as logos on her business cards and other promotional material.

Gloria 6

Gloria has two blogs under way and I draw the cartoons for each, see my LINKS and go to Romance After 50 and The Romance Game.

Gloria 7

Gloria has two cats Blackjack and Schnickelfritz and I have three, Jpeg, Tiff and Laura. We are trying to figure out exactly how to merge households. Also, the driving involved in our one hundred mile romance can be a bit tiring for Gloria. We are working at resolving these issues.


Jpeg, Tiff and Laura love Gloria, it's how all the cats will get along that we have to worry about.

Gloria 5
GB Posters

Some of the posters that I designed to promote Gloria's book.


Here I am with my Muse Gloria, we always manage to have a great time together. She has proven that her book works. If you are interested in her book check out her blogs on my LINKS for ordering info.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Creating a collage on the computer

The Photoshop layer concept is ingenious and is the perfect tool for creating collages. It is interesting to note that when you are working with layers you are really dealing with a three dimensional concept rather than working on a flat surface as you can place objects in front or behind one another. It takes a while to get used to the idea, but it's amazing what possibilities this process opens up for graphic experimentation. There is no limit to what an artist can accomplish using Photoshop layers.

CB 7

Above is one of a series of limited edition prints from my Goddess series, titled ALL DREAMS MUST END. You can spot Paul Gauguin right behind the second lady.
This image was created by combining line drawings, photcopies and a few old engravings found in books.

CB 5

Here is a diagram of the layers from 1 through 9. I first started out with a 12" x 15" background to which I've added two color panels. I had already scanned the various items that I wanted to include in the final image. Now all I had to do was to resize, color and place them in position over the background.

CB 4

While these diagrams appear quite complex, if you study them a bit, you will have a pretty good idea of just how the layer process works.
As I don't really have a plan or preliminary sketch to work from, I size the various objects by trial and error, sometimes having to repeat the process four or five times before it looks right. The first thing I added was the old engraving of the church, creating layer 1. Layer 2 consists of a self portrait of Gauguin borrowed from one of his paintings. Adding the nude figures create layers 3 and 4. The machine is now placed on layer 5. The peacock, red bird, fish, flower and book make up layers 6 through 9. During this process any of the images on any layer can be repositioned or resized. If I wanted to make changes I could still revert back to any previous stage by using a unique tool called "Undo History". This tool can also be used at any previous point to correct mistakes or something that I might be dissatisfied with. When I am finished the layers are merged, at this stage none of the objects can be moved although you can still change the colors.
When starting to experiment with Photoshop layers start out with a simple image, not one as complex as this one. Incidentally, I do all my digital work on a Mac G4 computer using Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0, a simplified version of the full Photoshop program.

CB 6

I recently decided to alter this image and use it for one of my Comic Book Cover Parodies series of limited edition prints. I changed the color in the top background and removed the church and the machine. Then added the Logo, type and word balloons.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More digital figurative experiments

The computer is an amazing medium, the possibilities are limitless. If you haven't experimented with digital art, you are in for a real surprise.
As I've mentioned before, having some experience with traditional painting mediums can be a big help. The best way is just to jump in and start. All you need is a simplified program such as Photoshop Elements, which usually comes bundled with a printer or scanner. At first, it may be frustrating, but do as I did, just bungle through until you learn how to handle a few of the Photoshop tools, it's well worth the effort.
Here are some figure studies I did which will give you an idea of what can be done in the digital medium.

Fig 1

This study began as a line drawing that was scanned into the computer. As I progressed the graph-like lines were added as interesting design element.

Fig 2

I changed the colors, creating a stronger, more vibrant painting. The original image remained intact because I worked over a copy of the original. This is one of the real advantages of working on the computer.

68-5_17 copy

I made more copies and tried different color combinations. This was accomplished rather quickly and was not the time consuming process that it would have been had I been using traditional painting methods.


Still another version which worked out very well.

68-5_17 copy 3

Here is a negative image that was easily created, then a few colors were changed and in minutes I had a completely different, but interesting image.

Fig 3

Working extensively over a copy of the original I produced a more traditional painting.

Fig 4

Two more versions, the study on the right is just a reversed image of the left image. This gives you an idea of the range of experiments possible using the same basic image. The computer can be a remarkable learning tool, the possibilities are infinite.

Fig 5

Here is an abstraction based on the above figure studies. Another way to experiment with design as well as color.