I usually do not share photos of myself here but I wanted to share this photo for a competition entitled “People at work” with Art Full Frame. The Contest description reads as “During this year due to the pandemic everything has changed, our habits, our way of approaching life and our way of working.People across the globe are trying to get back to normal. We are gradually taking back possession of our lives with many of us going back their work place.
Many have converted their homes into offices, whilst others have been forced to change their working practices to accommodate the new Covid safe procedures. Just to mention a few with restaurants, shops and personal care. Some have even had to start all over again, whilst for others nothing has changed. With this photo contest we invite you to capture People at Work, before, during or after the pandemic. It is not important when the photos were taken, what we are interested in is looking at the world through your eyes.”
Inspired by the twisted landscapes of Alice in Wonderland and campy colourful slasher film posters my submission is a very tongue & cheek satirical view on the work from home aspect that has been implemented into many of our lives because of Covid -19. There has been times where my own home has felt like the enemy, times where I feel smothered by the four walls where I spend most days and where I could feel like my lanky limbs could burst through its fixtures at any moment. On numerous occasions I have felt like a digital detox is certainly needed – from the browsers and zoom calls, the terms, keywords and overabundant hypertext. I know a lot of us have felt like this, although many would wear a professional bravado when plugged in through zoom calls and meetings. But what goes on behind the screens? Are they wearing pants?
Recently coming across the exquisite painterly photographs of Belgian photographer Léonard Misonne (1870-1943) who famously said “The subject is nothing, light is everything” to say that I am inspired by his work is an understatement. It is hard to approach Misoone’s work knowing that they are photographs when they look like soft, luminous oil paintings that a master of the craft spent hours mulling over to get the right amount of tenderness. Back in the day it is intriguing to know that Misonne relied on manipulating his photographs during the printing process to get the mood he sought and to that I never understand why people turn their nose up to manipulating photos as even way back then it is still a tool used to help the intent wanted.
I decided to search through the many hard drives I have stored full of photos with the majority taken from my excursions around rural Ireland this past Winter. I picked a bunch that I thought would be ideal to experiment with to see if I can mimic a fraction of Misoone’s glowing photographs. Although these photos were taken in the dead of Winter, the dew brimmed evergreen spruces and ground foaming with moss makes it hard to distinguish.
While editing these photos I feel like I have learned something fundable about photography – when you take detail out of things in favour of something softer the colour can be left to sing which makes the photograph feel more painterly and makes the viewers eye not focus on one thing in particular but take everything in as a whole, which I think can give more mood, tone and emotional intent. Not to say that photography that is sharply focused doesn’t have its own impact, just that it hits differently. Photography is a relatively new medium for me and experimenting to find artists, elements and approaches that I admire and that give me an initial feeling of loving the way a piece looks is exhilarating, figuring out the why is the important part and it is always exciting when you find it.
I still have a plethora of images gathered from my excursions around rural Ireland from this past Winter. I never got tired of capturing the frosty landscapes and meanders of ice circulating around the rich peat. This adventure in particular was after a large dumping of snow that froze over, I remember it distinctively because I almost completely lost a boot in the mud… I somehow managed to press record as I was free falling gracefully into one of the earthy trenches and have the resulting gasps and swears words of my clumsy ass in mid motion. I won’t share that here and shall leave it your imagination.
I have been really enjoying painting with Gouache, it is a creative practice that energises me, puts me in the zone and fuels me. I think it’s because with every pigmented brush stroke I switch off for a while and end up feeling more grounded and productive to keep on trucking with other projects in the works. I think I needed a little bit of something different, a bit of oomph, a bit of something to physically get my hands and desk dirty and this has been the key, that along with the transcending coos of Goldfrapp is a proper match. The last painting in this bunch being a quick painting study of Castle Hackett Hill where I spent a day back in Ireland high on the mountain overlooking the haunted Castle Hackett mansion veering below, more on that soon.
I have been itching to do some traditional art for a change to my usual digital Art, spurred from painting and drawing with my nieces and nephew during the Christmas break. Here is some initial paintings using gouache, The first two being concept art pieces from the Game Firewatch which I haven’t played and don’t really play games anymore, but loving the colourful art from this game I gave it a bash. The last image being a quick one of birch trees before I washed away the drying leftover paint. I choose Gouache as the medium because I like that its similar to watercolour but much more pigmented and having never used it before it is a learning curve in which I am really enjoying the process, with landscapes always being my favourite subjects to paint.
I think it is good to switch things up and try new approaches and although I find it harder with traditional art to simply let go and loosing up, I think with practice I will get to a point where things are hinted at and more gestural with blocky colours and suggestive brush strokes, The last image of the birch trees was very enjoyable because it was in the wee hours of the morning, I was tired and just wanted to get rid of the paint so it was very quick and gestural. Eventually I would like to make prints and use the many inspiring photos I took as reference while back in Ireland and here’s hoping I will make prints of those photo’s too! I think we live in a time for creatives where you might need to get thrifty and monetise your hobbies to help make ends meet, So we’ll see…
Another render from the Green Glider animated short, this time of the lagoon where our protagonist Ash will float in the blissful crystal clear water before he has a sudden epiphany. I wouldn’t mind quarantining here…
I have been working on trying to achieve a more painterly style with the Oasis world of The Green Glider animated short. To achieve these current renders I collated together many bunches of the 3D trees and plants and rendered them out, I then brought the renders into photoshop and painted over them in three different versions, 1 being the original scratchy and more defined version with clearer visible brush strokes. The second and third iterations blurring them out so they could plop nicely in the background to add more depth. I also made cooler and warmer versions of each painted tree mound and painted some shapes to act as leaves to bulk out areas as seen below.
〰️The Oasis Painted Tress – Clear〰️
〰️The Oasis Painted Tress – Blurry〰️
I then brought those renders back into Maya as alpha maps and situated them accordingly within the scene and added in some of the original 3D trees for the foreground so that it gave more depth of field. To give me more control I used render layers where I added the elements in different collections and rendered them separately – so a render collection for the furthermost elements and a collection for the foregrounds and so on, it means I can have a lot more control in post production if I think something could be blurred further or possibly blend more with the sky colour to give more atmospheric perspective.
There was one caveat – previously all the grass was done with alpha maps which was causing a problem where the scene was so populated with alpha maps that light couldn’t render through them and meant that they were rendering black, I found out I had to dial up the render settings to offset this – the ray depth to be specific which resulted in ridiculous render times! So using what I learned about my Boogie Woogie Jive film and the ongoing Ersilia film, I had a muck about with using Maya’s ancient paint effects which worked wonderfully. Within the many keyframe achievable paint effects parameters there is the possibility to animate a slight breeze to the grass, I will definitely be giving that a whirl and see how to looks. I think with these many trial and errors the Oasis is starting to come to fruition, things can be pushed more but I think I am heading in the right direction.
I have been playing about with trying to achieve a more painterly, soft feel for the Oasis with inspiration drawing from impressionist paintings where colour and light play a massive part in showing nature and landscapes. A lot of trial and error has gone into these tests, mainly because of the colour as a lot of impressionist paintings are influenced by vivid fauvism. I attempted to adopt and get into the headspace of an impressionist, by painting with quick brush strokes of light flickering the water, moving clouds and how the colours would merge together with incessantly moving light, always in a state of flux.
I decided to paint over the render to get the feel before I mend Maya to give me similar results, a lot of which will be achieved by rendering out chunks of trees then softening, blurring and painting over them and turning them into alpha maps that I can plop in place; some of which will be a lot more softened or more crisp to draw the eye to where it needs. I am still a bit unsure of the colour just yet, I don’t know if it’s too much so as always feedback is appreciated.