I remember the room perfectly, the smell of fresh textbooks and the professor’s eclectic sense of style. Art History 101. The lights dimmed and the projector hummed to life. It was only the intro to our curriculum for the semester, but the body of work our professor had chosen romanced the artist in me.
As a photographer, my goal has always been to honour the technical craft, but as an artist I first and foremost want to create something outside of myself; something that will stand the test of time and be a part of my legacy.
I have wanted to incorporate my knowledge of the history of art into a series of portraits. I truly hope that this next season in my photographic journey within fine art will begin to define my artistic style.
Jacob Van Ruisdael was a prolific Dutch Golden Age Landscape Painter. A product of an established family of artists, Jacob studied alongside his father and uncle, and was the grandson of a frame dealer. For Jacob, art was a generational talent passed down; fostered by the education he had been exposed to as well as through his family’s legacy and talents.
Unlike other artists of his time, Van Ruisdael did not approach his paintings as an exact record of the scene before him. Like a photographer he carefully thought out the composition and played with the infinite possibility’s of how the subject would react to its environment, this included the subtleties of the movement of fluttering leaves on a tree to the formations of clouds dancing overhead.
When I chose a backdrop for the first piece of my “HER” series, I remembered Van Ruisdael’s work. I felt an impression of a dream-like quality to his landscapes. I witnessed a play of light within the sweeping branches and the golden clouds that hovered over the intricate details of the landscape below. Incorporating my model’s portrait into this scene was ideal for the story I wanted to display, the serenity and innocence of a woman in her sculpted pose. The Model’s juxtaposition with the deep shadows and highlights of the seaside influenced me to edit with the quality of light that fell on her porcelain skin.
Through the use of time-lapse video I wanted to give a greater understanding to the art of post production with photography. To give her skin the same depth and warmth mirrored in the painting, I applied tone curves that increased the glow and colour of light that would naturally fall on someones face. The same process goes into the natural shadows of a portrait, adding depth to the natural curve of a woman. Using the lasso tool to choose a specific location in the portrait gave me control of the chosen pixel area, this concept can be shown in the video where I changed the colour and hue of her hair, as well as the rays of light I painted to the right of the image that fell on her face and hands. When all was almost done I wanted her perfect soft skin to have texture to match the oil painting behind, this was done by layering a stock image of concrete over the entire image and then turning the layer into a “Soft Light” overlay, essentially making the concrete transparent but still leaving the texture painted across her skin.
Joseph Evstafievich Krachkovskii is an artist who was never truly recognized for reaching the pinnacle of fine art. Joseph studied at the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, immediately following graduation he traveled many European cities which would become an inspiration to his body of work.
When I chose his painting titled “landscape” as my background for the model I knew that I was going to make it a bit darker and ominous in character and played with the hue and exposure.
In regards to the model I had wanted to apply a artistic technique that I truly fell in love with while studying art history. The term was Chiaroscuro.
Chiarscuro in art is the strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting the whole composition. It is also the use of contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects and figures.
This artistic style was applied by bringing a depth to her within the image. I wanted to achieve the affect that she could leap out of the painting and interact with the viewer.
Leonardo Da ‘Vinci.
The father of invention. But in my opinion I would like to think as the most honest of artists. In his sketches of the human form I have always appreciated his realistic and unaltered depiction of mankind.
As an artist I have felt the responsibility of portraying my subjects as honestly as I can in post production.
I chose more than one sketch by Da ‘Vinci and layered them on a textured background that was originally a blank white wall. I wanted to envelop the model in the images of anatomy and keep her as soft and untouched, keeping true to the honest beauty that she is. Letting her simplicity speak stronger than smoke screens and mirrors.
Below is a time-lapse of the processing and editing that went into the production of “Her Quiet Strength”.