Body of Work, Digital Art Images–Printing

In 1995 I did an oil painting on paper called “Erin’s Airport.” It is one of my favorite paintings. The painting is  small, and what I call a “between the window” size painting, it is 9″ x 12″ unframed. When I finally decided, late in 2014, to create a body of work that I would print, I ended up deciding to use “Erin’s Airport” as my starting point.

Erin's Airport, painting © Mary Baker
Erin’s Airport, painting, Mary Baker © 1995

The printing of the images almost the terminated the digital art project.

I found someplace in Newburyport that would do a giclee, pigment print for not too much money, so that I could see what I had.  I had them print two images, fairly large, 18″ x 20.” The first printing was a disaster, the images were dark, muddy and a horrible yellow.  They had another giclee printer, so we tried that.  The digital images were just as bad–this time they were dark, muddy and had a horrible red hue.

I thought after 2 years of work that the digital project had come to a screeching halt, and I was beside myself.

What I found out to my dismay was that the printed image did not resemble what was on my computer in any way. And also, to my distress, I found that every printer was a little different, or very, very different.  This was not like painting, where what you created was what you got. It was a very big “Yikes!”

I called and talked to all sorts of photographers in Newburyport and elsewhere, because I figured they must have the same problem. And I got referred to Barry Kaplan at The Finer Image down in Danvers.  And Barry saved the digital project.

Pig and Apple Tree, digital image © Mary Baker
Pig and Apple Tree, digital image, © Mary Baker (DRAFT)

Barry spent a long time with me, and we printed off images and they were dark and muddy, and I was not happy.  And on a fluke, Barry printed one of the images much lighter, and I had another “eureka” moment.

The images are printed on beautiful, acid free, thick watercolor paper, and when they were printed lighter, I realized I could draw on them with Prismacolor (which is a waxed based colored pencil that I have used as a professional artist for decades), make the color exactly the way I wanted it, which is much brighter than the printed version.  And they would look very similar to the way the images looked on my computer.

The Prismacolor also gives the images depth, which they did not have just with just pigment prints (this is coming from a painter’s perspective) . The process feels more like creating a painting or a drawing than just a printed image.

And using the Prismacolor pencils on the skies also helps soften the banding, an issue that I had been working on, that was much improved, but that hadn’t yet been totally perfected.

Boston Road, digital image © Mary Baker
Boston Road, digital image, © Mary Baker (DRAFT)

I also changed the proportions and the size to be the same size and proposition as “Erin’s Airport” painted in 1995, 9″x 12″.  So, on this page there are two of the images.  THEY ARE NOT FINISHED, this is a work/project still very much in progress. These two images are just to give an idea of what the new images in this digital project look like.   I haven’t decided on the price, or how big a run (at this point I can’t imagine doing more than one, because they take such a long time). All of this is still to be determined.

And at the bottom of the post, is a photograph of 7 of the images that have been printed, that are lined up along my studio floor, so that I can get a sense of how they work together, and what images to create next. This is the process that I would use if I was creating a new body of work that were paintings.

And as of July 2015, that is the state that this new digital art project, that was started in December 2012. And I think I know where I’m going next, I hope that I can create 13 more images, and to try and have a cohesive body of 20 digital-prismscolor works of art.  But, after two and a half years, who knows–however, I am expectant.

Digital images along my studio floor © Mary Baker
Digital images along my studio floor © Mary Baker

More Painterly Digital Art Images, Textures and Experimenting

After I found Jerry Jones, aka “skeletalmess,” aka “ghostbones,” of Shadow House Creations, a whole new digital image world opened up. I was able to figure out how to make the images more painterly and give them atmosphere and create a mood.  I was elated. And what continues to astound me about this digital process is that I can change an image in minutes, changes that as a painter would take me months, even years.

Garden at Maudslay, digital image © Mary Baker
Garden at Maudslay, digital image © Mary Baker

The digital image of the “Garden at Maudslay” was one of my first attempts. Another “Ah Ha” moment on this digital enterprise. It was difficult for me to comprehend what could be accomplished, and so quickly with this new medium.  The “Garden at Maudslay” has a ghostly quality that I wanted, that reflected that semi-abandoned area of Maudslay State Park. I’m not sure that I ever could have imagined painting this particular place this way.

Red Doors and Pansies © Mary Baker, digital image
Red Doors and Pansies © Mary Baker, digital image

I couldn’t believe what I could accomplish with “Red Doors and Pansies.”  The image finally had the painterly quality I was looking for, and captured for me, what Newburyport, the seacoast town where I live, looks like in the spring.  And it also made an attempt to reflect the charm of Newburyport’s historic district.  I never would have taken the time to paint this on canvas.  It would never have happened.

Stackyard Road 2 © Mary Baker, digital image
Stackyard Road 2 © Mary Baker, digital image

I painted a lot of versions of Stackyard Road in Newbury, MA as a painter.  Many are in collections all over the country.  So, I thought I would try and do some digital images. This is one of the first ones that I came up with.  And again, I was so excited, it was different than the paintings, but also interesting, and it had a painterly quality and a sense of texture in the sky that I would never have created as a painting. Another “eureka” moment.”

Boat, Newburyport Dock © Mary Baker, digital image
Boat, Newburyport Dock © Mary Baker, digital image

As a painter I painted boats like this that were “dry docked,” but never one in the water. And with the new digital art medium, I could experiment, and if I didn’t like it, it didn’t matter because creating the image took hours not months and years. I ended up liking this version of the “Boat, Newburyport Dock,” which was down by Newburyport’s waterfront, in front of the Firehouse Center for the Arts.

I was creating images that I had always wanted to paint, but was never sure if I could make the paintings work. It was a wonderful feeling and an exciting visual adventure, In many ways I felt liberated, and had a hard time imagining going back to traditional painting, when I could accomplish so many interesting pictures and experiments in such a short amount of time.

Digital Images, Painting with “Spray Paint” Brushes, and the First Digital Portrait

Gina, digital image
Gina, digital image, © Mary Baker

Somehow along the way on this new digital experiment that I had set out for myself, I discovered these amazing digital brushes. In Photoshop I could paint with “spray paint” brushes. Another “Wow,” “eureka,” “really??” moment. And I kept thinking of all that street art that I discovered (see earlier post), especially the street art by the South African artist Faith47, and maybe, just maybe I could incorporate some of those techniques, but in a digital format.

I took a photograph of my gorgeous daughter-in-law Gina, way before I ever knew that she would be my daughter-in-law, and I started to experiment with that photograph.

My thought was that I didn’t want the image to look like a photograph, and I didn’t want it to look like a painting, I wanted people to look at the image and think, “I’m not sure what that is?” And the portrait of Gina, done in the late winter of 2013 turned out to be another “eureka” moment in this digital enterprise, and another turning point, where I realized that this new digital medium had unbelievable potential. And creating in this new digital development became more exciting than ever. I could not wait to find out what could be next. It had been a long time since I was this excited and this curious about creating artwork.

The digital image below is of my son Hal and his new bride, Gina, on their honeymoon.  Hal and Gina took the original photograph.

Hal and Gina, digital image
Hal and Gina, digital image, © Mary Baker

Digital Images and Experiments, Landscapes, Seascapes, Skies

Seascape 3, digital image
Seascape 3, digital image, © Mary Baker

When I was experimenting with the birds (see previous post), in a serendipitous sort of way, Photoshop created abstract landscape backgrounds–one of those magical things that started to happen, experimenting with this new digital medium. It was a very fun, “eureka” moment, something that I never would have thought of myself.

Seascape 2, digital image
Seascape 2, digital image, © Mary Baker

So, I decided to start experimenting with creating my own digital landscapes, in this case, seascapes.  Painting backgrounds, i.e. skies, water on canvas with brushes and oil paint, would literally take me months and months, sometimes years to get it right.  Creating digital skies, seascapes with the new digital medium took hours. I was amazed, elated and completely fascinated.

Seascape 1, digital image
Seascape 1, digital image, © Mary Baker

The three top images are some of the seascapes that I created during the month of February 2013. This new digital experiment was taking me places that creatively I could never have imagined going.  And what I learned doing these seascapes helped me later on, when things got a little more complicated.

Seascape 4, digital image
Seascape 4, digital image, © Mary Baker

And this last seascape, Seascape 4, is one that I created in December of 2013. By that time I had learned a whole lot more on this great digital adventure.

First Digital Images, Birds


The Long Walk, Digital Image
The Long Walk, Digital Image © Mary Baker, 2013

When I first started experimenting with digital images, I found a place that I could find images that I myself would never have taken photographs of, that allowed me to use them free of charge, it is a place called MorgueFile. And for whatever reason, I found a whole lot of wonderful images of birds.

Pelican 2, Digital Image
Pelican 2, Digital Image © Mary Baker, 2013

My first thought about this new digital enterprise, was that it would be a collaboration between me and photographers around the world on MorgueFile.  Having a global digital project seemed like a very cool idea. I contacted all the photographers whose images I had used, after I had experimented with a lot of the different bird images.  I only heard back from one of them. It would be difficult to have a multi-collaboration project, without the input from the specific photographers. And the images on MorgueFile were on the small side, which meant, if I ever wanted to make the images very large, I would not be able to do so. But, before I found all of that out, I created a lot of interesting and fun images of birds.

Flamingo 1, Digital Image
Flamingo 1, Digital Image © Mary Baker, 2013

The bird series reminded me of “old fashion” silk screen prints. All these images were created during the month of  January 2013.

Pelican 1, digital image © Mary Baker
Pelican 1, digital image © Mary Baker

Experimenting with the New Digital Medium, the Beginning

4 Herons, Digital Image, birds
4 Herons, Digital Image, January 2013 © Mary Baker

In 2012 I began to wonder if traditional two-dimensional art had gone the way of the “buggy whip” and the “typewriter.”  I wrote a blog post on the subject on The Newburyport Blog here.  And at the same time, I found myself drawn to the new things that people were doing with digital photography. People like Chris Crisman were creating photographs that had a very “painterly” quality to them. In fact, some of the photographs resembled the very detailed paintings that I had done in the 1990s.

The other art form that captivated my imagination was street art. Street Art News was, and still is, one of my go to places to find out what is happening in street art around the globe. The most famous street artist today is probably Bansky, and I also fell in love with the work of a South African street artist that goes by the name of Faith47.  My favorite series, when I first discovered Faith47, was “The Long Wait.”

I also felt that the painting that I was doing was getting stale and redundant, especially compared to what people were doing with digital photography and street art. So in December 2012, I decided to hang up my paintbrush for a while, and take a year to experiment with digital art. The process turned out to be a lot more complicated, and a lot more interesting than I ever imagined. I haven’t painted since  December 2012. I’ve been exploring this wonderful new medium, which at times seems completely magical to me, since December 17, 2012–that was a while ago.

The first images to come out of this new digital experimentation were “the birds,” the digital image, “4 Herons” above in this post,  is an example, as well as “Running Bird” below.

Running Bird, digital image
Running Bird, digital image, © Mary Baker