Tag Archives: digital art project

Digital Art Project by artist Mary Baker, that uses digital technology as part of this particular creative process.

How the Digital Images Would Look Like in a Room

I’ve always loved the idea of medieval triptychs–paintings that are divided into 3 separate pieces. And I’ve always been intrigued the way Andy Warhol used multiple images that worked together.

Digital images over a couch

Digital images over a couch

One of the things that I have in mind for this new digital/prismacolor series, with large skies with landscapes on the bottom, is the ability to mix and match the images.

They could be used separately, they are 9″x 12″ unframed, which is a perfect size for let’s say between two windows.

Digital images between windows

Digital images between windows

However, they could also be placed three together, over a couch or mantle shelf.

So I’ve “imagined” how they would look like framed over a couch, and between three windows.

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

Digital Art Images, New Work and First Technical Problem, a Possible Roadblock

By 2014 I had experimented with the new digital art images a lot. I was well into my second year on this project, the process was taking a lot longer than I had ever anticipated.  It was time to think about creating a cohesive body of work.

I wasn’t sure how I wanted to proceed, so I just started. I always love the big skies over the Newburyport marsh, so I thought I would start exploring images with big skies.

Joppa 2 © Mary Baker, digital image

Joppa 2 © Mary Baker, digital image

“Joppa” is what is referred to an area in Newburyport’s historic district, that is in Newburyport’s South End on Water Street along the Merrimac River. It is where the clam shacks were once located, and it is where small boats and kayaks are launched; you can see Plum Island and Salisbury across the water, and at low tide, people have for centuries, gone out and dug clams.

“Joppa 2” is one of several digital images that I have done of that particular area, and I was intrigued by the color of the sky in this particular image, it wasn’t a color that I had ever thought of creating. It was another progression it this digital art project that was now well into its second year, and again another “eureka” moment.

Stack Yard Road 3 © Mary Baker, digital image

Stack Yard Road 3 © Mary Baker, digital image

“Stack Yard Road 3” soon followed. Stack Yard Road is in Newbury, it is a dirt road that goes through the Newbury Marsh and ends at the entrance to Nelson Island which is now part of the Plum Island Refuge. I had painted this particular place many times, and had gone back to it when trying to figure out the new digital artwork.

Tree and Pasture 2 © Mary Baker, digital image

Tree and Pasture 2 © Mary Baker, digital image

This is a second digital version of the tree and pasture,  This particular tree of “Tree and Pasture 2” is along Scotland Road in Newbury, MA, and is surrounded by a large, rural piece of land called the “Common Pasture.”  I have done many, paintings of this particular tree and that beautiful area (as have a lot of other painters and photographers).

But as I created these new images I started to notice something. When I paint a sky with oil paint, I  smug the layers of paint together so that the sky would gradually go from dark to light, from the top of the sky to the horizon line.  What was happening in these new images is that I was getting what is called “banding.”

Banding in sky © Mary Baker

Banding in the sky

Banding is when a transition is not smooth and you can see horizontal lines between the colors.  It was particularly noticeable to me when the skies became darker at the top, which was something new in these particular images (it didn’t happen as much in the early seascapes skies that were lighter in color).  And there are many techniques to work with this problem, but as a painter, none of them met my expectations. I thought I might have hit a major road block, and I was stumped.

For the first time I wondered if this new digital project had any hope of going forward.

New Digital Art Images–Creative Euphoria

I hadn’t had this much fun creating in a long, long time as I was having with this new digital project.  I had no idea where process of this new adventure was going to go, but I was definitely on it for the ride.

For me, often the excitement comes at the beginning of a new creative discovery, it was that way during various stages of my professional painting career, and it was certainly that way with the new digital art images.

I would sit down at my computer every morning and couldn’t wait to see what I could create that day.  In many ways it felt as if it was a creative rebirth.

Pink House 1 © Mary Baker, digital image

Pink House 1 © Mary Baker, digital image

This is the first of many digital versions that I have done of the “Pink House.”  The Pink House on Plum Island Turnpike is iconic, and is probably one of the most, if not the most painted and photographed location in the Newburyport area.  It has captured the imagination of hundreds of professional and amateur painters and photographers for years.

The Pink House sits out by itself on the Newbury marsh.  There are no other houses surrounding it.  It is run-down and unkempt, abandoned, but in spite of its neglect it retains a dignity and honor and an unspoken link to Newburyport’s past. People notice it and fall in love with it instantly.

Apple Tree and Field © Mary Baker, digital image

Apple Tree and Field © Mary Baker, digital image

The  apple trees  of “Apple Tree and Field” are on the Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm, which is a magical place, a 230 acre site that includes a late 1600 manor house that once inhabited wealthy Newburyport merchants. It is open to the public, and more information can be seen about it here.

Airstrip 1 © Mary Baker, digital image

Airstrip 1 © Mary Baker, digital image

I have done many paintings of the airstrip which is on the marsh along Plum Island Turnpike. Those paintings were in all kinds of art shows and are in art collections all over the United States.  I’ve gone back to that particular place over and over again for almost 30 years. “Airstrip 1” is the first digital art image that I did of that particularly, for me, beloved spot.

Digital Still Life Art Images

Pod by Window, painting by Mary Baker

Pod by Window, 36″ x 24″ Painting © Mary Baker

Another digital art image  “Ah Ha” moment.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s I created a body of work called the “Pod Paintings.” They were shown at the Hoorn-Ashby Gallery in New York City, it was a very big deal, and very exciting.  An example of one of the “pod paintings” that was in a New York show is above.

Vase by Window, digital art image © Mary Baker

Vase by Window, digital art image © Mary Baker

I had the pod paintings in mind when I was experimenting with the new digital still lifes, I wanted to create the same mood and atmosphere that the pod paintings had. The first digital art still life image that I created was a small vase by the window.  I tried the Photoshop “spray brushes” (see earlier entry), and I even discovered “smoke” Photoshop brushes–I was so excited when I found those. But the digital image of the small vase just didn’t have “IT.” It didn’t create the atmosphere that I was looking for.

Grandfather's Glasses, digital image by Mary Baker

Grandfather’s Glasses, digital image © Mary Baker

The next image that I tried was my grandfather’s glasses by the window. There is an image of the farm that he and my grandmother bought is in the background. But again, the image just didn’t accomplish want I wanted.

Bowl by Window, digital image by Mary Baker

Bowl by Window, digital image © Mary Baker

And then I had a wonderful digital art image “Ah Ha” moment when I created a bowl by the window, it had the atmosphere and the mood that I was looking for. It was another turning point in this new digital experiment.

My teacher and inspiration for this “Ah Ha” moment was Jerry Jones of Shadow House Studio, who has been an inspiration and an incredible teacher to 100’s maybe 1000’s of lovers of digital art and digital images.  Jerry’s Shadow House blog can be found here. Finding Jerry Jones, aka “skeletalmess,” aka “ghostbones,” gave me hope.  There were incredibly talented people out there who created gorgeous digital art. Finding Shadow House Creations was an incredible gift.

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