My Sister-in-Law asked for more details on the making of the Red Poppies image that I posted on Facebook and Instagram on Memorial Day 2020. My first instinct was to just send her an email with the details, and not share that on Facebook. Not because there was any "secret sauce" or anything proprietary about it, and not because I was worried that someone might copy it. But rather, because it starts out with a very boring iPhone image and I feared that exposing the ugly underbelly would take away the magic.
But then I realized that is the very reason for showing what goes on in my head and behind the scenes. So here goes, and thanks Carole Walthers for asking.
Normally American Legion Auxiliary members distribute millions of poppies annually across the country in exchange for donations that go directly to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans in their local communities. Memorial Day weekend and Veteran's day are the main days for this major fundraising event. But due to Covid-19, that could not happen this year. So I wanted to create a visual representation to remind everyone of the significance on Memorial Day. Facebook and Instagram seemed a good place to do that.
My typical artistic style starts out with bits and pieces from photographs, and through the magic of digital wizardry, an image is morphed into a painterly "masterpiece."
But what could I use as my starting image? My garden poppies didn't come back this year, so that was out. I do not use stock images in my work, so that was not an option either. I turned to the normal cloth poppy that is handed out. As you can see in the attached image: Ugh. The composition wasn't doing anything for me, and it wasn't looking hopeful.
It just so happens that I have a faux bouquet of poppies on my bedroom dresser. I had used them for a sketch-and-watercolor exercise a few weeks ago, so I figured it could work for this. With iPhone in hand, I zeroed in on this part of the bouquet, making sure to include a smaller/younger bloom, and that little bud to emphasize the idea of hope for the future.
Now the composition was looking better. But it needed some magic.
Uploading the iPhone image to my computer, and with a little Photoshop work, I came up with this. I blurred out the ugly background, making the flower soft and dreamy, and giving some nice muted colors as an accent. But what to do about that ugly blown-out bright spot in the upper right hand corner? No problem - just add another layer with salmon-color.
Here is the final image. For most of my postings on Social Media, I add my signature logo, so that when people share, others can find me and my work. So share away.
Carole asked if I planned to include this on the Art Show circuit this summer. While I do not plan on that (assuming there will be any Art Fairs this summer), if you are interested in having a printed out version of this, DM me for details. 50% of any sales will go to the American Legion Auxiliary to support our wounded and hospitalized veterans.
From last night's sunset visit to Timberlake Forest Preserve; my first visit to this area, which is located just south of Kline Creek Farm. I was looking for egrets and/or herons, of which there were none. Instead, there were lots of people out and about - riding their bikes, walking, taking photos, walking their dogs, and fishing. I counted three little fishing boats, and about a half-dozen groups of people with chairs and fishing poles along the banks of the fairly large pond. There was nothing to hint at the fact that we are still under quarantine orders due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. But was there?
I normally do not include people in my photos, but there was something about this little family that caught my attention. I was intrigued: What was their story? Why were they there? Was it a simple family outing to enjoy the weather, or was there more purpose to their endeavor? Perhaps they were one of the newly-unemployed and were short of food. I did not interrupt, and will never know why any of those people were out there. But I do know this: it was a very bucolic scene and it begged to be shared. I left feeling refreshed, peaceful, and happy. I added a few post-production touches to give it that impressionistic look and feel.
Cradling the Moon... Did anyone notice the moon last night? I usually go for the full moon, but I am beginning to be a fan of any phase. I captured this one early evening, about an hour before sunset where there was golden light hitting on the tree tops. This is a composite image - one exposure to get the detail on the moon, the other for the detail in the branches. I positioned myself to get the moon placement in between the branches. For the technical-minded, these two shots were hand-held using my Panasonic DMC-FZ70, with attached lens zoomed out about as far as I could go. I love the dreaminess of it - what do you think?