Wednesday, June 17, 2015

flag day parade photos and art, 2015

Flag Day Parade
© 2015

I had a very active weekend in terms of taking photos, which incidentally, I use for my artwork.

I use them in all kinds of ways, for figure references for paintings, for digital art, for composition ideas, or I use them just the way they are with a little fussing. 

First I took pictures at a flag day parade. Then Beltane (which was celebrated late this year). Then a Renaissance Faire. I will put up three posts in succession so you can see them all, but I am being very choosy about what I feature for flag day and for the Renaissance faire. The reason? I am already using them as references for some art pieces and I want them to be a surprise. So for those two events, I am picking pieces carefully.   

Did I have a blast at all of these events? You betcha!

So anyway, sometimes I like to play around with a photo first to see if it has a good composition. This is how I do it, by just using the shapes (also adding a little texture so it isn't so boring):

Flag Day Parade
© 2015

This gives me an idea if I like how the elements are arranged. It simplifies everything too, taking out extraneous details I might not like in my painting. 

I like this composition! The lone figure is framed by all of the other figures, making her the focal point. In the photo, she is facing away from me. In a painting, I might have her facing towards me. Or I might have her protesting something. Or I might put another kind of figure altogether (like an animal).

I definitely won't use the photo as is.

Here is another that caught my eye (as a photograph). I like a lot I like in it, and by spending time with it, and exploring each part of it, I start thinking of possibilities... 

 Flag Day Parade II
© 2015

At first, for this one, I experimented with making it look like an old postcard, bringing out some contrast! They do look more dignified, like they'd have the manners of people in 1940s small town America:

Flag Day Parade II
(experiment to make it look like a bygone era)
© 2015

Anyway, I like this composition too. The flag on the building and the leading man seem to be the focal points, and the wall of followers support the theme. What I don't like is missing the individual faces and expressions of the crowd. There's a lot of emotion that gets lost. We see the crowd behind trying to march in unison, all wearing the same colors, but that's about it. Who are these people? Why do they walk so far behind their leader? They are at too much of a distance.

So I took the left corner of the photo and did this (adding a painterly style filter):

Flag Day Parade II
(detail with painterly style)
© 2015

Now all of a sudden, we have a different leader, even though she is in the same photo! Obviously there is a leader behind the leader!

Interesting, but I felt the work still needed something. How could I give it meaning or a statement?

So I began to think about defining the piece in terms of leader and followers.

Do people think about who and what they are following? Or do they do it unconsciously? Is it good to follow anyone? When people look at a group of people following someone, what are some attitudes about followers? Do people on the sidelines think more about the leader before they think about the followers? Are leaders necessarily more important? How often do we follow someone when we really don't want to? Do we sometimes find it shameful and abhorrent? Do followers sometimes act like zombies, as if they've given into someone or an agenda?

I can see two people in this photo who are definitely acting robotic.

In this photo, the leader is clearly defined: she is the only one dressed up, and she has a livery collar like royals from the 1400s wore. The people behind her are in casual wear, though it is obvious they were "told" what to wear: white shirt with black skirt or pants to mimic their leader. At any rate, they don't look so dignified and upright as the leader. They are trying to keep steps with her, and echo the colors she wears, but in general, they look decidedly more rag-tag.

So I tried to put her even more in the spotlight by making her flesh coloring different than her followers. For the followers, I give them cooler coloring which makes them retreat into the background even more. I gave them slightly different facial expressions than the original too, so they'd look slightly ghoulish. I also made the black clothing out of a silk satin type of material. I went further with this (epilogue below this first attempt):

Followers as Zombies, "take one"
(detail of Flag Day Parade II)
© 2015

Notice that I changed the title as it no longer has to do with flag day!

Epilogue (written on June 27, 2015) ...
So after I thought I had finished this piece, I kept thinking about it. I felt I needed to put her in a royal velvet color (like dark red), turn her livery color into gold and dress it up with gems. I also put a crown on her head. This makes her a bone fide royal!

Some of the zombie coloring seemed too bright (popsicle colors) and the background reds were distracting too.

Notice I also changed the sign to say "ENTER CITY" instead of "CITY CENTER".

So this is the end result:

Followers as Zombies
© 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment