The Computer as Art Tool


My Computer Screen

In this post I am going to show a little of what goes into creating one of my digital art pieces.  Above is an inept iPhone picture of my computer screen while I was in the middle of writing.

Physical disability has all but destroyed my ability to create by hand, which I can’t pretend is anything other than frustrating. Like a lamb to the slaughter, I devour all the projects posted on craft blogs and my envy knows no bounds.

When I was a child I was always writing or creating something.  I would buy cheap notebooks, cover them in fabric (corduroy was a particular favourite) and add a fastening.  Or I would make necklace beads out of special craft dough and string them on a leather thong – well, it was the 1960s!   Even then I had problems with my fingers so that my efforts were never as fine or as perfect as I wanted.  On one occasion I managed to persuade a local gift shop owner to stock four of my corduroy notebooks and four of my necklaces.  She sold one necklace to a man she described as a ‘hippy’.  That was it!

I was still doing hand-made greeting cards for friends and family in the early 1990s but it was getting increasingly difficult as my fingers were that much more painful and scissors were a nightmare to use.  Then a friend said that what I was doing could be done on a computer with a design software called Photoshop.  Once I began, I never wanted to stop!

My enjoyment grew exponentially and remains a potent force in my life, giving me a satisfaction I had previously thought could only be engendered by my work as an actress.

It took some while to consider that what I was creating could be called art – I felt true art was only that which was drawn, painted or sculpted by hand.  I have now realised, however, that Digital Art is a discipline and craft in its own right.  Also, I have had so many compliments from professional artists of all kinds that I do now consider myself an artist.

And now to the nuts and bolts of my latest piece of work for Thanksgiving which I created entirely in Photoshop.  I started with a fairly ordinary photograph of a country garden.  I say ‘country’ but it was actually a holiday photograph of a garden of olive trees on the island of Crete on one particular day.  And a dull day at that!

A Garden in Crete

To use the word ‘started’ is also a misnomer as my original starting point was a delightful vintage Thanksgiving postcard from The Graphics Fairy which I played with for a time and then discarded or, rather, saved for another time.

Over the top of the garden photograph I added a textured background I had created for another design.

Texture

This I stared at for some while before experimenting with different blending states until I had the autumn-toned effect I was looking for.

Texture with Photo

I tidied it up a little by removing the electricity pole in the centre and a few odd birds in the sky.  At least, I think they were birds!

My idea was to create an open book with a Thanksgiving message and a pumpkin resting beside it.   For the book I had found a piece of clip art from Vintage Feedsacks which was appropriately decorated with sheaves of wheat.

Vintage Feedsacks clipart

I spent hours turning this piece of clip art into what I had in mind.  I struggled to make the sheaves of  wheat work in situ but in the end I had to cut them out.  Transforming the book into what you see in the completed design took several hours, a lot of tweaks, an overnight break, and a fresh eye the following morning.  That fresh eye made an enormous difference and I finished off by adding ‘Give Thanks’ in a style called ‘light coffee’ but which actually looks a better liquid gold than any number of ‘gold’ styles available as Photoshop plug-ins.

Once I was satisfied, I searched The Graphics Fairy for the right sort of pumpkin to nestle against the corner of the book.

To meld this into the whole was not a simple process but once I’d done it, I was a very happy lady!

Give Thanks

I have not gone into every single step in the process, partly because I need to keep some secrets and partly because it would make for a tediously long post!  Nevertheless, I hope it inspires you if you are also creative or, indeed, makes you appreciate the ways of digital art.

I dedicate this post to artist Christine Cantow Smith who said to me this morning on my First Night Facebook page: “I’d love to be a fly on the wall to see how you create such treasures!”  Here’s to you, Christine, for your endless support and encouraging comments!

I am linking this post to Brag Monday at The Graphics Fairy and Masterpiece Monday at Boogieboard Cottage.

Take care and keep laughing.

Sarah

27 thoughts on “The Computer as Art Tool

  1. Hi! Thanks for your kind comment on my blog! I enjoyed reading your blog too! I would love to know how to do digital art but I don’t have the time to devote to learning it right now (or the money to buy photoshop). The Thanksgiving art you made is beautiful!

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  2. How beautiful. When I came accross this amazing piece of art on The Graphics Fairy site this morning I wanted to see how you made it. So many times we tend to show the finished product and not the process, myself included. I do not have Photoshop but it is on my musthaves list. Thanks for sharing how you created this unusual piece of art. I love it.

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  3. GIMP is a free imaging program you can get on the internet. I’ve never really used photoshop, so I can’t compare, or say if you could get the same kind of wonderful results as these.

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  4. I think that you are terrifically talented, Puffin. Make no mistake, you are 100% an artist. Art is about being creative, it doesn’t matter what method or medium is used. It’s about ‘the making’. I’m in awe of how you create your pictures, I’ve still not got my head around Photoshop, I find it very frustrating as there is lots that I’d like to be able to do. I think it’s fantastic that the computer has given you an outlet for your creativity – I hope you are very proud of your achievements, your pictures bring a lot of joy to many people. Great stuff Puffin Snr! xxx

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    1. It’s all trial and error, Elaine. You should see some of the crap I created in the early days! I know that I still don’t do things in the way others do and there are tools I’ve never used or investigated which would probably make my life easier. Still, I’ve never been one to follow the crowd!

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  5. This was my first time reading one of your blogs – and I was not disappointed. For me (more than anything), your story of victory(?) inspired me! Your determination in the face of adversity warmed my heart. Of course, your artwork is loved as well. Like some of the others, Photoshop is not in my current budget, but I have found other fun freebies that get the job done…for the moment. Enjoy your art! You’re a natural!

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  6. You are definitely an artist. And I would know because I’m not an artist. I can’t even draw a straight line. Photoshop makes me nervous– I always mess up and then cancel everything. Keep up the good work. I enjoy your blog. Lucy

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  7. I’ve installed Photoshop but I haven’t had time or dared to try it. I will have a go at some point, but I’ve had trouble in the past just trying to add a few letters to a picture so…I’m always in awe of visually creative people. Impressive!

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  8. This is SO informative! I’ve never had the nerve to try Photo Shop, but now I would like to give it a go. Thanks so much, I’ll keep this info 🙂

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  9. Ohh My…. when i saw the first step, I was already impressed, the landscape with the sepia textured background is so beautiful. But then you added the book and the pumpkin. I love the pallet of colours you use. It invokes a mood, an atmosphere that I like.
    And, thank you for the comments you left on my post.
    Have a lovely day.

    Liked by 1 person

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