Impressionism in the Digital Age
Previously, I wrote about my path into Impressionist art on Microsoft Paint. With some time elapsed, I can do more to show examples of where this path has taken. I will discuss three of my pieces below.
The University, December 2018 was created based on a series of photographs that I took in the lawn before Davis Library on the campus of the University of North Carolina. As the title implies, this was taken during December of last year, when a rather large snowstorm had hit. Passersby, mainly students, are depicted carrying on about their business. Many of the trees still retain their autumnal foliage and have not yet shed their leaves, allowing for some color in an otherwise neutral scene.
The overcast sky from the snowstorm, along with white blanket on the ground, caused for a somewhat dimmer appearance but also an ambient glow. This made shadows more subtle, and for the most part I decided to represent the light realistically. I made use of the modest hues caused by the weather and only used vivid color for the two flags, those of the United States and of the State of North Carolina, in order to draw attention to them. Many have noted the fact that the flags are at half-mast, which was indeed the case when I took the photographs, as President Bush had died that week.
Something I omitted is the spire of the Patterson bell tower, which pokes up from behind the library. The flagpole is actually centered with the library, so one can see that the perspective is from an angle. The bell tower is also centered with the library, so the spire would not have been aligned with the peak of the dome and would have appeared crooked.
This is a painting based on a photograph taken by an acquaintance who lives in Winnipeg, created as a favor to her. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this is an iconic location in the culture and history of the city. It was immediately recognized when I shared it on r/Winnipeg. While I did move some things around (sometimes by intent and sometimes because I was not paying attention), this is mostly an accurate representation of the photograph.
The central liberty I took was with the lighting, which I emphasized more to create the illusion of depth. This stands out with the geese closest to the front, with the shading on their bodies and their shadows, as well as with the shadows on the bushes and the wall in the background. Part of this emphasis comes from the fairly bi-modal way I chose to depict the steps and the grass. For the post part, there are only two colors used for these, a lighter one and a darker one, and the sharpness of the pencil tool on Paint is intended to make use of these contrasts for visual effect.
The blue edifices in the rearmost portion of the painting are part of a marketplace known as The Forks.
Aglow is an example of my style applied to portraiture. The woman depicted is the same acquaintance who photographed the geese above. Because it was taken indoors, some of the subtle lighting challenges were at work that occurred with The University. Where this had the most potential to be damaging was in how I depicted her bright, pale face, which is where the likeness to the photograph would matter most and where errors would need to be minimal. I overcame this by adding a little red to the scheme, to amplify the gradient and give a little more life to it. She was fortunately wearing what appeared to be a felt jacket that had its own bright qualities.
The main rule of thumb for making this one was to take breaks and look at it again with fresh eyes. If I decided that it looked like her without me having to look at the photograph, then I was satisfied and moved on.
Another key trait is that most of the strokes are somewhat parallel to each other; they follow a consistent diagonal. This allowed me to create something of a minor blending effect and to give every part of the picture a sense of having a kind of harmonious flow.
Common to all of these is an effort to mirror the Impressionists by utilizing broad strokes as the basis for everything I depict. Bright, lively colors are a major tool as well. Utilizing these general principles, my hope is that my works can look as if they were painted physically at a glance, while not betraying their digital origins.