Tuesday, December 09, 2014

What Inspires Me?

What Inspires Me?

I'm intrigued by this quotation: Pablo Picasso said, "good artists copy; great artists steal" (the attribution is unclear; go here). I'm not sure I fully understand or agree with the meaning of this aphorism as written. The intent is pretty clear, though. An artist will take those things that inspire him and incorporate them in his own work. How well he does that defines his place in the art world.

You might disagree. but everyone has been influenced by others. The best example I can think of is Oscar Peterson, who was influenced by the likes of Art Tatum and Nat "King" Cole (jump to 1:35 in the link for the solo) and who far surpassed them as arguably the best jazz pianist ever (here's a link to one of my favourites, I actually learned to play this. Want to hear the master for an hour like I did? Go here.) OK, back on topic, I got sidetracked...

By no means should an artist directly copy anyone. To me, being an artist is to create, not to duplicate. That said, if I could play one song like Peterson, I'd be in heaven, but I'd be a mechanic, not an artist. Make sense? But allowing someone else's style to influence your work is a given – that's how art evolves. Think about the Impressionist movement, a genre that evolved from the work of Claude Monet.

So what inspires me? The work of Yousuf Karsh, to start with, although I don't shoot portraits. Ansel Adams, of course. The writings and teachings of Bruce Barnbaum. A tip of the hat to Freeman Patterson, Richard Martin and other lesser knowns like Lance Gitter and Ron Goodlin. Hilarie Mcneil-Smith. Bharat Mistry. An eclectic mix. If I could take a little from each and make it my own...
...and lately, Vincent van Gogh, J.M.W. Turner, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, A.Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris...

I'm fascinated by the graphics work that went into the making of the title sequence of the HBO Mini-series, "The Pacific". This link is to a video showing the sequence, and scroll down for an interview with Art Director Steve Fuller. This is outstanding and inspiring to me, so I thought I'd share it with you here.



This image is from the Art of the Title page, here. It's a composite of processed drawings by Steve Fuller. In the title sequence, they morph brilliantly into video footage. It's the look and feel of the charcoal renderings that I find outstanding. Image published here with permission.

It's frustrating as a photographer to see what professional cinematographers and art directors can do. Sometimes I get the feeling that the rest of us are just playing. Read the backstory below the image on the linked page.

I think of myself as a "craftsman". Maybe one day, a history book will describe me as an artist. That's what I'm striving for. I'm not there yet.

Another new program from Topaz!

This one's called "Topaz Glow". You need to watch their video to see best what it does, here's the link..

Here's the first image I edited with it




It's on sale for the month of December at the introductory price of $49.99 (that's a $20 savings) at this link: http://goo.gl/aQvTVd. Enter INTROGLOW in the coupon code at checkout. By the way, it shares a lot of things with Impression. Including the hardware requirements, so if you're not sure, do the 30 day free trial before you buy. 


Here's another image. I posted a charcoal version last week but the Glow version is exciting!







This is a vertical version of the same trees. Can't decide which one I like better. You? Please comment 

A complex Photoshop Action

After writing the opening story for this blog, I posted a question on the Topaz Impression group on Facebook about whether anyone knew how to achieve the charcoal effect I talked about. Lo and behold...

A fellow named John Stevenson in England has written an Action that works in Photoshop CC and is making it available for free. It's really complicated under the hood, but a dummy like me was able to figure out how to use it (although I did have to fiddle with the last step). Anyway, here's the link to where you can download it. John, my hat's off to you.
You need Photoshop CC or CC2014 plus Topaz Impression for this Action to work. 




Here's an image I tested it on, from the dogsled races last winter.  

This is the original image:





So you can see I'm spending a lot of time in front of the computer, not out taking pictures. I was a little under the weather last week, plus the other kind of weather wasn't great! 


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