22 October 2014

Christmas at Peony & Sage

LINEN & SPARKLE at Peony & Sage this Christmas. Muted tones of cream through to steel, mixed with a little christmas sparkle was the styling theme for this latest shoot.  It's always fun to bring in a string of fairy lights, whilst the olive tree adds a splash of green, lifting the sullen tones. Keeping everything simple so that the quality of the fabric can shine. See more at Peony & Sage

15 October 2014


THE PASSING OF SUMMER Summer leaves without so much as a goodbye. Overnight there is a soulful change that is intuitively understood. Instinctively, like an animal I want to raise my head to the changing air. Taking deep inhalations of clean, cool air, I know without asking, Summer has passed.  I start to get nostalgic for hearty foods and family gatherings. Mornings are reluctant to part with the heavy blanket of night. Think atmospheric clouds draw across the sky.  Even the warmer days, are just that, warmer; but sadly they no longer belong to Summer.  Colour begins to recede to yellow and red, a symbolic burning of the leaves, before they tumble to the ground and dance across the pathways.  Soon a winters landscape will be drawn of browns, greys and washed out blues, but before we get there join me and embrace this amazing seasonal transformation. 

Autumn is a wonderful time of year to find inspiration, not just in the amazing colours that transform our landscape. But also in the circle of renewal. Every flower fades to reveal its seed heads, many of which endure the entire winter. Their paper like structures remind us that even flowers don't really die, they simply surrender themselves to the process of renewal.  The ever enduring circle of life, death and transformation. Autumn is, in my option, the strongest of all our earthly seasons, it reveals patterns, shows us endurance through decay and renewal.  It's a fascinating time of year and I'm certainly looking forward to getting outdoors to enrich my own portfolio this season with some landscape and still life studies. I'll be sharing new work here, on my ART BLOG across the remainder of the year as well as revealing a new creative project I'm working on called Invoking a Beautiful Life.  

14 October 2014

The Origins of Artisan

THE ORIGINS OF ARTISAN I designed and introduced the Artisan Texture Collection in 2011 after being inspired by a magnificent Rococo mirror I came across whilst photographing a wedding at Cambridge's Anstey Hall.  I was inspired by the way this mirror had started to lose its silver backing. The distressed effect had occurred naturally over many years and was incredibly beautiful. I wanted to create a series of Textures that drew on this inspiration as well as yielding stronger results than my previous collections at the time.  This 'selfie' was snapped as a quick study.  The central mirrors deteriorating surface was so bad it almost completely obscured my reflection, whilst the smaller mirror's on each side are clearer with marks appearing characteristically around the edges. 

The above Textures: Silkscreen I | Silkscreen II & Tempera and Artisan II where specifically introduced into the Artisan collection to produce similar effects. 

ARTISAN AND THE ARTIST I think it makes sense that if I'm going to design textures, that are meant to bring in surface qualities, that they're designed from original surface elements. This idea of transforming old and decaying surfaces into a digital formate is at the foundation of all my texture designs.  In early 2011 I visited old village halls, churches and other run-down out-buildings to source the original photographs from which I produced the finished Artisan Texture Collection. This included studies of aged mirrors and scratched reflective surfaces. The full Artisan collection was finally ready and launched to the public on 20th September 2011.   

INTRODUCING BLACK TEXTURES The Artistan Texture Collection was one of the first commercially available Texture Collections to introduce textures that were black in colour. When I designed these new textures I drew on my extensive understanding of how colour or tone effects the performance of a texture once blended. There is a whole section in my book, Art Beyond the Lens, Working with Digital Textures, about this, but for now let's just say there is more to it than just creating or removing a Textures colour. Black textures enable almost white images to be textured via the Screen or Soft Light blend modes. The Screen blend mode almost dissolves all the black tones leaving just the lighter, white marks. Soft Light on the other hand can be used to pull back overall brightness and reduce over exposure. See examples 1-4 below.    

TAKING A CLOSER LOOK The use of either Screen or SoftLight Blend modes depends on your personal preference and creative choices. There is no right or wrong, each method offers different results. Above from top left: Break II, Etched I, Chalkboard I , Crayon Dark, Framed II, Silkscreen II.  

1) Top left: the original image.
2) Top right: Blended with Screen 100% 
3) Bottom left: Blended with Soft Light 100%. 
4) Bottom right: Blended with Soft Light 100%. Then the original image, underneath the textured layer, is lightened and the darks pulled in using a simple Levels adjustment. This adjustment isn't done to the Texture but the image itself.  

The examples below illustrate all three methods on the same image using three of the above black Artisan textures. 

Example 1) Textured with Artisan | Etched I

Example 2) Textured with Artisan | Chalkboard I

Example 3) Textured with Artisan | Silkscreen II

Example 4) Textures Silkscreen II and Framed II 

In this final example you can see how these two black Textures have yielded altogether different results. It's quite incredible how these Textures are so effective even when simply overlaid, blended with Soft Light and reduced to slightly below 50% for each one.

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE OF DARKNESS Whilst dark, black textures, offer a wonderful way off adding in light delicate marks, lighter textures offer a more traditional look. Although pale in their colouring these textures add in dark marks and intense scratches. Below is a selection of some of Artisans lightest Textures and then in the same order overlaid and blended using Soft Light at 100% over the same image.  

Artisan Textures: Artist III, Scratch I, Litho II, Etched II, Studio III, Gallery. 

Below is an example of these Textures used on the same image, and blended with Soft Light at 100%.  Obviously I've left the opacity at 100% so that you can clearly see the textures effects. If I was going on to finish texturing this image I would remove and reduce the opacity of the overall Texture to suit my preferences. 

DARK EQUALS LIGHT AND VICE VERSA  When you look at Textures in their raw formate it can be hard to understand how they will transform when blended.  Blend modes work on the marriage between the tonal range of both the image and the texture so a dark image with a light texture and a light image with a dark texture will always yield very different results.

I hope this has been helpful and gives you a better understanding that textures cannot be judged by their raw appearance.  Sx

VISIT THE WEBSITE FOR FULL DETAILS The Artisan Texture Collection will be withdrawn in 2015 and is currently on sale at just $30 USD (from $60 USD). Full terms and conditions of sale apply, see website. 

$30 USD 

8 October 2014

Create your own kind of BEAUTIFUL

Beyond everything I do there is a personal requirement to create imagery that invokes a personal sense of hidden and illusive beauty.  

Like poetry or a soft whisper that dances and echoes around me. So faint that it's easily lost to the noise of everyday life, but it's always there. Like an accent wisdom or dear friend. 

In the stillness it can be observed, a waking meditation, through visual questing, I invoke my most authentic and strongest self.  

Have a wonderfully amazing day..Sx