From Image to Abstract

by imageguy

For the last year I’ve had two blogs going. This one, which I have to admit I have not kept up with as frequently as when I began. And my other blog, Artcards, which was to be a once weekly image that had been manipulated to some degree in photoshop to make a photograph into photoart. It’s been almost a year now and the Artcards site has over 160 images up now, so once a week has become more like three times a week. But as an exercise, it has led me to some interesting results and helped expand my knowledge and comfort levels with photoshop, given me a much better understanding of the many nuances of the program, and also shown me how much more there is to learn about this powerful artistic tool.

So over the last few months, as I have worked with more and more of my old and new images, I have also begun to build a collection of abstract art that derives, through many, many layers and multiple steps, from a single (or sometimes multiple) image to evolve into an abstract piece of art. The goal here is to create images that will work on large canvases.

Working in an art museum, I see so many large contemporary paintings, and feel like photography manipulated in photoshop to the point of abstraction, can have the same kind of feel and impact when applied to large canvases through today’s large format inkjet printers. In fact, the detail possible would be very hard and time consuming to obtain if working with brush and paints. So through the technology of computer and camera and high resolution printers, a new world of contemporary art emerges.

All of these images began as standard photographs. I use a variety of actions to apply multiple adjustments in a single stroke. I build layers upon layers, often inverting and changing hue balances, then blending those layers, to create color combinations and textures that achieve a look I like. I will flatten several times, taking snapshots as I go so that I can back up or look at earlier versions. I might crop and only take a small piece. Then I might apply filters and styles to enhance the feel even more, or to refine dimensional qualities. Some of these images might go through a hundred steps before I’m satisfied with the result, or I may save three or four versions of the same image, unable to decide which is my favorite.

This is a sample progression of an image as it takes shape.  Begin with a photograph…

Crop, build several layers and color effects…

Add blur layers…

Build more layers, adjust colors and blend modes…

Add filters to create texture or definition…

and finally overlay an additional color shape with stroke to frame and isolate the center, then blend and adjust opacity.

I stopped here. It just felt right to me and didn’t seem to need anything else…

…except that big canvas and a large blank wall.

All images are Copyright © George Cannon, All Rights Reserved.

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