The Accidental Image

One of the surprising things about working in mixed media —- collaging real and handmade objects and digital manipulations –– is how unexpected the results can be.  Digital effects can produce remarkable effects which are also easy to overdo — (the Twirl effect is one ) — in which case they quickly become monotonous  — so these applications should be used judiciously.

Experimentation is key, and the effects that don’t work may be discarded with no loss either to the original image (always work with a copy, and work in non-destructive layers) or to your idea. What’s exciting is how an unexpected effect, achieved through trial and error, or just taking a chance,  may significantly enhance an image. Once you’re in the mind set, of anything goes you can be on the lookout for materials. I rarely go for a walk without my iPhone 12, which has become my camera of choice since my illustration took this new direction. 

On one of my walks I took a shot of the fairly sharp shadows of some shrubbery on a low wall above the sidewalk, with only a vague idea of what I was going to do with this image. In my editing software, Affinity Photo, I created a png file with a transparent background so that the shadows could be overlaid on another composite — the one with the figures and foreground. All I expected, really, was a shadowy backdrop of trees —- but what I actually got was what “made” the image — the effect of dappled light on the figures, from the light areas between the branches, once that layer was made transparent. It was just what the image needed — and I had no idea either that I wanted it or how I would have achieved it if I hadn’t just been experimenting, knowing that I couldn’t really mess anything up. 

This image is one of 15 composite illustrations for a book in progress, “Searching for Persephone.”

“Green Thumbs” illustration for “Searching for Persephone”

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