Monday, September 7, 2009

The Process...

digital assembleage
September, 2009
Copyright Rick St. Dennis MFA

How do you start out to create a digital assemblage piece?

With an idea; I am sharing a piece here that I just finished that has a Carnival/Halloween theme but it is (as you can see) more complex than that.
(Larger version available on my online Portfolio under assemblage

What it is about exactly is up to the viewer.

Is the woman the source of the intrigue or is she caught up in it? How do the children fit in and who is the man?

I’ve added clues-the lipstick print, the spilled liquid (is it blood) the spider is crawling away from the web but look at how the shapes touch and where is the woman looking?

To me my compositions must tell a story.

This particular piece started with the strange picture of the masked children lined up against a wall-they reminded me of prisoners about to get shot-executed…

The masks were strange and alien and from there I evolved a story of a carnival passing through town at Halloween-I remembered Ray Bradbury’s story about the “AUTUMN PEOPLE” and I decided the man was the culprit here.

The children are the victims and the woman is caught in the web of love, lust and murder.

Add a little bit of the arcane and wrap them all in circles that entrap them and you have the” Carnivale Bizarro”…a place where no one wants their child to go.

The background for this piece is entirely layered out of transparent layers that are composed of yellows and purples-a touch of hot pink-the shapes of the stars pierce the layers so that textures are fragmented.

I then added the man and ravaged him by editing out parts of the picture make him “not a whole person”, remember I think in puns and euphemisms.

The devil masks went in next then the children then the woman and in between various circular elements that make a web of their own, entrapping the players in a maze from which there is no escape.

By erasing the image of the web into the image of the woman I also made her fragile-she is caught in a web but she is also shattered like glass-that is how my thought processes work.

I can't just make pretty pictures-there needs to be a narrative in the background with some substance for me to be happy.

I had actually finished the entire piece and saved it and I just wasn’t satisfied so I went back in an added the half skull mask-finally “fingering” the man as the agent of death.

I somehow wanted more words but I just couldn’t find a place where they added to the composition or satisfied me so I did as I advise students-I edited myself and left anything else out…

The wonderful thing about digital art is that I can go back at any point in the future and add or subtract from this composition since I save everything in an open layers format-I then save a flattened version ay a high resolution and compress one for the web.

Many people don’t know that anything over 72 ppi is wasted as that’s what the web handles.

I like CS4 so much now that I have made friends with it-we still argue now and then but it does have some wonderful features that make life a great deal easier.
I hope this short explanation answers the initial question in this post, “How do you start…”?

I suppose the easy answer would be with COLOURS but for me the finish is inherent in the starting it’s a process and often finishing one piece starts the next-that’s how my alphabet came to be.

OH...picking the colour for the type was the hardest part of finishing this piece-I was drawn to a colour more garish for the "Carnivale" title but I couldn't make it work-I accidentally tried this dull teal and it was perfect for my vision.

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