Sunday, February 10, 2008

Not Bloody Enough

How do I create these images? (For the show advertised below.) It's kind of a technique of my own invention. When Rachel Loden and I were doing "Affidavit," my art work for that was black and white, drawn directly on my computer screen using Microsoft Paint and one tool -- the one called "free-form select," shaped like a star on your MSPaint toolbox. I'd draw a shape, then invert it (using a little trick I had to discover -- you can't just invert with MSPaint), and keep working positive and negative space against each other until I had an image I liked. It's the same technique I use for the Film Noir images.

Then, because Rachel's amazing poem was about a gruesome murder, I decided I'd put some blood into each picture, which meant adding red, which scared me a little, because I'd always worked in black and white, and had no confidence in my ability to use color. So I started sending the new bloody images to Rachel, and she kept responding "Great! But not bloody enough." So I kept changing the color, looking for ever-gorier shades of red. Which should have been relatively easy -- you just take the paint bucket tool, and pour the new red over the old. (Note: this image has one of the early, discarded blood colors -- can't locate where I filed the final version at the moment.)

Except it wasn't. I discovered that MSPaint was an inefficient program that could not save color true. Once you saved an image, when you retrieved it, the middle of it was true, but it pixillated around the edges. It became discolored, mottled, and the new color wouldn't cover that part. None of this is a problem with PhotoShop, but fortunately I didn't have PhotoShop then, so I had to work with the frustration, and ultimately get it to work for me. While the mottled effect was driving me nuts for "Affidavit," it was also intriguing me, and it occurred to me that if you worked with dots of color, and saved frequently, every part of the image would have that effect. So I gathered up all my courage and made the jump into color -- computer pointillism, beginning an image with separated dots of color, and gradually merging them.

It is a horribly painstaking process -- each one of these can take up to three months to finish. But it keeps me off the streets.

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