Friday, September 12, 2014

Abstracting from a Photo - A Prototype

As a warm-up exercise for next spring’s project “A Sense of Place” (for which we are designing two quilts from our own photos of the Allison Inn Resort in Newberg, Oregon), we chose a single photo that each member worked on independently to produce one or more 11x14 finished pieces that we felt were abstractions of that photo. The results varied widely from sparse paring-down of the photo and adhering to the colors of the original photo, to brightly colored renditions emphasizing particular elements that struck the individual artist. Methods of design ranged from Photoshop deconstruction to blow-ups of small areas of the photo to interpretation of the “essence” into a new design. Technique varied widely as well with piecing, raw edge appliqué, fusing, and several outer edge finishes appropriate for small pieces. The resulting works have distinct personalities that are exciting individually and surprising as a group since they all come from the same photo.


I am attracted to strong angular shapes.  Retaining the three umbrellas, I focused my interest on the structure of the umbrella frames with a nod to the color pallet of the building and surrounding vegetation.


#1  My process was to crop the photo to give it a portrait orientation and to simplify the structure of the umbrellas. I enjoyed the triangular shape and playing with it to design different views of the umbrellas in relationship to one another.
#2  Working with the first piece I designed from a different perspective, reduced it to only a portion of the first adding partial repetition of what what I saw. Changed my technique of application to show softer edges of the lines.

# 3  
Continued to play with the graphic lines of the triangle to form several umbrellas juxtaposition on top of each other. It allows the colors, shapes and lines to play with your senses.


My first piece distills the photo to its basic elements as I saw them from a black and white rendering, while the second enjoys some play on the original photo of both color and shape.


Architectural linear elements showcase three umbrellas casting shadows below.


#1  Making baby steps toward abstraction
#2  An open umbrella stretched apart blocked the sun


Trying to abstract with simple shapes, color and lines.


The original photo was abstracted in Photoshop using many tools such as the pen, gradient, and transformation tools on many layers. When I was satisfied with the composition, the layers were combined to just two and printed on my home printer.


My first piece highlights the umbrella's shape and the shadow it produces.  It feels to literal. The second piece is limited to a simple play of hexagons representing umbrellas, light and shadows. The third piece, my favorite, simplifies the umbrella and its purpose: light and shadow.