The imagery used in this collage comes from photos that I have personally taken. I intended to show contrast of the false world, or imagination represented by the painting, and realism, which was represented by the photos. One element I felt excited about showing and led to my decision to choose this particular subject was the rough, heavily textured surface of the canvas and how the laying of the paint is influenced by this texture to further emphasize the contrast between the real and the “unreal.” I had also hoped the color and hue would give the piece a calm and pleasant atmosphere, as this collage was intended to visually represent a number of activities that I find soothing.
The painting shows a bridge in a fairly remote area of Titlow Park near Tacoma, Washington, which is where I grew up. I find walks in this area to be very relaxing, especially when I’m spending this time with my dog, whose image was also used. Painting is also a hobby that, especially recently, I find is an enjoyable way to relax while also expressing my feelings about things that I care about. Considering that these are activities that help me distance myself from reality a bit, I thought that it might be interesting to place realistic photos in an unrealistic space.
I used a variety of selection tools in Photoshop, notably the Quick Selection Tool for initial removal of background pixels for the smaller images. As this tool did not remove every unwanted piece from these photos, I used the Quick Mask Tool and a small brush to paint over the specific pixels that I wanted to remove. I found, however, that the images looked even more out-of-place than I had intended due to the sharp lines, so I redid the Quick Mask selection, but this time after altering the amount of feathering to higher setting so the images would blend with the painting a bit better. I also lowered the brightness on both images so that they are “silhouetted” by the light behind them. The hue was changed slightly on the image of my own figure, as the photo was taken in front of a red-orange sunset and would have, I felt, thrown off the visual balance in the piece. I also used the Quick Mask Tool on the painting’s layer to select areas that I would want to be shadowed in a way that I hoped would mimic the light source in the painting that filters through the trees from the top-left. Namely, these shadows are located below my dog’s image and my own. Instead of clearing the space in the way that I did the remove the excess pixels on the previous images, I lowered the brightness and increased the contrast of these areas to mimic shadows.
I feel that this collage was best constructed digitally; if I had used a cut and paste method, it would likely have ruined the painting, which I would have preferred not to do.