Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Being an Artist

by Terri

I always wanted to be an artist. My mother is a wonderful artist and I hoped it would be inherited, but no such luck. I can barely draw a stick figure. I can remember watching her with her chalks and watercolors, the pictures appearing as if by magic on the paper. The one above is one of several of hers that I have hanging in my home and I treasure them.

My photography is my art and I love it but a while back I discovered that I COULD be an artist, not with paper and paint but with a camera and Photoshop. I had taken a photo of a cactus in bloom with huge white flowers and I was searching the internet for the name of it. In my search, I came upon a gallery of a photographer who shoots a lot in my part of the country and he had taken a photo of this same cactus. On his website, he had a section called Photo Paintings.  Clicking on that link opened up a whole new world for me.  I e-mailed him to ask him how he had created this type of artistic work with his photographs. He wasn’t particularly helpful, saying only that he used filters in Photoshop.  So I decided to give it a try. Here is the first attempt, the before and the after:

Unfortunately I didn’t keep track of what I did, so I couldn’t recreate it on another photo.  But I definitely knew I wanted to know more, so my researching began and I learned ways to apply the filters so that I could recreate the results.

The filters that I use the most are in the Filter menu under Artistic. I love Dry Brush and Watercolor. If you are applying them to a full-sized image, it can sometimes take several layers of the filter to get the effect you want but you have a lot more control over the end result. I make sure to use a duplicate copy of my image so I always have my original to go back to.  Here is another before and after sample, where I do know the steps I took:

All I did with this one was apply two layers of Dry Brush.  Here's another one that has a few more filter layers:

On this particular image, I applied the Dry Brush three times, then the Watercolor, then Poster Edges and then, for good measure, a final layer of Dry Brush. Those are the three that I use most often, but definitely play around with the others to find your own favorites.

Convert your image to a Smart Object first. That way each filter layer will be on a separate layer and you can turn them on and off until you get the result you’re looking for. If you haven't used Smart Objects, look up how to use them for either Photoshop or Elements. You will be happy you did!

And just so you know, this technique can be used on other things besides flowers. I just happen to shoot a lot of flowers but try it on landscape shots, shots of the ocean, etc. 

Have you ever wished you were an artist?  Maybe you can be. I hope you take some time to play around with this and have some fun and please post if you have any questions. I would love to see some samples of your converted shots in the Flickr gallery!  
Popping back in here to say that I created this post before reading Dotti's post yesterday about diptychs, but the photos in my post are another example of diptychs -- before and afters!



Sarah Huizenga said...

Wonderful creations Terri. I am like you wish I could draw, but not patient enough to try to learn at this point. The beauty of photography, that is were I want to invest my time and energy.

Jeanne said...

Think you have done an awesome job using these filters, and it is so much fun... and yes you did follow up with Dottie's post. How serendipitous is that! Love your work

Dotti said...

Don't you just love serendipity? Truly works of art, Terri! I love them all and was about to tell you that my favorite was the pink one ... until I got to the seascape. As you know, I'm a beach lover and that one set my little heart pitter-patter. This would be especially fun to do when the weather outside is frightful, dig into our archives and paint away. Thanks for the inspiration!

Linda said...

I do love your work here! A painterly effect can be so lovely on a picture! It does take some time but so does painting a picture! I can't draw a stick figure to save my life either! Thanks for the tips!

Kim Stevens said...

Well, one of these days if I can ever find some time I WILL, remembering my word of the year "Possible" learn photoshop...huge sigh! Now Terri, can you imagine the technique I use in camera painting, with THIS! Very nice!

patricia said...

Loved your work. I, too, have started playing with turning a photo into a painting. In addition to the filters in Photoshop, I use Topaz Simplify and Corel Painter Essentials4. Also adding a canvas texture can make a big different. I hope you share more of your work in the near future.

janice said...

Terri, I love your painted collection... they would make great greeting cards.

heyjudephotography said...

Wow! All of these images are beautiful. Thanks for the tips you give us. I actually have always wished I could paint. I need to explore this!

CarolHart said...

Such a great post Terri and thank you for sharing your technique. I will definitely give it a go!

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Progress Lighting said...

That is an effect that can touch one's emotion. That is the power of watercolor. But, you know what, your picture alone is a work of art. So beautiful.

Cathy H. said...

These are beautiful, Terri! It's amazing how you can change an image with a click of a button. I don't have Photoshop, but it keeps looking better and better. I'm afraid I would just spend way too much time on the computer!!

stephmull said...

I was just admiring one of your postcards you sent me last summer where you used this technique! You DO create beautiful art!!

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