Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Artistic Process

There has been a time or two when showing my art at shows that people have disregarded my work as something that can easily be done with an automatic kaleidoscope program.  They have said, “Oh I can do this on my IPad!”   Oh the sharp knife in my belly bleeds with pain and frustration that that person does not understand the technical and tedious process I follow to create my kaleidoscope/mandala designs. 
Yes, the IPad and other devices have an automatic program, BUT the kaleidoscope program is automatic and it will distort the subject of your photo.  The program does exactly what it should do; create an image that is like literally looking through a kaleidoscope.  They are beautiful but I want to be able to isolate my subject and then kaleidoscope everything else around it. My process is a free hand process. I have to be exact and the slightest variance will ruin my design.   Here are some of  steps that I take to create my designs.
My images begin with one of my original photographs.  My first step is capturing an image that has depth, color and texture.  Without these elements the design will lack depth and interest.   This is the first misconception of my process, that any photograph will suffice.  I take hundreds of photographs that I never use as a design.  It simply does not contain the elements I desire.   I actually have an image of what a design will look like before I ever take the photo.

Bleeding Heart Original Photo.

Bleeding Heart - My finished design using the photograph above.

 Below is an automatic program using the same photograph as my design above.

As you can see there is a distinct difference.   Please understand that I am not disrespecting the automatic programs and those who use it.  I simply want to explain the difference between the two and highlight that my process is more complex than you might think!

1) I scout out the subject of my photograph.  In some cases I stage the photograph.  I grow flowers that I want in incorporate into a design.  I chose my focal point like a daisy or rose, and then chose foliage or other flowers that I feel will compliment the focal point.   In the case of wildlife.... well that is an entirely different animal (excuse the pun)!   When I want to create a design with wildlife I have to scout out a location where they visit frequently, and has an interesting background.  I am at the mercy of not only the subject of my photo, but mother nature!  Will the weather cooperate?  Will the lighting be just so?  Will my subject pose exactly where I want it to?  It can take me days or weeks to get the shot I am looking for.  

There are times where I will visit a butterfly  house like the example below.  Cheating you say???  Well not as easy as you might think.  First of all, and this is me whining, butterfly houses are HOT and HUMID.  So I must be prepared to be dehydrated, soaked with sweat and exhausted by the time I am done.    My camera and lenses have to acclimate.  The difference in temperature and humidity fogs up the lenses.  Then I have to find my target.  Now butterflies do not exactly rest often.  They are on the hunt for nectar and flutter from one flower to the other.  Their wings are in constant motion and IF he lands on the flower I want him to I better be quick as I may not get the wings in the position I want!  This is a huge challenge,,,, to get the photograph I desire.  I will spend hours waiting for one chance for the shot I want.

I followed this Tree Nymph Butterfly for an hour before he landed in just the right spot and angle!
2)  Whew.....relief.....I captured the shot I was hoping for!  Now I begin the process of creating the design.  I isolate my subject by making a geometric cut from my photo.  There is no special cropping tool that will automatically crop out the proper angle and size...this is a free hand cut.  It must be the correct angle and there is very little room for variance.

3) I create copies of this image, half I will "mirror image".  The kaleidoscope affect is created by alternating the original and a mirrored image.

4)  I then have to rotate and align each cut.  The cuts do not automatically rotate and align against the mating image.  This as well is manual and free hand.

You can begin to see the kaleidoscope/mandala affect when alternating the original with the mirrored image.

Each image is manually rotated and aligned to it's mate.  Again there is very little room for variance, if I do not align precisely, the symmetry is skewed.

I do not know if my cut was precise enough until I reach this last piece.  If there was too much of a variance the image will not properly fit and the design is no good.  I have to start over!

This is the final design!  It is a rare occasion that I get the correct cut the first time.  It often takes me several attempts before I have the precise cut!  The frustrating aspect is, it is impossible to get the exact same cut every time.  I may have made an inaccurate cut and I adore the pattern in the center of my design and can not replicate the cut with the correct angle.  Each cut will be different!  I have shed many tears over a design that will be discarded because the cut was wrong..knowing I cannot replicate it!

5) I then rotate the design to the most pleasing angle/view, create a background for posting and this is the image I will use to create my ceramic tiles.

I  have finished creating my design.  I will now have to create product!  Here are a few examples of the products I transform my images into.  You can view and purchase all of my designs at my Melbe Creations website.  While you are there visit my portfolio and see all of my designs! I have over 150 designs in my portfolio.

Wall Décor
Monarch Melody in a hand crafted oak frame


Feathered Fauna


Aurora's Aria

Pendants and Charms

My Heart's Desire

Compact Mirror
Tiny Dancer

Fortunate Finnegan

Ceramic Tiles
Bear Essentials

Cast Iron Trivets
Ring of Gold

Trinket Boxes

Petals of Poise