In my last post, “Reflections on Light”, I mentioned that soon I’d be doing a sort of experiment with light boxes . . . trying different things with a raised mirror in a black box that I can fit over my scanner, and then try different scanning effects. I’m most intrigued by what happens when the light from the scanner goes up to the mirror and then reflects back to the scanner.
I didn’t think it would happen so soon, but I began my trial and error adventure yesterday. As luck or fate would have it, two days ago I found just the right beginner box! In what has become a monthly tradition, a couple of days ago I visited one of my favorite thrift shops. I do that when I drop my mother off for her haircut. While the shop is on the other side of the city, it’s only a few minutes from her hairdresser’s place. That gives me a solid, just-right half hour to browse. I often pick a little surprise, a treat, such as an art book or a movie. Yesterday I found a black wooden box, about 10 inches square (25 cm) on the open end, and just under 5 inches deep (12 cm). The bottom has a mirror in it, so when I rest the open end on my scanner . . . voila, my own little light box!
So $5 and a day later I began to play. I had to add a little duct tape to two ends to get a snug fit, enough to block out outside light during the scanning. Then I scanned a few objects, such as three twigs from my twig-loaded excuse of a yard. After trying a couple of other things, I felt a little disappointed . . . frankly the results have been mixed at best, but I’ve learned long ago what can become of an “ugly duckling” when it comes to this aspect of what I do. So basically right now I’m very optimistic!
Next I went back to my original curiosity, “What if I just scan the light from the scanner . . . the saved image would simply be of the scanning light, reflected back from the mirror.”
The results are intriguing. Here is that original scan, slightly cleaned up because of a few unavoidable specks of dust . . . by the way, I use a very basic 3-in-1 printer for my scanning . . . 300 dots per inch. It’s about as basic as one can get.
I’m much more used to extremely high quality scans, ones taken with a $500,000 Scitex system. That was back in my days of working with a wonderful graphic arts studio . . . my gardening catalog days. There’s no way Marvin and his crew would ever let me try this kind of stuff on that equipment . . . I have no idea whether the mirror will screw up the printer, but it’s not a big issue given the upside, creatively.
Anyways, here is a look at that image – the scanned light – it’s been enhanced to 500 dpi, though you only see it on here at 72 dpi.
The first thing that struck me is the amount of color in there, in soft pastel shades. More on that in a bit . . . the other thing I’ve noticed is that the banding (vertical lines) are not exactly straight. I haven’t thought through the reason for this banding, but that can wait.
Instead, I just had to play with these colors, bring them out more, try a few effects. It started off well, though I had in mind that this would be only the start of a project that would months in the making. Most of my art takes anywhere from 30 to well over 100 hours, often spread over a period of 5 to 10 years. The difference is really in the amount of down-by-hand drawing and painting. In this project there is very little of that . . . these images below were created by using various reshaping and coloring tools . . . all really very basic, and time-intensive.
Now I”m going to show you a small series of intermediate renditions – for now I have 23 overall, but I’ve picked 6 for this post – here they are chronologically:
Now this next image is what I consider a finished work or art, and a prized one at that, at least for me. I don’t say that out of arrogance, but out of a real belief that if one doesn’t see one’s own work as special or even precious, than how can that person expect others to see it that way? For me it’s a nice motto to live by.
So here it is, untitled for now. It’s odd how it came out in such relevance to that other post, Reflections on Light. There is what appears to be a window, but also a frame, which is very much like the part of the photograph at the bottom of that previous post. And the story in this picture below is very much a visual display of my musings in that other post. Keep in mind, all I intended to do is see how light reflects from a mirror to a scanner . . . and then doing some art without intent:
Finally, it’s been a real pleasure doing a presentation-like post. Most of my art doesn’t lend itself to this kind of story-telling. As I mentioned before, most of my art is spread over several years and so many more hours, so documenting all of it like this is more than a little too much.
And I almost forgot, the feature image at the top, the bright abstract piece . . . that too is from this same first image of a scan of light.