Today’s project has been to transform another of my many Venice shots into a work of painterly art. I settled on an image from my archives taken on my second trip to Venice back in August 2013. It is a shot of a window display of one of the umpteen mask shops in between St. Marc’s Square and the Rialto Bridge. I couldn’t possibly give credit to the artist of the focal piece hanging in the window as I haven’t a clue who they were, but whoever they are, I am grateful for the inspiration they’ve given me for this piece.
I don’t always know where I am going to go with a shot when I embark on such a project. It depends greatly on initial experimental impressions. My objective however, is to find a colour palette that I find visually pleasing and, more importantly, emotionally uplifting. It has to get me excited before I’ll consider it worthy of release.
As I worked with the image, I realised that what I liked about the overall shapes within it was that it reminded me of an Art Nouveau poster design, the likes of which Czech born painter Alphonse Mucha became famous for, defining in his wake the style of Art Nouveau that we all so readily recognise these days. He was an innovator because he chose quite single-mindedly to deviate from the classic painting style that had prevailed at the time. His work was beautiful, highly detailed, sensual and exciting. He also led the charge in a new style of advertising that was rich in colour and highly stylised, which helped define the foundations of modern advertising. And to me, that is one of the tenets of art, to create something new and inspiring from the recognisably mundane. To transform the ordinary into something magical and uplifting, no matter the medium.
The history of visual advertising is no more than 150 years old, yet it is such a normal part of our daily lives, that we seldom question its origins, the roots of which are firmly founded in classical art, and the radical left turns taken by certain artists who chose to break with convention and create their own rules. Art is a powerful tool.
A shop window display such as the one that caught my eye and inspired me to shoot this image, is a product of exposure to the kind of visual advertising that artists like Alphonse Mucha inspired. What had been a product of groundbreaking social change, has over time become normalised and considered part of the ‘natural’ urban landscape. So I suppose it’s no wonder that this image made me think of those stylistic influences.
Once I had my theme in mind, it was a case of manipulating the image further to achieve the effect I was looking for. I was trying to emulate the stylings of an Alphonse Mucha poster, with contemporary overtones. I am extremely pleased with the end result, despite the various versions in between that I happened to like, a few of which you can view in the gallery below as I progressed from my base image to the final piece. In the reflection of the window in the first image, my hand is just visible as I take the shot. My reflected selfie shots have become a bit of a theme for me since I resumed my passion for photography a few years ago. I like that I’m in the image too in some way, not only through my creative vision. It’s like a photographic signature I suppose.
Incidentally the reference to the Borg is a bit of a running joke between Bill and I, and most fitting as a title for my chosen image, the focus of the piece being a Borg-like lady in the centre of a disc of mechanical hardware junk. Very Steam Punk. There is also a darker side to the reference, that of assimilated social change, that had once been seen as anarchic possibly, but that with the passage of time becomes the acceptable norm, for good and bad. In fact my playing around with this image inspired an off the cuff poem which I posted over on one of my other blogs Diary of a Person Being Human – Borg Lady. Please feel free to pop on over and take a look.
Thanks for reading!