Imaginary Birds…

…is the title of a series of digital prints I did that ended up in my senior show and part of which is on display at Webster’s right now.

top to bottom: Lace-winged Whydah, Siskiyou Warbler, Palila
left: Colorado Hairstreak, right: Splendid Fairy Wren

Having these in my show was something of an accident, but a good one. In the summer between junior and senior year I took Large Format Digital Printing as a two-week intensive. I really had no idea what I wanted to do, but at the time there were fruit trees blooming all over campus, and the weather and lighting was perfect, and I took so many photos. ‘Siskiyou Warbler’ was the first I did; I basically had this photo that was nice to start with, and then started playing with color intensity and saturation, and then I began adding in different art nouveau patterns and overlayng them, altering the colors, choosing the colors that were interacting best with the photo below and altering huge sections of the pattern to match. I printed it out at 2 x 3 feet, and that was that. I had to make more.  I whipped up the other two horizontal ones, ‘Colorado Hairstreak’, and another vertical that I just didn’t care much for and never successfully resolved before the class ended.

A few weeks before shows, I was in the computer lab going through old files, looking for something (I can’t even remember what now!), and found these. And it clicked. All my other work combined art nouveau patterns (the same patterns, in a few cases) with animal forms, and the plant forms seemed to continue that dialogue. But I only had four that I liked, and wanted five (all about the odd numbers. balance.). I hadn’t even bothered to save the trouble piece, but I had another that I’d started that never went anywhere. I scrapped everything but the original picture and went from there, and that’s ‘Splendid Fairy Wren’.

It really made my show pop, I think. Most of my other work was etchings, and the colors were much more neutral. I really want to do more digital work, and to try to bring some of my experimentation with color out into my paintings and traditional prints. They’re so totally different.

Calling it Imaginary Birds wasn’t even something that occurred to me until after the show. I combined (or just borrowed) various plant, insect, and bird names that sounded obscure and pretty, and a lot of visitors at my show asked where in the prints the birds were. There aren’t any, although I’m very tempted to do a run where there’s one lurking in every piece, Where’s Waldo-style. :)


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