Commissioned Photo/Digital Art

I’ve enjoyed having a reason to get creative with some photos during the last week! These images are two possibilities I have presented to a client who commissioned me to create a piece of art commemorating his retirement. We met at the end of January at the Sugar Creek Art Center to discuss what it was he had in mind for this project.  The most important thing was the inclusion of the quote “The Best Part of Life is When Your Family Becomes Your Friends and Your Friends Become Your Family”. Beyond that requirement we brainstormed a bit as we walked around the center looking at colors, styles and subject matter of different art pieces that were on display.  I came away with a list of several things that were important symbols and memories from his life. Although I knew I couldn’t include all of them on a single piece of art it gave me ideas to work with as I began creating.  I gathered up around 20 different images related to what we had discussed and put them in a folder to draw from when I began combining images.  The first image ended up very muted and calm. I added a layer from a printmaking project to give it some extra texture and interest. Although one of his requests was for a stand of trees to be included I still feel like the emphasis of this piece is water…both flowing & still.

version #1 of “The Best Part” photo/digital art (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

I like the way the waterfall flows into the image!

The second piece is a bit bolder and has a definite “ocean” feel to it. The ocean & sea oats were other items mentioned in our talk but I wanted to make sure to include trees and rocks too, as he mentioned those several times. The colors were actually brighter than this to begin with and had lots of bright pinks and peach colors which I toned down or changed before finalizing the piece.  Bright pastel colors weren’t in our discussion!

version #2 of “The Best Part” photo/digital art (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

I really like the silhouette of the tree(s) in this image!

I’ve e-mailed copies of each of these images to my client and will wait to see what the feedback is. Which one he likes, if he wants any changes to the image, if neither suit him and I start from scratch…all those thoughts whirl through my head. Which would you choose?

Waiting patiently,


Photo Art: Part 3 of 3

The previous posts in this demo showed ways to adjust a photo using filters to make it more artistic, and how to blend layers together to create new images. Starting with the original image (shown below), I’ve shown you nine new versions so far:

original photo/background image (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

When all four new versions were blended with this image as a background, this was the result:

"not dealing with reality" photo art (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

Today we’re going to look at a few other variations of the same image made by selecting certain layers of the composition and leaving others out.  The following image shows each of the layers that will be used followed by the resulting image:

Layers 1,2,4 + background (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

By removing the mostly white third layer the final image is much bolder than when all layers are used.  This next image uses even fewer layers!

Layers 1,4 and background only (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

The final image uses even less layers by removing the background layer and blending two of the filtered layers by themselves:

layers 1 & 4 only (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the possibilities are endless. Add or remove a layer, change the way the layers are blended, adjust the opacity of a layer, apply more filters…the sky is the limit.  I usually run out of steam way before the possibilities run out!  If you weren’t familiar with photo art, layers or filters I hope this both inspires you to play with them and helps you understand how they work. I’m available by email if you have a quick question and I also do one-on-one or small group instruction on photo and/or digital art. I encourage you to take some time and just play with your photo images to see what happens, that’s how I’ve learned and how I continue to learn!

Exploring the endless,


Photo Art: Part 2 of 3

Yesterday, in Part 1, I introduced some steps to create art from a photograph. Today I’m going to show you how all these new layers and images can blend together to create yet more art. As a reminder, here are the layers that I am working with:

original photo/background image for art (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker
1st layer, filtered (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker
2nd layer, filtered (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker
3rd layer, filtered (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker
4th layer, filtered (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

To see each of these new layers blended with the original image be sure and visit the previous post! This next photo shows the “Layers” window on the screen in Photoshop Elements with all of the layers visible.

"Layers" window

With all the layers blended and visible (layers are visible in your art when the “eye” on the left of the layers window next to it is visible) the final image looks like this:

"not dealing with reality" photo art (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

In part 3 of this demo I will show you what can be created by making one or more of the layers “invisible” and taking it out of the image.

More tomorrow!


Photo Art: Part 1 of 3

After looking through my earlier posts about digital/photo art I realized I hadn’t ever done any kind of “how to” posts. Well, that ends today! 🙂 I’m going to do a show & tell of fairly simple steps you can take to change a normal photo into something more artistic. I’m starting with an image I took of leftover collage scraps.  I like that they have lots of bold colors & lines. Plus I’m just a sucker for words so that didn’t hurt anything either!

"not dealing with reality" photograph (c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

For this demo I am using Photoshop Elements. I am sure there are other programs out there that use filters & layers, which is all we’ll need for this exercise. The first step I took was to make a duplicate layer of the same image (this can be done by right clicking on image in the layers window shown below or by selecting “duplicate layer” in layers tab at the top of the screen). I then used a filter on the duplicate (the first of the following three images) to create a new image.  The filters tab is at the top of the page, when you click on it there is a drop-down menu with a large selection of filters for you to experiment with. The filtered layer was then combined with the original layer, which I’m using as a background.  There are many different blended tools available to combine the layers of an image, I chose the “overlay” effect to blend the two together, which in turn created another new image (the last of the three images shown below).

(c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

Next I made another copy of the background layer/original image. I applied a different filter to that layer, creating another new image and then – like the first new layer – blended this new image with the background/original.

(c) 2010, Lynne Medsker

This is a photo of the layers window that shows each of the individual layers in the “Layers” window. The one that is highlighted is the one that you are currently editing (background copy 3 in this case). In this photo I clicked on the blending modes so you could see all the different options available for blending your images. I routinely try most of them to view how they blend before deciding which version I like best.

blending changes in Photoshop Elements

After the second layer I added two more layers with different filters, effects and blending tools, shown here:

third layer
forth layer

I know I’ve thrown a lot out all in one post but I didn’t know how else to divide up the steps! Part 2 of 3 will show how all these layers come together into one image and beyond.

Click, click, click,



Sometimes after I’ve created a digital and/or photo art piece I revisit it to see if there are some modifications I could make to improve it.  It works in some cases, in others – not so much.  I recently did a set of images created from photos I took in someone’s flower gardens.  I really liked the original images but wanted to submit them somewhere else where the stipulations were “no extensive use of the color red”.  And of course how had I decided to color these images?  Yup, mostly red hues!  So back to the drawing board (or more specifically Photoshop screen) I went.  Here are the original images, followed by the modified ones.

Dream Garden #1 photo/digital art (c) 2009, Lynne Medsker
"Dream Garden #1" photo/digital art (c) 2009, Lynne Medsker
modified Dream Garden #1 (c) 2009, Lynne Medsker
modified "Dream Garden #1" (c) 2009, Lynne Medsker
Dream Garden #3 photo/digital art (c) 2009, Lynne Medsker
"Dream Garden #3" photo/digital art (c) 2009, Lynne Medsker
modified Dream Garden #3 (c) 2009, Lynne Medsker
modified "Dream Garden #3" (c) 2009, Lynne Medsker
Dream Garden #2 photo/digital art (c) 2009, Lynne Medsker
"Dream Garden #2" photo/digital art (c) 2009, Lynne Medsker
modified Dream Garden #2 (c) 2009, Lynne Medsker
modified "Dream Garden #2" (c) 2009, Lynne Medsker

I have mixed emotions about the outcomes.  The top image I pretty much like the before & after version about the same, the middle image I think I prefer it with the changes and the last image I like the “before” version best.  What’s your opinion? I really love the flexibility of working within the digital realm.  The ability to change color schemes, sizes, orientation and content are all just a button-click away.  The downside, of course, is the uncertainty of knowing which colors to choose, how to best present the image and just trying to make up my mind which version I want to display.  Pros, cons and personal preference abound – as with most things in life!

Staying flexible,


Creating a digital collage

I am in the middle of 6-week classes giving instruction on creating nature-based artwork.  I thought it might be fun to put some of the info online that I’ll be sharing with my classes when we meet again.  During our first two weeks of class we took photos at different locations, capturing small & large details outdoors during the onset of fall.  The focus was to look for both interesting patterns (not only in nature but man-made as well) and to find specific individual elements that interested us as well.  The next two weeks we went indoors to play with, and create, interesting textures, patterns and elements using various printmaking projects.  Those projects, or details of them, were then photographed for later use.  The last two weeks of the course we will be pulling all these elements together, both using photo/digital tools and also as mixed media pieces on canvas.  As I was sorting through my images this evening I selected a few and made a digital collage to demonstrate one way to create art from your images.  This was created using the Photoshop Elements program.  

The base image that I started with is a print that I used as a basic demonstration during class. 

acrylic monoprint
acrylic monoprint

The next layer was a photograph of a leaf laying on a brick walk that was taken outdoors during one of our photo shoots, I enlarged it slightly so part of the original image (below) was not used in the final image:

photo, leaf on bricks
photo, leaf on bricks

 I then added two more layers of photo images, a backlit leaf laying in the grass and a single weed shot with a dark background:

photo, backlit leaf in grass
photo, backlit leaf in grass
photo, sunlit weed with dark background
photo, sunlit weed with dark background

 All the additional layers were adjusted to blend well and make the basic composition then I went to the next step, which was to select a photo of a single leaf to repeat throughout the image.  During our printmaking sessions we used leaves and other “nature” items in some of our prints.  After being used several times many of the leaves were art themselves, covered with an array of paint.  I photographed several of these during the printmaking session and ended up selecting one to use in this piece.

photo - paint stained leaf
photo, paint stained leaf

 After isolating the leaf and eliminating all of the background I copied the image, moved & rotated its position, then repeated the process until I had a total of six leaves scatter through the image.  I then adjusted the opacity so that they blended into the background somewhat instead of just “sitting” on top.  After a few other minor tweeks I was pleased with the composition. 

As mentioned in a previous post, I struggle with creative names for my images!  I have done several images this year that combined printmaking and nature-based photos, thus this one became “Art & Nature #9”. 

Art & Nature #9
"Art & Nature #9"

Thanks for reading my blog!  I am making an effort to make more frequent updates and to add more pictures as well.  Look for sample images from the printmaking sessions coming soon!