“Come on, time to get naked and sew some leather!”
“Anicula de Vacui.” (from Latin, “The Crone of the Void”)
Digital Painting / Illustration.
I created “Anicula” as a negative-space portrait using a texture-patchwork technique I’ve used in several new pieces lately. The resulting work tends to possess a certain tangible quality; there is some feeling, as seeing a texture on a surface you cannot touch, but understanding that it would feel a certain way if you could. It’s also very possible that this is entirely subjective, and that I am full of shit.
Either way, I’ve had several people reach out and ask how I make the symmetrical pieces in this way.
So here it is, the short and sweet of it: the trick is repeatedly overlaying pieces (patches) of a transparent-backed texture or pattern. I simply rearrange these [seemingly random] pieces until I find symmetrical patterns or shapes. Sometimes this happens naturally, as was the case with Anicula, and other times the pattern doesn’t reveal itself as quickly. I try to take my time and play with as many angles and variations as I can before I find the right one. I usually try to find or create easily recognizable shapes, such as faces and eyes.
The entire process is slightly trickier with the added degree of complexity involved in creating imagery in negative space.
I found this old stonework grunge texture on a USB drive in my filing cabinet. I love little unexpected discoveries like this; it always inspires me to shirk my comfort zone, dig in and try something new.
I loved the contour and overall feel of the design, so I threw it in Photoshop to tinker and uncorked a bottle of wine. This is, by the way, how I begin 99% of all new [unintentional] projects. I stumble and stomp and shake my head until I feel a certain way, then the wine comes out, and when I emerge hours [or sometimes, days] later, I either have something I’m satisfied with or at the very least I’m inebriated beyond the point of caring.
What do I mean by “Texture Sculpting?”
Texture Sculpting is not a term that recognizes a traditional “style” or method of creating art, digital or otherwise. However, in this context, I use the phrase “Texture Sculpting” to refer to the practice of taking pre-rendered texture patterns or swatches and rearranging them in collage-fashion to create a unique new piece of art or generate a new pattern.
In other words, Texture Sculpting is simply a Roanism for “cutting and pasting splotches of dots and lines that already look like familiar material surfaces or objects in a way that makes something new and [hopefully] beautiful or unique.”
After rearranging the pieces, I do extensive work to chisel away unwanted or unnecessary pixels with erasers and colored brushes. This is a matter of personal preference, of course, but I’ve always submitted to the school of “Less is More.”
Sometimes I’ll spend hours erasing or painting over individual sections of the texture or pattern. You’d be surprised what you can uncover in this manner; new shapes, symmetries, and even abstract forms hide within these texture maps like statues hidden within uncarved chunks of stone.
Hence, “Texture Sculpting.”
Once I find a texture I love, I get to work using the Lasso Tool in Photoshop. I grab small sections of the image and cut them out, then paste them onto an adjacent artboard.
If you haven’t started using the Artboards feature in Photoshop, I highly recommend it. Just like in Illustrator, Artboards in Photoshop allow you to manipulate multiple scenes or instances of an artwork in the same file. That way, you don’t have to switch between tabs to view multiple pieces, especially if they are all going to be used in the same overall work.
To use artboards in Photoshop, simply create a new file, and make sure to check the Artboards option when selecting your file size and color preferences, as shown below:
The rest is all in what you see. If you look hard enough, you’ll find a pattern. I almost always do.
The Priestess Mother, Seneca
Such was the case with Seneca, the Priestess Mother, seen here in this 2018 Seal. She is featured in several new pieces I’ve put together, all of which feature some visceral, ethereal, and often gothic occult stylings.
I wrote this note in my journal after finishing the pieces this week:
Who is she? What was her story? What gods did she serve? Who loved and served her?
Maybe one day, her story will come out.
Until then, I’ll keep dreaming.