Earlier this month I had the pleasure of participating in a creative class at the Anderson Ranch Art Center in Snowmass, Colorado. The workshop, Pushing the Boundaries: Creative Digital Image-Making, was taught by the talented Maggie Taylor. I’ve been following her work for several years, and was so thrilled to find out that she was teaching a workshop that I signed up in the first few hours registration opened. And I wasn’t the only one. The class filled up within 24 hours and a second class was added to the art center’s calendar.
After more than ten years as a still life photographer, Maggie began to use the computer to create what she calls “dreamlike worlds inhabited by everyday objects.” She begins with small pastel drawings to use as backgrounds, then scans each additional element into the computer and combines them using Photoshop, arranging figures much in the same way she creates still lifes in the studio. The bits and pieces she uses for inspiration come from flea market finds, online auctions, and objects from her own backyard. Below are a few of her pieces from “Through the Looking-Glass.”
I consider myself an intermediate Photoshop user. I’ve been using it for years in my graphic design work. But this class went beyond what I was expecting to learn. Sure, there were tips and tricks that I didn’t know about, but I also crafted my design eye and pushed my collage composition skills. Each day started out with a class project that Maggie walked us through. It was interesting to see how a piece was created and then try to do the same.
The afternoons were ours to work on our own personal projects, ask questions, and get feedback. While some people planned ahead, I brought a bunch of images with no idea of what I was going to do with them. Here are a few of the pieces I had brought with me.
I first started out with the boy, cleaning up the scanned file and clipping him out of the background. Then I played around with a bunch of background images and settled on the foggy forest. Once I had him in an environment, the rest of the image came together pretty quickly. The tricky part was taking into account light sources, perspective, and flow. After several days work, coloring and adjusting hues and saturation (as well as being really nit-picky about some of the details) here’s what I ended up with…
The workshop was a truly wonderful experience. If you ever have the chance to take a class at Anderson Ranch or from Maggie Taylor, I highly recommend it. So much inspiration, creativity, and just plain fun to be had.