image progression: england V

England V, digital manipulation, 2011
England V, digital manipulation, 2011

In 2005, I had the opportunity to study and travel abroad for a semester during my junior year at university.  For the coursework portion of the semester we studied at Oxford. Our professors and lectures were fascinating, the city was captivating, and I found myself beautifully content, enjoying each moment as it moved seamlessly into the next.  Living in the present.

On this trip, I danced (honestly, for the first time) at a fabulous student dive bar.  I saw amazing theatre performances in London and spent hours happily wandering in the Tate Modern enjoying iconic works and artists I studied in my contemporary art history classes. 

My friends and I laughed until closing time in this adorable local pub. We discovered the amazing-ness that is cider beer. During that time abroad, my classmates and I made some incredible memories.  I recall feeling for the first time in my adult life that this must be how it feels to ‘live in the moment’.  This piece reminds me of those remarkable moments.

The initial background image is an original photo from the gardens of Blenheim Palace.  Other main images included a stock vintage-style illustrations of a woman on a bicycle, two men in a doorway, an engraving of Queen Elizabeth, and a photo of Big Ben.  The iris was a real flower I scanned.

Blenhiem Palace, photo/copyright: Carly Swenson 2005
Blenhiem Palace, photo/copyright: Carly Swenson 2005
scan of real iris flower
scan of iris flower

I created a sense of depth in the background image with several altered layers of the garden scene. This allowed me to alter each layer focusing on the different elements I wanted to emphasize, such as the detail and vivid color in the foreground, and the simplified shapes in the darker and more blurred background.

The head of Queen Elizabeth was duplicated and a graphic pen filter was applied with dark violet and cream colors. This subtle change maintains the developing color scheme of sepia-ish neutrals, gold, green, and violet. The color combination integrated a unity in the piece.

This top layer was gradated into the original layer, accentuating the engraving style. The queen’s head was added onto the body of the bicycling woman to give the image a playful charm and distinctly English atmosphere.

A distressed/tattered frame border brush was included to keep in the aesthetic tradition of this series; the inclusion of other simple brush elements, such as the splatter marks (around Big Ben in the soil), the violet swirls (in the iris) and the frail trees (on the path) also helped unify the style variation of the original pictures.

woman on bicycle, stock image: Liquid Library
woman on bicycle, stock image: Liquid Library
queen elizibeth, stock image: Liquid Library
Queen Elizabeth, stock image: Liquid Library
two men, stock image: Liquid Library
two men, stock image: Liquid Library

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